Blending the Classroom:
The Inclusion of New Media Tools in Education
As the Common Core State Standards are implemented into curriculum in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country, teaching practices must be adjusted to meet new requirements and expectations. Technology use is now a central focus of the standards, which concerns many teachers for a wide variety of reasons including lack of teacher training, a decline in face-to-face communication skills, the lack of student control, the decline in test scores and essential skills, and even the role of the teacher becoming obsolete (Wilson, 2013). As new media becomes more readily available, educators must carefully examine technology tools available and consider how to best implement them into the classroom environment. In order to effective implement and resolve any issues that arise with technology, educators must gain knowledge on how to use new media tools to gain information, enhance the student experience, and allow students to be producers of content themselves. Despite the fears and uncertainly of a drastically changing educational landscape, educators must learn to teach in a blended classroom that uses both traditional teaching methods and practices with technology to purposeful enhance the student experience and cultivate key 21st century literacy skills.
An emphasis on including technology and new media in the classroom is derived from the need for young people to be active digital citizens in a tech-savvy world. The new Common Core State Standards were initially adopted by individual states by choice in 2010 as a means of ensuring that all students leave their educational careers prepared for post-secondary endeavors (Common Core State Standards Initiate, 2012). These standards emphasize literacy skills that involve critically reading, creating, collaborating, sharing, and synthesizing knowledge across multiple texts and platforms. When students have access to digital texts and the Internet, the amount of texts they are exposed to increases. If a teacher is asking students to read and comprehend a text, students can access reference books and supplementary texts, which encourages them to complete close reading and draw conclusions based on knowledge gained from a wide variety of sources (Kist, 2013). Texts that can be accessed online are not limited to the printed word. Through new media, students have access to a wide variety of digital texts that may include photographs and videos as well. Being able to view and discuss these types in relation to the written world can aid students is building background knowledge, broaden global perspectives, and create awareness and understanding that is not always achievable with hard copies of printed texts. To further reinforce students’ reading skills, the common core also requires a great deal amount of writing and collaborating skills, which is also enhanced through the use of new media.
New media platforms...