Q&A Professor Renee Hobbs

Q&A Professor Renee Hobbs

Q&A Professor Renee Hobbs

Q: Tell us about the Digital Learner of the 21st Century.

Let me tell you a little about myself as a digital learner. I have a fascination with how to use the powerful tools of technology for communication, expression and advocacy. It seems to me that right now, the most powerful tool in our educational tool box is the cellphone. Most of us have one, and it connects us instantly not just to our friends, but to a whole world of information and ideas. More than just a tool for receiving information, the cellphone is a tool for creating messages, sharing ideas, composing and using images, language, sound and multimedia.

Today, there are not just a few experts and professionals who are able to express and share ideas.  All of us, amateurs, are sharing ideas that inform our understanding of the world. This means that the learner is not only consuming, the leaner is creating. And this pedagogy, of creating in order to learn, of using media production to demonstrate one’s mastery of academic content, is really a powerful thing. Once you’ve created media about something you’ve learned, you’ve really learned it. This is the same idea as, “If you want to learn something well, teach it to someone else.”

Because we have 24-hour access to powerful tools that are right in the palms of our hands, we need to think differently about how to use time and space in the school learning environment.

There’s a real opportunity to break outside the boundaries of the 45-minute period and the rigid disciplines of science, math, social studies and language. There’s a real opportunity to use the human’s natural tendency to ask questions, our natural curiosity to ask about the world. There’s a real opportunity to use this natural curiosity to promote inquiry. Because when people discover how fun it is to ask questions and to learn and then to ask better questions, well that’s how you become a life long learner.

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