Drawbacks of the 21st Century Teaching Model

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Drawbacks of the 21st Century Teaching Model

Do you want your students to be able to talk with Stephenie Meyer to find out how she got inspiration for the “Twilight” saga, but your school is in New York and she is stationed in Arizona? Do you wish you could take your students to the museum in your town for a field trip, but your school can’t afford to pay for the trip? Or perhaps you would love to allow your students to get a global experience and work with kids in a British school (all without having to fly, of course).

Fortunately, in the 21st Century school environment, video conferencing is making all of these wishes a very possible reality. Video conferencing is providing schools with some pretty indisputable advantages – namely cost savings.

Instead of having to book plane tickets to Rome to show kids the Vatican or the Trevi Fountain, a teacher can now coordinate with a colleague in Rome who can use a camera and video conferencing to bring the cobblestone streets of Rome to kids attending a school that perhaps doesn’t have the money to front the cost of the trip.

According to a recent article, video conferencing has been used “as an essential learning opportunity for the past four years.  It’s been connecting with students across the U.S. and the world to bring religion, geography, history and service learning to vibrant life.”

While video conferencing certainly helps break barriers for teachers and students, I truly hope that it doesn’t end up precluding the school community from having tangible, breathtaking experiences. Of course a school who can’t afford to take their kids to Rome should embrace modern technology. But the school that is financially stable yet looking to cut corners in trying times should not use the 11th grade AP European History class trip to Italy as the starting place.

As someone who got to spend a semester abroad during college – throwing my pennies in the Trevi Fountain and standing in awe of the Vatican – I assure you that there is nothing like real-life experience to increase global awareness.

As we move into a school environment rife with SMART Boards, tablets and Skype, it is my hope that students still get to be traditional students (dissecting frogs as opposed to using an app that shows you the insides of a frog; learning how to write an essay by hand so that Microsoft Word doesn’t prevent kids from learning how to spell; and actually getting to know their teachers face to face rather than having Skype conversations with them).

There is still something wonderfully magical about a good old black and white composition book and a backpack full of notebooks and pens.





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