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Teacher Feature: Courtney Evans on Cross-Disciplinary Education

Posted in Ed Tech on July 30, 2014 by

At Knewton, we have a lot to learn from teachers. Our goal is to create technology that helps them create more effective lessons and help teachers better support students. We’re always interested in hearing about teachers’ perspectives on the future of education and educational technology. Below we’re sharing some recent insights we’ve heard from teachers across the country.

Teacher: Courtney Evans
Subject: English Language Arts, history
Grades: 6-12
Location: Temecula, CA

The education industry is now adopting new technologies — including cloud computing, learning analytics, game-based learning, mobile learning, and personalized learning–to improve learning outcomes. Given the tools that we have now in the space, what are your thoughts about the potential for laboratory, hands-on, and other immersive educational experiences?

After a number of years in traditional high school settings, I now teach at a “virtual” school, Temecula Advantage Virtual School, in Temecula, CA. Technology is the basis for our existence because of the manner in which we are able to serve students with rigor and flexibility. As our program grows, we continue to work on creating project-based and otherwise authentic learning experiences for each of our students. This process is greatly aided by our available technology, and I can only imagine that future technologies will put our students and our school at a greater advantage as we encourage students to think critically as they take charge of their learning.

What opportunities do you think exist for cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary education in your subject matter?

From my perspective, there are infinite possibilities for inter- and cross-disciplinary learning experiences. Since my background is in English, I would personally love to see an entire curriculum consisting of a mathematics and science focus, but seamlessly enriched by meaningful humanities-based lessons in an effort to give students a well-rounded understanding of their world, and then rounding-out the experience by incorporating physical activity and opportunities for health-based lessons.

When I began teaching, I was given the opportunity to work closely with other teachers from different disciplines, to make meaningful learning opportunities for students that would resonate throughout each subject. To be able to create opportunities that are relevant in real-time, while supplementing with whatever information students actually need– that is what education is (or at least should be) about.

What is your biggest frustration with existing educational technologies or the way they are incorporated into classrooms today?

My biggest frustration with existing educational technology can be summed with a single word: ACCESS. Students lack access to consistently updated technology, and then when they finally gain some access to the technology itself, access to information itself is censored. I assume this is done largely out of the fear students may access on a school device, what they can access on the phone in their pocket, but to what end?