In 2011, Excelsior College graduate John W. Tanner earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with concentrations in literature and computer science. As a student of distance learning, he co-authored a book on student-centered teaching and engaging students with technologies in the classroom. Tanner‘s book, “21st Century Teaching: The Scholar, the Technician, and the Performer,” illustrates how adopting technology in the classroom gives teachers a competitive advantage.
Excelsior Life: Can you tell us about your book?
Tanner: The book is geared towards teachers. The focus is on the use of new technologies in the classrooms, how teachers can change their perception of teaching from a teacher-centered view (lecturer) to a student-centered view (facilitator), and how to put students in control of their learning. This is done by making lessons more engaging and entertaining (using animated videos, podcasts, tweets, blogging, using tablets, etc.)
Excelsior Life: What motivated you to write on the subject of teaching and technology?
Tanner: The idea came to me while I was taking a graduate course in strategic management at Florida International University (FIU). I learned how executives scan the remote environment for emerging trends, then act on their findings by implementing competitive methods to their day-to-day operations which adds value to their bottom line (shareholders equity).
I thought, “That’s the concept we need in education!” So, I began conducting research (scanning the environment) using the keywords “technology” and “education” that were found exclusively in academic journals. From those findings, I read through the abstracts to narrow down my content.
Excelsior Life: What are some takeaways for readers?
Tanner: Education has changed in the past 150 years. Technology in the classroom can prepare today’s students to gain a competitive advantage in securing employment in our increasingly global marketplace.
Excelsior Life: Are there any technology trends that you have noticed in the classroom?
Tanner: More classrooms are allowing students to use their cellphones (they’re portable computers!). Classes are taking virtual field trips to other countries. They are engaging with foreign students on collaborative “real world problem” assignments. They are also turning in their homework as a blog post to a classroom website.
Excelsior Life: Has technology impacted your educational experience?
Tanner: I took my first online course through Saint Leo University in 2000, while I was in the Navy. The experience 13 years ago changed my perception of college. In today’s complex environment, online learning, for tomorrow’s students, is not an “if” but a “when” question.
Excelsior Life: Did life experience impact writing of the book?
Tanner: Yes, my life experience includes a mix of technology, educational pedagogy, and working as an actor/musician for 18 years. I taught computer applications in an after-school program. My first foray into education was an entry level pedagogy course with a field experience requisite at Pensacola Junior College (1996). The performer part of the book title refers to working as an intern drama teacher.
In 2008, I returned to college to earn my associate degree. In 2011, I earned a bachelor’s degree from Excelsior College. I also earned the temporary teaching certificate and teach 8th grade English with regular and advanced classes by using interactive technology in the classroom.
Excelsior Life: Any other books on the horizon?
Tanner: There will be a second edition of this book to include our top ten technologies for the classroom, more research findings (and our field experiences), and a full set of lesson plans with links to the presentations.