The Intersection of Montessori and Digital Learning

As the MMS student body prepares for summer days, our technology lair prepares to receive and program all of the new tablet computers for the 2012/13 school year. The arrival of tablets brings to mind the familiar question of how technology in the classroom blends with the Montessori method.

Recently, Carrie Schneider, a Montessori parent, online educator and an education policy researcher, expounded on this topic in the Getting Smart blog post entitled, “5 Characteristics Connecting Montessori Ed & the Digital Learning Movement.”

She wrote, “While a surface look at Montessori learning and digital learning reveals obvious differences, a deep-dive into their undergirding principles reveal a set of very similar core values. Interestingly, these shared values manifest in similar ways in terms of teacher and student roles as they play out in seemingly-contradictory environments. Both high-quality digital learning and Montessori education prioritize the personalization of learning and create systems that allow for customization of content and instruction.”

Schneider further identifies the following five characteristics that support the parallels between Montessori and digital education.  Both education styles:

  • Allow students to learn at their own pace and progress to a next level or lesson as they show readiness.
  • Put less emphasis on age or grade and more emphasis on competency.
  • Incorporate feedback and assessment in an on-going fashion as a part of the learning environment.
  • Position the teacher in a non-traditional role as the students take an active role in their learning.
  • Incorporate a sense of global citizenship.

Click here to read her full blog post.

Forbes and the Wall Street Journal have both realized that Montessori breeds innovation and creativity in today’s 21st century digital world, “Given that the Montessori approach has spawned a creative elite, including Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, videogame pioneer Will Wright, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, cook Julia Child and rapper Sean “P.Diddy” Combs.”

The coming school year will mark the third year that all MMS students in grades four and above will utilize their own tablet computers. We are well ahead of the curve and one of very few independent schools implementing 1:1 tablet use with students as young as the 4th grade. That said, MMS has also invested in the infrastructure and materials to allow even our youngest students to harness the extraordinary benefits of academic technology. All MMS students from age three have access to one or more computers in their classrooms, and they use them to develop skills in reading, spelling, mathematics, and even foreign language study.

The first benefit of integrating cutting-edge technology with time-tested Montessori methodology is that students become exceptionally skilled in areas that will help them thrive in high school. Yet beyond this, discerning reputable data from opinion, compiling and presenting compelling research, animating drawings and diagrams, creating video and audio to share ideas, and staying at the forefront of technology are skills that will give them a decisive edge in a competitive marketplace.

Milwaukee Montessori School
345 North 95th St, Milwaukee, WI 53226
T: 414.259.0370 F: 414.259.0427
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