E-Learning

Learning Environments of the Future

Learning Environments of the Future

 

 

“Schools and universities can no longer claim a monopoly as seats of learning or of knowledge. Such learning and knowledge now resides in distributed networks. Learning can take place in the home, in work or in the community as easily as within schools.”Graham Attwell

What will the future of learning environments look like?

 

Will learners continue to turn up, in droves, at brick and mortar schools where they will be divided into learning groups by age, sat in desks with the teacher and whiteboard as the focal point, compartmentalized by constricting classroom walls, and taught individual subjects within the narrow confines of a curriculum dictated by an educational governing body?  Probably not, so are we then on the cusp of radically altering our learning environments to better suit tomorrow’s learners? – Learner’s whose brain physiologies are changing and whose socially connective needs are rapidly evolving.

 

Learning environments transcend the traditional four-walled classrooms and may include books/text, e-learning, resources, relationships/communities, assessments, and physical learning spaces.  Simply put, learning environments are physical and virtual spaces or objects that are directly connected to the learning process.

 

Nobody really knows what future learning environments will actually look like, but we know they need to evolve from the current model.  In Sugata Mitra’s TED Ed video titled, “Build A School In The Cloud” he talks about the today’s learning environments with reproach.  He accurately conveys that today’s model of education is rooted in Colonial British Empire history.  A model that was important 300 years ago but not so much any more.  This mirrors Sir Ken Robinson’s view of current learning environments in his video, “Changing Education Paradigms.“  Education is a slow institution to change.   To better communicate my vision what learning environments might look like beyond today, I thought it prudent to look at the future in two steps – the near future and far future.

 

Near Future:

I believe learners will continue to attend brick and mortar schools to receive their education, but I expect they will have more choice over their learning.  Learners will be permitted more freedom to direct their own learning and pursue their own methods of inquiry.  Rather than educators steering learning based on a set of learning outcomes, learners will work in collaborative groups spanning global communities.  Learners will find each other and organize themselves based on area of interest rather than age.  The near future of learning environments will continue to follow the blended learning model and may include some of the following learning needs:

 

  • Collaboration – many teachers have developed their own personal learning networks to deepen their understanding of how people learn.  In the same way, learners will be encouraged to develop their own networks.
  • There will be a shift from teaching content to teaching how to learn.  Brain science will be explored further with respect to understanding the changing physiology of our learner’s brains.
  • Content will continue to move from analogue to digital and involve highly personalized learning.
  • Learning won’t be restricted to the confines of a traditional six-hour school day.  Learners will follow their own paths of inquiry and take advantage of the expanding role of open education.
  • School will need to be resigned into dynamic physical learning spaces.  Our current classrooms have changed little in 100 years.

Far Future:

Learners will no longer attend brick and mortar schools to receive their education in the way they currently do, and educators will not be employed by a governing body like they are today.  Instead, educators will morph into coaches.  Coaches may be ordinary folk who happen to have a certain skill(s) set in demand.  This type of learning will likely be conducted in a virtual environment and be available to anyone wanting to develop that particular skill(s).  Educational communities will naturally develop as like-minded learners find each other in virtual environments.  Like Attwell says in his article, The Future of Learning Environments, “…major impact of the uses of new technologies and social networking for learning is to move learning out of the institutions and into wider society.”

 

Future learning environments will no doubt be exciting and fulfilling and are very likely to be rooted in science and technology.

  • Technology driven  – no need for spelling, writing, pens, or pencils in these environments.  The evolution of computer interfaces means the end of the keyboard and a shift to cognition form of communication.
  • Science driven – Science will continue to help us understand how learn best and we are sure to maximize this in the learning process.

 

What will future learning environments look like from your perspective?

References:

http://knowledgeworks.org/learning-in-2025

The future of the physical learning environment: school facilities that support the user – http://www.oecd.org/edu/innovation-education/centreforeffectivelearningenvironmentscele/49167890.pdf

http://knowledgeworks.org/future-of-learning

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What Does It Mean To Be An Open Educator?

In my last #tiegrad class we discussed what it means to be an open educator.  Since then, I’ve been developing my own understanding of ‘open practices.’

 
 

According to Wikipedia:

Open education is a collective term[1] to describe institutional practices and programmatic initiatives that broaden access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems. The qualifier “open” of open education refers to the elimination of barriers that can preclude both opportunities and recognition for participation in institution-based learning. One aspect of openness in or “opening up” education is the development and adoption of open educational resources.”

My understanding of Open Education is that it represents a mindset – a way of thinking of others instead of ourselves.  Educators who engage in ‘open practices’ create a culture of sharing, collaboration, and cooperation.  They work together toward a common goal.  Each one offering a unique perspective, or enriching the process of collaboration with their past experiences and knowledge.  It can start local with team teaching or grade group collaboration within a school, or it can extend beyond the boundaries of the school to the virtual world.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), for example, are readily available online, and cater to a variety of subjects areas and topics.  These courses allow learners to connect via the web, share their knowledge, and better their understanding of the subject matter being discussed.  There exists technologies, which allow educators to connect in more informal ways but many of them are hidden behind passwords and usernames.  When we adopt a mindset of open practices, as educators, our practice can flourish and our students thrive.

One of the most exciting aspects of open education, as it relates to my own practice, is the ability to participate in my own personalized professional development.  I don’t always feel like I connect to the professional development opportunities that my school district hosts or those offered by my school, but I do get excited knowing that I can connect with other educators in subject areas of interest, and create, share, and adapt content, which I can then used to enhance the learning experience I have with my students.

Open Education also has real and meaningful impact outside of my own classroom practice.  It has huge implications from a social justice perspective.  I spend a lot of time engaging my intermediate students in service-learning projects that help them to understand, and create awareness around, local and global issues.  Our many discussions over the years always lead back to the root cause of many social justice issues, education.  Institutional-based education is not readily available for many children around the world, particularly girls, so access to education via the Internet is critical to helping us solve this problem.

What Limits Open Practices?

Closed practice educators may be more concerned about claiming ownership of knowledge, protecting intellectual property, or simply feeling like they have nothing to offer others.  I get it!  It is not easy to be publicly visible about your practice because you open yourself up to the possibility of criticism and critiques.

Fear can also limit open practices.  Recently my school district adopted Sharepoint as tool to better connect students and teachers in the district.  It is a step in the right direction but the tool is only really meaningful in the closed environment of our school district.  It’s not possible to share documents, and create content with anyone outside of our group.  Why?  Perhaps schools feel anxious about privacy and the potential dangers of open practices, or maybe they feel the need to exercise control over knowledge and information.  My students can definitely learn a great deal from the skilled students and staff in the district, but I am certain they can learn an awful lot from those outside of my district, as well.

What Tools Do Open Educators Use?

Educators who engage in open practices often need specific tools to help them connect with like-minded professionals.  Some of these tools may be described as Open Educational Resources (OER’s).  In order for an educational resource to be classified as open, it needs to meet four key criteria.  OER’s need to be intentionally created for others to redistribute, reuse, revise, and remix.  Creative Commons work meets many of these requirements.  Unlike a research paper or a textbook, which is created once and is static, OER’s are dynamic.  They are always a continuous work in progress; much like the educator I strive to be.

Keywords relating to the topic of Open Education:

MOOC – Massive Open Online Course – MOOC List

OER – Open Educational Resources

#ETMOOC – Educational Technology Massive Open Online Course

#openedu – Open Education Twitter hashtag

#ceetopen – Community of Expertise in Educational Technology

Absolutely Love The Idea Of E-ngage Live!

I’m about to experiment with E-ngage Live and it may well blow my Health and Career Education Planning lessons into the ionosphere!

E-ngage Live caught my eye with its slogan, “Bringing the community into the classroom…”  It has always been important for me to connect my learner’s with their community at every opportunity.  It is the community, after all, who will employing them later in life.  Over the years I’m found that my learner’s become complacent or isolated in school and on occasion have difficulty seeing the bigger picture.  Inviting community members into schools helps combat this.

E-ngage Live provides a secure environment for students of all ages to practice strategies that they will need in the community.  What sets it apart from other educational platforms is it’s ability to connect small groups of students to highly skilled professional community members and subject-area specialists across the globe.

It is hoped that by participating in an event, learner’s make sense of the community they live in and the problems they face on a daily basis. It is marketed as cross-curricular giving education relevance and authenticity.

In the past E-ngage Live has facilitated student collaboration on a variety of topics including, citizenship, Internet safety, and road safety.  In the future, events are planned to cover topics such as, bullying, drug and alcohol issues, and environmental issues.

It was relatively easy to sign up for an account and now I’m patiently waiting to hear back.  I’ll be sure to let you know how things go.

Attending Moodle Conference: Cell Phones and Mobile Devices in the Classroom

Welcome back!  This week I’m participating in a week long Moodle conference on the topic of ‘Cell Phones and Mobile Devices in the Classroom.’  The conference runs from April 19 – April 24.  My personal goal at the end of this conference is decide whether or not using cell phones or other digital/Wi-Fi devices in the classroom can be successful and, engage my learners more, and really contribute to a more collaborative classroom.

I really like this video as an introduction to the cell phone culture that already exists in our schools:

Here are a couple of cell phone in the classroom article to wet your appetite:

BCTF: To Ban or Not To Ban

  • In this article the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation attempts to open the discuss around cell phone use in school.  At this point it doesn’t seem to have formed an opinion.

CBC: Toronto students banned from using cellphones in schools.

  • Appears as though all Toronto public schools have a cellphone ban in effect, voted on by the Toronto District School Board Trustees.  I’m not sure of a lot of things with this topic but I am sure of one thing.  An outright ban on cell phones in schools will not work!

CBC: Cellphone Jamming Principal Forced to Retreat at B.C. High School.

  • Nice Try Mr. Steven Gray but that’s illegal in Canada.  How did the school district communicate with the school’s administration and how did the staff deal with the block?

It appears as those some school districts in B.C. have developed specific cell phone policies for their schools to follow.  My district,SD33, doesn’t seem to have any such policy…yet.

SD5, SD35, and SD73

As the dialogue continues and I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Virtual Professional Development (VPD)

Since immersing myself in the Twitterverse I’ve developed an educational voice and have been exposed to a wide array of Virtual Professional Development (VPD) opportunities.  If the right professional development opportunities are not offered at the right time in your school district, then the following post will be of significant importance to your development as an educator.  What I like most about Virtual Professional Development (VPD) is the freedom to choose exactly what I’d like to learn about.

VPD’s come in a variety of forms including email distribution,  webinar’s (web conference usually one way conversation, from speaker to audience), and webcast’s (webcast’s allow for collaborative participation through interactive video, audio, and chat.  Communication is often two-way)

Literally there are VPD’s happening every night of the week somewhere in North America, covering a variety of topics from “Setting Up A Classroom Blog”, “A Fresh Look at Teaching The Diary of Anne Frank,” to “Learning How To Use The Latest Web2.0 Tools.”  I’d like to share a couple of recurring VPD’s I attend regularly with you today in the hope you’ll take the time to check them out and finally work professional development around your schedule instead of scheduling your life around professional development:

1. #edchat on Twitter – occurs every Tuesday at 9am and 4pm (PST)  Topics include; improving student engagement, creating a culture of learning in the classroom, and best practices around assessment.  More information about #edchat can be found at the #edchat wiki

2. Classroom 2.0 Ning offers VPD on Saturday morning sessions as well as the occasional work-week session.  Topics include,  author webinar’s, preparing effective online learners, and Earthcast 2010.

3. The Future of Education Ning offers VPD mainly on Wednesday’s starting at 5pm (PST).  View calendar here  Topics include, Think Global School, Networks, Communities, and Role of Facilitator, and Neuroscience of Learning.

4. EdTechTalk is a collaborative open webcasting community.  Webcasts primarily take place on Tuesday through Friday and Sunday’s at 4pm (PST) Topics include, 21st Century Learning, Teachers Teaching Teachers, and Instructional Design.  View calendar here.

5. Learn Central is also a popular provider of VPD for educators.  Register for a free account and start to connect with other educators.

An extensive calendar of VPD events can be viewed here:  Events

For those who use Google calendar, all these events are easier imported into your existing calendar with once click.  It makes the job of keeping track of upcoming events easier and also you to share the information with others in your personal learning network (PLN).

Moodle

I’m off to my first Moodle workshop on Wednesday afternoon in Chilliwack.  Wade Gemmell (@wadegemmell), SD33 vice principal, is hosting the session and has provide attendees with space on one of the district servers hosting Moodle.

Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.  Moodle focuses on interaction and collaborative construction of content.

I’m looking forward to learning how to use Moodle to build online content.  How to add resources to Moodle.  Understand the differences between resources and activities, and find resources for my grade levels.  We also plan to set up some routines so we can continue the learning remotely via Elluminate.