Pedagogy

Chapter Reflection: Digital School by Clive Thompson

“As various educational analysts have joked, if you brought a bunch of surgeons from a hundred years ago into today’s hospitals, they would have no idea what was going on, because everything about their craft had evolved: antibiotics, laparoscopic devices, MRIs. But time-traveling teachers would have no trouble walking into an elementary school (or even Harvard) and going to work, because schools are nearly identical. Walk to the front of the class, pick up the chalk, and start lecturing.” (Thompson, 2014)

 

Educational theorists from around the globe agree that the model of school has not changed much in centuries.  I believe that is about to change.

 

The evolution of digital technology use in schools is increasing all the time.  Educators are using digital tools to augment the limitations of our brains, provide meaningful and authentic learning opportunities, and create artefacts of learning that can be shared and improved on by others.  Of course, this kind of process takes time.  Whenever a new practice is developed there are always those folk who realize its potential early and jump on board.  For others, it takes a little more time to change.

 

Innovators and Early Adopters are pushing the boundaries with digital technologies in schools while the Early Majority are now moving through the framework of SAMR model of technology integration in their classrooms.  I am sure, upon reflection, the history of school will be divided into the time before and after the digital revolution.

The utilization of digital technologies in our schools is still in its infancy.  Diffusion of innovation theory describes how, why, and the rate in which new technologies, ideas, and processes weave their way into the fabric of society.  According to Everett Brown’s research on diffusion theory, there are four main factors that influence the process of adoption of an idea:

  1. The innovation itself
  2. How information about the innovation is communicated
  3. Time
  4. The nature of the environment the innovation is introduced in  (Rogers, 2003)

The decision to adopt a new idea, process, or technology is based on what Rogers calls the Innovation Decision Period (IDP).  The stages of the IDP are:

 

Innovation Decision Process (IDP) (1)

 

“The adoption of an innovation follows an S curve when plotted over a length of time.  The categories of adopters are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.” (“Diffusion of Innovations,” n.d.)  The adoption of digital technologies, aligned with sound pedagogical models of technology integration, which are used to make school more meaningful and personally relevant to learners are still in the ‘early adopter’ phase.  Several factors stand in the way of the diffusion of digital technologies in our public schools and include; inadequate funding, privacy issues related to FIPPA, general resistance to change, infrastructure issues, hype, and misuse.  According to Thompson (2014) classroom technology has a long history of hype that has rarely delivered.  From radio to television, these innovations have been positioned as saviours to the education system but have failed to live up to their claims.  I believe that schools need robust instructional frameworks to manage new technologies and avoid spending a whole pile of money on using digital technologies for the sake of digital technologies by replicating offline activities, online.

 

When embracing digital technologies in the classroom the SAMR model of technology integration is both simple and robust.  The model encourages educators to move the practice of using digital technologies from the acts substituting offline activities to online activities to creative new ways of creating, evaluating and sharing content.

SAMR Model

Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

As educators move from positions of substituting offline for online activities to creating content, developing and sharing knowledge, they improve their instructional practice.  Embracing a model of technology integration like SAMR will increase the legitimacy of digital tools by the majority of educators, parents, and educational leaders.  At this point, comparisons with prophesied educational technology revolutions of the past, such as radio and television can end.  Resulting in a move towards creating a new vision of school where all stakeholders have a voice at the table.

 

Smarter Than You Think, a book by Clive Thompson, tackles this idea that change needs to be adopted in our education system.  His chapter titled Digital School helped me to question the purpose of using digital technologies in my classroom, and prompted me to critically-evaluate the tools I use.  Deciding whether or not to embrace digital technologies in schools is no longer the question we should be asking.  Instead, we should be asking how we can use digital technologies to create artefacts of learning, which are both authentic and meaningful?

 

Thompson’s discussion on the merits of coding in school were personally relevant as it coincided with my class’s participation in the Hour of Code.  I appreciated Thompson’s discussion around the work Seymour Papert championed in the 1960’s with his Logo programming language.  I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who struggles to make aspects of mathematics personally relevant to their students.  Unlike Logo, where students programmed a turtle to move around the screen during the Hour of Code, my students were making a character skate patterns in ice.  While I walked around the room, I observed several unique moments.  Students did not need to ask me constantly questions about a task; they seemed to understand what was required.  Secondly, I saw cycles of failure and success, which led to new learning.  I rarely see students take these kinds of risks in offline activities.  Thirdly, I saw students collaborate in more supportive ways than I have seen before.  Perhaps most importantly, from an educator’s perspective, I saw student’s experiment and develop new knowledge about mathematical concepts such as computational thinking, angles, and shape naming.  My Hour of Code was a complete success!  I certainly agree with Thompson when he says, “It proves that you learn by experimenting and making mistakes, and not by trying to be perfect the first time.” (Thompson, 2014)

References:

Diffusion of Innovations. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved December 16, 2014, from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.

Thompson, C. (2014). Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. New York: The Penguin Group.

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The Changing Role Of The Teacher In The Digital Age

In my latest #tiegrad class I was invited to discus the changing role of the teacher in the digital age.

 

Three Distinct Relationship Changes For Teachers In The Digital Age

 

Richardson, W. (2012) understood the changing role of the teacher when he stated, “In this new story, real learning happens anytime, anywhere, with anyone we like – not just with a teacher and some same age peers, in a classroom from September to June. More importantly, it happens around the things we learners choose to learn, not what someone else tells us to learn.” (p. 1).

Introduction

In order to understand the changing role of the teacher in the 21st Century, it is important to consider the historical role of the teacher. For centuries, direct instruction was the pedagogy of the day. The teacher held the position of absolute authoritative power and was the holder, and dispenser, of knowledge. Students worked to achieve curricular objectives designed and assessed by the teacher, and were given extrinsic motivators like grades and rewards as reasons to memorize information and demonstrate understanding of taught concepts. In contrast, the digital age represents an important time of educational change. The role of the teacher is evolving as new, digital, epistemologies form in an increasingly connected and networked world. In classrooms and schools around the globe, teachers are changing their methods to better suit the increased use of digital technologies available in education. Advances in technology have led to a more networked and connected world, and has given rise to a myriad of useful resources. Classrooms today are no longer confined to one specific educational theory, or limited by physical space. Education is no longer just about delivering curriculum in a way to actively engage the student in the room; it is about access to information. Active engagement and active learning have now become interactive learning. Teachers and students now co-learn across school districts, provinces, and countries. They share, collaborate and create information with a simple keystroke, click of the mouse, or via video conferencing available on their mobile devices (Thiele, Mai, & Post, 2014). The changing role of the teacher in the digital age can be characterized by three distinct relationship changes; between teacher and student, teacher and curriculum, and teacher and pedagogy.

Teacher with student

One fundamental change teacher’s face in the digital age is the change in the teacher-student relationship. According to Lemley, Schumacher, & Vesey (2014), “The 21st-century student will expect the 21st-century learning environment to provide opportunities creating a different role for the teacher” (p.6). In this version of school, the learning environment is flexible and dynamic. Learning is no longer restricted to the confines of the regular school day. It extends to the home, the community, and beyond. Learners prefer not to have education confined to the classroom, but want to have the freedom to be able to learn at any time and in any place (Rosen, 2011, p.5). Another shift between learner and teacher revolves around exploring curriculum together. Learning is a shared experience between teacher and learner. At one time, the relationship between teacher and learner was hierarchical in nature. The teacher was the dispenser of knowledge and communication between student and educator was one-way. That model no longer provides the best learning experiences for students. In the digital age, teachers are learning with their students through co-learning and collaboration. These methods form the basis of personalized learning.

Teacher with curriculum

Teachers are re-examining their relationship with curriculum and are moving from a teacher-centred perspective to a student-centred perspective. British Columbia’s version of this change in curriculum and pedagogy coined the BC Education Plan. Government of British Columbia (2013) states, “Our education system is based on a model of learning from an earlier century. To change that, we need to put students at the centre of their own learning” (p. 2). A move towards student-centred learning refocuses on the interests of the child rather than others involved in the education process. Teachers are making changes to their curriculum to include periods of inquiry learning. Exploring the path of inquiry learning with students follows a constructivist theory of education. Self-directed in nature, inquiry learning develops critical and creative thinking skills; skills learners will need in order to be successful in the future. Maiers, A., & Sandvold, A. (2010), talk about the importance of student-centred learning in The Passion Driven Classroom. They relate inquiry learning to finding learner’s passions and say, “It will be the passion that students hold, not for every subject, but for the ACT and PRIVILEGE of learning that will allow them to reach rigorous outcomes and excellence” (p. 6). When teachers move curriculum from methods of talk and show to methods of inquiry, they focus on each student’s passions, abilities, and learning styles; thus, allowing the teacher to move from a position of administering to facilitating learning. In addition, when teachers integrate inquiry methods in their curriculum, they honour the importance of student voice and recognise that it is central to the learning experience for every student.

In a student-centred classroom, students choose what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they will assess their learning. Student-centred learning requires students to be active, responsible participants in their learning. This aligns with Thiele, Mai, & Post (2014) findings in their research on learning in the 21st Century, “The implementation of technology can enhance learning by making the classroom more active and student-centered”(p. 1). In the digital age, teachers have a variety of tools and resources available to create curriculum with students, invite learners to discover the pleasures of lifelong learning, and open the classroom up to a global audience. According to the Government of British Columbia (2013), “Curriculum will increasingly emphasize key concepts, deeper knowledge, and more meaningful understanding of subject matter, and give teachers the flexibility they need to personalize their students’ learning experiences” (p. 3). Dewey, J. (1929) also realized the importance of student-centered learning in My Pedagogic Creed when he wrote, “The true centre of correlation of the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities” (p. 4).

Teacher with pedagogy

If pedagogy is the art and science of educating (Webb 2012), then the relationship between teacher and pedagogy has changed dramatically in the digital age. Assessment practices, professional development opportunities, and a stronger understanding of how students learn best are reshaping relationships between teachers and their craft. Assessment practices have moved from ‘assessment of learning’ to ‘assessment for learning’; from teacher-directed assessment to peer and self-assessment. All this points to the learner becoming an active participant in the learning process. Advances in digital technologies have created complex assessment experiences, such as game-based assessments and online collaborative problem-solving. A wider variety of participants are invited into the assessment cycle including peers and outside experts. According to Webb (2014) there is, “Increasing evidence that uses of technologies are producing persistent changes in children’s brains and hence changing their capacity and capabilities for learning” (p. 10). Neuroscience is growing rapidly, and teachers are incorporating the latest brain research into their practice, specifically to assist in developing self-regulated learning skills. New digital technologies allow educators to engage in personalized, professional development, strengthen pedagogies, and create learning communities that cultivate professional relationships outside of school buildings. Collaboration in the digital age enables teachers to reach out and connect with like-minded educators. Historically, teachers developed their pedagogy through a combination of curriculum documents, colleagues, workshops, and other professional development opportunities. The digital age has changed the way teachers develop their pedagogy. Networked teachers continue to develop their practice around traditional methods, but also embrace new technologies such as video conferences, social networking services, and online learning communities. Couros, G (2010) agrees with the importance of a collaborative pedagogy, “We must ensure that we are working together as an educator community to continue to move education forward.”

Conclusion

Relationships teachers have with their learners, curriculum, and pedagogy are changing rapidly in this time of digital enlightenment. Early educational theorists such as Dewey and Montessori understood the needs of learners and the constraints of curriculum. Digital technologies have allowed teachers to realize the dreams of early educational theorists. Educators no longer need to work in isolation. They have the knowledge and resources to facilitate learning by exploring curriculum with their learners. When teachers revisit their relationships with learners, curriculum, and pedagogy in the 21st Century, they create innovative change to the education system and encourage children to thrive in a dynamic and rapidly evolving world. They accept that students must be at the centre of a more personalized approach to learning and must be given the freedom to pursue their individual interests and passions in the classroom.

References:

Abrami, P. C., Venkatesh, V., Meyer, E. J., & Wade, C. A. (2013). Using electronic portfolios to foster literacy and self-regulated learning skills in elementary students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4), 1188–1209. doi:10.1037/a0032448

Couros, G. (2010). The power of working together.  The principal of change: stories of learning and leading. Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/1020.

Dewey, J. (1929). My Pedagogic Creed. In I. D. Flinders & S. Thorton (Eds.), The Curriculum Studies Reader (pp. 34–43). New York: Routledge.

Government of British Columbia. (2013). BC ’ s Education Plan, 1 – 9.

Lemley, J., Schumacher, G., & Vesey, W. (2014). What learning environments best address 21st-century students’ perceived needs at the secondary level of instruction? NASSP Bulletin. doi:10.1177/0192636514528748

Maiers, A., & Sandvold, A. (2010). 1 Achievement gap or passion gap? The passion-driven classroom: a framework for teaching and learning (p. 6). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Richardson, W. (2012). Part 1: old school. Why School? How Education Must Change when Learning and Information are Everywhere (eBook) (p.1). TED Conferences. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.ca/Why-School-Education-Information-Everywhere-ebook/dp/B00998J5YQ

Rosen, L. D. (2011). Teaching the iGeneration. Educational Leadership, 68, 10–15. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.libdata.lib.ua.edu/ehost/detail?sid=3dc15bba-9972-4ca4-adb4-892d68f5a898@sessionmgr110&vid=31&hid=10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==#db=aph&AN=58108032.

Thiele, A. K., Mai, J. a, & Post, S. (2014). The Student-Centered Classroom of the 21st Century : Integrating Web 2 . 0 Applications and Other Technology to Actively Engage Students. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 28(1).

Webb, M. (2012). Pedagogy with information and communications technologies in transition. Education and Information Technologies, 1–20. doi:10.1007/s10639-012-9216-x.

 

 

Self-Regulated Learning In A Changing Educational Landscape

Point Of View: The Importance Of Self-Regulated Learning In A Changing Educational Landscape.

 

The landscape of education is on the precipice of change.  Digital technologies have removed the need to follow an educational epistemology based on the pursuit of knowledge.  Montessori (1918) saw the need for change when she said, “We know only too well the sorry spectacle of the teacher who in the ordinary schoolroom must pour certain cut and dried facts into the heads of the scholars” (p. 28). In order to develop higher-level thinking skills, our youngest learners must enter an education system, which follows themes of inquiry and is learner-centred.  In order for learners to be successful in a system built on inquiry, they must develop robust self-regulated learning (SRL) strategies to take control of their own learning, and reach their full potential. Developing students’ self-regulated learning skills can demystify assessment, increase student engagement and motivation, and form the basis of productive collaborative learning communities.

 

Assessment can be a debilitating experience for many students.  Vaughan found that the four most common words associated with assessment were: fear, stress, anxiety, and judgment (Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. 2013). Self-regulated learners are able to control their environment, evaluate their work, and determine how to adapt their learning to increase performance.  They understand the assessment and feedback cycle, and use it to their advantage.  Self-regulated learners are also cognizant of their academic strengths and weaknesses, and can fully utilize instructor feedback, as well as engage in peer and self-assessment practices.  Digital technologies such as blogs, wikis, collaborative writing tools, and other social media resources can provide students with increased flexibility and communication opportunities to engage in all aspects of assessment. According to Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison (2013), learners cannot observe, analyze, and judge their own performances on the basis of criteria and determine how they can improve without being self-regulated learners. Effeney, Carroll, and Bahr (2013) agreed when they said”Self-regulated learners… monitor their learning by seeking feedback on their performance and by making appropriate adjustments for future learning activities” (p. 774).

 

There exists in our schools today a motivation and engagement gap in learners.  This gap stems from a disconnect between how students learn best and how instructors teach.  Improving self-regulated learning skills in children from an early age can help bridge this gap.  Dabbagh and Kitsantas (2012) found,  “The motivational components of self-regulated learning help students persist in the face of difficult tasks and resist other sometimes more tempting options” (p. 6). Developing the behavioural and emotional states of children is paramount before engaging in any other type of learning. In order for learners to engage with content in the classroom, they need to be present in the learning experience and be active participants.  Regulating behaviour and emotions can help learners to focus, enhance self-belief, and develop the grit they need to embrace success and failure on the way to achieving their goals. According to Clark (2012),  “SRL is predictive of improved academic outcomes and motivation because students acquire the adaptive and autonomous learning characteristics required for an enhanced engagement with the learning process and subsequent successful performance” (p. 205).  Explicitly teaching self-reflection and metacognitive skills to learners can develop higher-level thinking skills, which enhance motivation and increase engagement.

 

Self-regulated learning skills also form the basis of active collaborative learning communities, and can help develop a successful framework.  Organization, motivation, and collaboration are essential factors in the success of any collaborative learning community.  Borup et al. (2014) found, “Researchers have suggested that without adequate organization, online students will procrastinate, especially students with special needs” (p. 115).  Dewey (1929) says, “I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual, and that society is an organic union of individuals. If we eliminate the social factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction” (p. 34). If learning is socialand involves interactions between learners, instructors, peers, and community, then it is important to prepare students with the emotional, responsive, and reflective skills they need to be successful in these areas.

 

In summary, if we want the next generation of students to be self-directed, autonomous, and life-long learners, we must instil the strategies of self-regulated learning into all areas of education, including assessment, motivating and engaging designs for learning, and across all collaborative learning communities.  Essential self-regulation skills such as metacognition, self-efficacy, and self-reflection combined with social skills such as regulating emotions, perseverance, and behaviour are key indicators for success in our changing educational landscape.  The increasing use of digital technologies arm the self-regulated learner with the tools, collaborative learning spaces, and resources to reach self-determined goals and targets, and take control of their own learning.

 

References:

Borup, J., West, R. E., Graham, C. R., & Davies, R. S. (2014). The Adolescent Community of Engagement: A Framework for Research on Adolescent Online Learning. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 22(1), 107–129.

Clark, I. (2012). Formative assessment: assessment is for self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 24(2), 205–249. doi:10.1007/s10648-011-9191-6

Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: a natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3–8. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.002

Dewey, J. (1929). My Pedagogic Creed. In D. Flinders & S. Thornton (Eds.),
The Curriculum Studies Reader (pp. 34 – 41). New York: Routledge.

Effeney, G., Carroll, A., & Bahr, N. (2013). Self-regulated learning and executive function: exploring the relationships in a sample of adolescent males. Educational Psychology, 33(7), 773–796. doi:10.1080/01443410.2013.785054

Montessori, M. (1918). A Critical Consideration of the New Pedagogy in its Relation to Modern Science. In D. Flinders & S. Thornton (Eds.), The Curriculum Studies Reader (pp. 22 – 33). New York: Routledge.

Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Assessment (Chapter 5). Teaching in blended learning environments, AU Press, Athabasca University. [Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/books/120229/ebook/99Z_Vaughan_et_al_2013-Teaching_in_Blended_Learning_Environments.pdf, July 17, 2014.]

 

20 Research Papers On Self-Regulated Learning

Within the context of k-12 schools, I used to think self-regulated learning was limited to regulating the behaviour and emotions of the students; However, thanks to the likes of Phil Winne, Allyson Hadwin, and Mariel Miller I realize it’s so much more.  In its simplest form, self-regulation speaks to the skills students need to become independent life-long learners.

Phil Winne from SFU Education on Vimeo.

In my latest #tiegrad class I was asked to compile a short bibliography of twenty recent (2013-2014) articles on the topic of my choice – self-regulated learning:

Belski, R., & Belski, I. (2014). Cultivating student skills in self-regulated learning through evaluation of task complexity. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(5), 459–469. doi:10.1080/13562517.2014.880685

Bjork, R. a, Dunlosky, J., & Kornell, N. (2013). Self-regulated learning: beliefs, techniques, and illusions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 417–44. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143823

Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (2014). Feedback and Self-Regulated Learning: A Theoretical Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65(3), 245–281.

Cheng, G., & Chau, J. (2013). Exploring the relationship between students’ self-regulated learning ability and their ePortfolio achievement. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 9–15. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.005

Clark, I. (2012). Formative assessment: assessment is for self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 24(2), 205–249. doi:10.1007/s10648-011-9191-6

Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: a natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3–8. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.002

DiDonato, N. C. (2012). Effective self- and co-regulation in collaborative learning groups: an analysis of how students regulate problem solving of authentic interdisciplinary tasks. Instructional Science, 41(1), 25–47. doi:10.1007/s11251-012-9206-9

Effeney, G., Carroll, A., & Bahr, N. (2013). Self-regulated learning and executive function: exploring the relationships in a sample of adolescent males. Educational Psychology, 33(7), 773–796. doi:10.1080/01443410.2013.785054

Friedrich, A., Jonkmann, K., Nagengast, B., Schmitz, B., & Trautwein, U. (2013). Teachers’ and students’ perceptions of self-regulated learning and math competence: differentiation and agreement. Learning and Individual Differences, 27, 26–34. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2013.06.005

Järvelä, S., & Hadwin, A. F. (2013). New frontiers: regulating learning in CSCL. Educational Psychologist, 48(1), 25–39. doi:10.1080/00461520.2012.748006

Major, A., Martinussen, R., & Wiener, J. (2013). Self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in adolescents with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Learning and Individual Differences, 27, 149–156. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2013.06.009

Marchis, I. (2011). Primary school teachers’ self-regulated learning skills. Acta Didactica Napocensia, 4(4), 11–18. Retrieved from http://adn.teaching.ro/

Metallidou, P. (2012). Epistemological beliefs as predictors of self-regulated learning strategies in middle school students. School Psychology International, 34(3), 283–298. doi:10.1177/0143034312455857

Perry, N., & Drummond, L. (2014). Helping young students become self-regulated researchers and writers. The Reading Teacher, 56(3), 298–310.

Samruayruen, B., Enriquez, J., Natakuatoong, O., & Samruayruen, K. (2013). Self-regulated learning: a key of a successful learner in online learning environments in thailand. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 48(1), 45–69. doi:10.2190/EC.48.1.c

Sha, L., Chen, W., & Zhang, B. H. (2012). Understanding mobile learning from the perspective of self-regulated learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(4), 366–378. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00461.x

Shi, Y., Frederiksen, C. H., & Muis, K. R. (2013). A cross-cultural study of self-regulated learning in a computer-supported collaborative learning environment. Learning and Instruction, 23, 52–59. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2012.05.007

Stefanou, C., Stolk, J. D., Prince, M., Chen, J. C., & Lord, S. M. (2013). Self-regulation and autonomy in problem- and project-based learning environments. Active Learning in Higher Education, 14(2), 109–122. doi:10.1177/1469787413481132

Throndsen, I. (2011). Self-regulated learning of basic arithmetic skills: a longitudinal study. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81(Pt 4), 558–78. doi:10.1348/2044-8279.002008

Tsai, C.-W., Shen, P.-D., & Fan, Y.-T. (2013). Research trends in self-regulated learning research in online learning environments: a review of studies published in selected journals from 2003 to 2012. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(5), E107–E110. doi:10.1111/bjet.12017

Wang, C., Shannon, D. M., & Ross, M. E. (2013). Students’ characteristics, self-regulated learning, technology self-efficacy, and course outcomes in online learning. Distance Education, 34(3), 302–323.

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

Four Skills for the 21st Century Learner

There have been numerous blogs, articles, and websites that have created meaningful dialogue on the topic of the skills necessary for the 21st century learner.  As part of my #tiegrad courses, I have been asked to contribute to this topic by adding my own set of skills.  I designed this model to help myself make the connections between the people, the content, and skills required for learners in the 21st century.

21st Century Skills

Four skills important for the 21st Century learner that relate to my practice are social and emotional skills, and physical/natural skills, basic (core) academic skills, and higher-level thinking skills.  When these skills are supported and practiced by the school, home, and the community, and combined with authentic, meaningful and real-world practice we are preparing our learners to make positive contributions to society.

Skills in order of importance:

1. Social and Emotional Skills

“Research conducted during the past few decades indicates that social and emotional learning programming for elementary- and middle-school students is a very promising approach to reducing problem behaviors, promoting positive adjustment, and enhancing academic performance.” – John Payton, CASEL

I have written about the importance of social and emotional skills in learning before.  As we become more connected in a technology sense, we become less connected in a face-to-face sort of way.  The skills required to be successful in the real world involve collaborating and problem solving with others.  Humans are far more productive and effective when they work together in groups consisting of people with different strengths and not independently.  The 2008 CASEL report, The Positive Impact of Social and Emotional Learning for Kindergarten to Eighth-grade Students emphasizes the importance of these life skills and their direct correlation to academic success.

2. Basic Core Academic Skills

It is critical to develop basic core academic skills in learners, as they are lay the foundation for the development of higher order thinking skills later in life.  How is it possible to develop a cell phone battery that lasts an entire day without knowing how electricity flows in a circuit?  I feel there is a shift in education towards engaging our learners in higher order thinking skills such as critical thinking, synthesizing, evaluating, and producing at the cost of developing basic academic skills.  Higher-level thinking skills are important but there needs to be a balance between these skills and the development of foundational skills.  In my experience those learners who know their times tables are far more effective at completing multiplication task when compared to those who.  They are stronger at working on problem solving, and generally enjoy mathematics more than those who struggles with basic computation.  It can be compared to children reading for information.  Fluent readers are far more effective at reading for information when compared to those learners who need to decode, break apart, and sound out the majority of the words they read.  Learners need opportunities to repeat tasks over and over to achieve mastery.  If they are constantly challenged with new material they may suffer from academic burnout and shut down – effectively stagnating their learning process.  In Kelly Tenkely’s article, Why Drill and Skill are Necessary in Education and later comments she defends the need for drill and skill in education.  By no means does she suggest that her entire curriculum should be founded on these skills, rather she advocates for balance. “These activities give students an opportunity to practice a skill and become familiar with it before creating with it.  Drill and skill games and activities give students room to find patterns and build understanding.”

3. Physical/Natural Skills

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole.”

Richard Louv

A 2013 Maclean’s article titled, Early education: this is not a field trip reports on a pilot kindergarten program designed to exposed young children to the wonders of nature.  With “90 per cent of Canadian children are gaming and six out of 10 households have a gaming console” there exists evidence that children are not spending the same amount of time playing outdoors as they once did.  Children who do not engage in active play outdoors don’t learn to socialize, share, and problem solve in the same way children who are in touch with nature do.  In my experience, students spend entire weekends playing video games, and rather venture outside to play.  A healthy balance between indoor and outdoor play has been lost.

4. Higher-Level Thinking Skills

We need to develop, in our learners, the ability to use the technology that exists at their fingertips today, the technology that will be developed in the future.  I genuinely believe we need to be raising a generation of socially conscious learners who, through the use of technology, can make the world a safer and healthier place for generations to come.  By facilitating the learning of higher-order thinking skills such as problem solving, critical thinking skills, a sense of inquiry, comparing and identifying ideas, and using old concepts to create new ideas, we can encourage our learners to innovative.  The basis of robust learning design focuses more on what learners can do with knowledge and not how much knowledge they can retain.

In summary, there are many skills that are useful for today’s learner.  You may or may not agree with the importance of these skills I suggested or how they relate to today’s learner, but in my experience and based on the 9-11 year olds I work with, these are important skills.  When learners have a strong support network, when they engage with content that is relevant and meaningful, when they are allowed to follow their own paths of inquiry, and have their physical and emotional needs met, they take a step closer to becoming lifelong learners.
What skills do you think are necessary for your learners now and in the future?

Education: Behind The Noise Of The ’21st Century Learner’

In my #tiegrad class, I was recently asked to consider whether or not our current schools/teachers/curriculum are preparing students for the 21st century?

I think it’s fair to say that schools, teachers, and curriculum want to meet the needs of their learners regardless of the century they occupy.  They want to produce independent thinkers who contribute to society in positive ways, and learners who are encouraged to reach their full potential.

Are they doing enough?

Probably not, but it isn’t from lack of trying.  Everyday I am surrounded by deeply passionate educators, who deliver curriculum in meaningful and innovative ways, work hard towards building robust relationships with students, in districts who desperately want to see successful children arriving at school doors every morning.

In order for curriculum to meet the needs of its learners it cannot be revised every 4+ years.  It’s in the area of curriculum where I find educators excel, and the work they do is sometimes under appreciated.  They have become extremely skilled at using curriculum as a guide before tweaking, contorting, and manipulating its content to make it relevant for their learners.  I don’t know a single teacher who isn’t working their socks off at making curriculum relevant.  It might not follow current ‘trends’ in education but who’s to say that it’s not meaningful to the group it’s being shared with.

By now it is unquestionable that our current education system was designed for a different era, and needs an overhaul.  Learners grouped by age instead of interest/ability, sat in desks for the majority of the day, learning a compartmentalized curriculum, and primarily focused on individual success and recognition.  The world is moving in a different direction and education is in danger of being left behind.  If our current education system operated in the business world, then it would have folded long ago.  In its defense, there isn’t the kind of money allotted to make the kind of sweeping changes that occur often in the corporate world.  Schools are asked to do more with less and strain is clear to see.  When high schools are so overpopulated that PE teachers are required to conduct their lessons in the hallways then there is an obvious problem.  Perhaps there are too many individual groups (Ministry of Education, school boards, school districts, DPACS, principals, parents, union, and teachers) within the system trying to advocate for their own methods of reform, that it is difficult to hear the message through the noise.  The British Columbia Ministry of Education is in the process of revising its curriculum through its much-touted BC Education Plan. Will it be enough?  Only time will tell whether it will support those asked to convey its new vision of a changing world and changing learner.  I agree with the BC Education Plan’s message that student’s need to be at the center of their learning.  In fact, the more I read about student centered learning from the likes of Angela Maiers’s The Passion Driven Classroom, Will Richardson’s Why School, and Daniel Pink’s Drive, the more I realize the importance of learner choice in education.  Learners need time in their weekly schedule to find their passions and follow their own learning path.  I particularly enjoyed watching Shelley Wright’s TED Talk about the power of student learning.  In it she talks about a pedagogical awaking under the guidance of Alex Couros.

“For the first time I began to realize that maybe my students could construct their learning.  That learning is constructed in community, and that maybe they would be the centre of it, maybe they would have something to say about it.…”  Shelley Wright.

Student centered learning promotes lifelong learning, stimulates creativity, fosters a healthy sense of inquiry, and leads to increased engagement in the subject matter.

As I continue to shape and reshape my own pedagogy through the experiences I have at school, my own lifelong learning, and the professional networks I have developed, I have come to realize certain facts about learners in the 21st Century.  I know that curriculum needs to be relevant and meaningful to its users.  I know that learners need time to follow paths of inquiry, and be encouraged to take risks. I know that the social and emotional needs of my students need to be met before any learning can take place, and there is a unhealthy fear of failure in our schools.  Most importantly, a robust, flexible, and rigorous public education system is more important than ever.

Does Design Thinking Have A Place In Education?

Design Cycle_Design Thinking for Education (1)

 

 

In my latest #tiegrad course I have been tasked with better understanding design thinking, and to consider whether it could play a relevant part in my own instructional design process.  I wanted to share my initial findings as I seek a deeper understanding of the process.

If empathy, interpreting, imagining, planning, and testing are the principles of design thinking, then it is remarkably akin to the assessment cycle used in education.  They are both user centered, continuous, and intentional.  Perhaps design thinking is the new assessment cycle?  Regardless of your thoughts of the process of creating engaging, authentic, and relevant instruction in your classroom, I believe design thinking has a place in our education system, classrooms, and schools.

If “Design has a set of tools and methods that can guide people to new solutions.” (Nussbaum, 2009) and mainstream public-school education in Canada is having difficulty understanding the needs of the latest entrants into its system, then surely we can borrow some ideas from design thinking to inspire a new generation of learner.

I will be the first to admit that I struggle to consistently design learning experiences, which engage all my students.  I struggle with student apathy towards education, and I seem to focus so much of my day developing and maintaining relationships, understanding my learners, and meeting their socio-emotional needs that my current assessment practices need redesigning.  Can the design thinking cycle help?  I’m not sure yet, but I am certain that more time I spend with my learners working towards authentic, real life learning experiences the more engaged my class is, and the more satisfied I feel.

I see design thinking working across the curriculum.  In social studies, design thinking is idea for addressing many social justice issues such as hunger, education, poverty, and unclean water.  These global issues need a new approach and  creative solutions.  The collaborative nature and user-centered approach of design thinking can help.  This PBS documentary shows design thinking at work by highlight the work done by Stanford University’s Institute of Design (aka the d.school) students who created products that may save thousands of lives in Bangladesh, Indonesia and other developing countries they visited.

Teaching Students Design Thinking?

In contrast to the benefits of design thinking as a teaching tool in education, I enjoyed reading Debbie Morrison’s blog posting Why ‘Design Thinking’ Doesn’t Work in Education.  As an elementary school teacher working in an inner-city school with a disproportionately high number of at-risk students, I fully agree with her argument that design thinking has a place in instructional design but not in student curriculum.  She argues that design thinking, “… requires one to think of a problem from unconventional, even unlikely perspectives…”  and could be too complex for our k-12 education system.  My students do not have the school experience or life experience to deal with such abstract thinking.  Morrison further states that our current learners

“…have the creative confidence knocked out of them at an early age and little attention paid to developing their creative thinking skills thereafter. Any design thinking process would be greatly enhanced by people who have had the opportunity to hone their creative fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration.”

My learners are concrete learners.  How do we teach creative fluency, flexibility, and originality, when these qualities may not be supported/valued at home?

 

EDCI 338: Media Clip on Research Background and Interests

This post marks the start of a new educational related journey for me.  I’ve decided to go back to school and further my understanding of the best practices available to engage and motivate my learners.  I’m part of a small cohort #tiegrad and our first assignment is to create a media clip based on our educational interests.

I’ve been involved in education in Chilliwack since 2007 and I currently work at Central Elementary Community School.  I am looking forward to the program but I am a little nervous about being able to juggle life, work, and school, especially with my first baby on the way.  The last few years have been extremely satisfying as an educator.  I’ve have started to develop a voice in education, continually try to improve my craft, and started to myself questions like, “What kind of learning environment am I creating?” “Does the activity I’m asking students to do relate to the learning outcome?” and “Am I feeding my students knowledge or posing questions to which we can discover the answers to together?”

I have several areas of interest I’d like to share with.  One area of interested is a part of my weekly schedule I have coined CHOICE – Children Have Ownership In Choice Education.  You might know it as genius hour, enquiry learning, or personalized learning.  I think it’s important to create time in the weekly schedule where students are encouraged to find their passions and explore them.  During CHOICE, I don’t plan to have too many answers for students, but plenty of questions.  I can visualize what it looks like, to some extent, but I’m having difficulty creating a framework to suit all my learners.  I wanted to include it in my schedule last year but couldn’t find the right time.  Perhaps the right time is not when everything is aligned, but now.  I read Will Richardson’s book “Why School?” last year and I loved Larry Rosenstock’s quote:

“We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids.  We have to start discovering it with them.”

I get it!  It makes sense to me, but I still wonder what it looks like for all my students.  I am looking forward to reading Angela Maiers, “The Passion-Driven Classroom” which I believe speaks to this type of learning.

Another area of interest to me is self-regulation.  I work in an inner-city school with a disproportionately high number of at-risk children.  Many of these children are either too stimulated or not stimulated enough to partake in the learning process.  The need to develop students’ ability to self-regulate has become glaring obvious to everyone who works in my school, so this year I’m working with a new program called MindUP curriculum developed by the Goldie Hawn Foundation.  MindUP teaches social and emotional learning skills, brain science, a positive mindset, and mindful awareness.  Right now we’re working on deep breathing techniques, and will soon be learning about important parts of the brain, and how signals in our brain get blocked during times of stress and over stimulation.

I‘m an avid Twitter user and have found real value in Twitter over the years, particularly when developing learning networks, making connections, and working to improving my craft.  I like to explore student-learning networks in more depth.  The thought of my own students making connections with other students, teachers, professionals from around the world who work in fields they are interested in excites me no end.  I’ve tried them with students with mixed success but never with a whole class.

Game-based learning is an area of education that fascinates me.  I’ve just finished reading Now You See It by Cathy Davidson and in her books she talks about designing lesson in a gaming format where lessons allow for risk taking, meaningful creation, nonlinear navigation, problem solving, and an understanding of rule structures  So many of my students play video games and are engaged, motivated, and incredibly creative with them.  Nothing would please me more than to transfer some of those experiences into the classroom.

Finally, I have to let you into a little secret.  All the areas of professional interest I’ve mentioned already pale in comparison to what gets me up in the morning.  Four years ago I took my grade 6’s to Free The Children’s We Day in Vancouver, and that one experience change my views on education and what’s really important in school.  Building positive healthy relationships with one another, exercising tolerance, forgiveness, and above all else caring for one another is what really matters.  Thanks to We Day, my classroom has become a hub for social justice issues both globally and locally.  We fight hunger, stand against inequality, educate our local community about homelessness and water issues, and advocate for human rights.

I look forward to learning and sharing with you.