Something “point-oh” has entered the modern vernacular as a response to our digital world. Unlike physical “stuff,” digital stuff is more fluid–constantly iterating and evolving at often breakneck speed.
It’d be difficult to suggest that public education is doing much of anything at breakneck speed, but the idea behind this presentation is to clarify how it has changed, and where it could be headed. Just as web 1.0 turned to 2.0, there are new generations of education as well. In a separate post, we’ll take a quick look at the full presentation by John Morevec that this came from that explored the idea of invisible learning, but I thought this image deserved a closer look on its own.
This chart is broken up into three categories–Education 1.0 (the old way), 2.0 (the current way), and 3.0 (the future way). Whereas Education 1.0 was closed and industrial, 3.0 is open and ubiquitous. It is admittedly a mix of roadmap and dreamworks, but isn’t everything?
One immediate takeaway for right here, right now K-20 educators might be numbers 4 and 6: Beyond literacy night and conferences, how can we involve busy parents–even as they might resist–early on in the learning process, leveraging not just their authority as parents, but their occupational experience, professional networks, and related real-world interests for learning?
8 Characteristics Of Education 3.0
1. Meaning is social constructed and contextually reinvented
2. Technology is everywhere (digital universe).
3. Teaching is done teacher-to-student, student-to-student, and people-technology-people (co-constructivism)
4. Schools are located everywhere (fully infused in society)
5. Parents view schools as a place for them to learn, too
6. Teachers are everybody, everywhere
7. Hardware and software in schools are available at low cost and are used (strategically)
8. Industry views graduates as co-workers or entrepreneurs
There is an age old adage that says “two heads are better than one”. Consider collaboration in recent history: Watson and Crick or Page and Brin (Founders of Google).
But did you know it was a collaborative Computer Club about basic programming at a middle school that brought together two minds that would change the future of computing? Yes, those two were of course, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft.
Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually. Why is this so?
Groups tend to learn through “discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other’s ideas”. Perhaps information that is discussed is retained in long term memory. Research by Webb suggests that students who worked collaboratively on math computational problems earned significantly higher scores than those who worked alone. Plus, students who demonstrated lower levels of achievement improved when working in diverse groups.
Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually.
Many consider Vygotsky the father of “social learning”. Vygotsky was an education rebel in many ways. Vygotsky controversially argued for educators to assess students’ ability to solve problems, rather than knowledge acquisition. The idea of collaborative learning has a lot to do with Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development”. It considers what a student can do if aided by peers and adults. By considering this model for learning, we might consider collaboration to increase students’ awareness of other concepts.
Establish group goals. Effective collaborative learning involves establishment of group goals, as well as individual accountability. This keeps the group on task and establishes an unambiguous purpose. Before beginning an assignment, it is best to define goals and objectives to save time.
Keep groups midsized. Small groups of 3 or less lack enough diversity and may not allow divergent thinking to occur. Groups that are too large create “freeloading” where not all members participate. A moderate size group of 4-5 is ideal.
Establish flexible group norms.Research suggests that collaborative learning is influenced by the quality of interactions. Interactivity and negotiation are important in group learning. In the 1960’s studies by Jacobs and Campbell suggested that norms are pervasive, even deviant norms were handed down and not questioned. If you notice a deviant norm, you can do two things: rotate group members or assist in using outside information to develop a new norm. You may want to establish rules for group interactions for younger students. Older students might create their own norms. But remember, given their durable nature, it is best to have flexible norms. Norms should change with situations so that groups do not become rigid and intolerant or develop sub-groups.
Build trust and promote open communication. Successful interpersonal communication must exist in teams. Building trust is essential. Deal with emotional issues that arise immediately and any interpersonal problems before moving on. Assignments should encourage team members to explain concepts thoroughly to each other. Studies found that students who provide and receive intricate explanations gain most from collaborative learning. Open communication is key.
For larger tasks, create group roles. Decomposing a difficult task into parts to saves time. You can then assign different roles. A great example in my own classroom was in science lab, fifth grade student assumed different roles of group leader, recorder, reporter, and fact checker. The students might have turns to choose their own role and alternate roles by sections of the assignment or classes.
Create a pre-test and post-test. A good way to ensure the group learns together would be to engage in a pre and post-test. In fact, many researchers use this method to see if groups are learning. An assessment gives the team a goal to work towards and ensures learning is a priority. It also allows instructors to gauge the effectiveness of the group. Changes can be made if differences are seen in the assessments over time. Plus, you can use Bloom’s taxonomy to further hone in on specific skills. Individuals should also complete surveys evaluating how well the group functioned. “Debriefing” is an important component of the learning process and allows individuals to reflect on the process of group learning.
Consider the learning process itself as part of assessment.Many studies such as those by Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins have considered how cooperative learning helps children develop social and interpersonal skills. Experts have argued that the social and psychological effect on self-esteem and personal development are just as important as the learning itself. In terms of assessment, it may be beneficial to grade students on the quality of discussion, engagement, and adherence to group norms. Praise younger groups for following collaborative learning standards. This type of learning is a process and needs explicit instruction in beginning stages. Assessing the process itself provides motivation for students to learn how to behave in groups. It shows students that you value meaningful group interactions and adhering to norms.
Consider using different strategies, like the Jigsaw technique. The jigsaw strategy is said to improve social interactions in learning and support diversity. The workplace is often like a jigsaw. It involves separating an assignment into subtasks, where individuals research their assigned area. Students with the same topic from different groups might meet together to discuss ideas between groups. This type of collaboration allows students to become “experts” in their assigned topic. Students then return to their primary group to educate others. Here are some easy steps to follow the Jigsaw approach. There are other strategies discussed here by the University of Iowa, such as using clusters, buzz groups, round robin, leaning cells, or fish bowl discussions.
Allow groups to reduce anxiety. When tackling difficult concepts, group learning may provide a source of support. Groups often use humor and create a more relaxed learning atmosphere that allow for positive learning experiences. Allow groups to use some stress-reducing strategies as long as they stay on task.
Establish group interactions. The quality of discussions is a predictor of the achievement of the group. Instructors should provide a model of how a successful group functions. Shared leadership is best. Students should work together on the task and maintenance functions of a group. Roles are important in group development. Task functions include:
Challenging assumptions/devil’s advocate
Providing or researching information
Reaching a consensus.
Maintenance involves the harmony and emotional well-being of a group. Maintenance includes roles such as:
sensing group feelings
compromising and encouraging
bringing people into discussion
Use a real world problems. Experts suggest that project-based learning using open-ended questions can be very engaging. Rather than spending a lot of time designing an artificial scenario, use inspiration from everyday problems. Real world problems can be used to facilitate project-based learning and often have the right scope for collaborative learning.
Focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Design assignments that allow room for varied interpretations. Different types of problems might focus on categorizing, planning, taking multiple perspectives, or forming solutions. Try to use a step-by step procedure for problem solving. Mark Alexanderexplains one generally accepted problem-solving procedure:
Identify the objective.
Set criteria or goals.
Generate options or courses of action.
Evaluate the options using data and objectives.
Reach a decision
Implement the decision
Keep in mind the diversity of groups. Mixed groups that include a range of talents, backgrounds, learning styles, ideas, and experiences are best. Studies have found that mixed aptitude groups tend to learn more from each other and increase achievement of low performers. Rotate groups so students have a chance to learn from others.
Groups with an equal number of boys and girls are best. Equally balanced gender groups were found to be most effective. Some research suggests that boys were more likely to receive and give elaborate explanations and their stances were more easily accepted by the group. In majority male groups girls were ignored. In majority girl groups, girls tended to direct questions to the boy who often ignored them. You may also want to specifically discuss or establish gender equality as a norm. This may seem obvious, but it is often missed. It may be an issue you may want to discuss with older students.
Use scaffolding or diminished responsibility as students begin to understand concepts. At the beginning of a project, you may want to give more direction than the end. Serve as a facilitator, such as by gauging group interactions or at first, providing a list of questions to consider. Allow groups to grow in responsibility as times goes on. In your classroom, this may mean allowing teams to develop their own topics or products as time goes on. After all, increased responsibility over learning is a goal in collaborative learning.
Include different types of learning scenarios.Studies suggests that collaborative learning that focuses on rich contexts and challenging questions produces higher order reasoning. Assignments can include laboratory work, study teams, debates, writing projects, problem solving, and collaborative writing.
Technology makes collaborative learning easier. Collaboration had the same results via technology as in person, increased learning opportunities. Try incorporating free savvy tools for online collaboration such as Stixy, an online shared whiteboard space, Google groups, or Mikogo for online meetings. Be aware that some research suggests that more exchanges related to planning rather than challenging viewpoints occurred more frequently through online interactions. This may be because the research used students that did not know one another. If this is your scenario, you may want to start by having students get to know each other’s backgrounds and ideas beforehand on a blog or chat-board.
Keep in mind the critics. As with any learning strategy, it’s important to have a balanced approach. Cynics usually have a valid point. A recent New York time article, cites some criticism of collaboration for not allowing enough time for individual, creative thinking. You may allow some individual time to write notes before the groups begin. This may be a great way to assess an individual grade.
Be wary of “group think”. While collaborative learning is a great tool, it is always important to consider a balanced approach. At times, group harmony can override the necessity for more critical perspectives. Some new research suggests that groups favored the more confident members. Changing up groups can help counter this problem.
Value diversity. Collaborative learning relies on some buy in. Students need to respect and appreciate each other’s viewpoints for it to work. For instance, class discussions can emphasize the need for different perspectives. Create a classroom environment that encourages independent thinking. Teach students the value of multiplicity in thought. You may want to give historical or social examples where people working together where able to reach complex solutions.
By definition learning is social in nature. Using different mediums, whether it be books, discussions, technology or projects we study and develop new ideas. We impart ideas and share perspectives with others. Collaboration is a learned process.
If managed correctly, it is powerful tool that can allow educators to tap into new ideas and information.
From the moment the first caveman interrupted his fellow Neanderthal with a grunt, the art of listening has been under attack.
We may think 21st-century technology is the culprit for making all of us poor listeners, but really listening is a skill that has never been a default part of human nature. Each of us is geared toward maximizing our own self-interest, and truly absorbing another person’s thoughts through spoken communication means temporarily setting aside that self-interest. We can’t think of a better time than the holidays to learn a few forgotten tenets about the craft of listening.
Listen actively, the right wayEvery article on listening will have an obligatory mention of active listening, which we have all taken to mean: Every time the speaker finishes a sentence, you should say, “What I hear you saying is …” and then repeat their words back to them, slightly rephrased. But that is merely proving you’ve heard. Relationship guru/Oprah creation Dr. Phil explains that reflection of feeling, not fact, is more important in active listening. It involves not just parroting but processing, so that instead of replying to news of a dead grandmother with “When’s the funeral?,” you say, “I’m so sorry; you must be very upset.”
Clean your lensesUsually subconsciously, each of us sees the world through lenses, or filters, as some call it. These are complex constructs of our ego, our belief system, our fears, our prejudices, and more. The problem is, these lenses tend to color the way we take in information by listening. To listen effectively (and not just hear what you want to hear), you have to remember to check yourself to ensure your own biases and preconceived notions are not distorting the message. A sure sign this needs to happen is when you catch yourself judging the speaker or labeling them with a generality or stereotype.
Make allowances for gender differencesYou may swear up and down that you know this rule, but in the heat of an argument with your significant other, it usually goes right out the window (so maybe “little-remembered” is more accurate). Science has told us men only listen with half their brains, while women use the whole thing. This means that men can either think or feel, but they can’t do both simultaneously. Both men and women need to remain conscious of this fact while communicating. If it seems he is only listening to the facts so he can solve the problem, he’s simply defaulting to the “thinking” side. Guys, remember she may not want you to solve the problem; she may be more interested in communicating feelings to you. In that (frequent) case, engage the feeling side of your brain.
Listen optimisticallyIn today’s world of next-day shipping and instant streaming, we’ve gotten used to getting what we want when we want it, which is roughly now to five seconds ago. But conversation is a leisurely activity that shouldn’t be rushed; it often needs time to unfold organically and wind its way around before concluding or even finding its footing. If you go into it expected to be bored or offended (thanks to your filters), you probably will be, and at the very least your listening will be impaired. Instead, give your partner the benefit of the doubt and listen expecting to hear something important or worthwhile, either to you or the speaker. Think of it is an opportunity not to be entertained, but to perform a service.
Don’t miss what the body language is sayingA picture is worth a thousand words, right? Body language can be not only an opportunity to get the complete message (that may even contradict the words that are being said), it is a way for the listener to convey genuine concern and attention to what a speaker is saying. The eyes — known as “the window to the soul” — often speak volumes. Posture is a biggie; teachers can tell in one second which students are paying attention with a single glance around the room. Facial expression, proximity, and gestures can all factor in, as well.
Mastering listening requires trainingAs auditory neuroscientist Seth Horowitz pointed out in a recent New York Times piece, what separates listening from hearing is attention. Our hearing sense is a primitive self-defense mechanism that is still working even while we’re asleep and that is present even in the simplest creatures. However, good listening is not innate but can be improved with practice. Horowitz recommended listening to unfamiliar music, the pitch and timbre of your dog’s barks, and your loved one’s voice.
Find the motiveThe goal of listening is to be able to empathize with the speaker, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world through another’s eyes. And like a detective investigating a murder, you have to first establish a motive for your speaker before you can have empathy for them. This is easier to do when the speaker is a person you know well, but when you don’t have any idea where a person is coming from, you’ll have to tactfully ask a few probing questions just to assemble enough information about his or her circumstances to be able to listen adroitly.
Setting mattersAs with a good home theater, the environment for communication can make as much of a difference as the tools being used (and often it is similarly overlooked). Putting yourself on equal footing with the speaker is important, like both of you standing or both of you sitting. Obviously anything you can do to make the scene quieter will enhance your ability to listen, as will any setting that allows you to make eye contact and demonstrate good body language, as we’ve mentioned.
Quiet your mindSince we’ve touched on the subject of quiet, there is a similar rule that is no less important to good listening: taming your thoughts. The phrase “monkey mind” has secured a spot in the vernacular as an accurate metaphor for the way our brains pop from one thought to the next, even when we’re supposed to be meditating or paying attention in class. However you overcome this distraction, whether by focused breathing or intense concentration, you’ll have to block those thoughts out to listen skillfully. Have you gotten the picture that artful listen involves work on your part yet?
Don’t think ahead“Be prepared” is a wise maxim, but thinking ahead has no place in the art of listening. Forecasting what a speaker is about to say robs a listener of his attention and handcuffs his ability to follow along in the moment. Mentally predicting what someone else is going to say also inherently involves making assumptions (and we all know what those make out of you and me). This rule is part of the previous one about keeping your thoughts from running rampant and is difficult to pull off, but if you can your listening skills will be the better for it.
In leadership circles, we often talk about the desire to work toward consensus within our organizations. The concept of working together as a group to reach a decision that everybody can support sounds like Leadership 101—but is it? Is it possible that some of what has stalled progress for many schools is commitment to consensus above all else? Could the compulsion to reach common ground actually be halting educational progress?
Imagine this scenario—there are five teachers in a departmental meeting discussing curriculum alignment and modifications. Teacher A wants to teach eight units and Teacher B wants to teach six. The other teachers do not voice an opinion either way. Within 20 minutes the group decides to teach seven units, and they move forward. Consensus was reached, and everybody left the meeting with high spirits and relationships intact.
If the end in mind was for the department to agree upon what would be taught—the meeting accomplished its goal. If the end in mind was to work collaboratively together to ensure that the best possible product was put in place for student consumption—this meeting may well have been a failure.
“So, are you saying as a leader you should not seek consensus?”
No—but before being content with consensus, a leader must work to accomplish several things first:
Promote Student-Centered Conversation
Seeking consensus can often become an adult-centered proposition. In many cases, meetings that involve adults working toward consensus are dictated by the adult desire to preserve what they value. That may be a particular unit of study, job consistency, relationships with their colleagues, or any other of a myriad of reasons. Whatever the reason—if it is not strictly what is best for students and what supports the mission and vision of the school, it is simply not the right reason. In contrast, providing focus as to the global purpose and the ‘why’ for each meeting promotes student-centered conversation.
As much as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are promoting argumentative literacy—so should you as a leader. Collaboration is a learned skill—many educators need a refresher course in order to master it. A collaborative culture exudes trust, willingness to engage or participate, and the willingness to listen to ideas counter to yours without taking them personally. This is extraordinarily difficult, since teaching is so personal. In order to promote a collaborative culture and to keep interactions professional, it is often necessary to create meeting norms.
Create Meeting Norms
Norms are designed to influence behavior and allow for greater results. It is important, however, that the list of norms does not become so exhaustive that it stifles creativity. It is also of the utmost importance that if norms are established, they are monitored and observed. Norms for effective meetings need not be a long, cumbersome list. Below is a list of norms to support student-centered, collaborative meetings that will lead to a valuable consensus:
Begin and end on time.
State the purpose of the meeting and stick to that purpose.
Every member present must participate at some point in each meeting.
All commentary and suggestions are vetted by asking, “Is this a student-centered manner of moving forward?”
Disagreements are professional, not personal, and are to remain that way.
If the meeting results in an action item, it is to be collaboratively agreed to (via consensus) and supported with fidelity.
If Necessary, Mold Consensus
Leadership must remain adaptive. As the world around us (along with the educational context) changes, it may become necessary for the leader to not only facilitate a collaborative and supportive culture that will lead to positive decisions being made, but also have many conversations, provide contextual background, and occasionally teach team members before entering into a consensus-seeking conversation.
As a school leader, it is not enough to seek consensus—you must build a culture that welcomes collaboration and remains student-centered. Occasionally, you also must mold consensus. Moving forward with collective support of the school’s vision allows for far greater and more impactful school improvement efforts. Thus, gaining consensus is extremely important for a school leader—but only when that consensus was formed after true collaboration and with a focus on students first.
Today is Banned Website Awareness Day, and all across the country, educators are doing their part to raise awareness of how overly restrictive blocking of educational websites affects student learning.
The dialogue around filtering must also include bring-your-own-device policies, appropriateuse of social media in schools, and overall responsible use of technology in school. Each of these issues plays an important part in the equation that influences school policy around filtering websites. For example, do students and teachers use social media sites like Edmodo or even Facebook for class purposes? Are educational videos on YouTube part of teachers’ curriculum? In large school districts, does it make sense to have individual school policies? Are students allowed to use their cell phones?
Part of the investigation into what filtering policies to put in place revolves around understanding current rules and regulations — and that’s the problem, according to Michelle Luhtala, a librarian at New Cannan High School and one of the primary organizers of Banned Websites Awareness Day.
“People believe the rules are far more restrictive than they really are.”
“People believe the rules are far more restrictive than they really are,” she said. “Most people are working off of policies that predate 2003, and so much has happened since then, and continues to happen.”
In a recent survey of nearly 700 teachers, principals, and school librarians, conducted by MMS Education and co-sponsored by edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data, 55% of respondents said they had somewhat restrictive policies of access to Web 2.0 tools (social media sites) for teachers, and 23% said they had very restrictive policies. And when it came to students, 44% said they had somewhat restrictive policies of access, and 47% said they had very restrictive policies.
Most of the blocked sites are either social media sites, or have some element of public sharing of information, and that’s where school administrators need to be more flexible, Luhtala said. “Administration more than teachers need to open their minds to the value and potential of social networking for educational use,” wrote a survey respondent. “CIPA needs to be spelled out more specifically or made clearer to IT in education so that filters are not blocking sites unnecessarily.”
In the meantime, what should educators do when they try to access a site in school that’s blocked by the school’s filter? Luhtala offers the following advice.
PRESENT FACTS. Direct people to the Department of Education’s suggestions in this article (posted below). “This is a really valuable resource for tech directors who aren’t well informed about the details of legal aspects,” Luhtala said. “Sometimes IT directors tell other IT directors who say, ‘Just do what the lawyers say,’ and it becomes a giant case of the game Telephone. The DOE is the ultimate authority, so this article forces them to look at their agenda and policies.”
CREATE A DIALOGUE. Start a conversation with people who manage the filtering system. “A lot of policies have been in place for 10 years or more,” Luhtala said. “Sometimes they assume products are inherently bad, but if they understand that they can be tools for learning, they can see constructive purposes.”
GET AN EARLY ADOPTER ON BOARD AND TAKE BABY STEPS. Collaborate with an innovator, and see if you can work on a project that includes a site you want unblocked. Get parent and school authorization to try out the pilot project and document the process along the way in order to share best practices. Try it out for five weeks and see how it goes.
WADE INTO SOCIAL MEDIA. For those who have yet to start using social media with students, Luhtala suggests “take steps to try to understand what all the fuss is about.” But that will take time and training, as one survey respondent pointed out. “I believe it offers us potential opportunities to further engage our students. However, in order to maximize this potential we must provide teachers and students with additional trainings,” the anonymous respondent wrote in the survey.
Accessing YouTube is not violating CIPA rules. “Absolutely it’s not circumventing the rules,” Cator says. “The rule is to block inappropriate sites. All sorts of YouTube videos are helpful in explaining complex concepts or telling a story, or for hearing an expert or an authentic voice — they present learning opportunities that are really helpful.”
Websites don’t have to be blocked for teachers. “Some of the comments I saw online had to do with teachers wondering why they can’t access these sites,” she says. “They absolutely can. There’s nothing that says that sites have to be blocked for adults.”
Broad filters are not helpful. “What we have had is what I consider brute force technologies that shut down wide swaths of the Internet, like all of YouTube, for example. Or they may shut down anything that has anything to do with social media, or anything that is a game,” she said. “These broad filters aren’t actually very helpful, because we need much more nuanced filtering.”
Schools will not lose E-rate funding by unblocking appropriate sites. Cator said she’s never heard of a school losing E-rate funding due to allowing appropriate sites blocked by filters. See the excerpt below from the National Education Technology Plan, approved by officials who dictate E-rate rules.
Kids need to be taught how to be responsible digital citizens. “[We need to] address the topic at school or home in the form of education,” Cator says. “How do we educate this generation of young people to be safe online, to be secure online, to protect their personal information, to understand privacy, and how that all plays out when they’re in an online space?”
Teachers should be trusted. “If the technology fails us and filters something appropriate and useful, and if teachers in their professional judgment think it’s appropriate, they should be able to show it,” she said. “Teachers need to impose their professional judgment on materials that are available to their students.”
“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” ~ Bill Gates
I have been integrating technology with students since 1997. I remember some of the first technologies I used with students were a TV/VCR, cassette recorders, cameras, polaroids, large video cameras, large desktop computers, microscopes, telescopes, the Internet, a transparency projector, and a video projector. Now I use iPads, mobile phones, iPods, digital cameras, and still the Internet. I was fortunate to start off my official teacher training at a hands-on science and history museum. We had access to some pretty cool tools like a green screen studio (kids could report the weather and be recorded like a professional), state of the art telescopes, and video microscopes. Lessons were taught in and around the museum so it was also one of the best learning environments. I remember being so new to teaching and still in college. My classes ranged from 10 to 50 depending on if it was a camp-in or summer long museum program. We had to develop the curriculum for those 3 months of classes each year and had the kids 8 hours a day. My director always reminded us to make it hands-on and related to the real world. The idea was to get students to see that history and science surrounded them. I still use a lot of this training now when I integrate technology. I believe the students should be moving around as much as possible and using the technology to discover the world around them. I also believe they should produce, create, problem-solve, and think critically with technology. I like to get them working in pairs or groups and also collaborating with their peers worldwide. Mostly, we also have fun! My motto has always been that if students leave my classroom thinking learning is fun then I have given them the desire to be continuous learners. In my opinion, too many schools make learning boring, tedious, and difficult for learners.
Maybe you’re new to integrating technology or just need a few pointers. I know that most teachers were not blessed with the technology training I received. I am posting a few tips to help you out this year that I found while reading posts from my Personal/Passionate Learning Network (PLN). I hope these tips help inspire you! And one of the best things I can recommend to help you successfully integrate technology, is to get connected. Begin to develop your own PLN by interacting with educators on Social Media.
Tip: Get ideas from other teachers. Usually a teacher who submits a lesson plan or idea online has already went through the mistakes and evaluated if the lesson worked. You can find several lesson plans for various technology tools at Ideas to Inspire. Just click on the tool and you will be led to various presentations! Below this are Tom Barrett’s famous Interesting Ways to Use presentations that have various ideas on how to use a tool submitted by teachers worldwide.
Tip: Make sure the technology supports higher order thinking skills and learning objectives. Kelly Tenkely and others have created their versions of Digital Blooms Taxonomy to help you see which free tools are out there that support various tasks.
New Pedagogies for the Digital Age is a presentation by Steve Wheeler that walks you through effectively technology integration. It covers pedagogy, what students should be doing with the technology, and highlights how the classroom environment should reflect this learning.
Tip: Prepare, get the knowledge, and reflect! In this post, Nicky Hockly shares 8 key questions to ask yourself when integrating technology. Below that is a presentation created by various teachers providing 25 Techy Tips for Not so Techy Teachers.
Tip: Have fun with it! Create your own holiday greetings or send your creations to family members. This way you learn the tool and get to have fun as well! The Nerdy Teacher has several fun technology integration posts in a series called, “Everything I Learned About Technology Integration, I Learned From..” and he includes StarWars, 80′s Movies and more!
Tip: Involve the community in your technology integration. If parents are using various technology to get information about the school then it may become more normalized. It’s a good way to ease parents and students into using technology. Below is an excellent example of how Burlington High School uses various social media to communicate with parents and the community.
Tip: Have your students discover how to use a tool, then teach the class or school. This idea comes from Jerry Swiatek who had his students do this in an event he hosts at his school called StudentCon. Below is a video of the event. Please begin at 17min 45 seconds so you can see the student presentation.Sorry for any pop-ups from Ustream.
The Horizon K-12 Report- This is a free ebook of various technology trends and examples of how they are employed in schools worldwide. I was happy to be one of the collaborators of this project!
21 Things for 21st Century Teachers- walks you through virtual sessions and covers everything you need to know to integrate technology effectively. You will learn about teaching digital citizenship, AUPs, various web tools, and so much more!
The art of collaborating is a fine art, and most of the time we are really just just having students do group work when we think we are having them collaborate.
As educators, we have to crack the collaboration code. Studies and surveys have indicated that collaboration is an essential and sought-after skill in the job market. Strategists predict that corporations will operate much more like the film industry in the future. When a film is made, contractors from numerous fields (camera crews, art departments, writers, directors, actors, set design, marketing, finance, etc.) collaborate for weeks or months at a time to work on the film project. The rise of super-structured organizations, new media ecology, smart machines, and a globally connected world will make future graduates’ collaboration abilities a make-or-break job skill.
Collaboration vs. Group Work
True collaboration in school can be like herding cats. Marshalling a bunch of 6th graders into basic group work can be a task in itself. Actually, marshalling a bunch of teachers into productive work groups at the end of the day is an equally difficult task after those teachers have spent all day trying to do the same with said students. Adults need to have team building exercises that lead up to jumping out of an airplane together before they feel confident enough to really work together.
Photos used under Creative Commons from Graells
Collaboration is an advanced level of group work, and it is a learned skill. It involves sharing knowledge, learning, building consensus, planning, and implementation. Anthropologists suggest it’s why we built civilizations and apes did not. But unless we learn how to collaborate, unless it is modeled for us, we are not very good at it. In schools, when we put six kids together for group work, it pretty much pans out this way: One does the work, one marginally helps a little, one manages to look busy, and three totally sluff off. But our directions for these unskilled collaborators are often something like this: Okay, now we’re going to work in groups.
So why are we surprised at the results? We need collaboration to have instructions, be modeled, and be monitored.
If you really want to collaborate, you need to bring together different skills sets and expertise. You can’t just lock six accountants together in a room and expect the taxation burden in the U.S. to be solved. It’s more than getting the numbers in the right order. When they assembled the The Avengers, they didn’t just go out and get six Scarlett Johanssons. And while that might sound like a pretty good idea, Marvel knew they needed a diverse skill set to save the world.
Similarly, if you really want to collaborate at your school, it needs to be across disciplines to reflect a real-world environment. Bring together a math, science, music, foreign language, art, and history student into the same group. This will be a great opportunity for them to showcase those class skills outside of classroom with a real-world problem. This is a goal we should have with all of our classes, and what an exciting opportunity it is. This will take some coordination, but the process will be worth students going through, and results will be more meaningful. And . . . hopefully . . . the students will go back to their classroom teachers to bug them with real-world applications for what they are studying.
Creating a Collaboration Plan
Here’s a sample strategy on how to roll out a real, 21st-century collaborative project at your school.
1. Get departments to agree that if students take part in the school’s collaborative project, all teachers will accept the participating students’ project grades as an extra credit grade or actual grade in their classes. So even before you get the students to collaborate, you will need to get teachers to come to a consensus. The project will be directly related to a student’s class, so that should make it more palatable for each department.
2. Establish a range of collaboration topics for which students can sign up. Give the students a chance to determine their own paths here. Here’s a popular list of grand challenges, but tailor it to fit your needs or to better reflect your community.
3. Have students register for their favorite topic by using something like Google Forms to collect registration information. Students must pick one class in their schedules from which they will bring that class’s expertise or skill set to the project. This is the class in which they will get their extra credit or additional grade. If it’s for their French class, for example, they will use their French skills in the project. If it’s for their math class, they will apply their math skills. If they are in a leadership class or SGA, then they can have a great opportunity to lead the group. Music and art students will add those layers to the project and so on.
4. After students have registered, you need to create their groups for them. Be sure to get a diverse mix of disciplines in each group, just as if you were assembling your own Avengers team.
5. Have students meet in their groups. Since they are in different classes, have them meet online in something like Join.me or a Google+ Hangout. This can even happen during school hours as students won’t have to leave their classroom to meet with their collaboration partners.
6. Teams can use a Conceptboard to plan their strategy for tackling the grand challenge.
7. Have students research their grand challenge by using Google’s new WDYL search engine. The “What Do You Love” search engine searches across Google’s channels and delivers all the results on one page. It’s a great place to start a research project. Give it a try now if you’ve not used it before. Here’s a WDYL search on collaboration. Remind students that they have to relate their project work back to their courses. Each student wears a specialized hat for this project.
8. Have students share their search results via Twitter, short blog posts, or on Delicious. If you’ve not used Delicious or if you’ve not used it since the YouTube guys bought it, you need to check it out. It’s a great place to curate and tag what you find on the Internet. Blogger is a free and easy place for the blog posts. Although, if your school has a portfolio program, use that!
At this point in the project, students are not working on a solution for their grand challenge. They are just defining the problem and sharing their knowledge via the social networks.
9. It’s time for the group’s first publication. While continuing to meet via the net or occasionally in person, students should now clearly define and publish what the problem is. This polished publication can go on Blogger or in the school’s portfolio. A video or Slideshare will work just as well, or a combination of all three is even better. Students should go global and local in defining the problem. If there are students from a foreign language class in the group, that language is where the global focus should be.
10. Market the publication by creating an amped up video on Animoto. In a short period of time, students can create a powerful music video that will bring attention to their cause.
11. It’s now solution time. Students should create solutions for their grand challenges on the local and global level or they can endorse and promote solutions that others have already launched. The solution phase should include an awareness campaign that motivates others to become involved. Back to Blogger for this final showcase and don’t forget a new Animoto marketing video!
Answering common questions about MIT and Harvard’s new partnership in online education. MIT News, May 2, 2012
What is edX?
An organization established by MIT and Harvard University that will develop an open-source technology platform to deliver online courses. EdX will support Harvard and MIT faculty in conducting research on teaching and learning on campus through tools that enrich classroom and laboratory experiences. At the same time, edX will also reach learners around the world through online course materials. The edX website will begin by hosting MITx and Harvardx content, with the goal of adding content from other universities interested in joining the platform. edX will also support the Harvard and MIT faculty in conducting research on teaching and learning.
What are MITx and Harvardx?
Portfolios of MIT and Harvard online courses offered to learners around the world through edX.
What technology will edX use?
An open-source online learning platform that will feature teaching designed specifically for the Web. Features will include: self-paced learning, online discussion groups, wiki-based collaborative learning, assessment of learning as a student progresses through a course, and online laboratories. The platform will also serve as a laboratory from which data will be gathered to better understand how students learn. Because it is open-source, the platform will be improved continuously.
Is there anything innovative about the online technology?
Yes. It will move beyond the standard model of online education that relies on watching video content and will offer an interactive experience for students. And the technology will be open-source; other universities will be able to leverage the innovative technology to create their own online offerings.
Why are MIT and Harvard doing this?
To improve education on campus and around the world:
On campus, edX research will enhance our understanding of how students learn and how technologies can best be used as part of our larger efforts to improve teaching and learning.
Beyond our campuses, edX will expand access to education, allow for certificates of mastery to be earned by able learners, and make the open-source platform available to other institutions.
Why did Harvard and MIT decide to partner with each other?
We share a vision for greater access to education. Based on our long history of collaboration, we know we can leverage our strengths to best serve the world.
How is this different from what other universities are doing online?
EdX will be entirely our universities’ shared educational missions. Also, a primary goal of edX is to improve teaching and learning on campus by supporting faculty from both universities in conducting significant research on how students learn.
Who will lead edX?
EdX is a priority for the leadership of both Harvard and MIT, and it will be governed by a board made up of key leaders from both institutions, appointed by each university’s president. Anant Agrawal, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, will be the initial president of edX and will report to the board.
Does the effort have a staff?
EdX is a significant undertaking that will require significant resources. The full scope of the staff has not been determined, but there will be a staff dedicated to the initiative.
Who can take edX courses? Will there be an admissions process?
EdX will be available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection, and in general, there will not be an admissions process. For a modest fee — and as determined by the edX board, MIT and Harvard — credentials will be granted only to students who earn them by demonstrating mastery of the material of a subject.
Will the certificates be awarded by Harvard and/or MIT?
As determined by the edX board, MIT and Harvard, online learners who demonstrate mastery of subjects could earn a certificate of completion, but such certificates would not be issued under the name of Harvard or MIT.
What will the scope of the online courses be? How many? Which faculty?
Our goal is to offer a wide variety of courses across disciplines.
Will Harvard and MIT students be able to take these courses for credit?
No. MITx and Harvardx courses will not be offered for credit at either university. The online content will be used to extend and enrich on-campus courses.
How will success be measured?
Progress in student-learning research and the demand for online courses will both be measured as indications of success. However, a plan for measuring the full success of edX will be developed in consultation with faculty from MIT and Harvard.
Who is the learner? Domestic or international? Age range?
Improving teaching and learning for students on our campuses is one of our primary goals. Beyond that, we don’t have a target group of potential learners, as the goal is to make these courses available to anyone in the world — from any demographic — who has interest in advancing their own knowledge. The only requirement is to have a computer with an Internet connection.
Many institutions are partnering in this space. Is the MIT/Harvard partnership exclusive? Will other institutions be able to collaborate with edX?
It is our intention that over time other universities will join MIT and Harvard in offering courses on the edX platform. The gathering of many universities’ educational content together on one site will enable learners worldwide to access the course content of any participating university from a single website, and to use a set of online educational tools shared by all participating universities.
Will MIT and Harvard standards apply here?
The reach changes exponentially, but the rigor remains the same.
How do you intend to test whether this approach is improving learning?
Both institutions have assembled faculty who will look at data collection and analytical tools for assessing the results.
Introducing technology into the curriculum means more than just “making it work.” The principles of adult learning theory can be used in the design of technology-based instruction to make it more effective. Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy allows teacher/facilitators to structure lessons which are part of a relevant learning environment for adults students.
Higher education has given priority to the integration of technology into the curriculum. As this has occurred, institutions are faced with the many issues that surround making the lessons succeed technologically. Faculty must spend time learning how to use the technology and ensuring that adequate institutional support is present to make the technology work. It is, therefore, easy for the instructional design of such curricula to be put on the side while we get technology issues “under control.” Faculty need to focus on learning theory in the design of instructional technology so that they can create lessons that are not only technology-effective but that are meaningful from the learner’s standpoint. Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy outlines effective methodologies for adult learning. When this theory is integrated into the design of technology-based learning environments it is possible to create lessons that not only serve the needs of students to use the latest technology but also focus on their requirements as an adult. Andragogy includes ideas such as an adult’s readiness to learn, the role of the learner’s experiences, the faculty member as a facilitator of learning, an adult’s orientation to learning, and the learner’s self concept.
What is Andragogy?
Andragogy is a set of assumptions about how adults learn. Its roots can be traced back to Alexander Kapp, a German grammar teacher who used it to describe Plato’s educational theory (Knowles, Holton, and Swanson 1998, 59). It appeared again in 1921 when another German, Social Scientist, Eugen Rosenstock claimed that “adult education required special teachers, special methods, and a special philosophy.” (Knowles, Holton, and Swanson 1998, 59) There is evidence that discussion of andragogy continued in Europe until Dusan Savicevic, a Yugoslavian adult educator, first discussed the concept in the United States. Malcolm Knowles heard about the term and in 1968 used it in an article in Adult Leadership. From that point on, Knowles has become known as the principle expert on andragogy although numerous adult educators including Brookfield (1986), Mezirow (1991), Lawler (1991) and Merriam (1999) have addressed the concept and/or discussed how it can be used to facilitate adult learning.
Technology and the Assumptions of Andragogy
Knowles, Holton and Swanson (1998) discuss six assumptions of andragogy. Following are expanded definitions of those assumptions with their implications for technology-based instruction:
· The Learner’s Need to Know
Adults need to know why they should learn something. Under the more standard pedagogical model it is assumed that the student will simply learn what they are told. Adults, however, are used to understanding what they do in life. They want to know the reason they need to learn something or how it will benefit them. This may be accomplished before students even engage technology, such as if a Spanish class is required to fill a language elective to complete a degree, however, it is wise for the faculty member to help students understand how what they will learn will be of use to them in the future. The required Spanish language lessons will be more affective if the student feels that it will increase her/his ability to understand a bilingual colleague on the job.
One way to help students see the value of the lessons is to ask the student, either online or in an initial face-to-face meeting, to do some reflection on what they expect to learn, how they might use it in the future or how it will help them to meet their goals. Patricia Lawler (1991, 36) suggests that these goals and expectations can be used throughout the program to reinforce the importance of learning activities. The design of technology-based lessons can incorporate not only the students’ original reflections but can solicit feedback about the relevance of the ongoing learning process throughout the course. It is incumbent upon the instructor to review these reflections and to adjust the technology or suggest an individual lesson structure to more effectively meet student needs.
· The Learner’s Self-concept
Knowles, Holton, and Swanson emphasize that “adults resent and resist situations in which they feel others are imposing their wills on them.” (1998, 65) In spite of their need for autonomy, previous schooling has made them dependent learners. It is the job of the adult educator to move adult students away from their old habits and into new patterns of learning where they become self-directed, taking responsibility for their own learning and the direction it takes. Technology is a perfect path for the facilitation of self-direction. The ultimate ability of initiatives such as web-based learning to be non-linear allows an adult to follow the path that most appropriately reflects their need to learn. It becomes extremely important for those who are designing technology-based adult learning to use all of the capabilities of the technology including branching, the ability to skip sections a student already understands, and multiple forms of presentation of material which can assist people with various learning styles. All of these can be used to permit students to follow a path of learning that most appropriately suits them.
There is, however, one final piece that needs to be added when students are learning with technology. There must be some way to help learners who are still moving into the self-directed mode. Those learners who are new to adult education or who for some reason have not experienced the ability to be self-directed learners in the past need a structure which will help them to grow. Particular attention should be given to students who may not want to spend time outside of a classroom situation; who prefer to be spoon-fed material during a regularly scheduled session. This type of student may exhibit negative opinions of having to use technology as the only means of learning as they will need to take responsibility and direct their own learning. The instructor must find ways to move these learners into self-direction by giving them short, directed, concrete online tasks that provide the most “learning for the experience” to make these adults see the relevancy of online learning.
It is also important that self-directedness not be confused with self-motivation. Although a student may be motivated to take a course, they may not be self-directed enough to feel comfortable choosing instructional modules in an online course or creating their own structured environment to learn in a web-based course.
Encouraging self-directedness may also take the form of additional instructor contact in the beginning stages of the class or could be facilitated by having students do technology-based modules within a traditional class before they move to a complete course based in technology.
· The Role of the Learner’s Experience
Adults have had a lifetime of experiences. These make adult learners more heterogeneous than younger learners and also provides an additional base of knowledge that can and should be used in the classroom or technology-based learning experience. Adults want to use what they know and want to be acknowledged for having that knowledge. The design of technology-based instruction must include opportunities for learners to use their knowledge and experience. Case studies, reflective activities, group projects that call upon the expertise of group members and lab experiments are examples of the type of learning activities which will facilitate the use of learners’ already acquired expertise.
An important corollary to the experience that adults bring with them is the association of their experiences with who they are. Their self-identity including habits and biases are determined from their experience. It is for this reason that those developing technology-based instruction for adult learners need to create opportunities for what Jack Mezirow calls “reflective learning.” (1991, 6) As Mezirow states, “reflective learning involves assessment or reassessment of assumptions” (1991, 6) and “reflective learning becomes transformative whenever assumptions or premises are found to be distorting, inauthentic or otherwise invalid.” (1991, 6) Reflective learning activities can assist students in examining their biases and habits and move them toward a new understanding of information presented. Using web-based or other technologies to have students reflect on learning activities or to put themselves in a different character in a case study or scenario may cause adults to reevaluate already learned information or patterns.
· A Student’s Readiness to Learn
Adults become ready to learn something when, as Knowles explained, “they experience a need to learn it in order to cope more satisfyingly with real-life tasks or problems.” (1980, 44) It is important that lessons developed in technology-based opportunities should, where possible, be concrete and relate to students’ needs and future goals. These may be adapted from the goals of the course or learning program but can also grow out to the requests for student expectations that were mentioned earlier. In addition, an instructor can encourage students’ readiness by designing experiences which simulate situations where the student will encounter a need for the knowledge or skill presented. Students in a personnel management course may not see the need for learning about the Family and Medical Leave Act but an interactive role play that puts students in the place of a manager who must deal with an employee’s request for leave due to a child’s illness will help them see how an understanding of the topic will benefit them in the future.
· The Student’s Orientation to Learning
Adults are life, task or problem-centered in their orientation to learning. They want to see how what they are learning will apply to their life, a task they need to perform, or to solving a problem. Technology-based instruction will be more effective if it uses real-life examples or situations that adult learners may encounter in their life or on the job. Allowing flexibility in the design of a lesson will permit student input on issues that need to be addressed in a class. If students can bring real-life examples of school discipline challenges to a chat session in an online course on behavior management they will be anxious to participate and gain the practical experience which will help them to do better at their job.
· Students’ Motivation to Learn
While adult learners may respond to external motivators, internal priorities are more important. Incentives such as increased job satisfaction, self-esteem and quality of life are important in giving adults a reason to learn. If any of these can be related as part of technology-based instruction adults will respond more positively. Activities that build students’ self-esteem, or sense of accomplishment through, for example, the completion of goals or modules that can be checked off in a sequence, may help motivate completion of a longer lesson. In addition, student’s input into the development of lessons or in the prioritization of topics covered can help students to take ownership of the learning process.
To facilitate the use of andragogy while teaching with technology we must use technology to its fullest. Arguments for the use of technology many times include statements about its flexibility and the ability of the learner to move through lessons any time, anywhere, and at their own pace. These arguments also include logical explanations of how a learner may adapt the lessons or material to cover what they need to learn and eliminate the material that is not appropriate or that they have already learned. To adapt to the needs of adult students, these definitions of technology-based learning must be utilized to make its design interactive, learner-centered and to facilitate self-direction in learners.
Educators who are using adult education concepts in the development of their lessons must also become facilitators of learning. They must structure student input into their design and create technology-based lessons which can easily be adapted to make the presentation of topics relevant to those they teach.
If these guidelines are followed, the instruction that is developed will be not only technologically workable but also effective from a learner’s perspective.