Thursday, April 18, 2013

What should school look like in 2020?

These were questions posed by the MOOC I'm working through right now:

What are the most important ways we need to update K-12 education by 2020?

  • I believe we're barreling toward a very interesting butting of heads in education- the widespread push for students to have more opportunities for personalized learning, to be more creative problem solvers, to think outside the box (or build a new one).....vs. how we are currently assessing students in very standardized, broad ways that do not reflect the very things we say we want from them.  It is going to be incredibly interesting to see how this all plays out in the next 7 years.  I personally believe we are (finally) heading toward a moment where people understand that personalized, digitally infused creative work is where it's at- and a standardized test does more harm than good in the cause of creating creative, flexible, problem solving students.
  • I think the entire notion of schooling needs to be updated.  The world is a different place, where one has a world of information at their fingertips.  When access to content and information is so ubiquitous, the very foundation of schools and "teaching" has to be fundamentally shifted.  It's no longer about imparting knowledge.  It's about facilitating learning, creating an environment for growth, and teachers as expert guides and mentors throughout the process.
  • Another update I believe needs to happen is a shift away from content focus and toward a focus on process.  In other words, we need to stop worrying about all of the bits and pieces of content we've been trying to shove into kids heads- instead let's focus on the learning process.  I once argued that content is king and now I think I've changed on this.  Now I think process is king.  I've pondered this before...

So....what do some of these things mean for digital learning?

When K-12 education  is updated  to fully incorporate digital learning:

  • What will be different for students?
Students will be collaborators, creators, and especially publishers.  Every student, K-12, should have a digital portfolio where they select artifacts of learning that show their growth.  When a student enters the district, it becomes part of their's your login, here's your locker, here's your portfolio space.  And these spaces should be public- open for the world to view.  I've argued this many times in the past, but our students are graduating into a world that will be looking up their digital footprint to make decisions and judgments about them.  It's our duty as educators to prepare them for this world and help them to maintain a positive, powerful footprint that shows off their creativity, passion, and personality.

I also think students, as a result of a more personalized environment, will be much more engaged in their learning process.  I hope it's more of a partnership than a dictatorship.  And the more engaged students are, the more likely they are to stay in school and put forth effort into becoming the types of adults we hope to see.
  • What will be different for teachers?
I think traditional notions of control will go out the window.  Great teachers already know this, of course- the more choice you give students, the more voice you give students, the more you turn your classroom over to students, the better students will perform.  The interesting thing here is that when every kid comes into class and opens up a laptop or unfolds their iPad, a lot of these changes we're hoping to see pretty much become necessity.  You can't stand up and lecture to a group of students with laptops open.  You can't do business as usual, where your quizzes and tests are based on strictly recall of facts.  It just won't work anymore, and that's a good thing.

Anyway, these are my random thoughts on these questions.  It's exciting to think about 7 years from now and how things will be different for our students and teachers!  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

MOOC'in it up

Just throwing it out there that I've started to participate in my very first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).  It is being hosted and organized by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University and is entitled "Digital Learning Transition".  Here's the link.

My new job for Moore County Schools has landed me squarely in the middle of a large shift toward 1:1 and I'm part of the core planning team whose job is to get it right for students.  I'm truly excited to be a part of this and I can't wait to get cracking!!!

This will probably mark a bit of a renaissance on this blog space, which has been long overdue.  I feel like I got burned out on writing for a good two years or so, after putting my book together.  But now I'm getting the itch again and this MOOC will give me plenty to think and reflect about in regards to the directions I personally believe our county should head.

So this post is just a simple shot across the bow!  If you're interested I would love to hear your thoughts as I move through the process.