The Horizon Report 2014 K-12 Edition – Going hybrid

I bought a Toyota Prius last year and I love it!  Its a hybrid, and as such it runs on two a combination of electricity and petrol, powered by two different batteries.  The common misconception is that I must have to do something to charge the hybrid battery, however, it charges itself just like the other battery.  Whenever my car is running under 20km/h it runs on the hybrid battery and when it is not revving very high it runs on the hybrid battery, meaning it does not use any petrol.  I do not have to do anything, it knows what to and makes the switch as needed.  Overall, the fuel efficiency of my car is incredible and I will get at least 800 km out of a tank of petrol, averaging 4.5L/100km :)  So why the big spiel about my car (well I do love it)?  Hybrid learning designs were identified by the Horizon report as a mid-range trend in K-12 education and this involves utilising a range of teaching and learning modes to facilitate experiences for students that produce quality learning outcomes.

“Schools that are making use of hybrid learning models are finding that using both the physical and the virtual learning environments to their highest potentials allows teachers to further personalise the learning experience, engage students in a broader variety of ways, and even extend the learning day.  Hybrid models, when designed and implemented effectively, enable students to use the school day for group work and project-based activities, while using the network to access readings, videos, and other learning materials on their own time, leveraging the best of both environments.” (p. 12)

My school does use a learning management system (LMS) and of course a lot of face-to-face learning.  However, utilising a LMS does not mean that online learning models are being implemented.  They have tried the flipped classroom learning model but I am not sure to what extent.  The effectiveness of a hybrid learning model is based on the balance between web-delivery and face-to-face time collaboration.  Hybrid learning can be achieved effectively through the flipped classroom model, which has students engage with some sort of online learning activities, often times a video, before class allowing more time in class to apply the newly acquired knowledge and skills in a collaborative activity.  Homework is given to students in most schools, following many lessons, however, what I have found is that homework is given to followup the lesson just completed and further cement in the knowledge and skills acquired into students’ long-term working memory.  With that said, to adopt a hybrid learning model more, homework could be set that not only follows up the lesson but prepares students for the subsequent lesson, adopting a flipped classroom model.  If the homework also makes use of the LMS (not just for the sake of it), engaging students in online learning activities, then hybrid learning is achieved.

My perceived issues with hybrid learning and why there is not a great take-up of it within primary and secondary contexts is:

  • Takes ‘too much’ preparation time
  • Requires more professional development for teachers to achieve
  • Not enough knowledge of hybrid learning designs
  • More instructional time online and outside of classroom time means relinquishing control
  • Collaboration is harder to assess and monitor

Just like my hybrid car, who when it starts runs on the electric battery and when it slows down to under 20km/h, a hybrid learning design will often start and end with an online learning activity.  The best of two, or more, worlds are combined to create a new design and that is what we see in good hybrid learning designs, the combination of and complementary use of both online and face-to-face learning activities.  Universities have been engaging with hybrid learning for some time, but how can K-12 learn from them and bring it into their contexts.

Open Education Resources – Experts modelling

If an academic, or two, work for over 4 years on a book that offers a solid framework/model for engagement and online motivation, including 100+ activity suggestions you would think they would be charging a substantial amount for such a resource right?  Such books as Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction by Rita-Marie and Teaching Reading in the 21st Century (5th Edition) by Michael F. Graves, Connie F Juel, Bonnie B. Graves and Peter F Dewitz sell for upwards of $20 on Amazon.  However, whilst the newly released Adding some TEC-VARIETY is being sold on Amazon for a mere $10-14, it is also made freely available by the authors on the website of the same name.  Check out the image I create below, that outlines the key elements of Dr Bonk’s TEC-VARIETY Model.


One of the authors of the book is Dr Curtis Bonk, professor of instructional systems technology and educational psychology at Indiana University and President of CourseShare, has authored a number of books and delivered many significant presentations and keynote addresses worldwide but has made the majority of his presentations and resources freely available on his site TrainingShare.  Whilst his work is not Creative Commons licensed, it is a far cry from the attitude so often seen for most academics who, apart from published works, do not necessarily disseminate a great deal of materials and resources freely in order to facilitate more education and learning experiences for others.  I applaud Dr Bonk’s immense generosity in making these types of resources available because such resources have definitely enriched my own professional learning and development.

What will it take to encouragement more of this type of sharing amongst experts of the field?  How can educators facilitate greater sharing worldwide?

Horizon Report 2014 K-12 Edition – Free and open education for all

The further I read into the report, the more I was convinced it was one of the best reports ever, and when I recommend current research to new teachers, I recommend and will continue to recommend this report.  I have had an interest in Open Education Resources (OER) for a number of years and thoroughly enjoyed doing an OER Workshop on WikiEducator a while back as well, it was very informative and valuable.  When I decided to become a teacher, it was so that I could help provide opportunities for others that they might not otherwise have, and OER can facilitate that more than any other type of learning resources I feel.  Education should not become a money-making enterprise (despite the need for money to efficiently run etc) but should facilitate growth in collaboration and sharing across networks of educators.  When I see teachers selling their resources online it gets to me, why do they feel the need to sell their resources and not share?

The report highlights that “the goal is that OER materials are freely copiable, freely remixable, and free of barriers to access, cultural sensitivities, sharing, and educational use” (p. 10).  Creative Commons is so new still but it is a great start to ensuring the culture of sharing resources is increased.  Only a mid-range trend, meaning it will become more prevalent within classrooms in approximately 3-5 years.  The thing is, and this is evident even within my own teaching context, that teachers hold very tight to their work and things they create.  However, isn’t any resources we create whilst in another’s employ, owned by that employer and therefore subject to the copyright restrictions of that organisation? Policies, it will all come down to policies but also the education of educators in what OER is and how it can benefit others in the future.

For great projects being conducted in this field, check out

From 2007 - 2014, OER Commons, a project created by ISKME. Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

From 2007 – 2014, OER Commons, a project created by ISKME. Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Horizon Report 2014 K-12 Edition – Going deeper with technology

Another area of learning technologies that I am very passionate about and would like to see more prevalent and competently integrated in all educational contexts is the second fast trend identified in the K-12 Edition of the Horizon Report 2014, which examines the growing emphasis on deeper approaches to learning.  These approaches can include, but are not limited to: project-based learning; problem-based learning; inquiry-based learning; challenge-based learning; and, other active learning experiences.  I have observed that most educational institutes will utilise one of these methods, but will be of the mindset that one approach is enough, or it is all that is possible.  However, I believe elements of each approach can and should inform planning and preparation for teaching and learning experiences.  Many of the approaches overlap in their elements and overall intent, however, there may be some differences in the practical aspects of implementation.  The report says that deeper learning approaches can be defined as:

“… the delivery of of rich core content in innovative ways that allow them to learn and then apply what they have learned.” (p. 8)*

This is not only the definition of deeper learning approaches, but in my opinion, this is how all teaching and learning experiences should be.

Deeper learning approaches appear to be fundamentally about facilitating learning experiences that lead to practical application and real-world relevance.  However, the problem is that much of the syllabus and curriculum requirements dictate large volumes of content that teachers need to cover and they feel that it is not feasible to cover it any other way than through traditional methods more often than not.  The time needed to plan and implement deeper learning approaches is most likely the biggest deterrent to its increased uptake but there may also be the issue of lack in professional development and the clear understanding of what it is and how to implement it within the classroom context.

Whilst it is encouraging to read in the report that policies are being developed that will embed these deeper learning approaches into education more, what will it take to have it more universally implemented in national curriculum?  Another aspect of deep learning that was also raised in the report was that of competency-based learning.  Universities often outline graduate capabilities that students should be able to demonstrate at the completion of their degree, and syllabus documents outline learning outcomes that students should be able to demonstrate in primary and secondary education.  However, the report raises the question of students receiving credit for each competency achieved.  I am of the mindset that students should be rewarded/recognised for all new knowledge and skills and sometimes assessments only assess knowledge.  Of course skills are tested in different ways but if it is a skills that is developed in a cross-curricula context, should there be some way for students to receive credit and/or recognition for their achievement that goes above the other curriculum outcomes?  I will be interested to find out if there are schools that implement models that achieve such for their students.


So how is this achieved and facilitated by technology?  Well, if we go back to that definition of rich core content, that is presented in innovative ways and facilitates learning and application, technology plays a very important role.  In the 21st century, technology provides both students and educators have access to rich core content in the form of video, infographics, and other digital media.  These options are providing multiple ways for each learner to access core content in ways that not only suit their individual learning styles, but also in a way that is creative and often very innovative.  Teachers need to be curators of rich core content and creators as well, that is an essential role for a 21st century educator.

The Horizon Report 2014 K-12 Edition – Changing roles of teachers

I love reading the Horizon report each year and getting a glimpse of what educational research is saying will be increasingly adopted within various educational contexts.  Reading through the 2014 K-12 report recently, I was intrigued and captured by the ‘Elements of the Creative Classroom Framework’ (ECCF) and how it outlines the dimensions dealt with in the report.  (I also loved it because I am a very visual person.)  The ECCF elements include: infrastructure; content and curricula; assessment; learning practices; teaching practices; organisation; leadership and values; and, connectedness.   The report deals with each of these elements within it as they pertain to trends, challenges and emerging technologies, however, most particularly on policy, leadership and practice.

A fast trend that was identified that I believe was crucial to include in this report is ‘Rethinking the roles of teachers’.  More than ever, technology has changed the role of the teacher in 21st century classrooms.  Gone are the days of teachers being the source of all information, the ones to lead activities and instruction.  The Horizon Report says:

“The integration of technology into everyday life is causing many educational thought leaders to argue that schools should be providing ways  for students to continue to engage in learning activities, formal and informal, beyond the traditional school day.” (p. 6)

The video above is an oldie but a goodie, looking at the roles of 21st century learners, requiring that teachers: be lifelong learners; be apart of a larger network of professionals; make connections between learning in all different contexts; create long-range goals for technology integration; be competent will digitally-enabled pedagogies; and, so many more aspects not yet identified perhaps.  Classrooms need to be student-centered more than ever because I believe students are engaging in more informal learning than ever before, e.g. watching YouTube to learn new things.  Teachers need to adopt teaching methods that students of the 21st century are familiar with to a certain extent and that is through videos and games more than ever.

Some key points made about the role of teachers include:

  • Teachers are no longer the primary sources of information and knowledge for students
  • Teachers need to reinforce the habits and discipline that shape life-long learners
  • Teachers are increasingly expected to be knowledgeable on the practices, skills and resources that will be useful to students as they continue their education and seek gainful employment.
  • Incorporating entrepreneurship into education will help teachers to bring technology into the classroom and into developing lifelong learners.

The report identifies the key to nurturing the new 21st century roles of teachers as being in professional development.  I believe this to be true to a degree, however, school policies and strategic plans need to cater for the change in pedagogies and classroom structures as well.  Such drastic changes in teaching methodology will require changes in organisational structure and culture, which cannot happen immediately but can begin to cater for 21st century needs over time.  School structures are still very hierarchical and traditional classrooms have operated in the same way essentially, with all students answering to an authority-figure who is in charge.  Do school structures need to change a little bit to distribute power more evenly?  At the school where I work, teacher professional development often occurs in areas that students can see, in order for students to see their teachers as lifelong learners as well.  I think that this strategy is one great way that reflects 21st century paradigm shifts.  Will continue to reflect more on teacher’s roles…

Designing professional learning using the 4MAT Cycle

I’m always trying to refine the format of professional development workshops I run, continuing to strengthen the opportunities it provides for colleagues to produce great ‘take-aways’ for their own professional practice, at the same time offering the time and scope to ‘play’ and collaborate with colleagues as well.  I heard of the 4MAT Cycle very early on in my career and was directed to it when I was really struggling to teach my classes at the first school I taught at but it wasn’t until recently that I revisited it with the view of it refreshing my mindset on professional learning.  Instructional design is a very big interest and passion of mine and I am always keen to explore better ways of designing lessons and professional activities.

The 4MAT Cycle also closely relates to the work of Kolb and his work on experiential learning.  From diagrams such as the one above and other similar representations of the 4MAT Cycle I have come up with a 10-step cycle I will utilise for professional learning workshops in the next term when engaging colleagues in learning about the SAMR Model. The ten steps I have identified are:

  1. Icebreaker – This is intended to both engage and motivate everyone, creating enthusiasm for learning.
  2. Outcomes – To focus the learning activities and provide an idea of where the workshop will head and where it will finish.  Indicates the knowledge and skills participants should acquire.
  3. Knows and need to knows – Accessing participants background knowledge and engages them in thinking about what questions they have and want answered.
  4. Stimulus/thought-provoker – Introduce the content and topic more, provoke participants to start thinking about the content.
  5. Information/content – Present quick, factual, straight-to-the-point information that will help participants acquire the desired knowledge need for the workshop activities.
  6. Reflection – Individual reflection on a given stimulus/lesson/resource.
  7. Group collaboration – Sharing and reflection within small group about the reflection above.  Preparation of something to share, could be simply verbally sharing.
  8. Present back/share – Groups share what they discussed/created/came up with during group collaboration.  Large group discussion.
  9. Group Reflection – Small groups reflect together on what other groups produced and shared with everyone.
  10. Need to knows – review of need to knows and new knowledge and skills acquired, and any that still need to be addressed.

So this is the structure I am going to go with for about 4 workshop sessions and see how it helps my colleagues to learn the SAMR Model.  I want professional learning to be fun, engaging, collaborative and valuable in that participants have the opportunity to develop something they can take away and work on as well as this will often be the focus of individual and group activities.  More to come once implemented…


Feeling challenged. Think outside the box? There is no box.

Tonight I got the wonderful opportunity to go to the inaugural Ann D Clark lecture, hosted and organised by the Catholic Education Diocese, and was inspired by the wonderful presentation given my Dr Yong Zhao.  I’ve been feeling really challenged about many things lately professionally and tonight’s presentation couldn’t have come at a pretty time in some ways, it was thought-provoking and poignant.  The key messages that were conveyed and expressed were definite conversation-starters, however, I am someone who needs time to think it over and make sense of its significance in my head and in writing before I’m capable of articulating in full, the impact it potentially can have on me.  So this is why I write.

Dr Zhao’s presentation left me with these key words ringing in my head… creativity, entrepreneur and talent. These stuck in my my mind because of the implications they have to myself, but also to my students and how I teach them.  Dr Zhao said that what we have created is an education system that embodies the second machine age and that we have moved into a society that requires new talents and skills, but yet we are still teaching within the parameters of the old paradigm.  Its something that I hear often, and that is, we are preparing our students for jobs that do not yet exist.  How do we radically shake up an education system that teaches in a way that may be more harmful than good?  Dr Zhao even went so far as to say that we are an education system of “reduction, suppression and homogenism”… successfully stifling creativity, which = job security and a future of independence.

Creativity has long been something I’ve wanted to see cultivated, harnessed and encouraged more in students, they have so much of it when they are small.  However, Dr Zhao presented data that shows how the creativity of children gets snuffed out quickly by the education system.  Why is that?  I’ve noticed it myself in my own professional practice and its something I was lamenting about only today, even before I heard the lecture.  The organisational structures, culture and politics that we are all so entrenched in, stifles our creativity as teacher because we have to meet deadlines, report schedules, be at meetings, teach to exams/assessments, ensure outcomes and hours are met and so much more.  Where is the space for us to be creative?  If we are not creative, how can we model it and facilitate it, create more opportunities for it with our students?

The idea of entrepreneurship is one I haven’t yet heard very much coming out in education circles, well at least not in secondary ones.  Jobs of the future, and very much of the now, are going to be ones that our students create themselves.  They will see a need and create businesses and services that meet that need.  What the Internet has done for the globalisation of jobs, knowledge and skill sharing and provision of services to others is simply phenomenal and in the future, it will become the reigning ‘workplace’.  Have you considered what you could earn and the reach you could have if you had a YouTube channel that provided a series of valuable videos for a particular audience who watched it religiously?  What do you think you could earn?  Well, Pewdiepie is estimated to be the top highest earning YouTuber as of March 2014, earning an estimated $7 million per annum.  You might think he does something really important on YouTube to earn this… nope.  His video titles include: “Seagull Horror”; “Classy goat! Goat simulator”; and, “Fetus pics”. Have a read of this article from Celebrity Networth to find out how ordinary people are earning big bucks doing nothing.

It was very interesting when Dr Zhao highlighted the fact that now, more than ever, people are becoming famous for doing nothing.  He essentially said that nothing has become something and we love to consume nothing products and nothingness.  He went on to make the point that “whoever can create choice becomes really valuable”.  How can we create more choice?  In school?  In universities? In employment?  What does it look like?  Zhao pointed out that those who can differentiate themselves from others will be of even greater value, they will have something others don’t but need.  I kept thinking as he’s saying these things, how can I be this as a teacher and as a leader of technology within my school?  How can I be creative and create choice?  How can I prepare teachers who still have years left of teaching, to teach the digital natives that are coming through to us with more knowledge at their fingertips than we have ever been able to absorb ready to regurgitate to them?  What will it look like for me to not just think outside the box, but to think… there is no box and never was?

“The old paradigm is not only irrelevant, it is harmful.  Today, education requires we foster creativity and entrepreneurship.” Dr Yong Zhao.