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.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjuM88N28DY]
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.