What we can learn from the past and apply to the future of education?

Going to ISTE2015, it was obvious that the focus of pedagogy and classroom ‘instruction’ has changed so dramatically over time that many teachers are taking a step back and letting students direct their learning and for instruction to come via alternate means.  Many American educators that I heard from during the ISTE2015 conference are facilitating STEM and STEAM learning activities that are student-driven.  STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with STEAM adding the element of art.

Having had 12 hours in the back of a car yesterday as I traveled from Oklahoma City to New Mexico, I started reading ‘Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom’.  It’s a fantastic read, and it has highlighted to me, just how right the philosophers, educators, mathematicians and scientists of old have been about education. Below is a summary of the beliefs of those key people:

  • Piaget has said that “to understand is to invent” (Piaget, 1976); “… use of active methods which give broad scope to the spontaneous research of the child or adolescent and requires that every new truth to be learned, be discovered, or at least reconstructed by the student and not simply imported to him” (Piaget, 1976)
  • Dewey (1859-1952) advocated for learning experiences that was project-based and connected students with the real world
  • Rousseau (1712-1778) believed that students should be given freedom to develop naturally
  • Pestalozzi (1746-1827) was a strong believer in first-hand experiences being the optimum catalyst for learning
  • Froebel (1782-1852) is the father of the first formal education of young children, known as kindergarten.  He believed that children needed to interact with the world to learn
  • Papert said “Anything is easy if you can assimilate it to your collection of models.  If you can’t, anything can be painfully difficult.  What an individual can learn, and how he learns it, depends on what models he has available” (Papert, 1980)
  • Gardner emphasised that “classroom projects that welcome various problem-solving strategies provide fertile ground for the expression of multiple intelligences” (Gardner, 1983)
  • Montessori said, “the hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence”.
  • “When children are deeply involved in play, they are learning.  Their passion, flow, and sense of timelessness mirror the actions of the tinkerer” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991)
  • “Play creates a zone of proximal development of the child.  In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behaviour; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.  As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all the developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of development” (Vygotsky, 1978)

These great philosophers, mathematicians, educators and scientists of old are more relevant now than ever.  The maker space movement that is sweeping through USA schools is all about play, about inventing, and about learning from experience.  Perhaps we need to step back from programming and curriculum and take a leaf out of the books of these greats before us.

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ISTE2015 – Day 3 – Maker, creator, coach and innovator

So much to process so these first posts will just be summaries but they will grow into greater reflections as I get more time to reflect and play.  I went to three sessions today, and the keynote presentation, as well as spending plenty of time in the Expo hall taking in all of the amazing things on offer.  Here are some of my notes.

From 0 to 60: jump start a maker culture in your school

  • Prototyping – piloting with iterations.  This is how they developed the model for how they would run Maker spaces
  • Start small and think big, grow and scale through iterations
  • Essential conditions
    – empowered leaders
    – engaged leaders
    – intrinsic motivation
    – resource capacity
    – design thinking competence, not just one-off instances but purposeful maker projects
    – future connection
    – skill capacity
  • Accelerator 1: focus on a high-impact opportunity (understand potential)
    – global shifts: trend shots, urgent need to address Stem gap, and emerging technology
    – Deloitte maker report
    – trend maps
    – global shifts: collaborative production will define the future of work
  • In education, practice trumps theory.
  • Rise of the professional amateurs
  • Accelerator 2: attract and maintain an inquiring coalition (find your leaders)
    – teams
  • Accelerator 3: envision impact and design a prototype
  • Do with what you have at first, find space at is visible, set it up for students and watch it transform.
  • Materials
    1. Recycle, reuse, remake
    2. Use what you have at first
    3. Materials for targeted age groups
    4. Educational electronics
  • Level 1
    Basic craft supplies
  • Level 2
    Some electronic kits, basic mechanics and electronics
  • Level 3
    3D printers, robotics, soldering irons, more complex building
  • Prototypes are not a one size fits all – different approaches for each division/level
  • Maker Saturday – parents and students making
  • Making in the high school
    – advisory maker challenges
    – engineering club
    – free math day
    – new media in art
    – integration with science curriculum
    – maker Saturday workshops
    – maker elective classes
  • Accelerator 4: attract volunteer inquirers (recruit the engaged)
  • Find volunteers who are passionate and engaged
  • Barriers: identify and overcome
    • Lack of knowledge – http://bit.ly/ISTEmaker2015
    • Provide reading, hands on learning and examples
    • Resistance to change – maker PD, spotlight success/ignites, distribute resources to interested individuals
    • Time – engineering club, elective classes, workshops
  • Scribble box activity – box and motors/batteries
  • Accelerator 6: generate and celebrate early impacts (spotlight success)
  • Family activities, collaboration, community engagement
  • Create videos of sessions and their impact etc
  • Get students to record video of process and put on YouTube
  • Accelerator 7: keep learning from evidence and experience (gather data)
  • Maker look fors rubric
  • Accelerator 8: institute change
  • It’s not done yet, embed it into the culture of the school
  • Great resources are available at Instructables.com

Rethinking Library and Learning Spaces for 1:1 Schools

  • Learning-ecosystems.org (furniture arrangement)
  • Library Design – Rethinking Spaces with Students in Mind
  • A Library is like what appliance?? Thinking outside of the box on what a library actually is.
  • “Sometimes we need to UNTHINK before we can RETHINK.”
  • noise level
  • a place to work individually
  • Language of School Design by Prakash Nair
  • notosh.org – Digital Lives are made up 7 spaces
  • Purposeful design – cave space (maybe in front of windows
  • Give it a name! – Transparent Library, Learning Commons, etc.
  • High Tech High in San Diego – all classrooms are glass – very transparent
  • Teknion – Glass wall that hangs from ceiling tiles
  • Survey teacher and student needs to gather input from students about the space. How do you learn?  What kind of space do you like to study in?
  • Taped floor for testing
  • Teacher focus group
  • Edutopia project Remake Your Class – visual thinking – Pinterest on a bulletin board – give limited number of dots and allow users to post dots on favs
  • Become an anthropologist
  • identify obstacle points with sticky notes
  • observe student behavior
  • ask critical questions
  • Gamestorming – exercises outside-the-box
  • Staple Yourself to Something
  • Think of your day through the lens of space
  • Amplify what already works/priorities
  • Strategic Brainstorming
  • Creating Analogies
  • Give yourself a THEME to work toward – what is your overall VISION?
  • Listening Walk through the space – TED talk by Julian Treasure: Why architects need to use their ears
  • “Make a room that doesn’t smell like school.” – Paul Bogush
  • Stanford design school – 90 minute crash course
  • Channel the optimism of a designer, the resourcefulness of a hacker, and the playfulness of a maker. Melanie Kahl Remake your Class: 6 Ways to Get Started
  • Locker repurpose??? – use them for displays – hacking a space that’s doing nothing!
  • Hack a vending Machine – library vending
  • Design is not just what it looks like and feels like.  Design is how it works. Steve Jobs
  • How do we learn best interview – Where? How? Sounds?
  • Brainstorm – what are you doing well?
  • Inspiration?
  • Design Share
  • Find wasted space – staircase
  • Google Color Search
  • Books – The Robin Hood Foundation and NYCity elementary school The L!brary by Siddiqi
  • Language of School Design
  • Make Space – How to Set the Stage for Creative Collab
  • The Third Teacher –
  • Dave Thornburg From the Campfire to the Holodeck 21st century Learning Environoments
  • Why wouldn’t we want our spaces to be beautiful and inspiring?
  • Google Sheet of resources
  • Grant Resources –
  • Future Ready Schools
  • Donors Choose
  • Partner with a Vendor
  • The other presentations didn’t involve so many notes.

More notes and reflections shortly…

Reflecting on my pedagogical development

I finished my undergraduate teacher training in 2006 and I was taught many traditional pedagogical strategies, however, I was also taught the NSW Quality Teaching Model (QTM) and it was perhaps my first step towards realising the importance of reflection in my teaching practice.  I was constantly reflecting on the lessons I taught and how they were engaging students in aspects of the QTM.  As technology became a bigger part of my teaching practice, it became evident that the pedagogical strategies I implemented and utilised might have to change more as well.  

For a few years now I have been researching and reading up on heutagogy and andragogy.  I am always keen to investigate new ways to teach content and skills to my students.  Technology has been a huge catalyst in me doing this.  I realised early on in my career that technology was entering education institutes at a rapid pace and that there was going to be a need for teachers to develop further skills in ICT integration and that how we taught would also change.  

It was when I did the Intel Teach Essentials Master Trainer course that I realised just what kinds of pedagogical strategies would be required to harness the potential of technology and teach students who were engaging with technology more and more every day.  This PD course looked at problem- and project-based learning and how to integrate technology within it.  This was the first time I had learned about PBL and I quickly saw it as a valuable pedagogical strategy for the 21st century.

What is the significant position and place of pedagogy in education?  What is it in reality?  What should it be?  These questions came to mind as I was reading Lingard et al. (2003),  Zammit et al. (2007) and DET (2003).  Where is pedagogy placed within our current education system?  Is it placed in high enough a position?  I don’t think it is in reality.  When I look at the Australian school system as a whole, the focus is always on content… cover this, cover that and culminate in a test at the end.  Do educators today think of pedagogy as simply the foundation strategies they learned about when they were studying to be a teacher initially, but something that they don’t need to consider as much with experience?  Perhaps they do.

The QLD education department seems to have it going in the right direction when in their ‘Pedagogical Framework – FAQs’ they emphasise that: 

The State Schools Pedagogical framework policy requires every Queensland state school to develop a school pedagogical framework. It needs to be informed by research, yet respond to the local context.  From 2013, each school is required to enact a pedagogical framework that is collaboratively developed with the school community and aligned to state and regional requirements. This requirement is listed in the P–12 curriculum, assessment and reporting framework.” (p. 1).  

However, when I went to the NSW Syllabus website for the new NSW national curriculum syllabus documents, I did not see the word ‘pedagogy’ anywhere.  Where is the value placed on pedagogy in the new Australian curriculum? 

I believe that school plans should be made with pedagogy in the forefront of leaders’ minds.  Pedagogy is not just classroom teaching and learning strategies, it is the ‘art and science’ of teaching.  It is the facilitation of students and teachers alike, expressing and reproducing their learning with creativity and individuality.  It is the psychology, philosophy and specifics of how to teach and learn, how we process information and what we do with that information.  That is more important than the content we teach, because it carries into life beyond the classroom.

REFERENCES

DET, N. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools. Sydney: Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate.

Lingard, B., Hayes, D., & Mills, M. (2003). Teachers and Productive Pedagogies: Contextualising, conceptualising, utilising.Pedagogy, Culture & Society.  11,3, 399- 424.

QLD Department of Education, Training and Employment, (n.d.). Pedagogical framework — Frequently asked questions. [online] Available at:     http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/pdfs/pedagogical-framework-faqs.pdf [Accessed 2 Sep. 2014].

Zammit, K., Sinclair, C., Cole, B. Singh, M., Costley, D., Brown a Court, L., Rushton,K. (2007). Teaching and leading for quality Australian schools: a review and synthesis of research-based knowledge.  Acton, A.C.T.: Teaching Australia, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. LB1727.A8.T45

Features and qualities important to pedagogical models

I have long had an interest in pedagogical and instructional design models and the elements of them I have looked for, as evidence of their quality, has been guided by these questions:

  • Does the model provide adequate scaffolding for a learning experience?
  • What is considered most important, content or pedagogy?
  • Are students’ getting the opportunity to demonstrate higher-order thinking skills?
  • Is ICT considered as a supporting tool in the process and experience of teaching and learning?
  • Is there room for flexibility, adaptability and differentiation?
  • Is there room for student self-regulation to be facilitated and encouraged?
Photo by David Jones, from Flickr.com, Some rights reserved

Photo by David Jones, from Flickr.com, Some rights reserved

When I consider pedagogical models, I consider all of these and more, often thinking of the NSW Quality Teaching Model.  As a leader in technology integration in teaching and learning, I never consider pedagogical models without considering how it scaffolds ICT integration.  Technology is still such a gimmick and there is still somewhat of a novelty to its use within the classroom, however, it is not always integrated with solid instructional design as its foundation.  That is why my interest has been in models of pedagogical design and instruction that help provide that foundation that both encourages ICT integration and enables it in a smooth and undertaking way.  My most frequently referred to pedagogical models are: TPACK, ADDIE model, the NSW Quality Teaching model, Bloom’s taxonomy, inquiry-based learning model and problem- or project-based learning models.  I find each of these great foundational models for integrating ICT into pedagogy, for reasons outlined below.

TPACK – This model is comprehensive at outlining the connections between pedagogy and technology, between pedagogy and content, and between content and technology, as well as all three intertwined.  It places content as the most important element in this pedagogical model and seeks to establish solid foundation in content and activities before technology interferes.  Technology is seen as the supporting actor, the tool to enhance outcomes further.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – This model does not make suggestions as to how technology should be implemented in the model’s original format, however, the verbs offered in the model, suggest active ways that technology can be utilised.  Students can create, analyse, synthesise and discover new knowledge with technology.

Inquiry-based learning model – This model has stages for creation and for discovery or investigation as well.  Much can be discovered and investigated with resources available on the Internet.  Reflection and discussion are also important features of Inquiry-based learning and can be facilitated through the integration of technology as well.

Problem-based learning model – A model that allows students room to self-regulate their learning and to utilise a number of technologies to assist them in solving a problem or developing a product.  PBL connects students with real-world problems and audiences and leaves room for differentiation and flexibility as well. 

Photo by Alec Couros on Flickr.com Some rights reserved

Photo by Alec Couros on Flickr.com Some rights reserved

In the 21st century, students need to develop a certain set of skills: collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and information fluency (Dede, 2010).  We are said to be in the age of knowledge, the knowledge society, and this requires the development of “1. knowledge construction, 2. adaptability, 3. finding, organising and retrieving information, 4. information management, 5. critical thinking and 6. team work” (Anderson, 2008 in Voogt & Roblin, 2010, p. 1).  Pedagogical models of the 21st century need to include these skills and need to integrate the mode in which 21st century learners most frequently learn and engage with new knowledge and information, which is technology.  I think some pedagogical models cater well for that explicitly and some may only provide a shel from which to interpret the nature of ICT integration.

  

REFERENCES

Dede, C. (2010). Comparing frameworks for 21st century skills. 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn, 51-76.

Voogt, J., Roblin, N. P. (2010). 21st century skills. Discussienota. Zoetermeer: The Netherlands: Kennisnet.

Education up in the clouds

Watching a TED talk this morning by Sugata Mitra, on a project I had heard about before, reaffirmed my own beliefs that our current school system is not set up to cater for the 21st century.  Sugata is a software engineer, innovator, pioneer and educator who resisted the pull of the schooling system that the British empire initiated and that has become the norm, and he tested the boundaries of expectations and discovered amazing possibilities if we just put aside the default settings of teaching and learning.  In his TED talk, ‘The Future of Learning’,  Mitra boldly proclaims that “school as we know them are obsolete” (Mitra, 2013, 2:55) and “the education system is wonderfully constructed but not needed anymore… it’s outdated” (Mitra, 2013, 2:56).  I believe he is right.

Mitra (2013) placed one computer in a hole in the wall of his office and let the local children engage with it in an unguided and free way.  What ended up happening was that students started to teach each other how to browse he internet.  He tried the experiment again and again, getting similarly surprising responses.  When he eventually decided to create a serious hypothesis and test it out the results were astounding.  He placed a computer, with lots of information downloaded onto it about DNA replication, in a remote Indian village and hypothesised that none of the Tamil-speaking children would be able to learning about DNA replication with materials only provided in English.  After several months, some periodic testing, and an older student providing prompts in the form of questions, the children were able to achieve 50% on their DNA replication test.  There was no teacher, the students taught themselves and taught each other and they broke down the barriers that we might think would prevent them from learning the material.

Do we have this same approach and mentality when we teach? No we don’t.  Do we provide a stimulus, and then let them go for it, digesting and discovering resources for themselves and making meaning from it? I really want to be the type of teacher who enlarges the territory of learning for all of my students, who knows no limits in terms of what students might achieve.  Who are we to say what they are capable of?  The ‘hole in the wall’ experiment Mitra conducted went against all expectations and educational norms but it produced astounding outcomes and results.  He goes onto say in the later half of his video that the notion of the Grandmother method and encouragement proved to be the key in the experience of he DNA replication project.  The Grandmother method, he explained, was the addition of a 20-year-old student who stood behind the children engaging with the resources on the computer screen who asked them questions as simple as, “what are you doing now?” and “how do you do that?” and encouraging them.

From that one experiment with the older student, Mitra decided to engage as many British grannies as he could for another project.  The Granny Cloud, as they have become known, are available via Skype whenever a child needs them and simply provides encouragement and questions to encourage in this ‘self-organised learning environment’, which Mitra (2013) says “are basically broadband, collaboration and encouragement put together” (16:56).  It is from this that Mitra (2013) has determined his vision for the future of schooling. “My wish is to help design a future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their wonder and their ability to work together. Help me build this school. It will be called the School in the Cloud” (19:32).  It’s a fantastic idea and the ideal way to take hold of the potential we have to learn collaboratively in the cloud.


 

references

Mitra, S. (2013). Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud. [online] https://www.ted.com/talks. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud#t-35640 [Accessed 15 Sep. 2014].

Philosophy for teens?

Another question I asked myself yesterday as I was reading was, ‘Should philosophy be taught in high schools?’.  I asked myself this question in response to a sentence I read in Kalantzis and Cope (2012) that said: “The logistics of their form [test] are such that they end to measure discrete knowledge items distilled to clear-cut and isolable facts and aphorisms drawn from theories and, specifically, items that can be adjudged right or wrong.  These may not be the best things to be measuring in an era when the questions are at times complex and ambiguous, facts contestable and theories open to interpretation.” (p. 86)  We are in an era where the prevalence of information, stimulus materials and theories are running rampant and in which teenagers are exposed to much more thought-provoking materials in the media than ever before.  I asked myself, whether it was an age in which it might be appropriate to equip students with some knowledge and skills in philosophy?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia at www.newadvent.org, philosophy can be defined as: “the general science of things in the universe by their ultimate determinations and reasons; or again, the intimate knowledge of the causes and reasons of things, the profound knowledge of the universal order”.  We are living in the ‘knowledge society’, the ‘knowledge economy’ and the era of knowledge management so it seems appropriate that we address the need for our next generation to take hold of the knowledge of these things. Apparently, according to my research, there are many high schools in Europe teaching philosophy and one site, called PLATO, gives this reason for doing so: “Philosophy can and should be taught in high school because this is the ideal time for students to engage its questions, arguments, and methods of thinking.” (Plato-philosophy.org, 2014).

In some ways, we are already teaching students about philosophy and equipping them with philosophic knowledge and skills in the implementation of ethics classes, religious education, and in other pedagogical practices such as inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning.  However, how can we extend the philosophy skills students develop and be intentional in teaching it?  Well, in Victoria, The Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools (VAPS) has a vision to see students learn to be philosophers, “stimulating open and inquiring communities of philosophical exploration, in which students develop the art of questioning and acquire conceptual and reasoning tools” (Gelonesi, 2011).  VAPS have been crusading as well for the inclusion of philosophy in the new Australian National Curriculum, with the justification that “if young Australians are to be successful learners who are able to think deeply and logically, then young Australians will need to acquire the basic skills of philosophical inquiry: logical thought is, after all, the special provenance of philosophy” (VAPS, 2013).

It’s such a big discussion, and I could go on and on exploring and writing about it, however, for now it has got me thinking and I definitely want to pursue more philosophy study and would support and advocate for it within schools.  Much of the general capabilities in the Australian curriculum have been founded on philosophical principles and are related to philosophic concepts, therefore, it would be highly possible to be more intentional in integrating such important skills into our students’ learning.  Would love to hear what others think about this topic?


REFERENCES

Gelonesi, J. (2011). High school philosophy. [online] Radio National. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/high-school-philosophy/2918446 [Accessed 11 Sep. 2014].

Plato-philosophy.org, (2014). Teaching High School Philosophy : PLATO: Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization. [online] Available at: http://plato-philosophy.org/getting-started/teaching-high-school-philosophy/ [Accessed 11 Sep. 2014].

Vaps.vic.edu.au, (2014). The National Curriculum: The Case for Inclusion of Philosophy in the National Curriculum. [online] Available at: http://www.vaps.vic.edu.au/curriculum/national-curriculum [Accessed 11 Sep. 2014].

A new 21st century pedagogical model

This is something I have pondered for years, a new model, a 21st century model, for understanding and implementing best practices into teaching.  We were asked to consider this in the course I’m doing called ‘Advanced Pedagogy’, and as an online learning designer, I have been very heavily into instructional design models and models for creating new learning experiences.  I’ve explored many of these, and other learning models, on my blog over the years but the few that have particularly stood out to me are:

  • The TEC-VARIETY Model
  • TPACK
  • Hybrid learning model

In the 2014 K-12 Edition of the Horizon report, hybrid learning was outlined as a mid-range trend, and this involves utilising a range of teaching and learning modes to facilitate experiences for students that produce quality learning outcomes.  A quote I found particularly valuable from the report said:

“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)

I think that any model we utilise pedagogically needs to be flexible, agile and adaptable to the needs of all learners.

Another point I think is important in any model is that it is progressive in nature or provides some sort of continuum on which to base the starting point of learning about something new and the mastery of something.  I think that students need to have something to aim for, so having a model that presents a continuum will provide teachers with guidelines on which to frame learning and progression of.  Like the progression through syllabus stages, e.g. stages 1-6, however, more micro progressive.

The TEC VARIETY model is one that was developed to address motivation and engagement in online learning, but which I feel is applicable to all teaching and learning if considered in the right light.  The model is an acronym for the following: tone/climate, encouragement, curiosity, variety, autonomy, relevance, interactive, engagement, tension and yields.  Each of these elements have been researched and proven to have significant effect on engagement and motivation.  More can be read at www.tecvariety.com

The TPACK model is also a favourite of mine and one that I feel is crucial in the 21st century.  It is a holistic model that comprehensively covers how to work seamlessly with content, pedagogy and technology in curriculum design and its about understanding how each combination of the three work together to create a model for 21st century learning.

Will work on visuals for my combined ideas and the most important ones but as I was reading another one of the course readings, it mentioned other elements that I thought might be relevant for a new pedagogical model.  Kalantzis and Cope (2012) conducted research that was published under the title of ‘New learning: a charter for change in education’ and in it they said: “The transformed economic system emerging from the current financial crisis will require human capacities that only education can nurture, based on deep knowledge, practical imagination, creative participation, intellectual inquisitiveness and collaborative commitment” (p. 83).  These words immediately stood out to me as essential elements in a new pedagogical model for the 21st century but what would they look like in the classroom?


 

REFERENCES

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition . Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. (2012). New learning: a charter for change in education. Critical Studies in Education, 53(1), 83-94.