Based on reading the NAIS report, do you think our instructional process needs to change or adapt, and if so, in what directions?
In considering this question, it may be helpful to see some videos that demonstrate new types of instructional practice...
1. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are the set of connections that help a person learn and communicate with others. This video describes a student's experience building and using a PLN for a particular project.
2. "Hybrid Learning" is when part of the instruction is online. This video shows several students' opinions on their hybrid learning experience.
3. Web-based tutorials: Salman Khan's "Khan Academy" is a free online set of hundreds of videos that teach elements of mathematics and other subjects bit by bit. In the video below, Mr. Khan explains how it works...
So... do you think our instructional process needs to change or adapt?
To piggyback on Rosario's thoughts, the NAIS report identifies some of the tremendous challenges our education system has in competing on the world stage. Today's Digital Natives present hurdles for educators, both new and veteran. A paradigm shift must take place to meet the challenges identified in the report.
Teacher training programs must be reflective and open to making the necessary changes. Educators who are trained via the philosophy of this new paradigm should have an easier time adapting to the demands of the 21st century because they are for the most part Digital Natives and this is how they were brought up and how they were trained initially.
Our bigger challenge will be with veteran teachers. Let's face it, we work in a field that is slow to embrace change. Unions (I spent 19 years in public schools) and the independent nature of educators ("once that classroom door closes...") provide a significant hurdle. I'm one of those veteran teachers who relished in the aforementioned independence ("I know what I'm doing and I'm good at it")! However, I became a better teacher when I Disrupted my practice and took a serious look in the mirror. My reflection led me to take part in real reform in my former school. A collegial approach, coupled with meaningful professional development that incorporates research/literature, discussion, adoption of best practices, sharing, and genuine accountability would go a long way in moving towards the paradigm necessary to prepare students to effectively compete in the international arena.
Cathy Davidson of Duke University just published a new book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. She shares ideas about how we can -- and should -- prepare students in our technology-infused world. For those looking for inspiration or curious about delving into the process to make these types of systemic changes, I think this is worth a read. Given the location of our school, I am sure there are a plethora of resources to help us embark on this endeavor.
For the transcript of an interview with Professor Davidson:
Thank you for these resources, Beth, and thank you Wendy for the Davidson book review. As an admission officer whose job it is to convey the excellence of BB&N's program, community and ethos to potential families, the importance of continual re-visioning and rebuilding of the learning environment to reflect current and future learning modes seems paramount. In the 19th century and much of the 20th, the textbook and the acquired knowledge of the teacher were the cornerstones of student learning systems. Today, learning environments that do not offer highly engaging learning systems with both a superior level of technology-based connectivity and the teacher-as-learning architect/modeler at their center are at great risk of quickly becoming archaic and out of touch with children. Moreover, this approach can easily incorporate skill-building and learning standards rather than being considered its enemy.
The inevitability of adaptation and integration of technology in our classrooms and communities seems to be agreed upon without much debate. What concerns me is the way we design our discussion. For example, one of the students describing hybrid learning in the second video presents a rather inaccurate dichotomy of classroom environments: there is the hybrid class where a student learns actively and independently OR there is the lecture, “where everything is given.” I hardly need to point out that student centered classrooms and explorative knowledge are not dependent upon technology (though technology can be a tool to empower students). I don’t dispute the importance of technology in education and preparation for college and careers, but I think it is important that we think carefully about how we present technology as a resource and how we examine its benefits within the greater context of education. I would love to hear about ways teachers and students connect and what challenges/benefits they experience in building classroom communities when so much of the activity focuses on the greater world.
The hybrid classes video set out some of successes of this technological-based approach, yet, like Ruth, I have an underlying unease in what the students were saying: "Independent" vs. "spaced-out"; "flexible" vs. managing external expectations; teacher interaction only good for "answering questions." I don't mean to reduce this to polarities, but there is room for someone to point out that there is a very good skill to be learned called "paying attention." And while flexibility for full-time, single mothers and for full-time employees/students is invaluable, for the general high-school age student, the privilege of flexibility might soon creep into an entitled clamoring for it rather than a sense of discipline and responsibility.
To some degree, my curmudgeonly response stems for a lurking suspicion I nurture from time to time regarding our culture (and specifically our educational institutions') reactions to these strange Digital Natives. They are learn and process information differently. Yes, they do. Seen an action movie recently? We've all seen how quick they (and we, too!) reach for phones to check emails, texts, etc. If, as the NAIS report suggests, "We think information should be accessed in a linear and sequential fashion; they prefer random access." Perhaps we might see this as that we Digital Non-Natives have been given the opportunity to realize that linear can be very beneficial while random access is just that. This happens in the same way that they prefer sodapop and lattes over milk: they have been given more choice and choice the least taxing, more stimulating response, not necessarily the most long-term beneficial response. And the long term benefit might depend on some things not changing all that much. I welcome Rip. He can sit at a seminar table anytime in my classroom.