PBL / IBL
Katrina Schwartz | February 4, 2013
Educator Jaime McGrath and designer Drew Davies explain how to create a “classroom of imagination” by turning lessons into design problems and giving students space to be creative in this Tedx video. In a New York Times op-ed The MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Competition’s co-director Cathy Davidson said she thinks it’s possible that 65 percent of students today will end up doing jobs that haven’t been created yet.
McGrath and Davies argue that school needs to keep up with the times by promoting creativity, entrepreneurship, design thinking and hands on skills. McGrath’s experience teaching design problems has convinced him that the approach includes all learning styles, brings the best of project-based learning, encourages cooperation and integrates subject matter horizontally. But mostly, McGrath and Davies are impressed at the cool stuff kids design.
By A J Juliani
Each month I add a new resource to the Innovative Teaching Toolbox. Here is a simple framework for innovation in the classroom that came out of the research, interviews, and countless conversations I had with teachers and educational leaders during the book writing process.
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by Terry Heick
For the Google Generation, information isn’t scarce, and knowing has the illusion of only being a search away.
I’ve written before about how Google impacts the way students think. This post is less about students, and more about how planning resources like standards and curriculum maps might respond accordingly.
Curriculum maps are helpful little documents that standardize learning. That is, they clarify the content to be learned, and offer a shared pathway and schedule to deliver that content to students. Curriculum maps function as a kind of overview of learning content, and can also provide a common ground for the reform of planned learning activities based on assessment data (O’Malley, 1982).
The problem is, now more than ever, critical knowledge is changing. The things a student needs to know are different now than they were a half-century ago (unless you want to get super macro about it all and underscore literacy, critical thinking, etc., as timeless and universal).
In the presence of Google, predictive search, digital communities, social media, Quora, adaptive apps, and other technology, information is less scarce than it has ever been in human history. The same with networks, digital channels, and possible learning pathways to discover new ideas.
There is a subreddit for transhumanism. That means there is a community of folks that gather to share ideas, resources, and conversation about the “use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities”–living, breathing, enthusiastic (and sometimes snarky) human beings that can contextualize ideas, clarify misunderstandings, and point you in the right direction for future learning.
That’s pretty incredible.
There’s also one for education, science, the future, the past, self-directed learning, teaching, books, technology, and almost any other topic you can think of. When Google + Quora + twitter + YouTube + reddit +everythingelseontheinternet exist, the kinds of things a student needs to know change.
The age of knowing is slowing giving way to an age of data navigation, and what students need help with should be adjusted accordingly–even if in ways other than the ideas below.
1. Make the work Google-proof
Put another way, design it so that Google is crucial to creating a response rather than finding one.
If students can Google answers–stumble on you want them to remember in a few clicks–there’s a problem with the instructional design. And asking them what they’ll do when they WiFi goes out probably isn’t compelling enough as an argument.
Instead, anchor learning experiences around new kinds of thinking that force the synthesis of disparate ideas, media, and communities. Scenario-based learning, challenge-based learning, project-based learning, learning simulations, and so on.
It’s all out there, ready to be integrated in your classroom.
2. Force them to grapple with big questions without answers
Promote study and observation, not “content mastery.” In a Google-centric world characterized by access to content, networks, and new ways of thinking about things, the focus should be on more classically human practices of observation, study, and perspective.
Via a reddit thread, I found this link to a TED talk–the concept is called “rewilding.”
“Yellowstone National Park had become overrun with deer, which grazed away the vegetation dramatically. For years, biologists like Dave Foreman suggested a solution: bringing wolves back to the park, as the last ones were killed off in 1926. In 1995, wolves were finally reintroduced to Yellowstone, and the effects were dramatic. The wolves brought the deer population down to a sustainable population — but more importantly, they radically changed the behavior of the remaining deer. These deer started to move more often and avoid places in the park where they could easily be trapped, which in turn grew thick with vegetation. This allowed birds and beavers to move in, and the beavers’ dams became habitats for otters, muskrats, ducks, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The wolves also killed coyotes, which allowed for more rabbits and mice, which in turn boosted the populations of weasels, hawks, foxes and badgers. Meanwhile, ravens, bald eagles and bears fed on the carrion that the wolves left. In fact, even the river patterns in the park changed: the regenerating vegetation stabilized the riverbanks, which yielded less to erosion and took on straighter water flow. “The wolves, small in number, transformed not just the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park—this huge area of land—but also its physical geography.”
Not sure how that kind of discovery could ever be packaged into a “standard” without neutering it completely. Curriculum maps should promote careful, self-directed study of relevant and meaningful ideas, rather than design micro-lessons to “efficiently deliver information.”
And for the Google Generation, this kind of authentic content and perspective is infinitely available.
3. Actually make social networks and media channels part of curriculum
Their identification, navigation, analysis, and evaluation should be as much a part of study as branches of government or the writing process.
4. Focus on learning strategies
See #2. Rather than emphasizing content, emphasize how to deal with an abundance of fluid and perishable content on a daily basis.
5. Create curriculum and lessons that absorb data seamlessly
In an age of information and analytics, data is abundant. Currently, maps and units and lessons are not designed to accept data, leaving it up to the teacher to extract it, and constantly make often significant adjustments to planning in light of it.
In 2014, we can do better.
6. Anticipate student needs
Student proficiency can be predicted by examining past performance, reading levels, and an assortment of other factors. This isn’t tracking, nor is it consigning certain students to novice levels of performance, holding them to lower standards, etc. It’s simply being pro-active–creating a map–or at least units within a map–that can facilitate the educated guesswork and instinct on the part of teachers.
Will they need extra time?
Mini-lessons on Digital Citizenship?
Unique literacy strategies?
A mix of digital and physical texts?
More choice or less?
Currently this is all done at the unit or lesson level. What would it look like at the curriculum map level?
7. Focus less on “understanding”
Of course students need to “understand”–but (hoping Grant’s not reading this) prescribing exactly what students will understand, when they will understand it and at what depth, and where, and how they will prove it–regardless of background knowledge, natural interest, literacy levels, etc.–is a bit…ambitious.
And even if it’s possible, at what incredible cost of teacher training, related resources, “classroom management and general gnashing of teeth and stifling of natural curiosity?
Of course the idea of learning is understanding. And we absolutely need to measure what’s working. But focusing entirely on mastery of pre-determined, catalogued, and non-student centered outcomes measured by unbearably unimaginative tests can’t be the zenith of modern pedagogy, can it?
8. Use spiraling by design
If you want to get better at something, you practice. So why not establish a handful of the most important ideas in content that act as anchors for other more discrete knowledge and facts, and practice them over and over again at a variety of cognitive levels (e.g., Bloom’s).
And if this happens, shouldn’t the design of the map promote it naturally? Why should the map say one thing, and then what happens in classroom be different? Should the curriculum map not reflect this approach? Even make it better?
9. Discourage use of traditional units
Among other sins, units encourage illusions of “coverage” for the sake of content packaging. Why not instead emphasize that learning is a marathon, not a series of artificially-divided sprints.
10. Illuminate the nuance of the world
Have you ever had anyone force you to listen to a song? And then stared at your face the whole time waiting for your reaction? Then asked you to write a cause-effect essay about it all? Horrible, right? That’s the process traditional curriculum maps encourage.
Content is incredible if we can just let it be incredible, and for the Google Generation, it’s right there at their fingertips. Curriculum documents should underscore the nuance of the world, not provide a chronologically-based checklist to cover it all.
If students can’t separate what’s worth understanding and what’s not for themselves–whether on the first page of Google search results, or links they find via twitter and facebook–our collective efforts are diminished.
11. Promote discovery and curiosity and self-direction over coverage and compliance
A curriculum map should be as much for the student as they are for the teacher. As such they should function as learning and discovery pathways, helping the learners see where they’ve been, where they’re going, and what’s possible. The Age of Information is characterized by discovery, curiosity, whimsy, and connectivity–all which necessitate self-monitoring and self-direction.
10 Ways Teacher Planning Should Adjust To The Google Generation; image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad
by on JANUARY 5, 2014
The Future of Technology Integration in Instruction Lies in Engaging and Empowering Teaching Methods Like These.
As we head into this new year I’m excited about the many instructional means and methods that educators are using technology to facilitate in 2014′s classrooms both physical and virtual!. As the 2nd decade of the 21st century rolls along, the scales are undoubtedly tilting further in favor of embracing the benefits that technology can bring to instruction, and away from frustration and resistance.Let’s explore some of the powerful instructional approaches that technology is helping to make possible, or bring to a new level, in classrooms and schools across the world.In public and private schools of all shapes and sizes the world over, inspired teachers are working with their students using different types of devices, and various methods of access, to use teaching and learning constructs like these. All of these will see expanded use in 2014 and countless students will be engaged, delighted, inspired, and successful as a result.
1. Student Created Content
The powerful moment when a student shows you something they made for an assignment – a persuasive presentation, a digital booklet, an animated report, a video they shot – is tremendously rewarding. The things that just about anyone with a little time, patience, and access can do with the today’s digital tools are pretty incredible.Think about what students learn and experience when they create their own digital content. They often have to access and curate materials and put together a flow or layout. They have to delve into the subject that they are creating the content about and learn the application they’re using to create it. When they are done and they share their work, their sense of accomplishment and purpose can be a beautiful thing to behold. And they can experience it over and over again as they share their work with others!
2. Collaborative Learning
Working collaboratively is an vital 21st century skills – most workers need to collaborate to some extent or another at points in their work lives. Our ability to collaborate via digital tools expands every day thanks to a seemingly endless array of Internet based applications that enable us to things like edit documents as a team, communicate face-to-face no matter where we are, use interactive whiteboards that allow for simultaneous edits, and so on. Digital collaboration in learning activities is not only a fun, engaging way to learn, it opens up possibilities that haven’t existed before, and prepares students for success in the evolving work place.
3. Active Learning
While everyone has their own learning style, there is no arguing that applying what you learn – doing something with it – helps to iron out the kinks and reinforce learning, no matter what your fundamental learning style is. Isn’t that much of what Active Learning is about? Whatever types of active learning you pursue project based, experiential, constructivist, experiential, etc., there are countless free tools available to today’s student and educators via the Internet that can be used in active learning class work and assignments. Get engaged, have fun, create something, while you apply what you are learning!
We have been educated in a 1.0 education model, we are teaching in a 2.0 model but our students are living in a 3.0 model. These three models chronicle the major paradigmatic shifts that education has witnessed over the last century. They also represent, in an ironical way, the huge abyss between the actual needs of our students and what is actually being delivered to them in schools.
Below is a very interesting chart created by Dr John Moravec in which he compares between the three models we mentioned above. Have a look and share with us what you think of it. Enjoy.
I went into education because I learned from my friends at Google how important it is to aim high. Ever since I started working at Google, I have felt I should spend my time on things that really matter when they are successful. I believe online education can make a difference in the world, more so than almost anything else I’ve done in my life.
Access to high-quality education is way too limited. The United States has the world’s most admirable higher education system, and yet it is very restrictive. It’s so hard to get into. I never got into it as a student. There are also fascinating opportunities that exist today that did not exist even 20 years ago.
The conventional paradigm in education is based on synchronicity. We know for a fact that students learn best if they’re paired one-on-one with a mentor, a tutor. Unfortunately, we can’t afford a tutor for every student. Therefore, we put students into groups. And in these groups, we force students, by and large, to progress at the same speed. Progression at the same speed can cause some students — like me, when I was young — to feel a bit underwhelmed. But it can also cause a lot of students to drop out.
A lot of students, when they aren’t quite up to the speed that’s been given to them, get a grade like a C. But instead of giving them more time to get to the mastery it would take to get an A, they get put into the next cohort, where they start with a disadvantage, with low self-esteem. And they often end up at that level for the rest of their student career.
Salman Khan, whom I admire, has made this point very clearly by showing that he can bring C-level math students to an A+ level if he lets them go at their own pace. So what digital media allow us to do is to invent a medium where students can learn at their own pace, and that is a very powerful idea. When you go at your own pace, we can move instruction toward exploration and play-based learning.
When I enter a video game, I learn something about a fictitious world. And in that video game, I’m allowed to go at my own pace. I’m constantly assessed — assessment becomes my friend. I feel good when I master the next level. If you could only take that experience of a video game back into student learning, we could make learning addictive. My deep, deep desire is to find a magic formula for learning in the online age that would make it as addictive as playing video games.
So the “gamification” of education is a good thing?
I\’m hesitant to say that gamification is a good thing, because it comes with many superficial things. And I don\’t wish to replace a master\’s degree in physics with mastery in Angry Birds. That\’s obviously not good enough. But on the other hand, when you play Angry Birds, there is no lecture, there are no office hours, there is no final exam. You get in, and many of us get addicted. So you could take the addiction and excitement and personalization of Angry Birds back into mainstream learning and marry the best of both worlds — go after very deep academic topics but do it with playfulness, with student choice, with student empowerment, and with active exploration. Then, I think we can change everything.
I’ve read that you feel the high points of your life are when you feel stupid, because you\’re confronted with something that you don\’t understand and you have an opportunity to learn. Is that true?
Yes. It\’s true that for me the biggest moments are when I have a new insight. And one of the reasons why I love to venture into new territories is because I don\’t know what the solution is, so it affords me a chance to explore and to learn something new. With the desire to learn comes the acknowledgement that I don\’t know, otherwise no learning would take place. And in the presence of ignorance, it follows logically that I will make poor choices, make mistakes that in hindsight could have been easily avoided. Those are called failures. So failures are an essential component of the process of innovation. If there are no failures, I\’m not really innovating.
Therefore, failures make me very proud. I\’m actually happy to fail, because it gives me a chance to learn and iterate and avoid the same mistake in the future. I honestly believe that if we were to embrace failure as much as success, and celebrate failure as much as success, then we could shed the fear of failure. And if you shed the fear of failure, then you\’d be much more able to make the right choices.
Onstage at TED2013, Sugata Mitra makes his bold TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other — using resources and mentoring from the cloud. Hear his inspiring vision for Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), and learn more at tedprize.org.
Educational researcher Sugata Mitra is the winner of the 2013 TED Prize. His wish: Build a School in the Cloud, where children can explore and learn from one another.