Archive for the ‘Flipped Class’ Category

Sustainable Modern Pedagogy or “Boutique” Solutions?

Written by Coby Enteen

Our lives have changed drastically over the course of the last three of decades; job stability is slowly declining, manual labor is rapidly being taken over by machines, and the collective knowledge of the internet is becoming more valuable than the teacher and the textbook.    Schools are largely finding it difficult to keep up with these challenges, often creating a learning void and failing to provide even the fundamental skills required for success in the constantly-evolving world.  As educational paradigms shift, many new and existing pedagogies have been introduced into the classroom such as Project-Based Learning, Problem-Based Learning, Place-Based Learning, Computer-Based Learning, Discovery-Learning, Outdoor Education, Flipped-Classroom, Design-Thinking, E-Learning (which comes in different variations), Maker Spaces, and the list goes on.  This begs the question; are any of these modern teaching methods gaining ground and are they being effectively adopted in a consistent manner in the classroom or are they being viewed as “Boutique” approaches to learning that are “nice to have.”

Although there is no definitive answer to this question, it has become fairly clear that the pendulum is slowly shifting in the direction of modern pedagogy, primarily out of necessity and as a grassroots understanding that classroom learning must change to meet the needs of the modern world.  However, the flip side of the issue is that many school district administrators and educational policy makers continue to battle pedagogic modernization by promoting standardized testing and teacher accountability measures.  This creates a resistance to change and most often results in more traditional frontal teaching and “test-prep” approaches.  One observable effect is that many alternative schools have sprouted throughout the educational landscape, using modern instructional approaches as a trademark and method of differentiation from the competition.  Some prime examples of this would be the Hi-Tech High model in San Diego and the Studio Schools model in the U.K.

While teachers are becoming increasingly aware of modern pedagogy and many have received pre-service and in-service training in these areas; they are often finding it difficult to sustain this type of teaching in the classroom on a regular basis.  This can be largely attributed a number of factors including the absence of adequate support during the initial implementation phase, a lack of lesson preparation time and the focus on standardized testing.  Moreover, modern instructional practices are many times introduced one after another, without a clear plan and concrete steps for integrating it into the curriculum.  Thus, educators have become largely skeptical regarding the promise of modern pedagogy for classroom transformation and have begun to adopt the “boutique approach”, whereby new methods are used in conjunction with specific lessons and extracurricular assignments; never really becoming a teaching standard.

Are We headed Towards Different School Structures in the Future?

Educators are constantly referencing the importance of instilling 21st century skills and preparing students for the future workplace, meanwhile our schools look like they did over 100 years ago.  Are we missing the point?  Why can’t classrooms be adapted to look more like a workplace with modern technology and collaborative work spaces?  These and many other questions are driving a change in the way that we look at the physical side of education.  Changing the way our schools and classrooms look might contribute a great deal to the way that we teach and learn, and to the profession as a whole.  That being said, district and school decision makers can look at modern teaching practices as a basis for  planning and upgrading existing schools.  Just as the instructional practices change from one class to another, so should the physical nature of the classroom.  Teaching is modular and the teaching and learning surroundings should be as well.

 

Read more here:

Could the School of the Future be Modular?

Top 5 Reasons Tablets are the Best Solution for Education

by Coby Enteen

Tablets are quickly becoming the ideal solution for school 1-to-1 programs.  They provide a simple, lightweight, low-cost option for seamlessly incorporating technology into the classroom.  Here are reasons why:

1.  Simple, Lightweight Solution – The deployment of laptops into classrooms brought with it a great deal of physical constraints ranging from the weight of the device to the complications with charging and electricity.  The tablet weighs very little and provides virtually all of the same learning resources.

2.  Battery Capacity – Laptops used in the past would continuously need to be recharged, often during a lesson.  This was a cause of frustration for many teachers and students and severely inhibited learning.

3.  Low Maintenance  – Most schools and educational organizations are dependent on large IT departments with significant budgets to run  and maintain a server-client environment.  Most tablets rely on cloud-storage solutions.  Moreover, tablet operating systems are very solid, hardly ever get “stuck”, and are not as susceptible to computer viruses.  The tablets themselves require very little technical care and maintenance, thus freeing up funding spent on IT support for other educational initiatives.

4.  The Low Cost/Personal Device – The average cost of a tablet is much lower than a laptop or desktop offering schools with more flexibility and the ability to step closer to a true 1-to-1 learning solution.  Tablets also enable learning experiences outside of school when provided as a personal device.

5.  Apps, Apps and more Apps – Mobile device applications are slowly becoming the most popular form of software development.  Every day more and more applications are being released and many of them are suitable for education.

An additional article on the subject from Digital Trends:

How tablets are invading the classroom | Digital Trends.