Archive for the ‘Online Education’ 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?

New teaching practices, should we really change the way we teach? Understanding The “Thawing Principle”

Written by Coby Enteen

Every so often we are overtaken by new teaching practices and learning methods such as Flip Classroom, Project-based Learning, MOOC’s, Blended Learning and so on.  We often hear about them at conferences, from a school administrator or from fellow teachers and they make us feel inadequate and uncomfortable for not knowing enough and mainly for not teaching this way.  Does this mean that we should stop what we are doing (many times very effectively for very long) and switch over to this new way of teaching?  Definitely not!  Those of us that have been involved in education for a while understand the “Thawing Principle”, meaning that these so-called innovate pedagogic methods are nothing more than ideas and will typically go through a three-stage process in which they start out as the “next best thing” in education, then once tested in the field become an “effective strategy”, and from there move to the “something else to do with your students” category.

Thawing Principle

New teaching practices do have many benefits for the seasoned teacher, they give us new ideas and help us refresh ourselves professional, they enable us to step out of our comfort zone and help us think differently about what we are doing, and in some cases provide us with new ways for reaching students and maybe even exciting them about learning.  In order to gain the most out of these practices it is important to view them objectively asking yourself: is there something from this that I can take back to my classroom? and if so, how can I incorporate it into my teaching practices?  From that point, ‘the sky is the limit!’  Some teachers will gradually adopt and incorporate the process, while others will not.  The key is to avoid being intimidated.

 

It is time for educators to stop being intimidated by new instructional practices and put them into their true context.  They should be thought of in terms of a “Thawing Principle” and will ultimately go through the natural process of becoming a good idea for some and a better idea for others.  Moreover, the adoption of new instructional practices is gradual and varies from one teacher to the next.  It is therefore time to stop presenting them as the “next best thing” in education and look at them instead as innovative tools that can help us advance the nature of education.

Social Networks or Learning Networks?

Social Media

Written by Coby Enteen

Social networks are gradually becoming commonplace in the K-12 classrooms.  Teachers have awoken to the fact that 12-18 year old’s  spend much of their after-school hours socializing online, and they only started to realize the value of bringing this experience into the classroom.

I have personally had the opportunity to introduce a teacher controlled social learning platform in a recent 1-to-1 initiative in a large school district.  Teachers received hands-on training using the Edmodo online tool to introduce topics, assign schoolwork, create classroom discussions and encourage student learning and inquiry both during the school hours and at home in the form of homework.  The teacher training was voluntary and only 30% of the teachers attended the initial sessions.  Within a two months of the training the number of teachers using social networks in the classroom doubled and it became a source of discussion in the teachers lounges.

Although social networks are viewed by most as a leisure activity, we must not forget that it is the voice of the young generation.  It is the medium of speech and something that comes naturally to them.  Therefore, the ‘natural’ place is in the classroom, and maybe we should consider it to be a learning network instead?

More Educators Joining Online Social Networks -- THE Journal

More information about teachers and social networks:

More Educators Joining Online Social Networks — THE Journal.

Six Ways to Get Your Online Students Participating in the Course | Faculty Focus

Have you ever worried about the level of participation in your online courses? Perhaps you have difficulty encouraging students to interact with one another, or maybe you find student responses to be perfunctory. Surely there must be a way to encourage the kinds of participation that really supports learning.

via Six Ways to Get Your Online Students Participating in the Course | Faculty Focus.

Answers To The Biggest Questions About Flipped Classrooms – Edudemic

Flipped classrooms are truly changing education (see ‘How To Flip An Entire School‘ and a report on how the flipped classroom can improve test scores.) As a school psychologist intern highly interested in ‘flipping classrooms’, I have consulted with many teachers and school staff that have adopted (or have expressed interest in) the flipped classroom model, and those that have implemented the model, have nothing but great things to say. Below are some frequent questions I get about flipped classrooms from teachers; and my answers, based on personal interactions and professional consultations with teachers.

via Answers To The Biggest Questions About Flipped Classrooms – Edudemic.

The New 10 YouTube Educational Gurus

It was not long ago since we posted here about the contest launched by YouTube in partnership with Khan Academy. They both were looking for some bright and inspiring educational content creators who have ” what it takes to build a global classroom “. Two of my readers here have applied ( there might probably be more but these two have sent me their video contributions ) and one of them was initially accepted in the first selection that listed  1000 candidates but was eliminated  in the final selection.

via The New 10 YouTube Educational Gurus.

3 Little Known Web Services Teachers Should Be Using

By now, everyone’s heard of the major web services that have become popular in edtech circles: Edublogs and Blogger for blogging, Diigo and Delicious for bookmarking, Wikispaces and Wetpaint for wikis, and on and on and on…

via 3 Little Known Web Services Teachers Should Be Using.

Learning Should Fit the Child – Forbes

There is often a sense that technology is a toy. That if it engages kids it is because it is more exciting and bright than tired, old books. This is, in many respects, the rhetoric at the heart of moves towards ‘interactive’ textbooks. The issue, of course, is that while that may be true, the real potential for technology in education is to break us from the requirements of standardization.

via Learning Should Fit the Child – Forbes.

Why I Gave Up Flipped Instruction

A little over a year ago I wrote a post about the flipped classroom, why I loved it, and how I used it. I have to admit, the flip wasn’t the same economic and political entity then that it is now. And in some ways, I think that matters.

via Why I Gave Up Flipped Instruction.