Sunday, 22 November 2015

Rejecting Stereotypes and Cliches

Week 3 LDC - Implementing Technology Innovation in the Classroom

1965 classroom at Parklands Elementary

“This week we will look at what should the overall goal of education be, with a focus on building Adaptive Competence. In simple terms, it may be defined as the “capacity to respond” within “bounded parameters” (MindLab course overview, week 3).

A hundred years ago, even fifty years ago, if you look at the photo, students headed off to school to learn.  For most, school was the place where you received information.  The teacher was the font of the knowledge which would open the doors to successful careers, and a life made less boring because you were “well read” and could lift yourself into a better level in the pecking order.

I use cliches on purpose; many are past their shelf life.  Education isn't about filling us up with knowledge. If it’s Googlable, it shouldn't be asked.  It’s about enabling us to use information, create information and problem solve.  And this is going to mean having the whole swag of key competencies, as mentioned last week, to do this effectively.

From the Leadership Freak blog.
We look at careers and what careers our children might aim for.  This is difficult as we can’t really predict what some of these jobs will be. We check out to see which jobs might get taken over by robots.  

What is becoming obvious is that our children will need to be entrepreneurial and adaptable.  New jobs will come out of new problems and needs.  I google future occupation predictions and get Thomas Frey’s blog.  Fancy being a water purifier or an impact minimizer? He identifies a whole new skill set too.  

Maybe you could be a limb printer?
Right now I’m impressed by my daughter’s running coach; she only met him face to face at her last ultramarathon, but she pays him ten dollars a week and he sends her a training schedule.  He has a website and he has just started a clothing line.  He can afford to.  He already has a thousand clients. I didn’t ask, but I’m picking that he is still in his twenties.

It’s not just that information is googlable; it’s that our children are used to a whole new way of “doing”.  Just read this article from Popular Mechanics: The Generation That Doesn’t Remember Life Before Smartphones - What It Means To Be A Teenager in 2015.  

Another recommended reading from the New York Times, Technology Changing How students Learn, Teachers Say, talks about the results of a teacher survey on the effect of technology use of students on attention and performance.  

“There is a widespread belief among teachers that students’ constant use of digital technology is hampering their attention spans and ability to persevere in the face of challenging tasks…”

The article admits that the study is subjective and based on teacher opinions. It notes that maybe teacher practice does not fit this “brave new world”:

"...the education system must adjust to better accommodate the way students learn, a point that some teachers brought up in focus groups themselves."

I agree: it is tougher to engage students because they now have access to a large range of distractions. Teachers need to compete with the media rich world because our students are now in a land of plenty.  No longer is the classroom where their eyes are opened.  Teachers need to "jump higher", or rather, enable the students to"jump" higher.  Teachers need to get  students to critique information and its sources, and challenge them with deep questions and wicked problems.

Digital technologies are here, good or bad.  It’s up to us to “engage or enrage”.  At the same time, we need to use them purposefully and examine whether particular applications do more than merely engage.  We need to make sure our students are safe and able to be discerning.

Using an image as trigger on
At our workshop we play with a number of augmented reality apps: Aurasma, Quiver, Enchantium and Anatomy 4D .  It’s huge fun, if not sometimes frustrating.  But it’s the frustration of waiting for apps to load and falling off the internet with the number in the room, that makes us question their use tonight. The conversation continues with family at home later.  It’s about using the best tool for the job.

We discuss virtual reality. Is it good for our students to be immersed for hours at a time in Minecraft and similar second life worlds? The pluses and minuses are discussed.  My children immersed themselves in Lego and Barbie worlds for hours, even days at a time. The lack of social skills versus the online collaboration opportunities are debated.

Time to look at the SAMR model.  We need to make sure we are doing more than substituting bells and whistles.  Are we augmenting the task and creating greater challenge?  Modifying? Or can we reinvent the types of challenges we are setting students?

We have a go with a Google map task.  Judge for yourself if we got it right.

The second model we look at is the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK), “a framework to understand and describe the kinds of knowledge needed by a teacher for effective pedagogical practice in a technology enhanced learning environment” (course overview).
TPACK image (rights free)

Is self education is the gateway to the world? What role will I have as an educator?  The website tells me that I only have a 1% chance of a robot taking my job. I need to make sure I am growing and learning with my students.

That’s why I'm here.

Let's have some new cliches.

- Samuel Goldwyn

Videos: Using AR apps at our MindLabED session

Storify of Week 3 (with thanks to @1MvdS)