The future of education is just next door

The world is changing every day at the speed of light and technology is one of the biggest catalysts of this process. Therefore, education has to change as well, however, this process is pretty slow because of too many participants included in it – teachers, students, parents, governments.  It is a huge change requiring a lot of effort from everyone. The change is difficult, but possible. It is a long path full of mistakes that leads to a huge success.

“One of the biggest systemic challenges to the spread of the new pedagogies is that they are not yet being measured in any coherent way. Unfortunately, most systems that we have seen simply do not yet have ways to measure the new pedagogies and deep learning outcomes.” A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

I really love Finland’s model of education, as well as their vision of an effective education, that emphasizes students getting real-world happiness every day by learning from solving real-life problems. It provides so much freedom for thoughts and experiments in the environment where human connections are the most powerful teaching method and sharing real-life experience is essential. I, personally, see their education model as one of the prospective models of future education, since it already has lots of  New Pedagogy model attributes. Moreover, its foundation is trust and collaboration among teachers, students, parents, and even school administration, which makes it a great example of Learning Partnership. Several years ago I had an opportunity to attend TEDxVilniusED 2017 conference, during which Dr Marjo Kyllönen (acting head of the basic education division in the city of Helsinki) gave a really inspiring and motivating speech about future education, or… education today (in some countries).

New Pedagogy and Deep learning

Reading this week’s material on the New Pedagogies and Deep Learning A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning reminded me of the educational model I’ve read about in one of our COETAIL’er Cindy’s blog post Studio 5 at ISHCMC, where students are taking ownership of their learning process and results, while teachers are their mentors, who provide relevant information and help students learn as well as motivate them for further progress. The school I’m working at is also currently going through some internal changes of the educational system, that’s why during our in-service week we all went to “Most Likely to Succeed”  movie screening. It is also a great example of a New Pedagogy model that we all are hoping to be moving towards in the nearest future.

According to Michael Fullan (Professor Emeritus OISE University of Toronto), New Pedagogy and  New Learning is more about the relationship among teachers, students, and families. In order to succeed as a learner in a complex world, students have to understand and learn the 6 c’s character education, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. The relationship is a key element for any learner. Only by learning together and from each other, the highest goals will be achieved. During the COVID19 pandemic Learning together proved to be successful when teachers were teaching online and provided necessary information and resources, while students learning from home took the responsibility of their learning process in their own hands, and, with the parents’ support, succeeded in reaching pretty good results. Of course, all of this would be impossible without technology.

“The goals of deep learning are that students will gain the competencies and dispositions that will prepare them to be creative, connected, and collaborative life-long problem solvers and to be healthy, holistic human beings who not only contribute to but also create the common good in today’s knowledge-based, creative, interdependent world.” A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Michael Fullan also emphasizes students’ need for change and students as the most important character in education who will sooner or later ask for change, because of the constantly changing world around us, that is really much related to technology. If technology is all around us, then why do we still have to learn it as a separate subject? According to the research by Shannon Doak (Emerging Theories of Learning and the Role of Technology ) students are facing an entirely different world than the generations before. (Fouts, 2000) and the fact that virtually all segments of society have changed dramatically by information technologies and will continue to change in the future cannot be ignored. Schools must be a part of these changes and research should proceed with the assumption that technology is and will continue to be a growing element within the schools (Fouts, 2000). All of the students at my school have access to good quality internet as well as at least one or more devices at home. Moreover, students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 have a device provided by the school and are successfully using it during the learning process every day. They also have an opportunity to use a 3D printer, various programmable robots, and other STEM equipment (Spheroes, ProBots, Cubelets, Microbits, Beebots, MergeCubes, etc.) in our Tech Lab. Last school year we had a few hour PD session for teachers in a form of a Tech Fair, during which teachers from different divisions could come and see, learn, and try different pieces of technology. As an outcome, more integrated projects followed after this PD. Our presentation of opportunities to create different technology-rich learning environments has enriched the teaching curriculum of other educators. Therefore, more opportunities for students to experience deep learning has occurred after this teachers’ collaboration.

One of the favorite parts of my job is being in a role of co-teacher in classes with other teachers. This is a great model, that shows students how all of the subjects are related and how much easier the learning process becomes with this understanding. The co-teaching process might require more preparation and research, but it is much more effective. In similar situations, technologically rich environments are necessary for students in order to develop organizational, problem-solving, inquiry, and collaboration skills, that are urgent to any successful learner of the 21st century. It enriches the learning content with valuable material as well as possible practical applications.  Technology integration allows a deeper exploration as well as easier communication between students and teachers.

Inquiry

Our school is using various inquiry-based learning activities that very often include technology tools such as Padlet, or Fliprgrid used to share thoughts between students, teachers, and sometimes the school community. I find Inquiry-based activities a powerful tool for developing critical thinking as well as a method to push students’ away from understanding that teachers must provide all the necessary concept related material and students just have to “swallow” it. I, personally, love when students show, that they know a better solution than is proposed by the teacher (yes, it happens) and then students become co-teacher. By getting an opportunity and responsibility for participation in the teaching process, students become better learners.

“I’m just one of them” Neil Lyons, 8th Grade Teacher, WG Davis School, Canada

This way we also are building learning partnerships between teachers and students. I have to admit that when I was a young and inexperienced teacher, I was afraid of students who might know more than I. Now, I am happy when I get a chance to see those small gems approaching during my classes – it really nurtures our collaborative learning process.

“When students are given a legitimate voice in decision-making, and learn how to use that voice effectively, they start on the path towards becoming leaders of their own learning.” A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

Learning Theories

Research by Shannon Doak emphasizes several learning theories:

  • Situated cognition: Learning community or community of practice, where the learners take an active role in the learning community, it builds learner relationships within the learner community.
  • Socially shared cognition: In Socially-Shared Cognition learners are participants in a community where the cognition is shared between the participants, the artifacts and tools they are using and the social institutions in which the learning occurs (Brown & Cole, 2000).
  • Distributed cognition: Student-centered approach to learning where the learners participate in a systematically designed learning environment that supports interaction amongst its participants.

All of these learning theories support the model of new pedagogy as well as deep learning.

PBL

Project-Based Learning is one more concept of the New Pedagogies which is directly connected to deep learning.

For example, students learn a new concept about energy and the ways it can be produced by exploring it through research. Technology integration is very important in this process since it helps effectively gather and process big amount of information required for the research, which is one of the deep learning tasks. Moreover, there are many good examples of learning partnerships in PBL, for example, students discussing the real-life problem they are working on with their peers, their teachers, and even their parents, who might have a certain level of specialized knowledge in the area of research.

My Goal

My goal for deepening learning partnerships in my school is to find even more safe ways for students to learn not only from each other, but from other learners around the world, as well as foster communication and develop stronger digital safety skills. I want my students to realize, how close valuable connections can be and how valuable is the role of technology for a successful learner.

Frameworks for learning and Learning Partnerships

Frameworks for learning are supported by learning partnerships and theories because all of the frameworks are based on teacher and student relationship in learning and integrating technology. Frameworks for learning help teacher plan the technology integration stages depending on students cognition stage, by leading students to successful utilization of technology for learning in order to develop necessary skills of a 21st-century learner such 6 C’s emphasized by Michael Fullan – character education, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.

Some More Changes Towards the Deep Learning

Since Course 1, Week 5 I made myself see other ways of technology use in my classes as well as integrated classes. I began looking for a better way of integrating my teaching subjects such as design, research, and digital citizenship instead of just teaching or integrating a single concept at the time. Using ideas, learned from this week, I will think of other effective ways of giving students more responsibilities for their learning process. It will not be easy, but sometimes new methods seem to be surprisingly effective.

Every year I organize a coding week which gathers students from different grade levels for pair coding activity. Students from grade 5 are sharing their coding experience with Kindergarten and the opposite. Other grade levels are being mixed up in a similar manner. They explore opportunities for coding various robots using different coding languages and accepting coding challenges or passing obstacle courses, etc. This time this week’s reading encouraged me to think differently. My shift would be from in-person knowledge transfer to virtual learning together. Classes might do their coding activity and connect via Google Meet for the Class session and share their creations with other grade levels. Students coding Scratch will make their own games and will exchange with other students in order to be able to play each other games. Received feedback will motivate students for further exploration and even collaboration on programming a game together.

“The heart of a good teacher is the student – what the student needs to learn. When teachers see that a new way of teaching or new tools spark engagement and learning, they naturally gravitate towards these new pedagogies.” (Tan Chen Kee, a principal in Singapore)

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