The study surveyed 2,462 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers in the US.
>With the increasing adoption of ICTs in schools around the country, teachers are under increasing pressure to adopt different approaches to teaching and accommodate different expectations form students (and parents). As with any change, the transition isn't always smooth or easy – with demands being made from all directions for which there isn't often an obvious answer or way of responding that can be drawn from prior experience. Literally, many schools and teachers end up 'making it up as they go' – with variable results.
The Pew study identifies a number of things that shouldn't be a big surprise to most – for instance, the fact that 92% of teachers "say the Internet has a 'major impact' on their ability to access content, resources and materials for their teaching" would be an expected response given the extraordinary adoption of web-based activity that is prevalent among the age group of their students.
One finding that we need to be taking notice of within the education community is the fact that "75% of AP and NWP teachers say the Internet and other digital tools have added new demands to their lives." Almost every day I hear from teachers how the Internet and other digital technologies have required them to learn more and stay up to date with more than just pedagogy – arguably no different from many other professions, however the availability of and access to professional learnin opportunities to help address this is a concern.
Of more concern is the difference in reporting from teachers in high-income schools who said that lack of access to digital technologies is an issue for their students (21%), while 56% of teachers in low-income schools reported this an issue for their students. The issue of a digital divide continuing to exist between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' is reinforced through the study.
Key findings from the study are:
AP and NWP teachers bring a wide variety of digital tools into the learning process, including mobile phones, tablets, and e-book readers.
Teachers worry about digital divides, though they are split about the impact of digital tools on their students.
54% of AP and NWP teachers say all or almost all of their students have sufficient access to digital tools while IN SCHOOL, but just 18% say the same is true AT HOME.
Teachers of the lowest income students experience the impact of digital tools in the learning environment differently than teachers whose students are from more affluent households.
There are notable generational differences in how teachers experience the impact of digital technologies in their professional lives.
At times, teachers’ own use of digital tools can run counter to their concerns about and perceptions of student use.
The internet and digital tools also play a key role in classroom preparation and professional networking.
AP and NWP teachers outpace the general adult population in almost all measures of personal tech use, yet 42% feel their students know more than they do when it comes to using digital tools.
It would be interesting to test these findings out in schools around NZ – perhaps a discussion focus for a staff meeting or similar? It's not simply the findings that are important here – but how the issues identified might be addressed as we hurtle forward into the 21st century, where digital competence must surely be one of the essential life-competencies required.
I'm currently attending the CoSN conference in San Diego, which has the theme of 'audacious leadership'. The opening plenary featured Lord David Puttnam and Punya Mishra, discussing the issue of the changes being experienced in education (and elsewhere) in the 21st century.
Hearing them speak raises themes familiar in much of the literature, forums and online discussion regarding change and leadership in 21st century education. In particular is the issue of the value vs cost of education, and the argument about whether we can work within the current system (and funding) to achieve change, or whether we need to commit more resources to achieving this.
This issue is discussed in a recent publication titled An Avalanche is Coming which features a quote from Lord Puttnam on the cover. The main question addressed in this paper is whether a university education is a good preparation for working life and citizenship in the 21st century or, more precisely, whether it will continue to be seen as good value, given the remorseless rise in the cost of a university education over recent decades.
While the focus of the report is on tertiary education, there is much in this analysis that is relevant to the compulsory school sector also, since the issue of working within the broader context of the global economy is relevant to and impacts on all areas of education. A key point in the report for me is the section addressing the issue that the cost of [higher] education is increasing faster than inflation – conclusion, we can't keep on doing what we've always done, we need new models, new approaches, new thinking.
In all of the talk about change, and leadership for change we can't ignore that there is a cost involved in providing a high quality educaiton – the cost of resources (physical and virtual), the cost to teachers, the cost of professional development, the cost of technology etc. etc. What is evident from this report is that we cannot continue to expect greater and greater investment in the current models of education – we need to invent very different models that can be sustained into the future, while ensuring the quality outcomes continue to be achieved.
I had the opportunity to contribute to four of the submissions made to this committee, wearing different hats for each, and so have a keen interest in the process and its outcome. Despite the rather confusing terms of reference that the committee was charged with reporting on, the final report provides a pretty fair summary of the things I heard being discussed by the submitters I spoke to.
One of the things that came through very strongly for me as I read this report is the repeated plea for leadership. There are 24 separate references to this in the document, with the following recommendation summing up pretty much where I think things need to be focussed:
That [government] recognise that 21st century learning will require significant change across the education sector, involving a wide range of stakeholders; and that the Government recognise achieving such a change needs government- and sector-wide leadership to develop and promote a vision, and to lead an integrated series of work programmes to implement that vision. (italics mine)
The apparent breakdown here is a failure to demonstrate leadership in the way communication was (or wasn't) maintained with the wide range of stakeholders as the Ministry worked with them (and the Council) as everyone worked together to develop and implement a shared vision.
This, together with today's announcement of the resignation of the Secretary of Education, demonstrates to me that we have a crisis of leadership in our education community at present – at a time when, more than ever one may argue, it is required.
The point I'd like to emphasise here is the fact that the sort of leadership being urged in the select committee report isn't bound up in a single person – it is government and sector-wide leadership. The call is for a unified and focused approach across the sector, an approach that reflects then the process of consultation and engagement with the sector and stakeholders. That is the leadership we need.
Back to the parliamentary inquiry report, setting aside the fact that most of the recommendations are couched in non-committal language that the cynics will recognise allow freedom for political 'wriggle room' (the word "consider" appears 27 times in 44 recommendations, along with 'investigate, "explore" and "review" for instance), the themes and issues raised by the recommendations are all very worthy of consideration and important to be addressed.
Taken together, these recommendations have the potential to form the framework of a vision to be promoted (something we don't currently have, unless you consider a focus on system deficits a vision). These recommendations allow us to think aspirationally, to consider a future that is bigger than what we currently have, and opens up the opportunity for conversations about system level change in structure and thinking that could create a better learning experience for our young people.
It is encouraging to me that, in relation to an inquiry into learning environments, a substantial amount of discussion is devoted to the virtual world, and the anticipated role of the Network4Learning. I am a strong advocate for the inclusion of the virtual in any discussion about 21st Century learning environments, as already we must acknowledge the significant amount of learning that takes place outside of the school environment, and of that, an increasing amount takes place online.
In the recomendations I am pleased to see mention of community use of school IT facilities, as well as school use of community owned IT facilities (libraries included). This all seems to make sense to me – something I've advocated for some time, and which has been effected here in Christchuch with the South Learning Centre and Riccarton Library for some years now as an example.
The report also addresses some of the digital divide and privacy issues that will inevitably arise as we move in this direction.
It's pleasing to note that the report has the support of the Labour Party and the Greens (in principle at least, with their obligatory extra points noted). Let's hope the government now looks seriously at the recommendations in this report, with an horizon that stretches well beyond simply 'considering' and 'exploring', to actually taking some hard decisions, showing leadership, and inspiring leadership in others.
We need all of our politicians and sector leaders too to take serious note of the recommendation "…that the Government recognise achieving such a change needs government- and sector-wide leadership to develop and promote a vision, and to lead an integrated series of work programmes to implement that vision."
The initial paper provides a useful definition of blended learning and the 4 approaches described by the Innosite Institute – and the cases studies that follow are taken from a number of US-based schools and school districts to illustrate a range of implementation models from which useful lessons can be learned.
With increasing interest in incorporating blended learning approaches in NZ schools, this report will make useful reading for principals and school leaders looking for models to adopt or lessons to learn from as they develop their own.
The paper is presented an e-book that can be read on your laptop or mobile device and can be viewed here.
I've just been browsing a report recently published by Ofcom titled "Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report." [PDF]. Much of my work in schools and with teachers involves discussions about the sorts of skills and dispositions young people need to be considered 'literate' in an increasingly digital world. The research carried out by Ofcom reveals some useful data to help inform how schools think about a response, including…
an increase since 2010 in the number of children aged between 5-15 who have a PC or a laptop
an increase from 93% from 88% of children aged between 12-15 year olds use the Internet from home
children say that they would likely to miss their mobile or the Internet rather than TV
33% believe that the information on a website must be truthful
only 23% of parents are concerned with what their kids see on the Internet
49% of parents state that their children know more than them
88% of the kids feel confident and know how to stay safe on the Internet
A quick scan down this list reveals some key areas of potential 'disconnect' between what many adults (incl. teachers) and students think is the case, and what is reality. Of particular note is the final statistic, revealing a very high percentage of young people who consider themselves to be responsible and safe online. The questions raised for me are; "who is helping our kids navigate this complex world of the WWW?, How are they learning to feel confident and safe?" As a parent of school-aged students I'm not convinced this would be accurate in practice (- which is why I spend time with them talking about and modelling responsible online behaviour).
Understanding digital literacy is a complex issue, largely because of the way the thinking about it is evolving. There's certainly no shortage of useful links and article son the topic online.
This post from a blog of the University of Northern Iowa provides a useful schematic, along with a number of links that could be useful to teachers in developing a better understanding of the topic.
Janice Chia from Nanyang Technological University posted how she is addressing the constant evolution of information literacy in her library context, with advice that could be applied in a number of other contexts, including regular classrooms.
These, and the many other posts and reports, convince me that all schools need to be placing a high priority on developing programmes addressing the information literacy needs of students. Failure to do so will be as significant in their lives as if my teachers had failed to ensure I could read and write when I went through school.
The Internet of Things will be the most complex structure mankind has ever created. In a generation, there will likely be a trillion nodes measuring anything on Earth that can be measured, and with the insights culled from that data, we’ll control every aspect of our built world.
We live in a connected world, where millions of people and objects are interconnected by the Internet. In many of my presentations over the past couple of years I've referred to the Internet of Things (IoT) as one of the key trends we need to be watching for – this topic was one of CORE's ten trends in 2011 - in that year it was estimated that there became more 'things' connected to the internet than people.
The e-book is over 70 pages long, and provides an excellent overview of the range of areas of our lives and the societies we live in that are being or potentially will be impacted by the Internet of Things.
Anything imaginable is capable of being connected to the network, become intelligent and therefore offers endless possibilities.This topic can be quite mind-boggling for some, and a focus of real fascination for others. Whatever your thinking, there's a lot to think about with this topic, and it's definitely worthy of some time to consider.
For those who'd prefer a more visual introduction to the thinking about IoT, the video below is quite useful, and I've used it in some of my presentations to set the scene for thinking about the implications of all of this for schools. for example:
maintaining the temperature and air flow in the learning spaces
monitoring student presence in class (no more roll calls)
monitoring where teachers are in the school (teachers contactable where-ever they may be, no more lengthy delays tracking them down.)
ensuring rooms are set up appropriately as people enter (A/V turned on, screens down etc.)
managing room usage and traffic flows in busy parts of the buildings
moving digital resources to be available in areas when they are needed – rooms set up for the particular class/teacher as they approach/enter the room.
ERO's latest report went live today – and it's definitely worth reading for an overview of the state of education in NZ. Priority Learners in NZ Schools is a synthesis of findings from a wide range of evaluations carried out over recent years by the Education Review Office (ERO), and through this process, they have identified three key issues which evidence indicates are acting as impediments to NZ schools lifting their practice, and in particular, raising the achievement levels of priority learners:
Shifting the focus to student-centred learning
Knowledgably implementing a responsive and rich curriculum
Using assessment information to know about, and plan for, students' learning.
As themes central to our educational thinking at present these will come as no surprise. What the ERO report reveals, however, is the extent to which these issues are not being addressed in our schools, and where there is room for improvement.
The first issue, student-centred learning, is a common theme all around the world – something I've been discussing today with members of the Department of Education here in Melbourne. What it appears the officials here are observing is similar to what is happening in many NZ schools – the interpretation of student-centred is represented in actions the school and teachers are taking to address different learner needs, styles or interests etc., not on thinking more deeply about how students should experience education and be 'honoured as partners in learning'. The report states that students must be at the heart of school business – while their analysis shows that some schools are not yet positioning students at the centre of learning and teaching – instead, they are simply 'forgotten' amongst the daily business of 'delivering' education.
This leads to the second issue – the fact that in NZ we have extraordinary freedom to design and develop a localised curriculum for our students, within the framework of the NZC. This isn't something that is simply a 'nice-to-have', but is fundamental to engaging students in ways that allow them to connect with their local context. The report states:
Too many of our most vulnerable students, particularly in secondary schools, are the unlucky recipients fo a curriculum that is fragmented and bears no relationship to their cultural backgrounds or to contexts that have relevance and meaning for them.
The report also highlights how subjects such as science are becoming 'lost' or subsumed into other teaching areas, and how there needs to be an emphasis on learning that leads to deep understanding.
I've had the privilege of having had a copy of this report to read over the past few days, and my copy is now extensively annotated and highlighted, causing me to think deeply about what it is we're focusing on in education, and where our efforts might best be directed in order to achieve the sorts of changes we need to be aiming for. As an educator I find the report challenging, as a parent I find it concerning, and as a citizen I find it something we can't ignore.
Having just visited Silverton School here in Melbourne today, I am convinced that what is highlighted in this report as being issues for us to address is not unachievable. Silverton serves a low socio-economic area, yet manages to provide an holistic curriculum approach, with deep learning evident in the sciences, music and languages area – all of which is supported by the use of ICTs which are seen in every space of the school.
Following the model of development of the very successful Horizon Report, and in the vein of CORE's ten trends, the Open University have just released the first of a series of reports that explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. Innovating Pedagogy 2012 proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.
The report was produced by a group of academics at the Institute of Educational Technology in The Open University who first proposed a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices. These were then pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in postschool education. (They have not deliberately excluded school education, but that is not specifically the area of expertise of the OU). Lastly, they drew on published and unpublished writings to compile the ten sketches of new pedagogies that might transform education. These are summarised below in rough order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation.
Personal inquiry learning - Learning through collaborative inquiry and active investigation
Seamless learning - Connecting learning across settings, technologies and activities
MOOCs - Massive open online courses
Assessment for learning - Assessment that supports the learning process through diagnostic feedback
New pedagogy for e-books - Innovative ways of teaching and learning with next-generation e-books
Publisher-led short courses - Publishers producing commercial short courses for leisure and professional development
Badges to accredit learning - Open framework for gaining recognition of skills and achievements
Rebirth of academic publishing - New forms of open scholarly publishing
Learning analytics - Data-driven analysis of learning activities and environments
Rhizomatic learning - Knowledge constructed by self-aware communities adapting to environmental conditions
There's plenty here to stimulate the thinking of anyone who has an eye to future focused trends and developments. What I find useful about this publication is (a) the explanation provided of each of these innovations, and (b) the way the team look beyond the technological innovation to explore the pedagogical benefit(s) and potential of these things. Like the Horizon Report, there is also a list of links to further readings and examples at the end of each innovation.
As noted also, while the focus is on tertiary education primarily, it's not difficult to see the applicability of many of these innovations in the compulsory schooling sector.
Seems like it's been a week of looking at challenges and change in our education system for me – the field of education is a truly complex network of inter-related subsystems, each with its own ‘way of working’, supported by the expectations of its various stakeholders. While such a situation inevitably provides strength and resiliance, it also makes the system somewhat resistant to change, unless that change forces itself upon it by way of some political agenda or a natural disaster for example.
I’ve just come home from a meeting where I was discussing issues in the health system with someone working to bring change about in that sector, and there are lots of parallels – the magnitude and complexity of the situation can feel overwhelming, and put people off knowing where (or even wanting) to start.
With this in mind I was reading a section in the recent NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition dealing with the significant challenges faced by schools adopting the use of new technologies, as identified by the advisory board.
It seems that even schools that are eager to adopt new technologies may be constrained by national or school policies, the lack of necessary human resources, and the financial wherewithal to realize their ideas. Sounds familiar!
Still others are located within buildings that simply were not designed to provide the radio frequency transparency that wireless technologies require, and thus find themselves shut out of many potential technology options. While acknowledging that local barriers to technology adoptions are many and significant, the advisory board focused its discussions on challenges that are common to the K-12 community as a whole.
The highest ranked challenges they identified are listed here, in the order in which the advisory board ranked them.
Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession, especially teaching. This challenge appears at the top of the list because despite the widespread agreement on the importance of digital media literacy, training in the supporting skills and techniques is still very rare in teacher education. As classroom professionals begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral.
K-12 must address the increased blending of formal and informal learning. Traditional lectures and subsequent testing are still dominant learning vehicles in schools. In order for students to get a well- rounded education with real world experience, they must also engage in more informal in-class activities as well as learning to learn outside the classroom. Most schools are not encouraging students to do any of this, nor to experiment and take risks withtheir learning — but a new model, called the “flipped classroom,” is opening the door to new approaches. The flipped classroom uses the abundance of videos on the Internet to allow students to learn new concepts and material outside of school, thus preserving class time for discussions, collaborations with classmates, problem solving, and experimentation. The approach is not a panacea, and designing an effective blended learning model is key, but the growing success of the many non- traditional alternatives to schools that are using more informal approaches indicates that this trend is here to stay for some time.
The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices. The increasing demand for education that is customized to each student’s unique needs is driving the development of new technologies that provide more learner choice and control and allow for differentiated instruction, but there remains a gap between the vision and the tools needed to achieve it. It has become clear that one-size-fits-all teaching methods are neither effective nor acceptable for today’s diverse students. Technology can and should support individual choices about access to materials and expertise, amount and type of educational content, and methods of teaching.
Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies. A key challenge is the fundamental structure of the K-12 education establishment — aka “the system.” As long as maintaining the basic elements of the existing system remains the focus of efforts to support education, there will be resistance to any profound change in practice. Learners have increasing opportunities to take their education into their own hands, and options like informal education, online education, and home-based learning are attracting students away from traditional educational settings. If the system is to remain relevant it must adapt, but major change comes hard in education. Too often it is education’s own processes and practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies.
Learning that incorporates real life experiences is not occurring enough and is undervalued when it does take place. This challenge is an important one in K-12 schools, because it can greatly impact the engagement of students who are seeking some connection between the world as they know it exists outside of school, and their experiences in school that are meant to prepare them for that world. Use of project-based learning practices that incorporate real- life experiences, technology and tools that are already familiar to students, and mentoring from community members are examples of practices that can bring the real world into the classroom. Practices like these may help retain students in school and prepare them for further education, careers, and citizenship in a way that traditional practices are failing to do.
Many activities related to learning and education take place outside the walls of the classroom and thus are not part of traditional learning metrics. Students can take advantage of learning material online, through games and programs they may have on systems at home, and through their extensive — and constantly available — social networks. The experiences that happen in and around these venues are difficult to tie back to the classroom, as they tend to happen serendipitously and in response to an immediate need for knowledge, rather than being related to topics currently being studied in school.These trends and challenges are a reflection of the impact of technology that is occurring in almost every aspect of our lives. They are indicative of the changing nature of the way we communicate, access information, connect with peers and colleagues, learn, and even socialize.
Seems like we've all got our work cut out for us in the education system My biggest concern is that these issues require some high level, sustained, solution-focused attention to be resolved, and won't be addressed through short-term 'quick-fix' solutions that are based on what's popular. The future of our kids hangs in this balance. The challenges listed above are certainly not unique to the US context where this report was drawn from – and they haven't only just emerged. Much of this has been spoken about for more than a decade – and the fact that these things continue to be identified as challenges even now suggests that we are falling short in our approach, at a political level, at a national level within our profession, and at a local level within our schools. Either that or we don't really believe that it's an issue, and that the integration of ICTs is really only an optional extra, to be considered after we've sorted literacy and numeracy, and got our sports and cultural programmes running well.
The report can be read in full by registering here, and can be accessed on mobile deviceshere.
We live in a world of instant gratification, exemplified in the oline world with a growing obsession with attending to the demands of email notifications, instant messaging and 'tweets' etc., illustrated well when we think of the friend who cuts you off mid-sentence because their mobile phone beeps with a notification of another message being received.
There's been much written in recent years about the emergence of the Net Gen learner, and the assertions made about their ability to multi-task, including claims that those with this ability can be more productive. But similarly, there is a lot of doubt being cast around whether this is, in fact, the case, and whether multi-tasking has a negative effect on how we live.
The pervasiveness of technology and social media, coupled with a fear of missing out on something important, has led students to pay "continuous partial attention" to everything, but has resulted in their having difficulty concentrating deeply on anything.
I'd have to say that, from my experience, this rings very true for me. I see this playing out in a number of circumstances in my professional life, for example,
At conferences where a Twitter back-channel is being used – very successfully by some who are using it to productively record notes about what they're listening to and then use the hash tags later to review what the community has collectively recorded – and poorly by others who become so caught up in the moment of the back-channel conversations that they lose connection with the speaker.
In face-to-face meetings where some will prefer to have their laptop open to record notes and look up information as the meeting progresses – but then become distracted responding to the relentless emails and twitter feeds that come through on the automatic notifications, and then end up placing a post on their facebook account when the discussion becomes 'boring'.
In classroom inquiry activities, when students begin by looking up material related to what they are searching for, but end up following embedded hypertext links to the extent that they end up completely distracted and 'off-task'.
Of course, none of the original uses of the technology listed above is inherently bad, but in each case, the differentiating factor is the extent to which self-control is exercised.
This thinking was reinforced for me when I cam across the cool video at the top of this post of a New York City teacher explaining how he uses the 'Marshmallow Test' to teach self-control in his classroom.
So the key thought for me is, the importance of teaching self-control within the framework of experiences we provide for students. This shouldn't be too much of an ask, after all, it fits well within the concept of managing self which is identified as one of the key competencies in the NZ curriculum.