Posted on 10/3/2012 7:40 AM By Norton Gusky
In Part 1 I looked at the role of 1:1 and Bring Your Own (BYO) initiatives. For Part 2 I’ll turn to Project-based Learning, Flipped Learning, and Connected Learning.
Key to any form of personalized learning is making the learner the center of the teaching and learning equation. Project-based, Flipped, or Connected are strategies that help make this happen. Each strategy adds a different element. Project-based includes an authentic project that incorporates collaborative problem-solving. Flipped Learning brings in multimedia and Internet resources that shift the preliminary learning focus to what happens outside the classroom. Connected incorporates the “out-of-school” resources. Let’s look at some examples for each strategy.
Larry Rosenstock, the CEO of High Tech High in San Diego, California, wanted to bridge the worlds of science, technology, engineering, and technology with the arts and design. The program that started in California has spread across the country. High Tech High provides a project-based programs building on student interests and passions. Students work in teams to create original products to demonstrate their knowledge. The Pearson Foundation funded a series of documentaries to showcase best practices like High Tech High.
Often programs at special schools like High Tech High do not always work for other schools. The George Lucas Foundation through its website, Edutopia, has shared how other schools successfully followed the PBL model from High Tech High. According to Edutopia:
…the core design principles that shaped High Tech High — such as personalization, adult-world connections, a common intellectual mission, and teachers as designers — apply anywhere, and these are what guide the schools’ replication efforts.
Some of the earliest work in this field was done by Eric Mazur at Harvard, who developed Peer Instruction in the 1990s. Professor Mazur found that computer aided instruction allowed him to coach instead of lecture. He wrote, “As a result, my teaching assistants and I can address several common misconceptions that would otherwise go undetected.” Key to Mazur’s focus was to provide a greater focus on the personal learning. Mazur’s approach to flipped learning intended to clarify and expand student understanding on a personal basis. Traditional lecture-style teaching did not meet this need.
In 2007 Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, two science teachers at that time in Colorado, wanted to increase the engagement of their students. They decided to try to have students view videos at home or outside the normal class time and use the class time to clarify student understanding and provide more opportunities to apply their knowledge. Today Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams provide a network for Flipped Learning that trains teachers to rethink their teaching and refocus the learning on the individual student. Here’s an example of a TED-Ed Flipped Learning lesson created by Aaron Sams for Chemical Reactions:
According to a 2012 report on Flipped Learning in eSchool News:
Differentiation is key, because each student has an opportunity for one-on-one attention nearly every day from his or her classroom teacher. We meet face to face with our students and converse about the lesson, as well as life. We guide students to the counselor if needed, but we listen, don’t judge, and expect our students to master the subject. The proof is in increased formative and summative assessment scores, but more importantly with our students telling us they “get it!”
Beginning in 2006 a group of researchers with funds from the MacArthur Foundation begin to explore how young people are connected to learning using digital media and what are the implications for schools and education. After several years working with schools and out-of-school providers, the MacArthur Foundation shared their findings. Connie Yowell, the Director of the Educational at the MacArthur Foundation, explained in an article in the Huffington Post:
Connected learning harnesses the powerful new connection to ideas, knowledge, expertise, culture, friends, peers and mentors we have through the internet, digital media and social networking. It’s dedicated to helping kids pursue knowledge and expertise in subjects they care deeply about, and doing it in a way in which they are supported by peers, friends, and caring adults working in educational institutions.
The Essence of Connected Learning from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.
Key to each strategy is a move away from teaching to the needs of a group of students to addressing the needs of each individual learner using tools, such as digital media. The learner becomes an active partner in his/her pursuit of knowledge. Learners pursue their interests and to find a purpose for their academic pursuits. Ultimately it’s the inherent motivation that drives learning. Learners need to be connected and teachers need to become guides or mentors to make this type of learning happen. The learning occurs not just during the designated class time, but at home, in libraries, in outside environments that provide new networks for learners. Learners become tinkerers, makers, creative producers, or designers, as they work with peers to share their knowledge with an outside audience.
This article was originally published on my Technology and Educational Innovation blog on September 30, 2012.
Posted on 9/5/2012 11:06 AM By Norton Gusky
The National Educational Technology Plan (NETP - www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010) changed the focus for the educational world. The “learner” moved to the center. The “learner” is more than the traditional student. We’re now looking at an anytime, anywhere approach that can extend the learner from the traditional student focus to the teacher, administrator, parent, or adult desiring to gain knowledge. Personalized learning is sometimes confused with differentiating instruction or individualizing instruction. The key according to Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey (http://barbarabray.net/personalized-learning/) is the ownership of the learning. In both differentiated instruction and individualizing instruction the teacher is in charge. Personalizing learning puts the learner in the center. According to a forum convened in Boston in 2010: “True personalization provides a learning program and approach specifically tailored to the abilities, interests, preferences, and other needs of the individual student.” (http://siia.net/pli/presentations/PerLearnPaper.pdf) The teacher plays a critical role as a guide or facilitator. In the next two blogs for Questeq I’ll examine the impact of this change in light of classroom policies, practices, and projects. We’ll start by looking at the impact of personalized devices, 1:1 initiatives, and the Bring Your Own … movement.
Personalized Devices: Tablets
Let’s first start by looking at the role of Personalized Learning Devices as a tool for learners. Apple did not intend to provide a perfect solution for the NETP, but the design of the iPad created a firestorm that continues today. For years schools thought about learning devices as desktops, laptops, and netbooks with an occasional portable digital device. Managing those devices required a certain set of skills and software tools. The devices were usually shared or part of a 1:1 roll out, but the choice of applications and uses was based on the needs of a larger group of users.
The introduction of the tablet changed the dynamic. Instead of a device that was controlled by the Instructional Technology (IT) department, now there was a personal device that used apps. The apps were designed to work on a personal basis. In my work with the Fox Chapel Area School District (FCASD) we jumped into the personalized device fires thanks to the stimulus funds that came to the Special Education department. The iPad looked like a perfect tool to meet the individual needs of students with IEPs (Individualized Educational Plans). Each app could help to customize or personalize the learning experience. What was missing were the enterprise tools to manage the iPads. How could you distribute apps? How could you upgrade the iPad and apps? How could you print? The list of questions was extensive. Nonetheless, the iPad made us rethink what it meant to manage a device. We had to come up with new game plan that allowed an institution to manage the deployment, but focus the needs on the individual learner. Teachers began to download multiple apps, but which apps were used by a given student could be very different based on their ability, interest, or project. The IT folks had to begin to think more about the learner and less about the external management factors, yet at the same time come up with a strategy that allowed teachers and students to successfully use the devices. What did FCASD do?
We purchased a Volume license from Apple and developed a system for charging, distributing, and updating apps. Each building and/or department (art, music, library) received $200 in Apple credits. At each building the library/media specialist took on the role as the resource manager. The library/media specialist would purchase the apps and keep track of the expenditure. Each building designated a computer as an app server. In theory this made sense. However, it soon became too much to expect each building to maintain a spreadsheet of purchases. FCASD then moved this operation to the central office where a secretary maintained the spreadsheet.
At the same time that iPads emerged many districts began to rethink their policy on devices for classroom instruction. There were two forces at work:
The desire to have all students become 21st citizens using digital tools;
- The budget reductions making it harder and harder for schools to provide the appropriate tools.
The research from Project Red (http://www.projectred.org/) indicated that 1:1 initiatives did not show major gains in traditional academic areas except writing skills. However, many schools realized that the assessments schools were using did not really align with the 21st century skills that students needed - communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking.
Bring Your Own
Today Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) or Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) is combined with 1:1 initiatives. Underlying both ideas is the need to have a personal device for each learner. It’s no longer acceptable to have shared devices. In the near future the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) will release a white paper on the BYO movement with recommendations, guidelines, and best practices. If you’re heading this direction you may want to review some of the success stories from these schools profiled by CoSN:
What have we learned? The Software Information & Industry Association (SIIA) produces an annual report (http://www.siia.net/visionk20/index.html) that looks at the vision for technology including personalizing learning with the reality based on responses from the K-20 world. Here are two areas tracked by the SIAA project that demonstrate the gap between the vision and practice:
In order to make Personalized Learning a reality we need to rethink how we teach and how we think about learning. In the next segment of this series I’ll look at three key strategies to make personalized learning possible: Project-based Learning (PDL), Flipped Learning, and Connected Learning.
Posted on 8/8/2012 7:20 AM By Norton Gusky
It’s that time of year again. It’s time to think about the start of the school year. eSchoolNews highlighted in the July 19 online edition the Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston. At this year’s conference Ed-Tech thought leader, Alan November, asked educational leaders from around the globe to focus on the first five days of school. According to the article:
While there is general agreement that the first five days of school are “absolutely essential” for establishing a culture of learning that will set the right tone for the rest of the year, there is very little research or discussion about how to make these first five days the most relevant and productive they can be, said ed-tech thought leader Alan November. Kicking off his Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference in Boston July 18, November announced a new project to change that. Called “First Five Days,” the project aims to start an international conversation about how to make the start of the school year the best it can be, to foster the greatest chance for success. November invited educators to share their ideas and experiences on the online professional development community created by his consulting firm, November Learning. To participate, go to http://blc.vxcommunity.com, click on “Register,” then click on the “Five” tab. There is also a new Twitter hashtag, #1st5days, that educators can use to share their ideas via the popular micro-blogging service.
Each day of the conference participants responded to surveys on key questions regarding the first five days of school. For instance, here’s a graph showing how the balance looked between content and process:
Based on my over 20 years as an educational technology leader I’ll share some of the key issues I faced. I hope you’ll respond and make this a collaborative effort.
- Updating and upgrading teacher laptops – At the Fox Chapel Area School District we had a 3 year plan for upgrading end-user devices for staff members. The hardest part was getting teachers to turn in their laptop for the update or upgrade. I had a team of students who did much of the work during the summer with one of my tech staff members supervising.
- Updating information systems – I tried to make sure we updated our student information system, parent notification, our financial management system, or whatever systems required an update. Most vendors published their updates over the summer. We never knew what to expect until teachers, administrators, or parents logged into the upgraded systems that first week of school. In order to be proactive we sent email to all users, but there were always people who never read their mail.
- Updating student accounts – The worst situation was Edline. I still cannot figure out how a company the size of Edline cannot figure out how to move students from one building to another. With Edline we had to have all middle school and high school students start with new accounts. This also meant that parents had to address the change of accounts. The first month, not just the first five days, was always incredibly challenging. In order to make this work as well as possible, we had mandatory sessions for all sixth grade students at the middle school. All ninth grade “homeroom” teachers received directions on exactly what to say and do. Messages went out to all parents. However, you know the results! There were still many issues that took days, weeks to resolve.
What can you add to the list? How did you resolve your problems?
This article was originally published on my Technology and Educational Innovation blog on July 20, 2012.
Posted on 6/12/2012 8:22 AM By Norton Gusky
This 8-minute video presents some of the advantages and limitations of BYOD (bring your own device) in education.