What do Electronic Payments have to do with Education?
I was watching “Press Here” a local program that shares technology trends where they discussed electronic payments. All of this made me think about how companies are changing how we interact with money and what that will mean for our future. Then I put two and two together on the use of algorithms and what that means for our children. I wanted to share some of the new advances for mobile payments where companies use the label “personalization” before I bring up the use of algorithms in education.
How many of you have used Uber or Lyft? Think about how easy they are to use. You sign up to one of them or both and need a ride somewhere. You pull up one of the apps and there you are on the map with several cars nearby. Choose one! Then a few minutes later the car is at your door. No money changes hands — at least that you have to do during that event. It is all behind the scenes on your phone attached to your bank account.
Consider what this means for electronic payments in the future?
Will this affect everything including education?
(I write about this at the end of this post)
Here’s a few more apps that are changing the way we pay for things:
There is an app called paybyphone that lets you do just that in the US and Europe.
- Download the app
- Enter your location code you wish to park in
- Enter the time you want to stay there
- Extend your time from anywhere using app
paybyphone offers you multiple ways to signup or use their service: online, through a text, or even by phone.
sessionm is a mobile marketing cloud platform integrating what you are doing online and in social media to build brand loyalty and personalize your experience.
Why am I talking about this now when mentioning the future of payments? sessionm is in the background of many of your payments. One I want to talk about is Starbucks. You go in to Starbucks and purchase a specific drink that you tend to order a few more times. This behavior is now part of the data Starbucks collects on you. In the future when you walk in the door, up comes your most recent purchase. You may end up getting points or rewards based on your behavior.
This is called mobile marketing automation with “personalization” and data management to act in real-time at the moment of impact.
mmmmmm….. Think there’s a few more I need to reflect on before talking about “personalization” and education.
Metromile offers pay per mile insurance that could save you money if you don’t drive that much. Then they go steps further by powering smart driving that can…
- Track and optimize your tips.
- Always know where your car is parked and best way to get there.
- Get a diagnosis of your car’s running condition.
- Street sweeping alerts in some cities.
There are also ways to get “personalized” recommendations with companies that offer a flat or annual fee program for unlimited ad-free access to products.
- Flat fee payments for movies with Netflix so I can watch as many TV shows, documentaries, movies and more that I want when I want to.
- One annual fee for Amazon Prime so I can get free shipping and discounts on products, movies, and books. There are options now for monthly rates for Prime Music, Prime Photos, and Kindle Owners Lending Library.
I just received a Plenti card that is a rewards program that gives me points with multiple companies: Rite Aid, AT&T, Exxon, Macy’s, Mobil, Nationwide, Direct Energy, Enterprise, and Hulu.
Okay – now why am I talking about money and “personalization”? It’s because companies want to “personalize” your shopping experience. They are using algorithms to give you points, rewards, recommendations, offers and more based on your behavior. This is PUSH technology as its best — or is it? We are going to see more and more of this in forms like Plenti and be connected in ways we will never know. But we need to be careful who we give our personal data and track what they do with it.
Have you received recommendations for a book or movie
that you definitely would never read or watch?
Remember the algorithm these companies use is based on your behavior not what you think. You may be clicking around just to see a different movie that is not in your comfort zone. Then look on your list of recommendations and you see more like it. Is that really “Personalization?”
Now I need to bring up “personalization” and what that means for education like I asked at the beginning of this post. Don’t give up on me yet!
There are companies who are using algorithms and data in the background to “personalize” our children’s learning experiences. This type of programming is called a “adaptive learning system” where a learner typically answers a multiple choice question and moves to the next question based on their answer.
The concern I have is that one company in particular, Knewton announced in their press release that its “adaptive learning system” will be available to anyone and that it allows teachers to upload their quizzes and tests. Teachers really don’t have to be involved in assessment according to Knewton. Now Knewton can use the algorithms to grab the data and “assess” the content for each learner. Now, this is why I’m writing this post and want you to be aware of companies like Knewton. I read the following quote on Audrey Watters blog HackED “The Algorithmic Future of Education“:
“We literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything” Jose Ferreira, Knewton CEO and Founder says in a video posted on the Department of Education website. “We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has. …We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”
“The way that Knewton describes it, this technology is an incredible, first-of-its-kind breakthrough in “personalization” – that is, the individualization of instruction and assessment, mediated through technology in this case. “Personalization” as it’s often framed it meant to counter the “one-size-fits-all” education that, stereotypically at least, the traditional classroom provides.”
No — No — No!!!
This is not “Personalized Learning” and is not the same as the companies I listed above who are “personalizing” marketing strategies. Our kids are not driving the learning or a part of this hijacking of education. Ferreira’s idea of knowing how learners learn best is not based on research or on neuroscience on how we learn best.
Don’t fall for it!!!
Read these posts:
- Put the Person back in Personalization
- Didn’t We Do this Already?
- This Time It’s Personal and Dangerous
Our kids need the skills to know when they are being manipulated so they can take control of their learning and their life. They also need to know that if they get a recommendation from a company to purchase something, they don’t have to buy it. They need to be skeptical, curious, and critically consider what will be best for them. That’s our job as educators. It’s about encouraging learners to have a voice and choice so they are intrinsically motivated to want to learn.
Let’s help them navigate the new world of payment and what some call “personalization.” But let’s be clear what that means for teaching and learning and fight for our kids so they are the ones personalizing their learning experiences with teachers guiding the process not a company that is using their data to tell them that they know best how they learn.
We need kids that are not “compliant” following the leads from a company based on clicks. They are so much smarter than we give them credit. We need to encourage learners at a very young age to learn how to learn, to reflect on their learning and to be the ones in control of their learning so they are lifelong, self-directed learners.
All of us were born passionate learners. We came into the world curious about everything around us. We had a strong desire to want to talk, crawl, and walk. Watch a toddler take their first step, and you see passion-based learning. Listen to a musician practice a difficult piece until they are ready to perform. Watch a skateboarder try a new trick over and over — that takes persistence and passion to not give up.
You don’t always see that same type of passion in “school.” In many cases, school has been associated with pacing guides, required curriculum, grade-level standards, bell schedules, grades, and teaching to the test. In these situations, the teacher or the administration are the ones in control. The teacher tends to become the one held accountable for the learning. Yet to really LEARN something, the learner needs to own and drive their learning.
The focus on teaching and doing work that wasn’t relevant to me changed my thinking about who I was as a learner. I learned to play the game of school and “do” school so I could get “through” school.
Why do we have to change school to focus on passion-based learning?
School changes what kids believe what they are supposed to learn. If you ask kids around 3rd or 4th grade what they are learning in school, you might hear answers around how to behave, be a good listener, or how to do well on a test. We learned how to be compliant and follow the rules. Is this really what we want as the focus of school?
Now it’s time to bring back creativity, joy, and focus on the power of passion for learning.
A few suggestions from some awesome educators to encourage passion-based learning in your school:
1. First few days of school.
Get to know your learners right away before you start teaching. Every teacher and learner deserves a new opportunity to achieve. Consider waiting at least two weeks before jumping into academics. If you already started teaching academics before getting to know everyone, pull back. Check out Rich Czyz’s ideas for the First few days of school
2. Get to know your learners and their interests.
Invite your learners to share what they are interested in and their talents and aspirations. Have you ever thought of spending time one-on-one with each learner maybe schedule a lunch date? Ask them to start a journal or portfolio so they can share stories of their interests. Check out Michael Wesch’s Journey to the Joy of Learning so you too can see each learner differently.
3. Share interests.
Ask learners to do a pair/share where two share with each other what they are interested in. Invite them to ask each other:
- What are three things you are really interested in?
- Why did you choose each of those?
- Which one excites you the most? Why?
Then have them choose one with the help of the partner to share their first choice with all learners in the class. Encourage the class to ask questions and provide feedback with these two prompts
- I like…
- I wonder…
4. Explore interests.
Encourage them to explore their interest and how it might have a connection to the real world. Since you are probably still a part of the current traditional system, invite your learners to connect to required standards. Have them create a mind map of their interest and ways they can connect to what they know, what they have to learn, what they would like to learn, how they could demonstrate that they learned, and what questions they might have.
5. Identify a real-world problem.
Sometimes learners cannot connect their interest with a real-world problem. You could start with a problem where they might be able to make a real difference if they could solve that problem together. Walk around your school and go outside to observe what is around you. You and your learners may find a problem or issue you never thought about before. This is called “generative curriculum” which means coming up with questions and direction for learning as you learn.
6. Plan learning.
Let them plan together or individually using the following 3 questions from George Couros that drive Passion-Based Learning from his blog, The Principal of Change
- What will I learn?
- What will I solve?
- What will I create?
7. Make learning meaningful.
Dr. Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D [https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/ ] shared experiences where she noticed that there was a problem with how she was being asked to learn. She was cramming and memorizing information, being tested for mastery prior to having enough practice time and learning facts with no context or relevance to what she needed to learn. In her post, she hit the nail on the head when you wrote, “The unintended consequences of these artificial and unnatural ways of learning include believing that learning should be difficult, painful, disciplined, and not fun. She also discussed the importance of context as relevant meaningful tasks.
“Learning can and should be natural, fun, and engaging.” @jackiegerstein.
I agree with Jackie that learning has to be meaningful and have a purpose.
8. Build a new culture of learning.
Give good reasons for learning. Watch this video from Dr. Tae about the culture of learning with secondary science teachers and university professors. What is the secret to learning? Real learning is mostly self-motivated paired with the right mentor.
Read Terry Heick’s article Promoting a Culture of Learning that walks you through using a gradual release of responsibility model:
- Show Them
- Help Them
- Let Them
9. Create a Makerspace.
Diana Rendina, Media Specialist/School Librarian at Stewart Middle Magnet School in Tampa, FL transformed her library to serve as an informal STEM learning space for her learners. Check out Renovated Learning to follow her Makerspace journey.
I highly recommend that you read Pernille Ripp’s book “Passionate Learners.” Pernille, a 7th grade Language Arts teacher at Oregon Middle School, Oregon, Wisconsin,being met. She then listened to their answers and tried to develop pathways writes her story how she had almost quit teaching because she didn’t like the teacher she had become. She started by asking her learners which needs they have that are not that may include their requested modifications.
Example Passion Projects
Julie Rogers Bascom, Service-Learning Coordinator for Edina Public Schools in Minnesota, shared with me how the following year-long Passion Projects engaged learners in authentic real-world activities. [Edina Service Learning http://www.edinaschools.org/domain/78]
All 680 tenth grade learners in Edina High School’s Pre AP Language Arts Class engaged in a year-long Passion Project, digging deep into their interests as a way to meet learning standards. Each learner chose a topic of importance, researched and investigated the theme they chose and wrote a ten-page research paper. As part of this course, each learner took action for an identified problem in their area of interest. One learner who is interested in computer science held an e-waste collection, filling two semi-trucks with electronic waste, diverting the waste from the landfill. One learner, concerned about clean water for a village where her grandparents live, designed a water filter that would help filter out excess fluoride from wells in rural India. Another learner, having been a foster child, lobbied for awareness and advocated for resources for foster families. Following the service-learning cycle:
IPARD – Investigation > Planning > Action > Reflection > Demonstration, learners used their knowledge and experiences from their research to solve community problems by engaging in authentic service-learning.
When you look at the bigger picture, it all comes down to one thing: passion to learn and changing the focus to learning not on teaching. This has been my mission for over 25 years. Now I’m finding more and more examples of passion-based learning. Julie’s example of service learning is more than an assignment. The learners found a problem they were passionate about and used critical thinking skills to solve it their way.
When I think of all the educators I know who stretch their thinking and go the extra mile like Diana, Julie, Rich, Jackie, Pernille, and George and others, I know that no one can transform education alone. We all need to share and learn together. I found my purpose. It is to learn all I can about learner-centered environments, connect to others who believe all learners can learn their way, and share their stories of transformation of “school” to cultures of learning. I wrote this quote over ten years ago…
“Go with your strengths and interests, find your passion and, then discover your purpose.”
I am thinking of changing that last part to “and your purpose will discover you.”
Has your purpose found you?
[This post was created for an article in the Fall OnCUE 2015 issue]
There is a lot of talk going around about “personalization” and “personalized learning” harming kids. We need to clarify this NOW. It’s time to put the “person” in “personalization” and stop the conversations going in directions that take us off course.
Elliot Washor (@elliot_washor) shared about this concept of putting the “Person” in “Personalization” in his post and webinar on April 2014.
“There is a great deal of discussion and a strong ramp up of what is called “personalized learning” in schools both with and without technology.” Where is the person in personalization? What are the expectations that students have for deep productive learning?”
This idea that Elliot shared still needs to be expanded. We need to focus on our learners and learning and take semantics out of the conversations.
Right now it’s so easy to be pulled in different directions and think you have to take one side or another about the terminology. Consider yourself as a learner and what you need. Yes – technology makes it easier to access information, engage with the content and express what you know. Mobile devices make everything available at your fingertips just when you need it.It’s not about technology. It’s not about the test or improving test scores. It’s really not about school. It’s all about the learner, how they learn best and that what they learn is meaningful and for a purpose. It is all about the relationships that learners make and need to support their learning. It is also about the teacher – a valuable person in the relationship. Teachers and learners can work together to develop learning goals and design activities that are authentic and relevant for the learner so they are engaged in learning. Learning has to have a context that learners can grasp and understand. And, of course, an important person in the relationship is the parent who wants the best for their child but they may not know how to support their learning.
Here’s the catch: today’s kids brains are wired digitally, so they will figure out how to use the tools by experimenting or teaching each other. What they need is to acquire the skills to choose the appropriate tools for the task. They also need to understand who they are, how they learn best, and how to be global digital citizens. They probably don’t realize that their digital footprint is actually a “digital tattoo” that can never be removed. They need to become self-aware of who they are, how they learn best, and be aware of what they do online can affect them and impact others.
When we put the focus on each learner and how they can own and drive their learning, then we see engaged, self-directed learners with agency. They become the ones responsible for the learning. Isn’t that what we want?
Our traditional education system was designed to create compliant workers who follow orders. That’s why it looks like a factory model. This isn’t working anymore for today’s kids, but that’s all we know and how most of us were taught. Teachers also think they have to teach like a champion because they are the ones responsible for the learning. Don’t you think that this is backwards? Teachers are an integral piece of the puzzle, but the focus has been on curriculum, teaching to the test, and teaching subjects instead of kids. When we focus on learning and not on curriculum, teachers roles change. We still can teach to standards but let’s involve learners in the process and give them a voice so they own the learning.
The system is changing now because it has to change. Our future depends on it. Consider this quote from John Dewey:
“If we teach as we taught yesterday,we rob our children of tomorrow.”
It is our children’s future, not our past. So what that means is that what we know about school will have to change and change is scary. That’s why we understand the discourse about the terms. There are companies that frame “personalized learning” as adaptive learning systems using algorithms to choose the right path for learning. So let’s end this blog emphasizing that learners need to be the ones who choose their path with their teacher guiding the process. It is about encouraging learners to have a voice and choice in their learning. It’s happening now all over the world.
There will be more stories of learners being empowered and teachers who are excited about how engagement and motivation has changed the landscape of learning. This is just the beginning of a new world of learning and it’s time to put the “Person” back in “Personalization.”
This is a cross-post of a blog I wrote for Personalize Learning.
I love the idea of making, inventing and tinkering. Just watch kids who are immersed in the activities and you can see the engagement. But is the learning authentic and relevant?
I presented three sessions at the Free Maker Movement event at One Work Place on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 with some amazing educators who presented hands-on activities. The event will took place at our Oakland Center for Active Learning .
I decided I needed to spend some time researching where the Maker Movement was happening and find examples of authentic learning. This gave me the opportunity to talk to several of my friends and share how they have transformed learning spaces to Makerspaces. Everyone I talked to made a point that it is about creativity not consumption. Yet when I went to different Maker events, I saw activities that an adult set up, purchased a kit or provided directions for activities. They were all fun, but I was having trouble seeing the connections to real learning or any ownership from kids.
I read Jackie Gerstein‘s post: MAKE STEAM: Giving Maker Education Some Context where she wrote “recent discussions with other educators and administrators made me realize that the idea of maker education is often vague and seems unrealistic in terms of regular classroom instruction.” She shared her thoughts of Maker Education in the context of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) where teachers integrate maker projects into their classrooms. Read her blog and check out the Thinglink by clicking on the dots for more information.
I reached out to Shannon McClintock Miller, @shannonmiller, who is a Teacher Librarian at Van Meter Elementary in Iowa. Shannon stretches the imagination of children and manages the Library Voice as a place to be heard through creating, technology, connecting, reading, collaborating and noise. I love her quote:
“We as librarians and educators and as people
who care about young people need to CHANGE!”
Shannon emphasizes the power of story where learners can play with content, media, narratives, remix, mashup and then tell their story. She encourages her learners to connect to the story in different ways: Skype with authors, create their own stories, and publish eBooks. One learner loved the “I Spy” books and wanted to Skype with the author “Jean Marzollo so Shannon set it up. What came out of the Skype was for learners to create their own “I Spy” book for Van Meter School.
Shannon redesigned the library to move to creative, innovative spaces: Makerspaces around the concept of stories. Learners took their iPads and used an Augmented Reality program, Layar, to add multimedia to texts, posters, and books. She found different apps and organized them in a Digital Makerspace using Symbaloo. After pulling together different Makerspace activities, Shannon wanted a way to provide opportunities for making in the classroom. So she created Makerspaces Mobile bags that teachers could pick up and use in their classrooms.
Laura Fleming, @NMHS_lms, is a Teacher Librarian at Milford High School in New Jersey who is a strong advocate of using New Media and Vanguard Techniques for Interactive and Transmedia (multi-platform) Storytelling. Her website is Worlds of Learning. She wrote the book World of Making where you can find invaluable guidance for creating a vibrant Makerspace on any budget. The book includes practical strategies and anecdotal examples that help you:
- Create an action plan for your own personalized Makerspace
- Align activities to standards
- Showcase learner creations
Laura’s goal is to create learning experiences that empower and equip students with necessary skills to effectively produce and consume content across multiple media platforms. She went from K-8 to the high school to a library that was very traditional that was under-utilized.
In less than two months she transformed the library by just adding activities aligned to classroom instruction. She even used DonorsChoose to purchase a 3D printer and provides multiple suggestions to build your own makerspace.
Diana Rendina, @DianaLRendina, is a Media Specialist/Librarian at Stewart Middle Magnet School in Tampa, Florida. Diana is passionate about school libraries being places for students to discover, learn, grow, create, connect and collaborate. She shares her journey on her blog, Renovated Learning: Building a Culture of Creativity and Discovery in Education. She has worked to transform her school’s library from a quiet, dusty, cluttered room into a vibrant and active learning space where students want to be. In 2014, she created a Makerspace in her library to serve as an informal STEM learning space for her students.
Diana shared how their Makerspace has changed, grown and evolved since it was first conceived and started in January 2014. Follow along with the story of their journey here. Hopefully it will inspire you to start your own Maker journey.
This is just the beginning and a short overview of how libraries are transforming to Makerspaces. But one thing I did find from talking to Jackie, Shannon, Laura and Diana is that the librarian’s role is changing and Makerspaces can connect to learning. The Library is changing and bringing stories to life. Makerspaces can be digital and mobile. If Teachers and Librarian/Media Specialists collaborate on curriculum design, projects can be integrated in to STEAM and other curriculum activities. So this is just the beginning of my investigations how these Makerspaces can expand authentic learning activities.
I want to keep this short. I’ve been writing, speaking, tweeting, sharing, learning, and traveling a lot. Some days I’m not moving out of my chair for hours. I know I tell everyone about getting in the “flow,” but this is ridiculous. I sometimes work right through lunch, breaks (what are those?) and then the phone rings or get an email asking a question. I end up working more.
All of a sudden I just had to stop and take a deep breath. I turned the music up high and decided to dance. I mean really dance until I only think about my dancing and nothing else. You see, I have been so focused on trying to transform teaching and learning, I forgot about me. I need to take care of me so I can be here to continue to drive my purpose.
When you are driven by something you are passionate about, you forget to stop and think of why you are doing what you are doing. There has to be some balance in your life.
I have this plaque on my wall: “Dance as if no one were watching” and remember how happy I am when I dance. So stopping right now — to dance.
These days, too many teachers are leaving the profession because they may not be getting the support they need to do the job they are required to do. Now is the time to reverse the trend of teacher burnout. This can happen with improving their own professional learning by making it personal.
Every class, every teacher, and every learner is unique so each situation could bring up questions, opportunities, and even confusion. Teachers could find that they will be learning something new more often than not. Teachers are the most valuable element in the classroom.
Teachers can be partners in learning with learners. To do this effectively, teachers need to determine their purpose for professional learning that defines learning goals specific to learning outcomes. Then they can identify instructional practices needed to implement so learners meet those learning outcomes. “One size fits all” professional development will not meet each teacher’s purpose and plan. Every teacher will need a plan with specific learning goals to personalize their professional learning.
Learning Forward [www.learningforward.org] created a workbook for States, Districts, and Schools: Professional Learning Plans as the navigation system for the comprehensive professional learning system as the engine that powers educator learning. A program of professional learning is “a set of purposeful, planned actions and the support system necessary to achieve the identified goals.” Professional learning plans focus on the specific content, learning designs, implementation support, and evaluation of professional learning. The comprehensive professional learning system establishes the overall infrastructure and operations that support effective professional learning. The workbook provides teachers, schools, and districts the tools, resources, examples and models that will assist them in developing whole system professional learning plans and personal professional learning plans.
Some key questions to drive the development of your plan:
- What results do we seek for our learners?
- What teacher practices contribute to those results?
- What must change in order to achieve those results?
The goal of professional learning should be stated in terms of learner outcomes. Changes in educator knowledge, skills, dispositions, and practice are the means to changes in learning. Learner and teacher goals written in the SMART format increases the strength and clarity of the goals. Working SMARTER, not harder: SMART goals keep key objectives in focus as follows:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Results-based
T = Time-bound
Consider this question: What learner outcomes do you want to see that can be transformative?
Teachers need collaborative time to review and analyze learner data. There are schools that are scheduling time once, twice and, in some cases, daily, where teachers meet to plan together. Teachers usually work alone and have been isolated behind closed classroom doors for too long. When teachers have the time to work together, they can review how their students are learning, what they are learning, and any challenges. They can use SMART goals to develop learning objectives. For example, if teachers determine that 42% of their high school learners do not understand linear equations, they can develop a learning goal that targets these learners.
Example SMART Goal
42% of the high school learners will have resources and opportunities for small group, one-to-one instruction and ongoing peer support to increase their knowledge and skills around linear equations.
Teachers only know what they know or were taught. Many follow a pacing guide and use existing curriculum even though we now know that doesn’t work for all learners. A teacher who is trying to “cover” the curriculum based on the pacing guide will never meet the needs of those learners who are falling behind.
When teachers start putting together SMART goals around learning outcomes based on data, they can go several steps further to determine how each of the 42% learners learn best along with any challenges they might have. There are always several learners in your class that stand out with unique characteristics. Teachers may find out that more than one learner may have trouble understanding math symbols where others have issues focusing on how the problems are stated. When you know specific issues that are challenges for your learners, you can pull together strategies to target those challenges. This is where the Personal Professional Learning Plan comes in for each teacher.
Sample Personal Professional Learning Plan
(adapted from source: http://www.esclakeeriewest.org/files/Sample-Goals.pdf)
- State the Action you will take
- Describe an Area of Focus for the Learning
- Include the Rationale
- Add the Activities
|State Action||Describe Focus||Include Rationale||Add Activities|
|Improve||Teaching Skills||Assist at-risk students||Stay current with new practices|
|Develop||Proficiency in technology tools||Support instruction||Identify specific tools and resources|
The activities are personal to each teacher. This is where teachers can take control of their own learning. If a teacher wants to improve their teaching skills to assist at-risk learners, they can use alternative learning opportunities to support them with their research. Traditional PD usually doesn’t allow time for personalized support and attention. Some questions teachers have asked about PD:
- How do you stay current with new practices if you sit in a lecture that does not support your learning goal?
- How do you find specific resources around Algebra if PD that day is on classroom management?
Teachers can get support by building their Personal Learning Network (PLN) in their school, district, community, and in social media. There are multiple learning opportunities outside of traditional professional development. This is where “personal” expands professional learning with opportunities that include:
- Common Planning Time
- Using Social Media
- Twitter chats
- Facebook pages
- Google+ Communities
- Linkedin Groups
Common Planning Time
Common planning time is different than “teacher preparation time” or “prep periods,” which are periods of time during the school day when teachers, typically working on their own, can plan and prepare for their classes, meet with students, or grade assignments. Common planning time is an evolution of the traditional preparation period to time that encourages more frequent and purposeful collaboration among educators. Its primary purpose is to bring teachers together to learn from one another and collaborate on projects that will lead to improvements in lesson quality, instructional effectiveness, and student achievement.
Unconferences and Edcamps
An unconference is a conference organized, structured and led by the people attending it. Instead of passive listening, all attendees and organizers are encouraged to become participants, with discussion leaders providing moderation and structure for attendees.
Unconferences are founded upon The Law of Two Feet, which states that:
If during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their two feet and go to some more productive place.
An Edcamp is a user-generated conference – commonly referred to as an “unconference“. Edcamps are designed to provide participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators. In both cases, instead of one person standing in front of the room talking for an hour, people are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. All of the space and time are reserved for the things people want to talk about.
A Twitter or Tweet Chat is a planned “chat” on Twitter that organizes a group of people with similar interests in a particular subject matter. The host of the chat is the person that arranges and promotes it to their followers by picking a regularly scheduled time for the chat to happen. Teachers that are looking for specific resources can find them fast. Sign up with your own handle and find hashtags to follow like #edchat, #edtechchat, #tlap, and #plearnchat.
#plearnchat is our Twitter chat we host every other Monday at 7pm ET, 4pm PT. Join us!
These are just a few strategies that teachers can use to take control of their own learning. Learning is personal and teachers are learners too. Check out what Vicki Davis wrote about 12 Choices to Help You Step Back from Burnout if you find yourself feeling a little blue.
Learning Forward. Professional Learning Plans. http://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/commoncore/professional-learning-plans.pdf
This post was first published in OnCUE Spring 2015 Vol 37 No 1 p. 23 and 26
After attending conferences and reading numerous articles that focus on personalized learning, I just have to say it. We’re not there yet. Some of us are, but the focus keeps moving back to traditional teaching methods. There is also much focus on companies that boast about their technology that personalizes learning. I’m having an uneasy feeling that the rhetoric is really confusing people, and sounds too good to be true. Are these methods and programs doing what they’re supposed to be doing? Are we talking a good talk when we say all the right things but then continue with the status quo? Or are some taking a good idea and framing it one way but actually implementing personalized learning for the wrong reasons?
Why am I saying this? Because to do it right, we have to transform the whole system. There are educators that jump in head first, take risks, turn the learning over to their kids who become expert learners responsible for their learning. Teachers share their successes. We share their stories. It’s great and the kids win. The teachers win. The school community wins. Then we hear from these same teachers stories of these kids moving to the next grade (the system may not be competency-based nor have all teachers adopting personalized learning) where they may go back to a traditional system with grades, tests, etc.
It’s just not fair to do this to our kids. We give them opportunities to celebrate their successes, let them take risks, maybe fail and learn from mistakes, unlearn and learn again. Then when they move to another teacher or grade level, we take their voice and choice all away. I hear kids say “I just do what I have to do in school so I can get out.” or this: “I just want to pass the tests.” Oh my!!!
Grant Lichtman’s article Take aim at innovation with students at the center is what made me think about all of this. He mentioned that technology is not innovation and stated, “As a group, schools are still mired in the mindset that technology is the innovation, not that it is a tool embedded in innovation.” Lichtman also says — it’s about flipping the learning to what he calls it Flip 2.0 – turning the learning over to the kids. This is different than flipping the classroom. This got me thinking that it is not just the confusion about how to personalize learning. it is about coming up with a shared understanding of what personalized learning is.
Then there are districts that start in high school but they don’t take the time to plan or involve the kids. It’s about time to ask our kids several questions:
- What is working and what is not working for you in school?
- What advice would you give your teachers about how to teach you?
- What do you need so you can learn?
- How would you design school?
Personalizing learning means the learner owns and drives their learning. It means the teacher plays the role of facilitator and advisor. They become a partner in learning with their kids. Think about the current system. Personalizing learning turns everything upside down. Teachers don’t know how to do this. They need help. All of us need to work together on this. Actually most of us experienced learning in traditional teacher-directed classrooms. In fact, during the last 10 to 12 years, the focus has been mostly on creating prescriptive curriculum that teaches to the test. We didn’t involve the kids. We didn’t ask them what they wanted. It’s time to change that.
Update about this site:
I’ve been focusing on making learning personal for years and am co-founder of Personalize Learning, LLC with Kathleen McClaskey since 2012. I keep this site, barbarabray.net, so I can share from my own view what is happening with learning, to learners and teachers, and how the system needs to change. Everything I do with personalizing learning now is with Kathleen. Two heads are better than one and I have learned so much from her. We co-authored Make Learning Personal, published October, 2014 by Corwin Press and, yes, I highly recommend it if you want to make learning personal. Just had to say that :o)
So why am I writing this here? It’s because I want to keep this site so I can do a little of my own ranting. I need my readers to go to our website, Personalize Learning to get the latest information and resources about personalized learning. All of the latest charts, resources, and even my services around personalized learning are on the Personalize Learning website.