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Tag: personalized learning

25

This Time It's Personal and Dangerous

2013 has been an interesting year. Education is being juggled more than ever between pedagogy and corporate control AND it is personal -- for you -- for me -- for our children. The marketing strategy of adaptive learning systems is that of 24/7 services that you can access at any time, in any place and at any pace. Education has adopted this language to reduce costs with business-like customization and streamlined productivity. The expectation is for a flexible education system that will also be more efficient and cost effective. [Source: Rebirth of the Teaching Machine Through the Seduction of Data Analytics: This Time It's Personal by Phil McRae]

"The adaptive learning system crusade in schools is organized, growing in power and well-funded by venture capitalists and corporations. Many companies are looking to profit from student and teacher data that can be easily collected, stored, processed, customized, analyzed, and then ultimately resold".

There's money in it, but not for the right reasons nor for the right people: our children. I read this research by Phil McRae and it all made sense. This time it is personal. Corporations are taking our educational system, shaking it up and spitting out children who cannot think for themselves. They are calling it cost-effective but actually, adaptive learning systems are more costly than we know. It is all about the data this time. This is so dangerous for our society that I have to speak up and hope you speak up about this also. We need to fight for our children and their future and their data. Framing adaptive learning systems as "personalized learning" has to stop.  This image “At School in the Year 2000” - a futuristic image of learning as depicted on a postcard from the World’s Fair in Paris, Circa 1899 predicting what learning will be like in France in the year 2000. It is scary that this depiction is becoming true in the US and other parts of the world because we are being sold a bill of goods. Corporations and politicians are really good at framing what they believe we want to hear around a philosophy or concept that markets something they want to sell or use.

Teaching Machine

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons The idea of children having their own personal choice how they will learn is being redesigned as increasingly data driven, standardized, and mechanized learning systems. Children should not be treated like automated teller machines or credit reward cards where  companies can take their valuable data. It is all about control and saving money. But who's money? Yes, technology can help personalize learning, but what technology and how? And who's data? Let's be real: adaptive learning systems are for those things that can be easily digitized and tested like math problems and reading passages. They do not recognize or encourage high quality learning environments that are creative, inquiry-based, active, relevant, collaborative, and what our children need to be global citizens who are critical thinkers and problem-solvers. We did this before. McRae reviews the history of using technology to control learning. It was all about feeding information to kids and controlling what they learned. B.F. Skinner did this in the 1950s where learning was about measurability, uniformity, and control of the student. I grew up then and remember having problems understanding some concepts. That was mainly because everyone in the class was supposed to learn the same content at the same pace -- too much content -- too fast for most of us. I was provided an "intelligent tutor" outside of the classroom and sat in front of a screen answering multiple choice questions about what I read. I felt stupid and ashamed. It still didn't make sense, but the teacher didn't have extra time to spend with students falling behind. I know I'm smart, but I felt stupid in many of my classes. If I went through that then, how many others felt like me? I wanted to give up, but one teacher and my parents believed in me. They spent time with me figuring out why I didn't get it. That's all I wanted -- time with a real person who cared. We didn't have all the technology then that we have now or I would have googled it and figured it out by myself. The problem with the technology then was that it wasn't personal for me. It was the same worksheet I didn't understand in the first place now on a screen. In the 1970s and 1980s, Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) became the next big thing. Programs like PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations)and Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC) were building labs for schools for large numbers of at-risk children paid with Title I money and categorical funds. I remember these because I was asked as technology coordinator and professional developer to help set them up. Schools put these labs in any area that would fit. Some high poverty schools had them set up next to heaters and most were managed by a parent or para-professional. Teachers would rotate their classes in and out every week. Kids were so excited at first to play the games that supposedly taught concepts they needed to learn. After about six months, kids got bored with the games and clicked on any keys just to get through the games. There was nothing relevant or made sense for them to be there. Kids are so much smarter than we give them credit. When they were in their classes, they felt like they could maybe ask questions about their learning. But, in the lab, there was no one or no way to question what or if that was the one right answer. After a few years, the labs were dismantled or used for other purposes. But all the money was gone so there was no one left to run the labs or train the teachers. CAI is now back as "adaptive learning systems." Some of the old programs have been repurposed with more interactivity. McRae states it as "adaptive learning systems still promote the notion of the isolated individual, in front of a technology platform, being delivered concrete and sequential content for mastery. However, the re-branding is that of personalization (individual), flexible and customized (technology platform) delivering 21st century competencies (content)." [Source: McRae's research] CCC's SuccessMaker is now Pearson's adaptive learning system. Other adaptive systems have repurposed content but they still promote building mastery with sequential content. It is similar to the old worksheets repurposed using new technology. Dreambox refers to Skinner's teaching machine and "adaptive learning as a computer-based and/or online educational system that modifies the presentation of material in response to student performance. Best-of-breed systems capture fine-grained data and use learning analytics to enable human tailoring of responses. The associated learning management systems (LMS) provide comprehensive administration, documentation, tracking and reporting progress, and user management." [Source: http://www.dreambox.com/adaptive-learning] Source: U.S. Department of Education , Office of Educational Technology, Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics: An Issue Brief October 2012, page 30 Dreambox is now framing their system as "Intelligent Adaptive Learning" and others are starting to use the term "Intelligent Tutors." Companies are creating hundreds of white papers and studies to prove that adaptive learning systems benefit our children. Be careful! Read them closely for the messages being delivered. We need to be critical consumers for our children's sake. McRae writes why we are so seduced for adaptive learning systems:

"First, it is seen as opening up possibilities for greater access to data that can be used to hyper-individualize learning and in turn diagnose the challenges facing entire school systems. Second, the modern teaching machines, and the growing reach and power of technologies, promises to (re)shape students into powerful knowledge workers of the 21st Century."

 As I said in my own situation, all I needed was time and someone who cared and listened to me. Today the technology is at our fingertips and children are using technology at younger and younger ages. We don't need to spend millions on these systems. Information is available when we need it now. We just need to teach our children how to acquire the skills that help them access, evaluate, and use the information they find. We cannot feed information to children from "Teaching Machines" like what was in the 1899 postcard and what Skinner projected. It didn't work in the 50s or the 90s. It won't work now. This is dangerous for our children and our society. Our children need caring and compassionate classrooms that encourage independent, creative and collaborative work. Technology is changing rapidly. We don't need to go backwards and plug our children into machines. They will do that on their own but they need guidance in a different way. They need to know what is happening with their data. Schools protect student data, but adaptive learning systems sell the data to third party companies. Consider all the free social media and other programs available that collect data from you. You probably are aware when you sign in to certain programs, they know you and your data. But you might not have known that your child's data including social security numbers and health concerns are being sold to third parties. This is dangerous! It will get even more dangerous if the government funds it and encourages the use of adaptive learning systems without some oversight. Teachers need to know how to facilitate a different kind of learning environment that is flexible, personal, and creative. Personalized learning means that learners own and drive their learning not the technology using algorithms based on performance that controls learning. Learners need to learn how to think on their own. This will not happen if adaptive learning systems control how and what they learn. It is personal now! Let's all work together and do the right thing for our children. Teach them to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Show them that they can drive their learning so they can reach their fullest potential.
2

Reflections on Change and Learning

I find myself in an interesting time in my life. I could retire but I don't want to. This is an exciting time where all the efforts I've taken for years to change education are starting to come together. I can taste it, smell it, and feel it. I'm working with schools around the world and the issue seems to be the same. There are a few pockets of excellence but we tend to still be embedded and entangled in a system of traditional education. The questions I get from teachers all over the world have the same tone:
  • how do I give students voice and choice when I am accountable for their learning?
  • how do I become a co-designer with students who don't want to be at school?
  • what if I transform a lesson and it fails?
  I can go on but the issue seems to be about trust.
  • Does the administration trust that the teacher will meet all the required curriculum?
  • Does the teacher trust that their students will do the work?
  • Do the students trust the teacher to teach them what they need to know?
  I have been thinking about this for a long time. Kathleen McClaskey and I as co-founders of Personalize Learning, LLC were brought together because we needed to be. Both of us were going in similar directions fighting this issue alone. Our mutual friend, Julie Duffield, brought us together several years ago. We created a chart defining what Personalized Learning is and is not in January 2012 and then from all the feedback, we updated the PDI Chart this March 2013. It has changed our lives. After we created a process with the Stages, we started getting interest from schools, districts, regions, states, and companies. We opened a pandora box. We created an eCourse about the What, Who, Where, Why, and Wow of Personalized Learning and are on our sixth session since February. It is more than exciting. Yesterday was our first session with 34 educators from around the world most from Australia. We are doing several sessions simultaneously. One with Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin. The questions and conversations are the same but they are getting deeper and more reflective. So that's why I thought it was time for me to reflect on everything that has happened the last 2 years. All I can say to teachers who venture down this road to turn the learning over to the learner so they own it, thank you! I am in awe at all you are doing. I am amazed when a school system says it's time to rethink learning and change how we teach and learn. I want to thank Kathleen for sticking with me through this. We are fighting an uphill battle against structures and entities that have been entrenched in a system that is over 150 years old. We wrote a post Learners NOT Students and the response was overwhelming -- most good but a few educators got upset. What we and others are saying shakes up the system. It needs shaking up. My granddaughter is starting kindergarten this year and all I can think is Oh My -- she's so creative and the school will take that away from her. We have to give the learning back to our kids. They need to own it -- drive it. I cannot stop now. We cannot stop now. This is the time for a revolution like Sir Ken Robinson said in the latest Ted Talks Education along with Rita Pierson and others who talk about passion, interests, human interaction. Watch this and then we'll get this revolution going and finally do it right for our kids.

Watch TED Talks Education on PBS. See more from TED Talks Education.

0

Driving My Way

Driving Stick ShiftI like to drive. I guess I like the control and know how I drive. I also drive a manual (stick) and love it. I was driving this morning to get to an appointment and realized that there were many cars with only one person (the driver) in the car.  The system rewards you if you carpool, but many of us don't want to give up control to others especially strangers. I think I might have been one of very few driving a stick. At one point, I was cornered between a large truck and a slow car. I know you can do this with turbo-charged automatic cars, but I was able to downshift and maneuver to another lane easily. I did it safely and made it without causing any problems. Now if I had a passenger with me, they might have lost a little faith in me if I maneuvered like this without explaining what I was doing. Now why am I saying this? and what does this mean in reference to learning? When you allow someone else to drive, you are putting your faith in that person that they are a good driver and will protect you. It's about trust. It is the same thing when you are a passenger on a plane. You trust the pilot to get you to your destination. And the airline will probably not let you fly the plane -- :o Trust is a big part of letting go. As a teacher, you are like driving the car and flying the plane. Your students trust you to get them to their destination -- their learning goals or targets or whatever you are required to do.
"I remember sitting in one of my graduate class realizing that I already took the class with a different title. The notes were the same, the required text was the same, the professor was the same -- that is, except the title of the course. I raised my hand and asked the professor if this could be the same course we took several quarters ago. He emphatically said "NO!! and please follow the lecture."
That moment was the turning point for me as an educator and why I wanted to find ways to make learning personal. I quit that masters program and signed up for another. They were all the same. As a professional developer with a little background in coaching and building communities, I was required to take a course on coaching from someone I had coached. The system just wasn't working for me. If it wasn't working for me, then maybe it wasn't working for many others. What about the classroom today. The teacher is driving and responsible for all the learners in their classroom. They are given the manual and told what to teach. Let's look at the learner today. They know how to drive their learning. They had to take control or they wouldn't have walked or talked. They had to take the first step and fall and then get up again. Their parents couldn't do it for them. The same with every word they learned.  If you get a chance to watch this Ted Talk from Deb Roy about the Birth of a Word, you get it. We are the observers. His child would eventually learn how to say "water" his way. Why and when did we think we could teach everyone the same thing at the same time? Why is it that someone who can demonstrate mastery of a skill is required to learn that skill or content over again? Times are changing. Put yourself in the passenger seat of someone's car that you are not sure how they drive. Do you trust them? Put yourself in a class where you are learning content you already know and the teacher is driving the instruction. Now how do you feel?
1

Mindset for the New Year

I have a growth mindset-- anyway, that's what I thought. I believe that anyone can grow and change. I learned that the brain is plastic -- they call it neuroplasticity. That means you can change your brain. In reading, Carol Dweck's book "Mindset" people have either a growth or a fixed mindset. Dweck states that everyone is born with a growth mindset and potential to do whatever they want to do. Fixed mindsets happen from experiences and relationships that keep them from believing in themselves. They might give up easily because, for some reason, they don't think they can do it. In an interview on Education World, Dweck discusses mastery-oriented qualities.
"There is no relation between students' abilities or intelligence and the development of mastery-oriented qualities. Some of the very brightest students avoid challenges, dislike effort, and wilt in the face of difficulty. And some of the less bright students are real go-getters, thriving on challenge, persisting intensely when things get difficult, and accomplishing more than you expected.   This is something that really intrigued me from the beginning. It shows that being mastery-oriented is about having the right mind-set. It is not about how smart you are. However, having the mastery-oriented mind-set will help students become more able over time."
I just read George Couros' great posts More Mindset than Skill Set and More about Mindset and Learning where he shares stories about an 82 year old woman who wanted to learn how to play the cello so she took lessons. It didn't matter that she was 82. She knew she could learn something she always wanted to do. He shared about his father who had a limited formal education, but was willing to learn new things. George showed his father using an iPad to communicate with his grandchildren. If you want to do something and you have a growth mindset, you can do it. It really is not about talent. All of us have some talents, but if we don't believe we can do something or don't believe in ourselves, we might not take the risks to change. So why did I ask about having both mindsets? I am usually very optimistic with a glass more than half full. Sometimes the glass is running over. I read Public Agenda file: a Mission of the Heart: What Does it Take to Transform a School? that talked about "transformers" and "copers."  This is about leaders either being one or the other. Transformers have an explicit vision of what their school might be like and bring a "can do" attitude to their job. Copers are typically struggling to avoid being overwhelmed. They don't have the time or freedom, or for some perhaps, the inclination to do more than try to manage their situation. Growth mindset = transformer. Or does it? What if you have a "can do" attitude and believe that anything can be done, but feel overwhelmed with your situation. The situation may make you question if you can "do" something especially during a stressful time.  I know administrators that are very optimistic with most activities, but have trouble coping with or managing specific situations. I believe I have a growth mindset and so do so many teachers I work with. However, some may have trouble coping in specific situations. Teachers have so much on their plates. Some days, they are overwhelmed, because there is just not enough time in the day to do everything. That's how I feel some days. It doesn't mean that I have a fixed mindset, but I may have a situational "mindset." I want to do something about this. I like that I am optimistic. I always believed I had a growth mindset, but wasn't sure what it was called before. I want to be able to handle most situations and continue to be optimistic. So instead of resolutions for the New Year, I'm looking at setting my mindset to a growth mindset. If I get overwhelmed with any situation, I'm going to pause and reflect on how I feel. I just have to focus and believe in myself. What about you? What is your mindset? Why not make 2013 the year that you can do anything you put your mind to do?
1

Didn't we do this already?

It's Sunday and a great time to reflect on the last week. All I can say is that it was a whirlwind. Working 12-14 hours every day on Race to the Top proposals, refining our process, talking to different groups about what is and what isn't personalized learning. The talk always goes back to technology.
It's not about the technology. It's about the philosophy you embrace around personalizing learning.
If it's all about the learner and starting with them, then everything about teaching and learning changes. Technology supports personalizing learning but should not be the focus. Just putting technology in teachers' and learners' hands doesn't mean they know how to personalize learning. I remember the early days of technology in schools. I believe the late 80s and early 90s, schools built labs called CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction) such as Computer Curriculum Corporation, Success Maker and others. Old Computer LabAs a technology consultant during those times, I was asked to help build those labs. Most of these labs were built in high poverty schools in rooms that weren't made for computers. Even the electricity in some of these older buildings couldn't handle the capacity. They would string together extension cords from other classrooms and hold them in place with duct tape. In some rooms, we had to step over the cord that was 2 feet high. There were some rooms where they moved the computers next to the heaters. Actually, that didn't matter, because the heaters didn't work. I needed the work at that time, and that's where all the money was going. One lab with 50 computers and the software took all the technology budget. There was no money left for training. Only enough to train a paraprofessional who managed the lab. There was no integration with any curriculum in the classrooms. I observed these labs. Kids loved them in the beginning because it was new, interactive, and included games. They loved the idea of playing in school. The paraprofessionals collected the data and shared with the administration. Scores were going up. The kids rotated through the lab once or twice a week. But after about six months, kids started talking about how boring it was. One third grade told me that it didn't matter how he answered the questions so he just hit any key to make it go to the next screen. Scores were at a plateau then dropping. Dropping all over. All the labs. Everywhere. Few years later, the labs were changed. They took off the headphones and brought in technology teachers. Teachers with credentials. Only issue I saw was that they were prep teachers. This meant that there tended to be very little integration of what was happening in the classroom to what was happening in the labs. I know so many of these fantastic computer teachers who did amazing projects. When I was asked to come in, work with the computer teachers, and help integrate technology into the classrooms. Classroom teachers were so busy teaching the curriculum that they didn't have time or the energy to take the work in the lab and connect it to the classroom. So once again, the work in the labs stood alone and was mostly focused on building isolated technology skills. But there were some amazing computer teachers and librarians who found ways to integrate the skills with projects happening in the classroom. So now fast forward to today and learning labs to support blended learning rotations. The labs look similar to the CAI of the past and, yes, the scores are improving. Rocketship Education But the real learning that is needed seems to be lost. In some of these environments, the student to teacher ratio has increased because the computers "individualize" the student's learning and they don't need as many teachers. Maybe that's how or why schools are looking at this solution -- to save money. Based on algorithms and data, teachers keep track of performance and work with individual students to respond to intervention -- to increase scores based on standardized tests. This may sound good to some people, however, to prepare our children for the global workforce, they need different skills then they acquire sitting in front of computers like this. It just cannot be about the scores. The skills needed for today's jobs include:
  • collaboration and teamwork
  • problem-solving
  • critical-thinking
  • creativity and innovative thinking
  • choosing and using the appropriate resources for a task
  • building a network of learners locally and globally
  • learning how to learn, unlearn, and relearn
  Computer labs like the ones some schools are building to blend learning are fitting learning into strict schedules: 20 minutes at one station then move to another station. Real learning doesn't work that way. We did this already, and it didn't work. Now we have mobile technology and learning can happen anytime anywhere. Let's rethink this strategy before we invest millions again into set labs with desktop computers that are just trying to increase scores and use curriculum that adapts to their performance based on algorithms instead of how they learn best. Personalizing learning needs to be social. It starts with the learner not the technology. Real learning encourages play, creativity, experimenting, taking risks. Learning is supposed to challenge the learner and that cannot happen if they don't have a stake in it. Learners have a stake in their learning if they have a voice in their learning and are motivated and engaged in the learning. Learners just cannot own and drive their learning when they sit in front of a computer with headphones on clicking through adaptive activities that keep track of their keystrokes.
1

Reflecting on Reflection

Reflection is a powerful tool. Today I woke up and wondered why I haven't written a post in so long. I paused, thought about it, and realized my life has been spinning the last two months. Usually the words just come to me, but these past months have me working every minute. I am a co-founder of Personalize Learning, LLC with Kathleen McClaskey. We are being written into many Race to the Top applications around the country. My eCoach has been approached to support different groups Communities of Practice, so that is growing at the same time. It's very exciting, but I need to write about ideas that may not be about the work I do. I love to write. These ideas come to me, and I need to put them down. Even if I am working 20 hours a day, I need to stop, pause, and reflect. So reflecting on reflection came to me. Actually reflecting means capturing the moment when it happens.  Today is the day for me to capture the moment.  First a quote:

Reflection is what allows us to learn from our experiences: it is an assessment of where we have been and where we want to go next. ~ Kenneth Wolf

For the last two months, Kathleen and I have been writing every day supporting different RTT-D applications. The last week, we have been bombarded with calls from districts and consortiums of districts wanting our support. We are getting requests from schools and organizations from other countries. Today I need to stop and breathe and reflect. I use Gibb's Model of Reflection:

Gibbs Model of Reflection

What happened?

Kathleen and I developed a model for personalizing learning over a four year period that meets the requirements of the Race to the Top application. We defined the differences between personalization vs differentiation vs individualization and ended up having Porvir in Brazil create an infographic in Portuguese around our chart that we translated in English. We were hired by Grant Wood AEA in Iowa to talk to their superintendents and now are doing a webinar overview, offering an eCourse and webinar series, and setting up a Community of Practice across the state. That was just the beginning. We are getting requests from all around the country and Mumbai, Singapore, and more.

What am a I thinking and feeling?

I am excited about the interest we are getting. Now about my feelings. I haven't had time to reflect on everything that is happening so fast. This is good. Pausing. Reflecting. I think I got too excited about the interest and stopped thinking about me and what I love to do --- write. This also made me think about kids today and all that is on their plates in school -- especially middle and high school kids running from class to class in schools with crazy bell schedules. I need time to reflect. I don't know how kids do it -- starting and stopping thinking-- thinking in one subject and then jumping into another subject.

Personalizing learning means creating time to reflect, pause, and have flexible schedules that allow for risk-taking and reflection. There is no time for risk-taking or reflection when you are preparing for a test or writing an application.

What's good and bad about the experience?

Good

Kathleen and I are revisiting and refining our model and process. It is getting better every day. I am excited about what we are coming up with and know there is still lots more to do. Every school, district, teacher, and learner is unique -- there is no cookie-cutter answer to meet the needs of everyone involved.

Bad

My feelings are that I'm overwhelmed. Guess that's the way kids feel daily. I get it. That's why we are doing what we are doing. School does this same thing to kids that is happening to me right now. Overwhelmed. No time to think about thinking. I say that reflection is very important and needs to be part of every day. Pause. Think. Reflect. Write.

What sense can I make of the situation?

Kathleen and I complement each other. We both bring a lot to the table. I live in California where the education bubble burst some time ago. Professional development budgets crumbled and professional developers fight over the same dollar. I thought this was happening everywhere in the US. Kathleen, who lives in New Hampshire, opened my eyes to what is happening in New Hampshire: competency-based learning in all the high schools and 1:1 iPad schools in the Northeast. We interviewed leaders and transformational teachers and found CESA #1 in Southeastern Wisconsin where Jim Rickabaugh shared how there is co-teaching, learning plans, and learning changing. British Columbia is transforming learning across the province where Dave Truss shared about the Inquiry Hub. So much is happening in other places around the world. Why couldn't it happen here in my backyard?

It can. It is but in pockets, but not the way I was hoping. Some large corporations are coming in and spouting that they can personalize learning by adapting the curriculum and blending learning with learning labs and algorithms. They can "Personalize" the learning for students. Sorry -- but personalizing learning means starting with the learner -- changing teacher and learner roles. That's why we made our chart and had to do what we are doing. We see the importance of knowing how learners learn best using Universal Design for Learning principles which then changes teaching and learning. Motivation -- Engagement -- Voice. That's what works. Technology can support this but not be the only thing that personalizes learning.  Whew!!  Pause. Reflect.

What else could I have done?

Take time off every day and pause. I need to stop and reflect every day somehow. When I write, it seems to put everything in perspective for me. I still write my column for CUE, but this site is for me to share my thoughts and findings. I will never go months again without writing something even if it is another reflection about my reflections.

If it arose again, what would I do?

Write on the calendar in big letters: Pause. Reflect today. 

It is important to capture and treasure every moment. This is my learning environment that is personal to me. I forgot that every day I am learning something new. How cool is that?

11

Get over it! It's already 2012

How long do we have to be in the 21st century to say we are 21st century teachers? 
Everything has changed because of the Internet. Schools are going wireless, using interactive whiteboards, flipping the classroom, putting in 1:1 solutions -- some are even BYOD (Bringing Your Own Device). I see exciting technology yet rarely see innovative teaching and learning. I don't mean to be harsh here, but  I read Med Karbach's What Does It Take to be a 21st Century Teacher? and thought I need to write something. It's all about a culture shift. It's not just the technology. It's a mindset. There are lots of great teachers that don't use technology. They motivate their students. Students are engaged and love being in their class. Karbach included this image: To Be This image says it all to me. It is all about each learner and their own learning potential. Do we tap into it? Teachers mostly teach the way they have been taught. To move to a more collaborative learning environment involves all stakeholders. One teacher in a school can move desks around, have students create learning plans, but this is a whole culture shift that needs to happen. I am invited to facilitate change at schools all over. Observing teachers, I notice a desperation. They tell me that they want to make a difference; they want to use the technology; but... Here's the buts:
  • I have to cover the curriculum.
  • There is such a diverse group in my class.
  • It is so much work to design projects for all my students.
  • Group work is a pain to set up and assess how each student is learning.
  • I'm told to differentiate all my lessons which now takes even longer.
  • My class size was increased by 10 more children.
  • I am so tired each night grading papers, there's no time left for me.
  • I am spending more time creating video lectures to flip everything.
  • paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
  • The parents are so demanding that I have to put up homework every night.
  Do any of these concerns sound like you and your situation?   I have an idea. Let's flip learning. Your students have been 21st century learners most of their lives. They know how to use all of the technology. If they don't, they figure it out. Why not make them more responsible for their learning? What if...
  • your students create the videos about the content to flip the classroom. Check out Mathtrain.tv where Eric Marcos realized that students learn best from other students.
  • involve your students in lesson design. Be partners in unpacking the standards and designing activities. Children today are very resilient and smart if we give them the chance. Check out this post from Kathleen McClaskey and myself on Personal Learner Profiles and the Common Core.
  • See Think WonderAsk your students to brainstorm and prioritize questions about the topic. This post on Making Just One Change where I interviewed Sara Armstrong helped me understand the importance of inquiry.  Michael Wesch encourages his university students to wonder. Dave Truss shared the opening of their new school The Inquiry Hub where students "learn without boundaries."
  • Imagine your students building lessons with you as partners in learning.
  Maybe it's a matter of letting go and trusting that your students can learn -- want to learn. I have a difficult time sitting in a lecture hall myself. When I go to a conference and listen to a great lecture, I learn. But I learn more when I am more involved in the learning process. Sharing. Curating. Discussing. Even arguing a point.
So maybe we need to rethink what a 21st century teacher is. It's a culture shift. Maybe that teacher is a...
  • partner in learning with their students.
  • facilitator who guides the learning process.
  • an advocate for each learner who has strengths and weaknesses, passions, interests, and aspirations to be whatever they can be.
  • person who realizes they can never know everything so learns to unlearn and learn again.
  How about some innovative strategies for professional development? Like having students teach teachers how to use the technology. Maybe include students in professional development so you hear their point of view. If this is a culture shift, can one teacher do this alone? I still believe it takes a village idea. We need to involve all stakeholders including the parents. But if you want to make a difference now.. start involving your students -- one lesson at a time. Let's see what happens and share back. Let me know.
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Personalizing ISTE 2012 with My Friends

Barbara Bray avatarI'm on my way to ISTE in San Diego soon. I'm going to be talking about personalizing learning. I'm pulling together my presentations, events, and meetings. I'm pretty excited about seeing many of my friends from around the world. Now here's my dilemma -- I want to spend time with friends but I am planning to network. Some of my friends have contracted me to provide services. I guess I'm what you call a "networker" and "digital friend." But the boundaries are getting fuzzier and fuzzier because of social media. This is my avatar on the right. Red hair -- always smiling. I kind of look like my avatar. The real me may appear a little shorter  :) I started looking at my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and get it that I'm all over social media. I do love it. I love the connections, learning from friends I'm following and who are in my circles, on Scoopit and Pinterest, connections on LinkedIn, those who share on my FB timeline or in my Twitter feeds. I guess one of the decisions I had to make when creating circles in Google+ is what circles to put people in. I didn't feel right putting some people in acquaintances because I felt like they were kind of "friends." So now I have to think about what is a friend? Who do I call my friends? Actually, most of the same people are popping up as friends or connections across social media. Many of these friends I don't know but look forward to meet at ISTE. I hope you introduce yourself and say "I'm your friend on ....." That is if you want a hug. I'm a hugger and networker. See me walking down the exhibit hall and I'm talking to everyone. Meet you the first time, I'll shake your hand, look you in the eyes, and have a great conversation. Next time, I'll probably hug you. Can't help it. That's me! So if you hug me back, then we can call each other friends? Nooooo! It's more than that. Friends and business acquaintances are different. Can you be both? Yes! MMMmmmmmm...... I only started thinking about this when my social media connections got pretty big and I was scooping this and tweeting that and spending too much time on social media. Social media started taking over. I love connecting to all my friends. Now I'm getting ready for ISTE and will see so many of you -- my wonderful friends. But I'm going to ISTE to share my research, my work, and learn from you. Missing Piece This time I'm very excited about the prospect of working with others who are researching Personalized Learning and how it can transform education. I'm looking to talk to you, learn from you, and maybe work with you. I have been collaborating with Kathleen McClaskey and set up our own site Personalize Learning. We both believe that learning starts with the learner.  We are getting connected to new "Friends" because of our work around Personalized Learning. ISTE 2012 ConferenceI hope to see you at ISTE at our sessions. We're hosting a Birds of a Feather session on Monday  that is mainly interactive by you the participants. You bring the questions, talk about them in small groups, and then share back. We'll collect the information and share them with you on our website. We are also doing a presentation about Personalized Learning Toolkits  on Tuesday at 3:45 and anticipate lots of feedback and sharing. Kathleen and I have worked very hard on this presentation and hope you find it beneficial. Join us! So I hope to see lots of my friends in San Diego. I am hooked on social media. Probably will be hugging a few of you. I just have to say thank you to so many of my friends who have been there for me for so many years. I feel very fortunate. It will be fun to see you and meet in person some of my virtual friends for the first time. Some ways to connect:
Check out my Scoop-its:
  Contact me via barbara.bray@gmail.com if you want to set up a time to meet at the conference.
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Studio-Based Learning (Interview: Pat Donohue)

After learning about Studio-Based Learning (SBL) from Pat Donohue, I interviewed her to learn about the benefits of this approach and why and how SBL personalizes learning. Pat is inspired by a passion to create engaging environments for learning.
"There is a fundamental problem with public school as it has come to be defined. Confining young adults away from the world has created environments loaded with discipline problems and excruciating boredom. The challenge of the classroom teacher to engage young minds in the real subject matters of life while students are stuck in their chairs was clearly a losing task (see Gatto, 1992).   If you watch children or young adults in the natural world, it will not take long to notice two things: they will soon be engaged in some kind of learning borne out of their own curiosity and/or they will be engaged in making fun – usually both. To this day I cannot fathom why education cannot be a replication of this natural tendency of human beings to learn about the life they lead."
What is Studio-Based Learning? Studio-based learning in America can be traced back to John Dewey’s Laboratory School in Chicago in the late 1800’s (Lackney, 1999). It was later adopted by North American architectural education and showed up in the University of Oregon Architectural School in 1914. Lackney describes the design studio as, “A type of professional education, traditional in schools of architecture, in which students undertake a design project under the supervision of a master designer. Its setting is the loft-like studio space in which anywhere from twelve to as many as twenty students arrange their own drawing tables, papers, books, pictures, drawings and models. In this space, students spend much of their working lives, at times talking together, but mostly engaged in private, parallel pursuits of the common design task (quoting Schon, 1983).” Primary concepts that drive studio-based learning include:
  • Students work like apprentices in a common space under the tutelage of a “master.”
  • Students interact when needed with each other on their designs.
  • Students undergo periodic critiques, known as “crits,” of their designs, projects, or products. Crits are for gaining knowledge about your work. They occur student-to-master first and then evolve self-learning crits between peers.
  • It is driven by the pragmatic. The idea is to get your hands in your work, get it done, revise it to perfect it, and self-evaluate the results.
  • Final work or products are presented publicly.
  Studio-based learning methods were picked up in various iterations in K-12 programs and in universities throughout the 20th Century. The use of SBL educational laboratories died down in 1970s and 1980s but never died-out. Today, SBL is experiencing a revival. The originators of the SBL model we pursue run the Intelligent and Interactive Systems Lab at Auburn University and partners at Washington State University have launched the Online Studio-Based Learning Environment (OSBLE) where instructors from around the country can share their experiences and growing knowledge about the model’s effectiveness. In 2006, John Seely Brown published a short but hard-hitting article, “Exploring the edge: New Learning Environments for the 21st Century” on the architectural studio model as a foundation for current trends in learning. He explains:
In the architecture studio, for example, all work in progress is made public. As a consequence, every student can see what every other student is doing; every student witnesses the strategies that others use to develop their designs. And there is public critique, typically by the master and perhaps several outside practitioners. The students not only hear each other’s critiques, but because they were in some sense peripheral participants in the evolution of each other’s work, they also have a moderately nuanced understanding of the design choices and constraints that led to the final result … If you look at the learning outcomes for the architecture studio and Professor Belcher’s physics classes, it is evident that in both environments, students move from ‘learning about’ something to ‘learning to be’ something—a crucial distinction.
I believe studio learning is a preferred environment for our educational system, ideas about: situated learning, collaborative learning, personal learning networks and personal learning environments, mobile computing and its ability to deliver an SBL environment into a learner’s hands, and authentic instruction. How did you build this passion for experiential learning approaches? Fifteen years ago, I set out with a Master’s degree in Instructional Technologies to a new professional life, inspired by a passion to create engaging environments for learning. I had been a high school science and English teacher in a central urban school district (Oakland, CA) and a highly rural school district (Lake County, CA).  I set out in 1997 on a path that led me to one year of science and mathematics software production for an educational technology publisher, followed by eight years in STEM education grants – six years as Principle Investigator for a U.S. Department of Education grant serving schools in rural North Dakota and two years as Project Director on a similar National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for rural schools in the six Hawaiian Islands. The North Dakota grant was housed in a Science Center and that experience cemented my love of informal education approaches to learning. In Hawaii, I left the grant position on the advice of my university colleagues to enter into their Ph.D. program in Communication and Information Sciences. That program introduced me to new research colleagues whom I work with today. Our research focused on instructional models that integrated technology to raise the learning bar in science, mathematics, and computer science. I eventually came to see the most important part of STEM learning is the “E.” Engineering is, more often than not, where the other three fields come together in hands-on applications. We began to look at instructional models that would situate student learning in practice. My colleagues joined with two other universities in a grant to develop and test a model of Studio-Based Learning (SBL). They are now in their second implementation grant of the SBL program through NSF. Multiple universities and instructors around the country have been involved in one or both of the SBL grant work and the results are showing that, in college undergraduate computer science courses, SBL shows improvement gains for students compared to those in non-SBL courses. I extended the SBL protocol to a pilot program for high school and am now investigating a revision of the model into a “Design Studio” approach that integrates SBL methods into a more robust laboratory of learning experiences.
Cityscape

Designed by Consuelo

What are the findings from neuroscience? Findings from neuroscience has expanded the picture of what is happening in the studio when learning is occurring. Something I now tell my students that makes them sit up with new attention is,
“every moment we talk here; every day you leave this classroom, you have a new brain.”
The point is, from neuroscience research (c.f., John Medina’s Brain Rules at www.brainrules.net), we know that the neurons in our brain form networks of connections that are in some mysterious way we still don’t understand how we store our learning. That learning is individual and based on the numerous factors that shape our individual connections. We learn constantly. In fact, tell yourself to “stop learning.” It can’t be done. This means that every moment of our lives we are re-forming our connections with every new or evolving thought. New thought; new connections; new brain. I find that brain boggling! And, of course, I want to know more. Currently, we are designing an evolution of our Instructional Technology department to embrace a studio environment using SBL principles. I am working with colleagues in the Education departments to reformulate our SBL model into a more rigorous approach for all grade levels and all disciplines to personalize learning in educational contexts. That will involve development of mobile learning approaches to the studio experience and it will involve creating physical laboratory spaces on campus where we implement and research this evolving method of instruction.   Pat donohuePatricia (Pat) Donohue, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Instructional Technologies Graduate College of Education, San Francisco State University President and CEO, Community Learning Research LLC Pat Donohue teaches instructional design and technologies in the Department of Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University’s Graduate College of Education. She is also President and CEO of Community Learning Research, LLC, a private educational research company located in the Napa Valley, California. She holds a doctorate degree in Communication and Information Sciences from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa and her Master’s in Education: Instructional Technologies degree from San Francisco State University where she currently teaches courses in Foundations of Instructional Design Theory, Learning with Emerging Technologies, and Usability Testing and Formative Evaluation. Pat worked as a professional development specialist in new technologies and learning for 20 years prior to her current position, eight of which were on federal teacher development grants in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. Pat was Principal Investigator for NatureShift, a U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grant (6.5 yrs.) and interim Project Director for Hawai`i Networked Learning Communities, a National Science Foundation Rural Systemic Initiative grant for the Hawai`i Department of Education (1.5 yrs.). Both grants involved technology integration in cultural contexts into curriculum and instruction and teacher professional development in STEM, history, and language literacy for rurally isolated schools in the Northern plains states and the six Hawaiian Islands. Pat taught high school science and English for six years and has taught several university education courses prior to her current position. She held administrative positions at the University of Hawai`i and at San Francisco State and Sonoma State Universities. For a brief period, she published the Middletown Times Star, a small newspaper in Northern California. With a lifelong interest in the learning sciences, Pat’s research has covered technology innovations for learning, cultural implications and impacts on learning, and advanced technology environments for collaborative learning. She is currently researching a new pedagogical model based on traditions of Studio-Based Learning and investigating the implementation of that model into mobile learning environments. Community Learning Research LLC http://communitylearningresearch.com Patricia Donohue, PhD, CEO pjdonohue@gmail.com 011.925.451.7820 (M/SMS) References
  • Gatto, J. T. (1992) Dumbing Us Down.
  • Lackney, J. A. (1999) A History of the Studio-Based Learning Model.
  • Report of a Workshop on The Scope and Nature of Computational Thinking, Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking; National Research Council (2010).
  • Mitchell Resnick (2002) Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age. Chapter 3: pp32-37.
  • Mitchell Resnick (2007) Sowing seeds for a more creative society. ISTE
  • Stephen Cooper, Lance C. Pérez, and Daphne Rainey (2010) K–12 Computational Learning: Enhancing student learning and understanding by combining theories of learning with the computer’s unique attributes. Education, v.53(11) pp 27-29.
  • Hundhausen, C., Narayanan, N., and Crosby, M. (2008) Exploring Studio-Based Instructional Models for Computing Education
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UDL Guides Personalizing Learning to Meet the Common Core

by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is used to design curriculum, lessons and instruction based on the diversity of the learners in their classroom. The three principles of UDL are:
  • multiple means of representation
  • multiple means of expression and action
  • multiple means of engagement
  When a teacher understands his/her learners through the UDL lens, he/she creates a flexible learning environment and provides opportunities for learner voice and choice. When lessons are designed using the UDL model, the lesson includes goals, methods, materials, tools, and assessments to reach and support the maximum amount of learners in the classroom. Learners can use this model to help them understand how they learn best and what learning path they can take to become an independent expert learner, leveraging their natural abilities in the process. This process helps the learner create their personal learning profile that is understood by both teacher and learner. Personalize Learning to Meet the Common Core The importance of this strategy is that both the teacher and the learner understand who the learner is and how they learn best. The learner and the teacher uses the UDL lens to personalize learning. So what does that look like? Here are two eighth grade students and their Personal Learner Profiles. Susan
    • is an avid reader, likes to write descriptively, and enjoys drawing.
    • is anxious when she speaks in front of others.
    • forgets the sequence, moral and message of the story.
    • wants to ask questions but is uncomfortable voicing her concerns.
    • works better individually or in a small group.
  Justin
    • reads and writes at a third grade level.
    • requires projects to be broken down into smaller segments.
    • has a difficult time organizing and little ability to interpret concepts.
    • needs to know purpose behind reading assignments.
    • loves to draw and is interested in multimedia.
  For US History, eighth graders study the Civil War.  There is so much information on the Civil War. The teacher and learners  needed to choose one essential or anchor standard. In this case, they determined that the main issue learners had problems with was analyzing text and making connections to a concept.
Essential or Anchor Standard

> Key Ideas and Details (Informational Text)

RI.8.3. Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).

After determining the essential standard, the teacher and learners identified supporting standards for the history topic: Civil War. The power of using historical information such as primary and secondary sources is that learners can use visual information in multiple forms to understand the concept. They also were going to choose one subtopic to do a short project.
Supporting Standards

> Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (Integration of History)

RH.6-8.7. Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts

> Comprehension and Collaboration (Speaking and Listening)

SL.8.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

> Research to Build and Present Knowledge (Writing)

W.8.7. Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.

> Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas (Speaking and Listening)

SL.8.5. Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.

  After the teacher and learners chose the standards, they brainstormed questions about the Civil War. They worked in pairs to prioritize questions until they chose one essential question.  
Essential Question

What are the causes of the Civil War?

Learners then paired with another learner to come up with supporting questions. The pairs prioritize those questions until they came up with one question that they will research and answer for their project.
Supporting Questions:
  • Why did southern states secede from the union?
  • What events or publications sparked the start of the Civil War?
  • Was slavery the main issue for the war’s beginning?
  • What other factors contributed to the civil war beginning?
  • If slavery began in 1619, why did it take 200 years for it to become an issue?
  • Why did the South believe that they needed to continue slavery?
  The learning strategies Susan and Justin used were based on their learner profiles to help them meet the Common Core and demonstrate what they know and understand. Because Susan and Justin understand how they learn best through their UDL lens, they were able to make choices for themselves. Those choices included how they access information, how they are engaged with the information, and how they like to express what they know.

Learning Strategies and Common Core Standards

To personalize a unit of study like the Civil War, it is more than just memorizing battles, events, people, places, and times. The essential and supporting questions push the investigation of history further. This project encourages diverse learners to own and direct their own learning about the Civil War. Susan and Justin have diverse learning challenges, yet both of them have a passion for drawing. Because they were able to choose how they respond to the question, they were more motivated to design a title graphic and a Prezi presentation that utilized their creative talents. They were responsible for  their learning by choosing the question, the direction of their presentation, and which one of them did each of the tasks to complete their project. Universal Design for Learning is the guide for schools for personalizing learning to meet the Common Core State Standards.
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