Monday, June 3, 2013

What's on the horizon? (part 2)

The last post was about what is on the near horizon for technology in education.  Today I'm going to write about what technologies are likely to be adopted by schools in 2-3 years time.  As mentioned before, ASB is a leader in educational technology and many of these initiatives are already part of our R&D work, or even being prototyped at school.  On the middle horizon are electronic publishing, learning analytics, open content and personalized learning.

Let's start with personalized learning, which is one of our school goals this year and which is "a key and necessary component of the next generation of schools and learning".  The K-12 Horizon Report notes that this encompasses a wide variety of approaches to support self-directed learning.  We have seen different initiatives at ASB this year including 20% time, Independent Studies and the Day 9 project, all of which I've written about before.  With the BYOM prototype last year we noticed that it has also become easier for students to personalize their learning by bringing in the device of their choice and using the apps they are most familiar with.

Electronic publishing is another technology on the middle horizon, with mainstream adoption in 2-3 years time.  The Horizon Reports explains that "electronic publishing is redefining the boundaries between print and digital, still image and video, passive and interactive".  Apps such as the iBook Author allow both teachers and students to publish their own eBooks.

Data informed decision making is also part of our current strategic plan at ASB, to promote a culture of high student achievement.  ASB has adopted the Data Wise Improvement Model from Harvard University and in the Fall of 2012 many of ASB's educators were involved in a 3-day workshop where we were trained to use multiple forms of data to inform us about student learning, to help us identify struggling students and those who are high achievers.  This year new positions have been created including that of literacy coach, to work with teachers to look at the data we have collected about growth in reading, a maths instructional coach to help differentiate learning and to also work on special projects with high achievers in Elementary, and a data and instructional coach for Middle and High School.  Literacy and math data meetings take place once every 8 days with Elementary teaching teams.  The Horizon Report K-12 puts learning analytics on the 2-3 year horizon for adoption - the idea of this in schools is to "leverage student related data to build better pedagogies, target at-risk student populations, and to assess whether programs designed to improve retention have been effective".  The report outlines other benefits for teaching and learning including:

  • early signals that indicate a student is struggling can allow teachers to address issues quickly
  • teachers are enabled to more precisely identify students' learning needs and tailor instruction appropriately.
Open content is something I've been very interested in this year.  The Horizon Report also identifies this as being on the middle horizon.  Open content licensed though organizations such as Creative Commons allows the sharing of information.  Many teachers write blogs and license their own work with a Creative Commons licences which allowing us to share our thoughts and wonderings about our practice and pedagogies with other educators around the globe.  This past year has also seen a huge growth in MOOCs (I have participated in several myself and am just about to start another one on Google Earth and Maps).  The advantages to teaching and learning of open content are described as follows:
  • sharing materials means teachers' workloads can be reduced
  • many universities have published their courses online and made them freely available to anyone
  • open content promotes digital literacy skills enabling people to find, evaluate and use new information.
In technology terms, 2-3 years is a very long time.  Once again, as I reflect on where we are at ASB, my feelings are that these future technologies will be mainstream here well before the next 2 years.

Photo taken at Juhu Beach


  1. Thanks for sharing this summary, Maggie. What methods do you use at ASB to collect data about student learning?

  2. We have used the MAP and WRAP tests this year for students in grades 1-5 in elementary school. The EAL department uses other assessments (LAS, Rigby and F&P plus a writing sample). Maths is assessed using a diagnostic interview. Reading specialists also collect data. We have a school psychologist who also collects data (not sure what exactly) and we have a full time speech therapist who also collects data when she starts her interventions. Student support services meet regularly to discuss and analyze this data. The literacy coach and the maths instructional coach meet with grade level teachers once every 8 days to discuss the data and to help them plan for learning.