Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Shaping the future of learning

As part of the visioning team at ASB I've been reading through several publications from KnoweldgeWorks, and today I read Shaping the Future of Learning.  It's clear from this that there are both new opportunities and new challenges as we look to a future that is linked with our "digital companions".  Here's a great quote from the introduction:
The next decade represents a critical window of choice.  Exponential advances in digital technologies and new social norms, organizational approaches and economic models are ushering in new ways of living, working and learning that could look dramatically different from today's realities.  As the pace of change accelerates, education stakeholders need to explore how best to harness emerging trends to create and foster future learning environments and ecosystems that prepare all learners to thrive amid rapid change and increasing complexity.
This report highlights 5 foundational issues facing education and asks the following questions:

  1. 360 Degree Learners - how can we educate the whole person and enable lifelong learning that supports academic and social-emotional growth?
  2. The Whole and the Sum of its Parts - how can we personalise learning in the community, reorienting education around learners while strengthening society?  Learners' interests and needs should play a larger role in what is taught and how learning is organised.
  3. Elastic Structures - how can we create flexible approaches to learning that respond to learners' needs?  Current funding, administration and governance are a barrier to meaningful change.
  4. Innovation with Intent - how can we ground systems change in equity, including and supporting underserved learners?  We need to be aware that changes on the horizon may actually exacerbate inequity.
  5. The new A+ - how can we renegotiate definitions of success?  We need to question what the fundamental purpose of education is and move away from success being defined in the form of scores and rankings.
Here are some strategies for K-12 schools for responding to the above issues:
  • Educate the whole person:  identify learner-centred approaches and consider the learners' point of view when evaluating potential changes.  Support learners' social and emotional growth and personal development.  Give learners the opportunity to practice both academic and non-academic skills to help them develop adaptability and self confidence and ownership for their own learning.
  • Personalise learning: connect learning to community needs so that it is both personally and publicly relevant.  Get away from the idea that personalisation means leaning in isolation and focus on collaborative learning.  Move away from giving feedback only through grades and tests, and find opportunities to participate in authentic and meaningful work beyond the school walls to encourage a greater sense of responsibility.
  • Create flexible approaches to learning:  find manageable small-scale ways to prototype ideas and pursue R&D.  Effective use of technology can enable schools to be in contact with families, communities and experts.
  • Equity:  consider how changes impact traditionally underserved learners.  Plan for future challenges in advance so that you can adapt to emerging trends and be proactive in forming solutions that respond to the changing environment.  Innovation need to be grounded in learning science and not motivated by politics or profit.
  • Redefine success:  identify what success looks like.  Many schools consider themselves successful if they have set learners up for the next stage of life, but consideration needs to be given to the more distant future.
At our visioning meeting last week some people said they were excited by this, others that it was a bit scary.  It's a huge responsibility to make changes for the future - what if the changes we make are wrong ones?  My concern, however, was more immediate.  What if we are wrong with the things we are doing now?  At the end of our meeting we had to write ideas on 3 different coloured sticky notes:  what we are doing now that we want to continue, what we are doing now that we want to stop, and what we are not doing now that we need to start doing.  I'm excited to look at these and what trends and ideas are emerging at our next meeting.

Photo Credit: april-mo Flickr via Compfight cc

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