Tag Archives: Future

A Framework for Education

In a recent conversation with an International School of Zug and Luzern (ISZL) parent, he commented on how much he values ISZL’s approach to education and the school’s learning process. When pressed for specifics, he highlighted an appreciation of the achievements associated with academic success, such as impressive IB test scores, but, even more importantly, he values the focus on holistic development. He further elaborated by sharing how much he holds in high regard ISZL’s emphasis on social development, emotional intelligence, confidence levels, independent thinking, and communication skills, among others. I share these sentiments, both from my personal and professional perspectives but also based on the feedback I have received from staff, parents, and students during last semester’s transition interviews. One of ISZL’s greatest strengths is our teachers’ abilities to personalise learning in a manner that enables our students to realise their potentials in individual and unique ways.

This approach to teaching and learning also corresponds with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) recent report on The Future of Education and Skills 2030. The document is guided by a shared vision stating, “We are committed to helping every learner develop as a whole person, fulfil his or her potential and help shape a shared future built on the well-being of individuals, communities and the planet.” With a broad focus on global challenges that are economic, social, and environmental in nature (excuse the pun), the 2030 vision maps out an educational view that is framed by five distinct but related approaches.

The first frame is a belief in the need for broader education goals that encompass individual and collective well-being. The concept of well-being goes beyond material resources to include quality of life as defined by, for example, health, civic engagement, social connections, education, security, and life satisfaction.

The second frame is related to learner agency and the ability of our students to navigate through a complex and uncertain world. This focus involves both the building of a solid academic foundation and an approach to personalised learning.

The third frame is the ability to apply a broad set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values. This focus is about students’ abilities to mobilise their learning to meet complex demands.

The fourth frame is about taking responsibility for our society and future, in addition to the corresponding and necessary student competencies. These competencies will require that students be innovative, committed, and aware with respect to creating new value, reconciling tensions and dilemmas, and taking responsibility.

The fifth frame is about the design principles needed to move toward an eco-system in which a students’ different competencies are inter-related in nature and application.

While the challenges for schools to adapt to this philosophical shift are not insignificant, it is encouraging to see a movement among schools to embrace these design principles. ISZL has made important progress in these areas, though the fifth frame is, perhaps, the most challenging as the inherent structures of schools, including our physical spaces, do not necessarily lend themselves well to the concept of inter-related, cross-curricular learning and the application of competencies in a holistic manner. As with any change, this is a process that takes time and commitment, which will also continue to build on past developments while furthering current initiatives and implementing future strategies.

Fortunately, the OECD provides a framework to guide learning programme development through concept, content, and topic design that includes a focus on student agency, rigour, coherence, alignment, transferability, and choice. This framework also relies on process design and the related importance of teacher agency in which teachers are empowered to use their professional knowledge, skills, and expertise to develop an authentic, inter-related, flexible, and engaging learning programme. It is these design principles that ISZL embraces as we continue our work to ensure our students are benefiting from the most relevant and meaningful learning programme possible.

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com

Twitter: @dequanne


Reference: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). (2018). The Future of Education and Skills 2030. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/education/2030/oecd-education-2030-position-paper.pdf

Photo Credit: OECD

Negative Effects of App Attachment

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

I was speaking to a friend recently about an argument he had with a teacher. The teacher was adamant that if they could not use one particular app, their classes would come to a halt, and learning would immediately be suspended until further notice.

Obviously, I cannot think of a single application or subscription that is that critical to learning. I am not referring to a complete environment like Google Apps for Education. I am referring to people getting angry, and going into a panic, over a single application or service.

More and more I see these conflicts among teachers and schools (similar to the Curriculum in a Suitcase problem).

Schools and teachers need to be aware that being a fanboy or fangirl will not be rewarded. In fact, the odds are that being too connected to a particular solution will more than likely lead to a lack of resources and very real disappointment.

Cancelled Without Notice

This is an excellent page to look at: Cancelled Google Services

There are 43 services listed that have been cancelled, even though many were used by numerous people. Google Wave was hugely popular with schools, and then one day, Google closed it down with very little notice.

In 2017, the popular library service RefMe was bought by a competitor and shutdown. This service had a popular paid version, and customers still lost access to the product they wanted.

The fact is many of these companies are funded by venture capital. If they do not meet their required metrics, they lose their funding and are quickly shutdown or sold. Often when companies are sold, the services they provide are shutdown. The intellectual property and user data is more valuable than the actual application.

Where does all this leave a person who has built their entire practice around a single service or product? Desperate and angry.

A Basket of Solutions

A basket of currencies is an interesting model to reflect on when setting asset management policies. A basket of currencies helps set a value, so that if one currency happens to plummet in value, the value of the target currency is not impacted significantly.

Applying this to educational technology asset management, schools would:

  • Make a requirement that departments have a defined set of resources they are using
  • Complete a regular review of those resources
  • Develop a process to allow teachers to regularly propose and pilot new resources

The influx of a few new solutions will buffer the school against big changes made by products and services they are using. Thus, not allowing a single company’s decisions to shift the learning, purchasing, or culture of the school.

In addition, there must be an annual expectation that technology will change and training will happen. Having a culture where people expect stagnation is dangerous in a technology driven environment that is based on companies constantly cannibalizing one another.

Brands Do Not Care About Learning

I have been recommending Apple laptops for many years. However, after the recent round of Apple changes to their base laptops, I am no longer recommending Apple without a discussion about the current downside of the new designs; and a review of the briefly held negative status of the Macbook Pro published by Consumer Reports.

The truth is, there are many options now that are better for many types of schools and users. Apple changed. They changed to meet their market. They did not make decisions to improve learning at K-12 organizations. Apple chose to make more money.

This holds true for all the big players in educational technology. Their decisions are focused on growth and profit. They want to take as much of the market as possible. Sometimes that means creating innovative new features, and sometimes it means making a cheaper product to increase margins.

Hardware is normally purchased in cycles of 3-5 years. That means, every year 2 or year 4, a platform review should occur. The practice of always buying the same brand without a critical analysis of that brand is the equivalent of letting the brand dictate the options available for teachers and students.

Schools should make good choices and be able to adjust to the market. Teachers should be aware that change is always on the horizon, and using technology is an agnostic endeavor.

Buy into the school. Buy into the curriculum. Buy into people and ideas. Do not sellout to software, services, and nicely branded machines.

 

Future of Education

By Barry Dequanne | Follow me on Twitter @dequanne

We recently hosted an evening event with parents and teachers entitled, “The Future of Education.” The workshop was more of a discussion about the factors that are currently disrupting and redefining education rather than an articulation of what education will look like in the future.

To begin the discussion, each participant was asked to describe the most effective learning experience in his or her life. While there was a wide range of responses, there was one common theme: All but one of the learning experiences occurred outside of a K-12 school setting. The one parent whose experience took place in school shared that his Grade 2 teacher allowed him to extend his learning in an area of personal interest that developed well beyond the level required in the syllabus.

The participants were then asked to explain why they believed the learning experiences they described were so effective and meaningful. What emerged from the ensuing discussion was the concept of relevance – when the learning represented a high level of relevance to the learner, the result was usually an effective and deeply meaningful learning experience.

Relevance

So, is the concept of relevance as a basis for our educational programs the panacea we have been seeking to significantly improve K-12 educational programs and, in turn, student learning and development? While we know there is no simple “one solution fits all” solution to improving schools, we are seeing an increased focus on relevance and personalized learning. If forced to use one word to describe the future of education, many would agree that the word would be relevance.

The research of Lee Jenkins (2013) highlights why this discussion is important. Jenkins worked with 3,000 teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 12 to determine how enthusiastic students are about school. The result of the study was that 95% of kindergarten students are enthusiastic about school. However, this percentage drops significant each year until Grade 9 when the percentage of students enthusiastic about school drops to a low of 37%. The small increase between Grades 10 to 12 is attributed to the focus of some students on graduation and beyond (see graph below). It seems that we should all be concerned with the results of this study.

Interest GraphSource: The New Meaning of Educational Change, Fifth Edition, by Michael Fullan

It is believed that a greater focus on relevance in education will contribute to ensuring a higher level of student enthusiasm for school. To that end, relevance can be defined in many ways, including the framework of preparing students for life beyond school.

Future of Jobs

In Future of Jobs, published by the World Economic Forum, the report lists the top ten skills needed to thrive in a 2015 work environment. Looking ahead five years, it is believed that over 35% of the skills considered important for work today will have changed, resulting in a different list of top ten skills in 2020.

Top 10 Skills in 2015:

  1. Complex Problem Solving
  2. Coordinating with Others
  3. People Management
  4. Critical Thinking
  5. Negotiation
  6. Quality Control
  7. Service Orientation
  8. Judgment and Decision Making
  9. Active Listening
  10. Creativity

Top 10 Skills in 2020:

  1. Complete Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People Management
  5. Coordinating with Others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgment and Decision Making
  8. Service Orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive Flexibility

In comparing the two tables, it is interesting to note that five of the skills in 2020 are relationship based: People Management, Coordinating with Others, Emotional Intelligence, Service Orientation, and Negotiation. It is also interesting to note that Creativity moved up the list from tenth place in 2015 to third place in 2020.

Creativity

George Land was responsible for developing a creativity test for NASA to determine how innovative potential scientists and astronauts were as part of the candidate assessment process. In 1968, Land used the same test to evaluate children over a ten-year period. The results were astonishing, as displayed in the chart below.

CreativitySource: Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing our Kids for the Innovation Era, by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

The test was given to 1,600 students with a resulting score of 98% for five-year-olds. The same students were tested five and ten years later, scoring 30% and 12% respectively. The same test was given to 280,000 adults, who scored an average of 2%. The conclusion of the study was that non-creative behavior is learned.

The significant drop in levels of creativity has been attributed, in large part, to, an educational system that was developed on a premise established 200 years ago during the Industrial Revolution to train students to follow instructions and be good workers. Education has of course evolved since that time, though it can be argued that the framework associated with the original premise continues to limit reform in education.

Returning to the title of this post and the Future of Education, some of the questions that will guide future educational reforms will need to include issues relating to creativity, future work skills, enthusiasm for school, and, perhaps most importantly, the concept of relevance and the learning process.

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com

Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) flickr photo by Nelson de Witt:
Child's Play; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcescobar1/4826861354