Like a traditional board game, learning has moments where all the experiences connect into some genuine learning wins while other times it seems like there are not enough resources and/or supports (like board pieces) in place to be successful. This post reflects on the many discussions, resources, and ideas that Will Richardson, renowned blogger, author, and outspoken educational advocate, shared during his two keynotes at the BlendED Alberta 2018 Symposium in Edmonton.
Whether in an Outreach program, learning centre, distance learning program or classroom, teachers are using the online environment to expand and extend learning opportunities, building flexibility to student learning. The blendED Symposium is designed to share emerging practices while providing opportunities for networking with sessions that will inspire and provoke delegates to think outside the traditional learning environment.
With today’s society changing at a rapid pace in all aspects of work, life, and general society, what are schools doing to prepare students?
An important question to ask ourselves is: what is PRODUCTIVE learning?
How do we set up a learning environment that is relevant, active, engaging and supports the needs of all our students?
What is your belief? How does your school or even school division support this work?
Another book to put on your professional reading list is Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a collection of essays, many of which build on articles for the New York Times, Bloomberg and elsewhere. This book follows a similar use of evolutionary psychology as self-help as his previous two books. The world is a scary, fast-changing place, so it’s no surprise our primitive brains struggle to navigate through it. We simply haven’t evolved to cope with automated checkouts and emailing after 7pm. Harari points out that humans are endlessly creative and sometimes we solve problems by changing the question rather than answering it. Hence, the large role that lifelong learning plays in each of us!
What are the contexts and conditions for this to occur?
Teacher answers around the world: What people never say:
For further reading, check out Timeless Learning a book written by an award-winning team of leaders, Chief Technology Officer Ira Socol, Superintendent Pam Moran, and Lab Schools Principal Chad Ratliff who demonstrate how you can implement innovative practices that have shown remarkable success.
How do we come up with the skills to address an algorithm-driven online existence?
In Alberta, some jurisdictions are already using gradeless report cards. Our own school division uses achievement indicators in grades 1-9 as seen HERE. Joe Bower, a former central Alberta teacher, shared the many ways he went gradeless in his classroom. His blog continues to be a great “go-to” for teachers to reflect on his experiences as well as update some of their own assessment practices.
Some things to ponder:
- What is learning?
- What is “blended” learning?
- What is our mission? Why “blended”?
- Are we doing blended learning or blended teaching?
- What is the most important role of the teacher in blended environments?
- Do we have full empathy for the student experience in blended environments?
- Are we co-constructing curriculum with students?
- What opportunities are we creating for students to fulfill their greatest potentials?
- How are we a model for blended learning?
- Is our practice in “perpetual beta”?
Compare those questions with those directly from Richardson’s 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning. What do you think about being in “perpetual beta”? Is this a comfortable way to learn for teachers and students? How can we introduce this concept in the classroom? It certainly points to showing that nothing (like learning) is ever finished, rather knowledge is a constant conversation in the modern world. Have a peek into Peter Senge’s Schools that Learn (revised and updated) book.
What is the best way to provide a framework for students to show that productive learning is worthwhile?
Let’s make a move from Genius Hour and change it to Genius Learning; from Tinkerlab to tinkering our learning anytime/anywhere. We need to continue our professional conversations and provide the most inviting learning environments as possible. I look forward to seeing the influence that the new concept-based curriculum has in not only the K-4 classrooms in Alberta and also the upper grades as new curriculum rollouts will be seen over the next few years.
So, while we all like playing a “game”, it’s really not the games themselves that improve learning, but rather smart game design and its impact on the brain. Teachers and administrators want to provide students with modern productive and engaging learning activities.