So it was my great honor to serve on the 2010 K-12 Horizon Project Advisory Board this year, and “our” report was released a couple of days ago. If you want another piece to add to your “compelling case for change” argument, it’s worthy of your consideration. Obviously, I’m hoping you’ll read the whole thing, but I wanted to pick out some of the pieces that I find particularly thought-provoking.
I’ve used parts of past “key trends” listed in the report in my presentations, and some of this year’s are continuations of year’s past. But there are two parts of this year’s trends that I want to highlight:
â€¢ There is increasing interest in just-in-time, alternate, or non-formal avenues of education, such as online learning, mentoring, and independent study. More and more, the notion of the school as the seat of educational practice is changing as learners avail themselves of learning opportunities from other sources. There is a tremendous opportunity for schools to work hand-in-hand with alternate sources, to examine traditional approaches, and to reevaluate the content and experiences they are able to offer. [Italics mine]
â€¢ The way we think of learning environments is changing. Traditionally, a learning environment has been a physical space, but the idea of what constitutes a learning environment is changing. The â€œspacesâ€ where students learn are becoming more community-driven, interdisciplinary, and supported by technologies that engage virtual communication and collaboration. This changing concept of the learning environment has clear implications for schools.
Both of these speak directly to the concepts that Leadbetter and Wong wrote about in the Cisco report I highlighted yesterday. These “radically new ways” of thinking about learning, while no where near mainstream, are unquestionably starting to bubble up, and as more and more people begin to step back fromÂ the seemingly intractable equation that learning=schools, there will be more and more pressure on the system to change. And all of this makes me believe even more that sooner rather than later, we will see families with access and the means to do so opting out more and more from the traditional school structure.
The other piece of the report that I found most enlightening is the section on game-based learning. I’m not a gamer by any stretch (though I love RealRacingHD on my iPad…not a lot of real learning going on there, I know), but more and more I’m trying to get my head around the implications. One part of the narrative here that has me thinking deals with the ways in which we can seamlessly integrate educational content with game play:
What makes MMO games especially compelling and effective is the variety of sub-games or paths of engagement that are available to players â€” there are social aspects, large and small goals to work towards, often an interesting back story that sets the context, and more. Players dedicate enormous amounts of time on task pursuing the goals of these games. The problem that needs to be solved, and which is being tackled on many fronts today, is that of embedding educational content in such a way that it becomes a natural part of playing the game.
It’s just another way that we are starting to “radically” rethink learning, and I for one continue to find it a totally engaging conversation to follow. Hope you’ll join in.
Tony Baldasaro says
First congratulations on being a member of “Horizon” team. I’m very happy to hear that you are contributor now.
One of the things I think is causing this shift is the changing work place. Parents are finding that work is no longer done simply at the office, or from 9-5. This mobility has allowed families to begin to seek alternative lifestyles and I think they are now demanding that schools provide the same. Where families used to build their schedule around school, they are now asking that time for schooling (learning) work around their schedule. I know here in New Hampshire many of the kids (if not all) who seek out virtual options do so because they or their family want the flexibility in their schedule that traditional schools can not provide.
James Mcnaulty says
We have see a gradual shift from traditional education to more distance learning base models for all levels of pedagogy. Our research on games based learning predicted a similar trend at postgraduate level.
Patrick Holt says
The learning environment will evolve, there is no doubt, and I welcome the change. What I wonder about is what kind of citizens do you get, whose learning environment was that of virtual communication and collaboration? I wonder about isolation for students. I wonder who they will become if they do their learning in a virtual environment.
I would suggest that as the evolution takes place we cannot remove the face to face community hub that a physical school represents. It may very well have a different face than the current classroom model, likely based around individual student needs and schedules. But we must in some way consider the huge benefit to structured and non-structured real world group interaction, and preserve the community connection physical school represents.
I use web2.0 and social media in my classroom as much as possible, and I continually am searching for more opportunities to do so. I have also guided young people on mountaineering adventures in which their ability to function as a group member was integral to growth and success. As we re-imagine education and shape into it’s new form we cannot forget to balance the use technology, and possibility of decentralization, with the importance and benefits of human connection and belonging.
Ruth Howard says
I can see that too Patrick there is a parallel need for nature immersion #edfutures
I’ve been thinking on this, imagining groups of people coming to Tasmania, being stripped of their go-gadgets and embarking on guided nature walks, wilderness adventures and meditation retreats.
(perhaps I should ad a # for Tourism Tasmania!)
Ruth Howard says
Yes, yes the migration to alternative forms of learning is happening much faster than anyone anticipated I’m certain.
I noticed on Twitter recently that there’s an Open Source Second Life mashup called Sloodle it uses Moodle (too much Dr Seuss!) -that makes this LMS into a Game Engine. This I understand allows educators and students to co-create simulations for vocational and technical education etc.
How to leverage it for the students and how to leverage the students-they do it!
Invest in students (call it venture learning) whereby groups of students and teachers co-create curriculum together and students are paid for the work they do, either in cash or social revenue sharing and (work place relevant) certification?
That is the students create the much needed and missing high quality digital content in the form of ‘games’ for the curriculum – and the Commons. I temper this enthusiasm with a ‘second that emotion’ for Patrick’s call for outdoor adventure.
I’m off to flesh it out on my blog.
Andy Church says
Students within our portal get excited about how to add points to their online profiles they develop. The common question is, how do I get more points? It certainly brings out their competitive spirit. When they blog more and interact within groups, the points start to rack up.
Devil's Advocate says
Sometimes you guys crack me up – there has always been an alternative learning environment available, and it almost never needed a ‘teacher’ the way you guys use the word. You school people should stay out of the alternate methods of learning before you muck them up too. I watch teachers teach everyday and have to say one third of you need to go, teaching is not for you. You think the kids don’t notice you in the hall talking all day, constantly complaining, checking sports scores and shopping online all day. I watch you sit there playing with photos of your kids while your kids are struggling with counting money games. There might be a great online game, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help. I step in to help them and get the satisfaction of the look on their faces when they finally get it, their teacher could care less.
A few posts ago you were excited by some abstract language in a DOE statement. I don’t think it means what you think it means, though I could be wrong. I think this is why they are working so hard to break the unions and it shouldn’t be that hard when one looks at the results the public is getting for their money. Here is my (admittedly sad) angle on that statement. In the future school will be a national level program to be worked by a teacher and mostly occur online. Then they will get rid of you and get some people from the world’s largest English speaking country to work that program for 10 bucks a day. That is where we are heading. You teachers need to stop rethinking stuff and start doing something truly worthwhile as the public is already turning on you. Stop protecting the teachers that are no good, it is in your best interest to replace them with someone who cares right now.
I do believe most of the posters here are in the good 2/3rds, and I hope you realize why I had to say what I just had to say.
B Carter says
Wow that guy was angry…
Anyway, I’ve given much thought to the future of alternative educational pathways (http://bit.ly/91JLK7) and one of the aspects of it that I have been tossing around is exactly what will happen if “school” becomes less f2f.
As an assistant principal who deals primarily with student management (i.e. discipline), I think kids are tired of being forced to spend 12 years with the same peer group! It is a fact of life that not everyone will be friends, and yes it is a valuable life skill to learn how to deal with people you don’t like, however, bullying and harassment gets taken to new levels each and every day. Alternative settings that allow students on the fringe to seek out their interests without the fear of ridicule will only strengthen their self-confidence and give them better coping skills when they are older and more mature.
Furthermore, with tracking as it is in schools, not only do students spend 12 years with the same grade level, they may spend it with the same 30 or 40 kids depending on which track they fall into.
I was glad to see the NJ Education Commissioner talk about small learning communities, more specifically, the possibility of easing up on the laws to create Charter schools http://bit.ly/bkGm5Z. This may be another small step toward shifting what schooling will look like in the future.