Saturday, March 15, 2014

Acceleration and Change: How Are Schools Reacting?

Every now and then it seems like learning accelerates at an even faster than normal pace.

I've seen so many signs of that lately.

First, I introduced an upcoming project topic, and that night a student in my class produced a multi-slide Google Presentation of links related to that problem. Acceleration.

Next, last night I watched Boston's terrific show, Chronicle, which featured the robotics movement--amazing! There are robots doing important work all over the world and in multiple work and study spaces. The use, study, and innovation with respect to robotics are accelerating with tremendous speed.

After that, technology integration in schools is accelerating. With online tests for almost all students in the United States on the horizon, that means every child will have access to a computer. That's going to mean tremendous acceleration with regard to tech integration in learning. Also we know that most homes have ready tech device access these days.

I was at the doctor yesterday, and I couldn't believe the changes with regard to tech integration with medical attention in just the last few months. Students' health care will be so much different than what we've known due to technological advances and use.

The world is changing so quickly, and it's the job of schools to monitor and keep up with that change.  What can schools do in this regard.

First, all schools have to have STEAM efforts from the early grades on. Students need to know the language, action, dispositions, and efforts that support science, tech, engineering, art, and math to live well and contribute to our world today. When I was at a round table discussion at Google a year ago, innovators spoke of this, and as I look around me today, I know this is true.

Next, all schools have to look at the way they design learning experiences with, and for students.  Old time "sage on the stage" teaching is outdated.  Teaching needs to take on a community approach where educators mentor and coach all students towards success using multiple tools, experiences, and efforts. Hence, our collaboration efforts need to be forward moving focused on vibrant learning.

School spaces have to morph too because standard spaces often hinder what's possible.  Space considerations need to take into account noise factors, students' ease of movement, science/creativity spaces, and coaching spaces.

After that, we have to focus on interdisciplinary learning efforts. Fields outside of education are weaving their efforts with other disciplines to reach best success. We have to model and involve students in that kind of learning integration regularly.

I continue to support the common core at the elementary level if those standards are embedded into worthy learning units since those standards represent foundation skills which are important for thinking, learning, and communication.

All around us learning is accelerating everywhere, and as educators it's our responsibility to be aware of that acceleration, and to think carefully about how we can transform our teaching efforts and spaces to engage our students in that acceleration in ways that matter.