How online learning is going to affect classroom design (Tony Bates)
The important point here is that investment in new or adapted physical classroom space should be driven by decisions to change pedagogy/teaching methods. This will mean bringing together academics, IT support staff, instructional designers and staff from facilities, as well as architects and furniture suppliers.
Second, I strongly believe in the statement that we shape our environments, and our environments shape us. Providing instructors with a flexible, well-designed learning environment is likely to encourage major changes in their teaching; stuffing them into rectangular boxes with rows of desks will do the opposite.
What is clear is that institutions now need to do some some hard thinking about online learning, its likely impact on campus teaching, and above all what kind of campus experience we want students to have when they can do much of their studying online. It is this thinking that should shape their investment in desks and chairs.
“Education is broken, somebody should do something” (David Kernohan)
Of course, the process (rather than the practice) of education is what drives the MOOC world. Writers without a critical perspective on both education and technology can be lulled into a simple skeumorphic model of replicated offline models re-established online. You can see large classes witnessing lectures by “rock star professors”, simple quizzes to reflect understanding, discussion groups, assignments and required reading. The process ensures that all of this is measured, monitored and recorded – both (somehow) to accurately gauge student achievement and to refine the process.
Beyond teacher egocentrism: design thinking (Grant Wiggins)
As teachers we understandably believe that it is the ‘teaching’ that causes learning. But this is too egocentric a formulation. As I said in my previous post, the learner’s attempts to learn causes all learning. The teaching is a stimulus; the attempted learning (or lack of it) is the response. No matter what the teacher says or does, the learner has to engage with and process the ‘teaching’ if learning is to happen.
Design Thinking, postscript: the importance of the teacher (Grant Wiggins)
In my last post – widely viewed and commented on in various places – I proposed that it was a bit egocentric to think of education in terms of the teacher and the teaching since the teacher is only one element in the design. Many commenters protested that while this may be true overall, they were personally inspired and launched into a career in education by virtue of a ‘passionate’ and ‘wonderful’ teacher. Surely that’s the most important part of the equation, they argued.
I responded that to me this was a form of confirmation bias. Sure, many of us who went into teaching were moved to do so by having had inspiring teachers. But that’s a pretty small and unrepresentative sample, prone to such a bias. What about non-teachers? What about the average student’s school experience, the people who don’t go into teaching?
Fortunately, I altered our student survey two years ago to get at this very issue. Our data are clear: in a survey of over 1300 middle and high school students, the teacher is the least important factor in their liking and disliking of a subject:
We have all said it and we have all heard it: there’s just no time to slow down and [fill in the blank], I have so much to cover…
This, despite the fact that we all know, at some level, that it is not the ‘teaching’ that causes learning but the attempts by the learner to learn that causes learning; and that the 1st attempt may not be successful. The importance of feedback and its use, the idea that a key concept or skill is rarely learned at the first go, the need to ferret out and address misconceptions – all of what we know about optimal learning is far too easily trumped by a syllabus, course framework, or unit plan that says: we have to move on to the next topic!
Learners as producers (Steve Wheeler)
For the longest time teachers and lecturers have held the monopoly on the production of academic content. They create lesson plans, produce resources, devise marking schemes and search around for activities and games they can repurpose to use in teaching sessions. Although the production of content has been the preserve of the teacher and the academic since the formalisation of education, increasingly, we also see learners creating their own content. They have the tools, they own the technology, and they have the confidence to use them, not only informally, but increasingly in formal learning contexts. Many are prolific and proficient in producing blogs, podcasts, videos and photos for sharing on the web. They can do it all using the simple smartphone in their pocket. This user generated content trend is apparent not only in universities and colleges but also in the compulsory education sectors.
Reinventing School From the Ground Up For Inquiry Learning (Thom Markham)
For all of us, as citizens and educators, in this country and others, it’s way past time for school “improvement,” and high time to invent fresh organizations designed for inquiry— the ecosystem for inquiry, in which all elements of the environment act holistically to grow, nurture, and sustain the qualities of heart and mind necessary for students and teachers to learn to ask good questions instead of finding right answers. That’s a very high bar, but that’s the ultimate goal of 21st century learning.
How to develop this ecosystem? Only two qualities are required: Imagination and bravery.