Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transforming Education

Technology enabled classrooms should have self-directed learners and teachers who can manage their classrooms. Every child learns differently and children should be allowed to learn at their own pace. If we expect students to learn how to solve problems, collaborate and communicate then we need a new way for them to learn through the use of technology. To prepare for the 21st century learning must take place inside and outside the classroom using technology to improve the learning outcomes for all students.

Students need to be self-directed learners who “select, manage, and assess their own learning activities” and are given the freedom to pursue learning “at any time, in any place, through any means, at any age.” Teachers would “emphasize skills, processes and systems instead of content coverage and tests.” So how can this be done?

The article listed three essentials:
  1. Learning must move from teacher-centered to student-centered – this isn’t a new concept in education but how many teachers really know what this means and how to accomplish this in the classroom?
  2. Students must take charge of their own learning – again not a new concept, but how many students want to be in charge of their own learning? How do we create an environment where students want to be involved learners?
  3. Assessments must be formative and summative – formative assessments provide feedback to the students by addressing learning gaps showing teachers where to re-teach concepts. Summative assessments show the proficiency level reached by the student.
The article outlined four ideas.
  1. Create – teacher created multimedia lessons – hands on, collaborative learning activities
  2. Teach – keep students focused on the lesson and learning
  3. Learn – allow students time to collaborate, interact with the materials and create meaning from the lesson
  4. Assess – formative assessments giving students feedback throughout the lesson – re-teaching and providing additional materials as needed
One of the best ways for teachers to accomplish these goals is through classroom-management system software but what if your school district doesn’t use a classroom-management system? Teachers could begin by building more student-centered activities through project-based learning. As I read through the following list it was easy to see the similarities.

Project-Based Learning outline from Wikipedia:
  1. Organized around an open-ended Driving Question or Challenge – (Create)
  2. Creates a need to know essential content and skills – (Teach)
  3. Requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new – (Learn)
  4. Requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication – (Learn)
  5. Allows some degree of student voice and choice – (Learn)
  6. Incorporates feedback and revision – (Assess)
  7. Results in a publicly presented product or performance – (Assess)

I compared this list to a recent posting I wrote about project-based learning. Here are the steps as outlined from Edutopia. http://www.edutopia.org/maine-project-learning-six-steps-planning

Six Steps for Planning a Successful Project
  1. Develop a compelling topic that covers state standards - (Create)
  2. Develop or design a comprehensive final product that each student will have a role in creating - (Create & Learn)
  3. Involve professional organizations and professionals from the community to connect the academic study with the real world - (Teach & Learn)
  4. Identify and organize the major learning resources (Teach & Learn)
  5. Coordinate calendars and allow enough time for each component to be done well - (Learn)
  6. Plan a final experience or culminating event - (Assess)
You can find lots of information about project-based learning, problem-based learning and inquiry-based learning on the internet. To help teachers find ways to transform education, build 21st century skills and prepare all students for the future take a look at these links.

Project-Based Learning Links
Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century- http://www.bie.org/
Project-Based Learning from Edutopia - http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning
Project-Based Learning - http://pbl-online.org/
Problem-Based Learning - http://livebinders.com/play/play/19470
Build Project-Based Learning Checklists and Evaluations - http://pblchecklist.4teachers.org/checklist.shtml

To read the article Transforming Education:

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