Students need new skills, the skills for the XXIst century: for collaboration, for self-direction, for exploration, to teamwork, to share expertise… but this is not happening, they are not getting them in traditional schooling. Mainly because these skills cannot be taught. The only way is to transform teachers, as they are the ones that can influence students. So, how can a change be made on teachers? how can things be made different?
There are several areas where teachers need support:
Knowledge, about what is happening “outside”, about the society.
Community. It is very important to find support from colleagues, to share and find shared experiences.
Mindset. Changing the mindset is crucial for technology to make a change, because technology by itself is not a driver of change, but an enhancer.
Authentic e-Learning theory consists in nine principles that define a learning situation:
Access to expert performances.
Collaborativelly knowledge construction.
Scaffolding, instead of direct instruction.
A Postgraduate Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education (PGCTHE) is being taught with these principles in mind, using many of the open-in-the-cloud provided by Google, like Google Documents or Google+, benefiting from hangouts, circles, etc. to complement the institutional use of Blackboard as a learning management system.
The SINUS project for math teaching is based on collaboration and problem solving. Don’t preach facts, stimulate acts.
Students use study journals to sketch meaningful figures, describing observations, etc. And those journals they are handwritten, thus students are forced to reflect on what they are writing, instead of just collecting it and copying-and-pasting it on their journals. It is a way of thinking while using one’s hands, and using one’s hands while thinking.
(at this point Baptist speaks about the meaning of numbers supporting his speech with great geometric images, and how moderately sophisticated mathematics can be built form reality, and then see what is their connection to art or with nature. E.g. adding up hexagons in a grid and then turning it in a 3D image representing cubes. E.g. the relationship of the Fibonacci sequence with sunflowers.)
Maths and arts approach is an educational model that enables students from kindergarten to university, to explore numbers, to enjoy maths, to experience them in a productive way.
Emma Kiselyova: how scalable is this methodology? Baptist: totally. There are many ways to teach mathematics and the secret is that teachers share their materials and can experiment with all of them. Teachers are constantly creating new paintings, exercises, etc.
We have to both rethink what we are teaching and how we are teaching it.
Subjects, people, systems and problems are now connected. Thus, dividing knowledge into disciplines seems not like the best approach to tackle with problems nowadays. Indeed, there is no universal model suiting every situation.
We are living in a new enlightenment that takes us from local universalism to global contextualism, we need a new movement that deals with new contexts.
A first thing to be addressed is the university curriculum. The curriculum structure is a barrier for change, and it does not represent the world as it is now. There is a need for curriculum reform as a pre-requisite for any kind of reform.
Universities and education in general should consist in interacting with and strengthening the communities they form part of. And people have to learn that no man is an island.
What the world needs is fast learners and adaptive problem solvers. Are Universities providing that? They have to be not critical thinkers within the frameworks that they are given, but critical thinkers about the frameworks themselves.
We need to go beyond training for the workforce or the transmission of knowledge, but towards challenging the system itself.
Standard undergraduate courses should be imparted in parallel with real-life based experimental seminars.
Pere Fabra: so, what are we doing wrong? how do we evolve towards a new paradigm or model? Julià Minguillón: people usually enrol in a course, not a competence. So, how do we move forward? Klöpper: Surely there is a lot of room for deep transformations, not only evolutions or smooth movements.
Q: Concerning curriculum, is not only a technological or a methodological issue, but also political issues concur. How do you cope with that? Klöpper: certainly academic freedom is a must in order to have independence to propose and perform any desired changes. But it is neither academic freedom to pose resistance to change, pleading independence to put barriers to progress.
Full text of the conference:
UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning VIII International Seminar: Teacher Training: Reconsidering Teachers' Roles (2011)
During the 50s, the literature is about resisting change. During the 80s, the literature is about managing change. By the end of the XXth century it is about to adapting to change. The new model is about embracing change, because has become endemic to the system.
According to a survey, it takes 12 months to train a new employee that will stay in the firm for just three more months. And, actually, most innovations won’t come from in-company trained employees, but just from recently joined employees. Because change is very fast and training is just not taking up with its pace.
The question is, then, how to be able to learn quickly so that one is ahead of change. And, thus, how can a shift be made from teaching to learning, so that learning to learn happens.
What is wrong with the system that we have?
Nowadays, we are basing our model in the efficiency of knowledge transfer, where a certain measurement of how much knowledge was transferred: it has to be defined, assessed, measured, etc. We have a system that honours stable knowledge and knowledge transfer.
It is also a system based in explicit knowledge. The problem is that in a rapidly changing environment, tacit knowledge is much more valuable than explicit knowledge.
Same with context, becoming more important as facts change rapidly, frameworks shift constantly. Thus, context is increasingly more important than content, especially when this content changes meaning because of different and changing contexts. If you understand the context, you will sooner or later get (and understand) the content.
There are huge differences between teaching and learning. It can even happen that people is learning without someone teaching in a traditional sense of the term. And that can be very hard (I am not teaching i.e. I am useless) for the teacher, even if people are actually learning and learning well, that is, goals are accomplished.
So, it is about creating learning communities. A very powerful example: Harry Potter created a new culture of learning. The saga is 4,500 pages long over 10 years of books. In parallel, one can find 150,000 stories written on one fan site along, of which more than 1,500 are 100,000 words or longer. This is a universe in itself. The criticism that the Harry Potter saga was too complex for many junior readers has been beaten by evidence: people have converged in communities to read, write, debate around the saga and learn together about it.
Innovation and creativity. What are the differences between the two? Why do they matter? What are the benefits of each? In a stable environment, innovation works pretty well, when what is expected is to extend the current system. But creativity is needed when it comes to building new things, to challenge the power of “what if”. Creativity helps us in moving from “what” to “where”, and from “where” to “how”. How is about context, not content. Like Wikipedia: the interesting part about an article is not what it says, but how it has developed along time.
In this new context of learning together, collaboratively, we have to move from institution to agency. “Teaching” has to be an agency-like activity, more than an institutional one. And people will learn from a community and people will learn in order to belong to a community.
The new culture of learning can be summed up as follows: “Questions are much more important than answers”. And bounded learning environments, working open and connected is much the way to go forward.
Sigi Jakob: how can we make teachers be less afraid of losing control? Thomas: this is very difficult, but it certainly is an oxymoron, teaching and control. In any case, we have to think about what learning means, not what teaching means.
Arthur Preston: How can we convince education authorities of the importance of changing assessment paradigms? Thoughts? Thomas: we need to work in models of assessment that are not based on efficiency of knowledge transmission. We have to work in new kind of metrics.
Entrepreneurship for further education (E4FE) is an initiative to transform colleges in favour of employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship. An entrepreneurial college focuses on the future of students, once they leave the college. Development of businesses is encouraged, and mentored by tutors.
There are many challenges of moving from an industrial model to a new model, based on facilitating (not teaching as usual; on a new experiential curriculum model; based on teamwork and collaboration; wide use of blended-learning; calendar, induction, tutorial and online personal learning spaces; new job roles.
Teaching is heavily based on mentors and coaches who are not trained teachers but young people from the industry.
There are plenty of learning opportunities: external calendar activities, cross college calendar activities, academic calendar activities, student-led activities, etc.
Rather than qualification, timetables, schedules, etc. there is a new calendar that includes college wide planning, design calendar, design timetable and plenty of room for personalization. Students decide what they want to do and when and where, and then teachers have to map this back to qualification requirements. Students do actually led their own timetables.
There also is an open channel for feedback with employers, so that students’ lacks can be filled up in coming editions of the training courses.
[personal note: that was a very difficult to blog session, with plenty of information but few “headlines”].
Sigi Jakob: isn’t this a too much market-focused education? Sutherland: indeed it is, as that is the aim of the programme, and so, it is completely valid in this context. Of course, in other kind of educational programmes, this “bias” should be considered.
Q: Is this model applicable to school seniors? Pitcher: E4FE has already partnered with schools and tried to collaborate with them. It is possible to connect with schools and their curricula, especially where students can choose, at a certain degree, their own curriculum.
Ismael Peña-López: is that model (on average) more expensive than a traditional teaching model? Sutherland: we believe that a rough approximation is that this model is 15% less expensive than a conventional one.
Emma Kiselyova: where does this cost reduction come from exactly? Sutherland: many teachers came from the industry and they would collaborate only part time, which means that “unproductive” times of full-time staff were avoided. That was one of the reasons amongst many others.
As the pace of times is changing very fast, it increasingly makes less and less sense to educate in specific knowledge, but in how to get it by yourself. Education is about teaching people to learn. The problem is people do not like change, and instead set up Innovation Prevention Departments to stop change from happening. Resistance to change is widespread and strong.
And it is not lack of knowledge that has to be fought, but ignorance, the lack of the ability to tell true from false, to find knowledge. Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything they learnt at school, Albert Einstein.
Young people are increasingly finding schools less interesting because they have more engaging experiences outside the school, and this include educational experiences, because technology makes it possible. Thus, there is a need to flip the school, to turn it upside-down. The teacher has to lose control and let the students get control of their own learning process.
Most “ICT switches” have not performed the former flip, they have just added technology to the teacher’s control over the students and the learning process, but have not flipped it. The question is: are we preparing students for the future or for the past?
Learners will need new literacies, not skills. Literacies are skills plus the ability to actively engage in a specific culture. Social networking, privacy maintenance, identity management, creating and organising content, reusing and repurposing, filtering and selecting, self presenting… these are new literacies that will be needed to keep being part of one’s community, of one’s culture.
Trends in education:
Just for me: apprenticeship model.
Just in cast: standard curriculum.
Just in time: bespoke curriculum.
Just for me: personalized learning.
Personal learning environments: generating content, organising content, sharing content. Personal learning environments are made of personal web tools + your personal learning network. And social media are ready-to-use tools at everyone’s reach, that’s why a personal learning environment can be set anytime by anyone.
So, what are the new pedagogies that are emerging?
D. Cofer (Informal Workplace Learning, 2000) states that 80% of what we learn is by informal channels and just 20% through formal learning.
Indeed, it’s our connections what really provide us with valuous knowledge and, thus, learning, as George Siemens or Stephen Downes state in their Connectivism learning theory. We don’t have to know everything, we just need to know the one who knows it.
Teachers cannot be replaced by computers because teachers do have a role, though maybe different from the ones that they usually did.
New roles of teachers:
Collaboration: foster, boost, enhance collaboration between learners.
Multimedia brought the world in to the classroom, smart technology will take the classroom out into the world.
Q: How far can you fight against “IPD’s”? Wheeler: the fact is that anyone can use anything online, despite one has the permission or not. So, if one is not allowed to use a specific technology within the classroom, it will be used outside of it. So, what is the use of forbidding specific technology (or practices)? Schoolr or universities should encourage innovation, not try to stop it.
Ricardo Torres: How do we turn theory of change into practice, how do we introduce innovation? Wheeler: the first step is ask some specific questions: is it going to be an improvement? who wins? who loses? how will it increase the students’ ability to learn? Then, show best practices and point out what are the benefits of these best practices, and also which are the flaws or voids (things these practices won’t do).
Q: Is there a danger in content curation? can it be taken too far? how to teach what is relevant and what not? what is to be trusted or not if the content is already “packed” by this curation? Wheeler: content curation is a stimulus, a starting point, it is not the ending point or the full package of content that has to be explored. Is is not a closed system, but an open one. Content curation is not about putting a full package together, but setting up gates towards further sources.