The Changing Face of Education?

What's Next for Classroom Learning?

What’s Next for Classroom Learning?

Stop, drop, and roll! Cohort 21 is on FIRE. When we start to “rethink 21st century learning” a big question we ask is, “what’s next?” Many answers come up, but in all these answers, and with so many new tech-savvy techniques, the most intriguing theme is about the role of the teacher. We are shifting from simply subject experts to experts in lesson design and media delivery.

Teachers as Packagers

2 of Time’s Most Influential Teens this year are Viners *. Yes, next to Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala and Pop Sensation Lorde are two people who create SIX SECOND video clips. Not to mention Jaden Smith, the unofficial philosopher king of Twitter. Students are influenced in a matter of seconds, with as few words as possible. They want short, SHORT splices of information. They want Bite-sized bits. And they want it NOW. This post is already too long for them.  As teachers, we need to learn to package content in the most conservative, accessible ways to reach our students by the means in which they are influenced. Not only that, but we need to scaffold academic skills they’ll need for the future. Technology is the most relevant means to fulfill and ever-growing need for quick, packaged access to learning. But who will package that content? Who will produce those skill-building snippets? Teachers. (That’s us)

Students as Captains

The word on the street is that students are under-equipped technologically for today’s careers, never mind tomorrow’s.  Students need to learn how to use and leverage technology, collaborate, and market themselves for the future.  Without their educators teaching them to navigate and explore the high seas of technological development (which is tied to social and entrepreneurial development), they will be behind. Technology has become multi-disciplinary–another important aspect of the “real world” students need to interpret. Students need coaches to teach them how to fathom the depths of information and media that is out there. Sea analogies aside, they also need to be exposed to the many ways of learning through technology, in order to promote life-long learning in the 21st century, rather than blind consumption.

Students as Citizens, Teachers as Coaches. 

While some students are blindly consuming Vines and Tumblrs, others are already creating, communicating, and curating using the tech at their finger-tips. How can we tap into that for pedagogical gains? For subject learning? To equip them with professional and academic skills? To what extent can we teach them the responsibility that comes with technology? Hopefully Cohort 21 has some answers. Today in our first Face 2 Face session I learned that the most innovative educators are already using the latest social media and web resources to their advantage, and to the advantage of their students. Teachers, therefore, are modelling the most effective ways to use social media and other tech developments.

Our students are going to be citizens in a technological jungle — but in a world where they have access to an instant global forum to share their ideas, collaborate, and market their skills. The thing is, they already have access, and can be guided through what it means to be an instant global citizen right now, with the tools they are already using AND with the latest and greatest technology.

Teachers need to package info into chunks and modules so our students know how to consume it (5 pages of hard copy reading with no activity? Gone are the days!). How can we co-create with them to refine the skills they have, and coach them in skills they lack? As an English teacher (for example), I have noticed students lack reading stamina, which is troublesome! How do we ensure students have the skills they need (thanks Garth in the comments!) and the style they most readily engage with together in one class?  Teachers are finding the answers– and they’re sharing and talking about it on the internet!  How can we join them on the frontier of this ground-breaking pedagogical shift?  With mixed metaphors and crazy hyperlinks, I’ll keep you posted.


* Thanks to Rebecca S. at TMS for pointing me towards the Time article, and for her great points and great conversations about vines and the teenage mind.

7 thoughts on “The Changing Face of Education?

  1. Great Post here Ashley! I particularly like how you’ve framed your experience at Cohort 21 as a shift to experts in delivery.

    I would, however, ask you whether or not, just because students say they want short bits of information delivery, and they want ti now, it is our responsbility to meet them where they WANT to be, or help grow their skills and ability to get them where they will NEED to be?

    Check out this blog from the “School Library Journal”

    You may also want to connect with @saraspencer (Cohort 21 alum from last year) and @lemthelibrarian (Laura Mustard from this year’s cohort) to get their opinions too!

    Thanks so much for this post! You’ve certainly given me something to think about!


    • Thanks Garth!

      Yes, decreased reading times are particularly challenging in the English Classroom! I just edited the post with some further thoughts and some concerns, incorporating that issue.

      That is a great article to think about skill-building and resilience with reading tasks.

      I read a blog that I linked to through #engchat (but which I forgot to bookmark!!! :s) that suggested easing students in — meeting them where they’re used to being met with reading every day– by starting them with paragraphs of a difficult piece and slowly close reading it with them.

      Thanks for the connections, too! I’ve been mulling through ways to get students to read more books on their own time … looking forward to connecting to teachers with great ideas!

  2. Hey guys,

    I absolutely love this idea of leveraging technology to teach–the problem, though, is that students don’t have much reading stamina anymore, because their attention spans aren’t so long. Packaging information is great, because a lot of thought can be put into a six-second video, whether it is watched or created. Remember, though, that I and some of my young colleagues are willing to read the whole post. 🙂

    • I beg to differ. I believe that students have reading stamina: Harry Potter, Twilight, etc… support the idea that reading is still alive and well.

      I think, perhaps, that providing the stragtegies, motivation and right subject-matter are key to developing, maintaining and nurturing a love of reading that will ultimately build stamina.

      Thanks for the prompts!

  3. Woot woot! I love all the conversation this post has generated.

    Ashley, you wrote: “I read a blog that I linked to through #engchat (but which I forgot to bookmark!!! :s) that suggested easing students in — meeting them where they’re used to being met with reading every day– by starting them with paragraphs of a difficult piece and slowly close reading it with them.”

    And I think this hits on something key: we need to meet our students in their “zone of proximal development” and push them outside of their comfort zone from here.

    Also, I think it’s always worth asking WHY students are not engaged for more than 6 seconds and what we can do as teachers to help support their engagement and curiosity. My students would literally play Kahoot for hours and hours if I let them, but to read for many hours (or hear me talk at them) might be a gong show.

    Awesome thoughts and conversation flowing!

    • This is why blogging is important, more importantly I would say is following them. I love this conversation as well! To Garth and Celeste’s point – I think that offering voice and choice is important especially with respect to reading. Personalizing the unit a little helps students to engage with what they are reading since they have chosen it. I forget who said it but this quote comes to mind “Show me someone who doesn’t like to read and I’ll show you someone who has the wrong book in their hand”. Meeting students’ needs is about establishing what skills will be relevant for them in their quest of lifelong learning, so helping them acquire the skills needed is where we come in.
      Also the power of the shared experience – contrary to personalizing – One School/Grade/Group and One Book. We did this with 3 Cups of Tea at Greenwood when I was there with our Grade 7s, and from the Grade 7 lens – it was successful in getting most to read from cover to cover.

      Great food for thought! I look forward to many more conversations.

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