This week I want to focus on one of our additional resources that really resonated with me. Fullan and Langworthy’s white paper Towards a New End: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning focuses in on deep learning, which is categorized by character education, citizenship, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity, and how deep learning can be accelerated with technology. The paper suggests three new models of teaching which should be investigated: The teacher as designer of powerful learning experiences, The teacher as a source of human, social and decisional capital in the learning experience, and the teacher as a partner in learning with students, accelerated by technology. These three models suggest that the teacher has indeed moved away from being the bearer of all knowledge, or the expert in the room, but is in fact the facilitator of knowledge drive learning experiences, which can be enhanced through the use of technology. One note on technology as mentioned in the paper is that “technology can play an indispensable deepening and accelerating role across all education processes”. The paper continues: “The goal is to examine where and how technology is an effective deepener and accelerator of specific teaching and learning processes, and to work with clusters of schools around the world to identify and share its most powerful uses”.
Deep Learning and Technology
Reading a white paper like this brings me back to something that I say often, and that is that technology should never be used for technology’s sake, but the use of technology must be purposeful and have a clear tie to the lesson or unit. The paper uses the term “technology as an accelerator”, and that is important to think about; how is technology being used to deeply embed the learning. An understanding of this concept has shifted the way I used to embed technology to how I look at it today. When I first started to integrate tech into my lesson planning, I was definitely more focussed on the tech, than I was the students, or the learning targets. I think in many instances this is why the impact that I may have been looking for did not take place. When I think back, part of this was due to the fact that I was a newer teacher and there is a tendency to want to be progressive and bring new things to the classroom, without always thinking it fully through. In addition, being new, there was a lack of that deep knowledge of standards and learning targets. When I look at the way I plan technology integration currently, it is completely different. I know that my time working in curriculum had a profound effect on how I approach my work now, and this is a great thing. In course one, we looked at Kim Cofino’s blog 3 Steps to Transforming Learning in Your Classroom, and I want to quickly revisit it here, as it has merit. When using technology as a driver, it has to start with what you want students to know and be able to do, what are your learning targets? I quite like that this was labelled as step zero, because this should be the basis, the foundation, before you even speak the words technology, this is your planning phase. Kim goes on to three other important steps, make it relevant, make it a real world task, and have an authentic audience (a term we see in the Project Based Learning Framework) The above article is definitely worth the read.
Students as Empathetic Designers
In my last post, I spoke about our new Middle School Design and Innovation Lab. One of our drivers for how we teach in our lab is Design Thinking. About 18 months ago several of our teachers were able to travel to the Stanford dschool to learn about Design Thinking from the experts. This approach was brought back and has been the foundation for all the classes that we run out of our Design and Innovation Lab. Additionally, other departments, such as Marketing, and Finance and Operations, have used the Design Thinking Approach to solve problems within their departments. One of the biggest shifts for us in using this approach is having the students consider their end user and building empathy towards that end user as they develop their designs and build their prototypes. One of our biggest challenges was students telling us that they already knew what they wanted to build or create when working on a design challenge. Our question is “how do you know your end users will like it, or even use it”? Disregarding all the other steps in the Design Thinking process, just shifting them in the empathy stage has had a huge impact on student learning and critical thinking. If you are looking for some good resources on Design Thinking I suggest David Lee’s Website on Design Thinking. It is well laid out, with numerous resources, and David has, and is doing some great work with Design Thinking.
I am curious to hear from others as to how they use technology to accelerate deep learning? What are the wins, and more importantly, where have they made mistakes and learned?