Blended Learning is at a “Tipping Point”
By Peter West, Saint Stephen’s College
At some stage, organization-wide blended learning will become the norm. Direct instruction will remain where it is appropriate; other forms of teaching and learning that leverage technology to allow a more individual approach to learning will continue to grow. And, eventually, an organizational “tipping point” will be reached, where this type of education gains momentum, is practiced by the majority of teachers, and becomes mainstream. “Organizational sculpting” by leaders supports this change.
Thus, some individual organizations will “tip”, and when enough “tip” the whole education system will “tip”. In my opinion, 2016 saw an increase in organizations that are tipping or are close to tipping. The numbers are still small, but they are growing.
The Lightboard is poised to make online tutorials very easy to create, and thus will increase the momentum of online resources to support independent student learning in 2017. As lightboard pioneer Michael Peshkin says “The Lightboard is a glass chalkboard pumped full of light. It’s for recording video lecture topics. You face toward your viewers, and your writing glows in front of you.” The teacher writes normally (not backwards).
Peter West is the director of eLearning at Saint Stephen’s College.
A Year for Confidence and Employability Skills
By Michael Hansen, Cengage Learning
Confidence in the classroom is directly correlated to success in the “real world.” We must welcome and encourage a growing emphasis on learning experiences that improve critical thinking, self-awareness and persistence. Social and emotional skills are just as important as cognitive skills when it comes to employability. Confidence gives students the momentum they need to achieve their education and life goals.
Michael Hansen is the CEO at Cengage Learning.
A Major Increase in Parent-Teacher Communication
By Chaks Appalabattula, Bloomz
With modern-day parents demanding more communication, in 2017, I believe we will see more schools make parental engagement a priority, since research demonstrates it has a direct impact on student performance.
Teachers are busier than ever in today’s schools. They are expected to create and differentiate lessons, track improvements, explore new technology options for their classrooms, engage parents, and more. When creating the Bloomz app, we designed it to fill the need for teachers to have one app to manage all their classroom tasks, including scheduling parent-teacher conferences, tracking behavior, and sharing photos and videos with parents. I predict that fewer teachers are going to be falling into the “one app for each task” trap, since it adds burden to parents as well, and more will look to consolidate the different communication, coordination, and classroom management tasks into one time-and-energy-saving app.
Classroom Audio Systems will be used to Assess Student Learning
By Gregory Firn, RoboKind
How do we ensure that teachers have the tools, skills, knowledge, and experience to “activate” learning for each learner in the most critical time of learning—in the process of constructing meaning, clarifying thinking, or testing a theory? The answer for 2017 will be in utilizing a new breed technology to provide teachers and learners alike with actionable, qualitative data that provides insight into how a learner is learning as they learn. Lightspeed has created technology that leverages auditory data to equip teachers with “in the moment” insights shared by learners as they construct, co-author, contribute, collaborate, and critically apply previous learning to solve problems, envision solutions, or imagine “new” possibilities. Teachers no longer have to wait to interpret lagging, trailing, or after-the-fact indicators of learning as they are empowered and equipped to intervene or influence in the moment.
Gregory Firn is a former deputy superintendent of academics at Grand Prairie ISD in Texas and the current senior vice president of strategic initiatives at RoboKind. Follow him on Twitter @BestofClass.
Educators will Embrace Digital Collaboration
By Dave Blanchard, Cambridge-Isanti Schools
We push our students to collaborate, yet educator’s ideas and practices are often divided according to subject area, department, or school. In 2017, I predict more educators will have this realization and come together to learn from each other, and not reinvent the wheel when trying something new or exploring new options.
For example, the 2015-2016 school year was an incredible year for the launch of BreakoutEDU, an open platform for hosting “breakouts,” or immersive learning games, in the classroom. The activity or lesson incorporates physical and technological components designed around meaningful content, social learning, and strategies that embrace 21st-century skills. I use multiple forms of “ancient technology” including different types of locks, codes, and puzzles, as well as more modern technology like ClassFlow, to deliver specific clues to teams or individuals through an iPad. ClassFlow allows me to share content with students in small groups or individually, and students can “share back” text, polls, and even images.
Through meaningful planning with teachers at my school and educators around the world, I was able to not only run stronger Breakouts within my class, but also train others on this incredible model. Through digital collaboration we were able to support each other’s needs anywhere and at any time, and create a stronger student experience. Too many times we miss opportunities to succeed together, so entering 2017 I will be keeping the topic of quality collaboration on my mind.