Last Tuesday’s convening, it seems, left us with much to think about, whether new opportunities presented through technological advances, the need to re-examine old assumptions or new ways of thinking about how we can make the vision of “Getting learning right the first time – every time” a reality. I have found myself returning to several key concepts and insights presented by the speakers we heard. Among them are these three.
First is the observation that we need to decrease our focus on planning lessons while increasing the attention and effort we give to designing learning experiences for students. Going forward, our work needs to be more about assuring that students are engaged in deep, rich learning that holds meaning for them, taps what they already know and is tailored to stimulate and extend their learning. Traditional lesson plans focus on what adults will do while designing learning experiences focuses on what the learner will do, learn and gain as a result of the experience.
Second, I was struck by the observation that we need to think of ourselves less as creators of lessons and content and more as curators of knowledge, content and skills. In this emerging role educators focus more on revealing and organizing information and knowledge, while inviting the learner to experience its power and usefulness to them. We need to allow our ownership and authorship to diminish while sharing with learners the wonders and potential learning can hold for them.
Third, I was reminded of the limitations on teachers and students when they are confined to a world of print in a digital world. We know that most of the print content to which we expose students is out-of-date and must be constantly supplemented by new knowledge and information. Further, most textbooks provide only one perspective on events and issues presented for students to learn. Meanwhile, digital content can easily and almost effortlessly be updated, revised and presented in near real time while including not just multiple perspectives, but how those perspectives are changing in response to real time events. This is the world of the generation we are educating today. It is natural for them to expect that the content we present be current, accurate and accessible in multiple forms.
If we are committed to “getting learning right the first time –every time,” we need to engage the interests, talents and aspirations the learner brings, tap the wealth of accessible real world content available, and leverage the advantages and opportunities residing in our rapidly expanding, always on digital world.