Archive for March 2011
Several posts this month added to the discussion of . . . . and hopefully movement towards – the disruption of institutionalized K-12 and Higher Education.
Disrupting K-12 Education
Standards-Based Accountability’s High Stakes by Ronald A. Wolk was posted in Education Week on 3/7/11. The first part of the article provides some evidence of the failure of the goal of the late 20th century to actualize, “All children can learn” (in school). Wolk goes on to ask “How do we explain that nearly 30 years of unprecedented effort and enormous expenditures has not improved student performance, reduced the dropout rate, or closed the achievement gap?”
More standardization is not what our schools need. As the Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen puts it in his book Disrupting Class, applying his ideas about “disruptive innovation” to education: “If the nation is serious about leaving no child behind, it cannot be done by standardized methods. Today’s system was designed at a time when standardization was seen as a virtue. It is an intricately interdependent system. Only an administrator suffering from virulent masochism would attempt to teach each student in the way his or her brain is wired to learn within this monolithic batch system. Schools need a new system.”
Wolk proposes that disruption of K-12 education can occur through personalized education. Some of his recommendations include:
- Schools should be designed around the human scale because students and teachers need to know each other
- Preschool education would be universal.
- Beginning in middle school, multiple educational pathways would lead to college and other postsecondary programs to prepare young people for work in a complex and changing world. A student could choose a pathway reflecting his or her interests and aspirations. Each student would play a significant role in designing the curriculum, which would be anchored in the real world, not in the abstractions of most classrooms.
- There would be no “traditional” core curriculum with typical academic courses and rigid schedules in middle and high school.
- Teachers would become advisers who guide students in educating themselves. They would tutor students and help them manage their time and energy.
- Technology would largely replace textbooks and worksheets.
- Student learning would be assessed on the basis of portfolios, exhibitions, special projects and experiments, and recitals and performances—real accomplishments, not abstract test scores.
A report was published entitled, Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education (February, 2011) by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, Louis Caldera, and Louis Soares.
The propositions of this report revolve around the use of online learning to be the disruptive force in higher education.
This emerging disruptive innovation presents an opportunity to rethink many of the age-old assumptions about higher education—its processes, where it happens, and what its goals are.
But the major recommendations they make for policy makers (and to that I add administrators, board members, faculty, and yes, students as the consumers of higher education) are application to both online and face-to-face institutions of higher education:
- Eliminate barriers that block disruptive innovations and partner with the innovators to provide better educational opportunities.
- Remove barriers that judge institutions based on their inputs such as seat time, credit hours, and student-faculty ratios.
- Do not focus on degree attainment as the sole measure of success.
- Fund higher education with the aim of increasing quality and decreasing cost.
An Example Grassroots Effort -An Alternative for Getting a Higher Education
The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. P2PU creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU enables high-quality low-cost education opportunities. P2PU – learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything.
Children and young people are using their own mobile devices – Pods, iPads, netbooks, laptops, and smart phones – to be consumers and producers of digital content, and to be active participants in online communities. They are doing so as part of their day-to-day lives outside of school as leisure time activities. They are familiar and comfortable with social networking and using a variety of apps via their devices. The 2010 Nielsen’s Teen Mobile Report reported that “94% percent of teen subscribers self-identify as advanced data users, turning to their cellphones for messaging, Internet, multimedia, gaming, and other activities like downloads.”
When educators leverage this informal learning by giving agency to the students to use their mobile technologies AND by providing the structure and skills for their use within more formal educational settings, motivation and learning is increased. (Learn more about Agency and Structure, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_and_agency .) By bringing these experiences into the classroom, consumption of content becomes more informed, production of online content more creative, and participation as global citizens more active and directed.
Informed Consumers. Learners are consuming real time and constant news with Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other newsfeeds via their mobile devices. In more formal learning environments, learners can be given the agency to access this information and provided with the skills to make informed and critical decisions as to its relevance, efficacy, and credibility.
Creative Producers. Young people are taking pictures and creating video using their mobile devices. Pulling out mobile devices during real world photo-ops is commonplace. Although many young people have the desire to produce media that is creative, attention-grabbing, and has high production value, many lack the knowledge and where-with-all to do so. When this desire to produce media enters into a mobile learning environment, the education setting can provide a combination the right instruction; and apps for planning, filming and editing. Learners-as-producers not only increases the potential for creative and higher quality media, but also additional avenues for them to develop and showcase their content-related learnings.
Active Participants. Mobile technologies have provided digital access to many who do not have access via computers and in-home Internet. This includes lower SES individuals from developed countries as well as those in third world countries. This anytime, anywhere, and with almost anyone capability makes mobile learning ripe for collaborating globally and developing global stewardship. It levels the educational landscape permitting communication and collaboration between diverse groups of learners.