There are WAY more questions in this post then there are answers…I would love your thoughts.
I am a HUGE believer in personalized learning and think that our students should have opportunities to express their learning in many different ways. I would say that this holds true with the majority of educators that I know. The difference though is that do we often limit students to our version of personalization? Do we only give them options that we know? I have been very comfortable in my career encouraging students to share their learning in different ways whether I know them or not. The exploration and problem solving that goes into the work that a student creates using an unknown technology may not be taken directly out of the curriculum, but will obviously have some learning “side-effects” that will benefit the child long after their time in my class. Is this notion of exploration the norm though?
As the year has progressed, I have seen so many learning opportunities where “paper” has been the only option (always my favourite thing to happen in a session that discusses differentiated learning) and there is no digital component. This is not only for reading what has been shared, but also creating content to deepen understanding. Lyn Hilt wrote a fantastic post today giving some great options of what school administrators can try to further their learning. She ends her post with this quote:
This learning and reflective practice, which needs to be embedded throughout any district or school organization, must be modeled. It must be visible. It must be continuous. If you’re a school leader, ask yourself what about your own teaching and learning methods needs to be transformed in order for you to grow your capacity as a leader. Then turn your insights into action.
I have always believed in the idea that we need to give all learners options and Lyn exemplifies this in her post with a great table of ideas. That being said, I am wondering if this is a ‘suggestion’ will people jump in and try the “new” way (which I would say is better)? Even if it isn’t better for that learner, as leaders, should we still not understand different opportunities for learning, especially if we are to be experts on the subject? I wrote a post this summer that literally stemmed from my frustration of not been given the opportunity to have a digital component for my own learning at a “21st Century Conference” that was “paper heavy”. I know we are supposed to meet learners where they are at, but, to be honest, this pushed me out of my comfort zone. That being said, when we are being pushed out of that zone, shouldn’t it at least be a push forward? I wonder what would happen if we came to a point where we would say to educators that we are only going to use digital resources for this meeting, this PD session, this learning opportunity? Would they back down from the challenge or would they adapt and perhaps even transform their practice? I love the idea of sharing a continuum as Lyn has done, but maybe we need to just cut off the ‘old’ option. Can we really personalize learning for students if we don’t understand how to use emerging technologies?
We ask our students to be uncomfortable in their learning every day; do we embody that practice ourselves?
Last year, I spoke with John Carver and our conversation still resonates. He said to me, “This is a printing press time in history; what are we going to do with it?” In my opinion, we shouldn’t have the option to ignore it.