MIT Report Provides Lessons for K12

What lessons does the report The Future of MIT Education hold for K12 learning organizations? Quite a bit, it seems.

—————————-

Over at Educating Modern Learners, Audrey Watters posted a reflection on the report The Future of MIT Education (free registration required). As I read her post and reviewed the report, which offers 16 recommendations, it struck me that K12 learning organizations could take a few lessons from MIT on examining today’s realities to realign mission with the goal of remaining relevant to contemporary learners in an ever-changing learning ecosystem.

The report acknowledges MIT’s progressive work in Open Courseware, MOOCs, and edX; yet, it also reflects fundamental shifts in remixing and re-imagining learning beyond these successful undertakings.  While the report is rich in lessons for K12, only three are highlighted below.

Lesson One: The Process

One of the first lessons for K12 was the process: community engagement, a realistic timeline to undertake such in-depth work, framework questions to consider, and working group structure. This orchestration reflects a commitment to undertake a serious self-examination, while also establishing further work for each group to continue forward-thinking progress. In other words, the report and its recommendations avoid stagnation by remaining dynamic in scope and benchmark assessments in ongoing work.

Forward-Thinking Preserved – This orchestration reflects a commitment to undertake a serious self-examination, while also establishing further work for each group to continue forward-thinking progress.

Lesson Two: Use of Space

Recommendation 15:  “The Task Force can envision academic villages that provide environments for enhanced interactions to occur both inside and outside of the classroom and laboratory settings. The Task Force can also imagine a system of maker spaces strategically located around campus, further enhancing the experiential learning so integral to an MIT education. These maker spaces would complement the state-of-the-art maker space facility now being planned to support innovation and entrepreneurship activities.”

Why This Matters: I’ve written about how the use of space can transform traditional learning approaches, revamping curriculum to more relevant and integrated offerings. And maker spaces play a critical role in instructional and curriculum shifts, making an impact not only within K12 schools but libraries and museums, as the work of co-authors Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager attests in Invent to Learn.

Maker spaces play a critical role in
instructional and curriculum shifts.

Lesson Three: Pedagogical Shifts

Recommendation 7: “The Task Force recommends that this commitment to pedagogical innovation for the residential campus be extended to the world to set the tone for a new generation of learners, teachers, and institutions.”

While problem-based learning, game-based learning and blended learning are addressed in Recommendation 7, these are not new concepts in K12. What is an important lesson for K12 is the need for curriculum designed in modules, which the report defines as “breaking a subject into learning units or modules, which can be studied in sequence or separately.”  The recommendation also recognizes that the “very notion of a ‘class’ may be outdated.”

Why This Matters: As a new learning ecology unfolds, “classes” will unbundle, forming more module designs to support Do It Yourself (DIY) learners mining content to take away knowledge and skills important to them. Perhaps modules are designed to honor what students already know and not the time spent in seats, allowing them to master new skills, modified but akin to the competency-based model in place at Western Governors’ University for “almost 20 years.” As I’ve written before, it will be commonplace for edupunks to learn from leaders in the field and bundle learning for customized, passion-based learning playlists, where seat time and courses have little meaning.

As a new learning ecology unfolds, “classes” will unbundle, forming more module designs to support Do It Yourself (DIY) learners mining content to take away knowledge and skills important to them.

How is your learning organization adjusting to modular curriculum design? How is your learning organization designing learning experiences to serve contemporary learners? How are you preparing for the unbundling of traditional classes? Please share your story.

Running the Digital River of Learning with You,

Emily Vickery

Advertisements

The Relationship of Space and Learning

Shouldn’t schools approach the use of space differently? What happens when schools “rethink” the use of space – shifting from traditional approaches to participatory spaces?


As noted in previous posts – here and here, schools are rethinking the use of space. Digital Strategist and Designer David Jakes, in his post Towards a Consideration of Space, wrote:

I’m wondering why the spaces that students inhabit for learning haven’t received more attention in the conversation surrounding 1:1 implementations. Can you really have a 1:1 implementation without asking questions of what learning spaces should now become?  Can you afford to miss the potential catalyst that 1:1 computing can be for rethinking spaces?  Are you satisfied by placing that capacity into a classroom that has a decades old collection and arrangement of furniture and space?

Can you afford to miss the potential catalyst that 1:1 computing can be for rethinking spaces?
– David Jakes

Jakes’ observation is supported by UNC Charlotte’s The Center for Teaching and Learning in Collaborative Learning Spaces, in which the following is noted:

Research shows that student learning styles have changed, therefore we need learning spaces to accommodate a new generation who:
•    Prefer multitasking and quick, non linear access to information information,
•    Are visually‐ oriented,
•    Are highly networked, interactive and social,
•    Are increasingly mobile,
•    Have a low tolerance for lecture style teaching,
•    Prefer active learning rather than passive learning, and
•    Rely heavily on communications technologies to access information and to carry out social and professional interactions.

To meet the principles of contemporary learning, new and refurbished spaces need to be:
•    Flexible,
•    Connected,
•    Collaborative,
•    Multisensory, and
•    Graphic.
•    The new spaces need to be a blend of physical and virtual environments.

As Jakes noted, “Can you afford to miss the potential catalyst that 1:1 computing can be for rethinking spaces?” Shouldn’t 1:1 schools consider The Center for Teaching and Learning’s research? 1:1 schools are provided the opportunity to rethink space so as not to layer technology on top of traditional pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and use of time.

Redesigned spaces can quickly be rearranged to suit various collaborative and instructional scenarios that meet contemporary student learning styles.

Shekou International School did just that. Watch the video of their journey in creating participatory learning spaces. (You can follow them at hashtag #SISrocks.)

While resources to assist you in “rethinking” space for relevant learning are growing, including how to undertake your redesign on a shoestring budget, here are a few to get you started:

How is your learning organization redesigning space for today’s learners? Are you “hacking” your space to empower learning? Please share your stories.

Running the Digital River of Learning with You,

Emily Vickery
Learn More

 

 

Designs for Deeper Learning

While rethinking the design of classrooms and libraries isn’t new, there is a growing interest in how to transition from traditional, factory-model schools to designing participatory learning spaces to serve today’s students best, as noted in an earlier post.

In his paper Campfires in Cyberspace, futurist and philosopher Dr. David Thornburg uses primordial metaphors and analogies to “clarify the role of various processes and environments” to consider when “creating an educational system geared for leaners and educators.”

He outlines how “learning takes place in four spaces, only a few of which are honored in most schools. [He] offers a new theory for educational systems based on four primordial learning spaces: campfires (information), watering holes (conversation), caves (concept), and life (context).”

It is appropriate to take these same four considerations for educational systems and apply them to “rethinking” the use of space and time in schools, eventually leading to an empowering curriculum, participatory pedagogy, and meaningful assessments.

In a Tweet [10:18 AM – 16 Jul 2014], Digital Strategist and Designer David Jakes noted the following:

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 5.19.30 PM

So, yes. There is a caution. As the use of space and time is redesigned, we must make certain that traditional, industrial systems of learning not, as David observed, ”tack on” approaches, such as a Makerspace, Genius Hour, and project-based learning, without deep and thoughtful changes in TWTHABD (The Way Things Have Always Been Done).

How has the use of space and time in your learning organization prompted deep change? How did you overcome TWTHABD? Does your learning organization support learning around campfires, watering holds, and caves? How has your learning organization overcome “tacking on” to the traditional?

Please share your story.

Running the Digital River of Learning with You,
Emily