Light Offerings

Archive for February, 2014

Dig Age Research + #NPDL Thinking + #createthefuture Curriculum at #CDNISHK (1)

Posted by jturner56 on February 23, 2014

This week I had the opportunity to experience up close how recent conference and research readings can support curriculum development and initiative.

    • Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 7.46.15 AMThe Learning and The Brain Conference (No 37) presented latest neuropsychology insights. While the starting position was that neuroscience was confirming what has always been contended to be seen as good pedagogy (developing relationships, setting relevant goals, setting boundaries etc), exposure to the digital age is leading to new needs and challenges. These range from Focus to Creativity. Jay Giedd’s The Digital Revolution and Adolescent Bain Evolution provides a good examination of areas such as multitasking, plasticity, information processing, and the social brain.
    • The latest New Pedagogies thinking – A Rich Seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy – points to the possibilities of convergence between new pedagogies, new change leadership and new system economics. Deep learning is defined as developing “learning, creating and doing dispositions that young people need to thrive now and in their futures. Premised on the unique powers of human inquiry, creativity and purpose.” They go on to highlight the importance of the teacher taking a proactive role in driving the learning process forward. Digital technologies are seen as a driving mechanism for achieving progress.
    • Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.47.01 AMFinally, I had the opportunity to be part of the Grade 8 Science+Design Project Team (kudos to the great work of David Larson, Aaron Metz and Saeed Rahman) which commenced an iBook Project where every Grade 8 student, as part of a team of three, is researching, constructing and publishing an iBook on Diseases and possible treatments.

The project highlights curriculum leadership at the teacher level, and demonstrates what neuroscience research and new pedagogies thinking is contending. This is but one project in a series of interlocking webs that includes subject projects across the middle school, Grade 4-12 iFolios, Teacher Digital Literacy Certification and many more initiatives. New ideas continue to be supported and connected across the school community. For example, in this coming week Design Thinking will be used in support of the Grade 6 PYP Exhibitions, and the school’s Social Media Education plan will be discussed with parents and educators.

The New Pedagogies thinking says now is the time to increase the value accorded to such work and learning. While I can only agree, I do so with concern that such an opportunity has been with us for some time. What is needed is a value system that balances focus with valued creativeness, supported by Digital Age administration that facilitates connective publishing, testing as data feedback, and evolving curriculum development. Research, thinking and examples are there for us. The question is what do we really value and to what level?




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Learning and the Brain: Teaching self-aware minds

Posted by jturner56 on February 19, 2014

Last week I attended a Learning and the Brain Conference.

The following is a personal take away

Learning and the Brain Conference: Teaching Self-Aware Minds: Using Brain Science to Boost Social and Emotional Skills 

The conference featured a series of presentations by neuroscience researchers and related psychologists and social educators.

While neuroscience is still in its infancy it is increasingly seeing value in mapping and supporting social interactions as a basis for learning.

From Boomers to iGen, many of the basics of parenting and teaching (ie developing relationships, relevant goals, setting boundaries) have not changed. What has changed is the how digital media washes over everything and has affected expectations, demands, needs and relationships. (The conference provided little if anything on cognition through construction).

An approach to social and emotional education requires

  • building emotional strength by understanding and addressing student needs

  • educating students to the the changes being wrought by their tech use

  • generating tasks that strengthen social and emotional attributes

  • valuing the importance of tribe development

  • evaluating opportunity costs (including preparing students for the digital media rich world). This needs to consider
    – values, attitudes, skills
    – decision-making
    – relationship building

  • Teaching in the 21st Century through showing the way.

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Multitasking in the Digital Age

Posted by jturner56 on February 9, 2014

Multitasking has become a bit of a target of interest of late by academics, psychologists and columnists. At times juxtaposing the term with distraction and other negative connectations, in an effort to simplify the term by reference to single variable learning, multitasking has been laid open to misinterpretations. In the end not dissimilar to how concept of digital natives has been over-simplified.

I am not saying that digital cannot distract, no more than television or comics stood accused in previous times.We should not be surprised if school study for the sake of busyness elicits little of no strong focus. Disengagement from repetitive undemanding tasks is not limited to the young.

What I do say is that time management and focus in the Digital Age requires deeper thinking and willingness to embrace changing paradigms. Blackening digital to harken back to a golden age, when the individual student sat transfixed in their school chair to a single learning objectives, is romanticism that never was. The potential of digital as mental prosthesis, as noted by Daniel Goleman in Focus: The Hidden Driver of Focus, highlights the need for education to rethink the mental models it is charged with developing; not to throw out those still needed, but to ensure those learning attributes needed for the 21st Century are truly valued and supported.

The Digital Age requires an understanding of learning across three perspectives. Firstly, deep learning requires not only focus, but a capacity to apply in meaningful ways. This can be boosted by the cognitive enhancement capacity of digital through collective intelligence. Teaching students how to learn to learn would help them balance single focus requirements with collective enterprise. Secondly, the Digital Age requires new dynamics in information handling that goes beyond single focus truth. Supertaskers may well show us attributes that we can embed into our educational programs to support our students and workers. Thirdly, each student’s individual relationship with their digital device(s) requires a social and emotional educational agenda.

There are changes going on in attention, memory, focus and even knowledge judgement. This will affect an increasing array of jobs and social structures.  What we don’t need is a cognitive dark ages marked by rear-view mirror perspectives.

What is needed in education is goals, tasks and teachers who look beyond the closed box.  Evidence of digitally empowered focus have been there for over 30 years. I was reminded of this recently when Gary Stager (again) showed how a grade level of 120+ middle years students in one room could be transfixed by learning through a relatively simple (yet powerful) Turtle Art learning opportunity. It was no different to what I saw in the mid-80s and have used as a barometer of teaching in digital domains.

It is time to move beyond the Traditional versus Progressive education choice to a new paradigm that recognizes the increasing complexity of digital choice and opportunity. Handling cognitive overload and risks to self-control through developing willpower and emotional strength. If we are to take on the wicked problems that increasingly take up our political and social time then we need new ways of looking. This should include educating to learn in focused ways relevant to digital times. Research such as by Lui and Wong on use of digital media may help point the way.

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes (Marcel Proust).

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