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The challenge of digital 4 learning in School

Posted by jturner56 on January 10, 2016

I am pondering why after over twenty years for digital portfolios, and over thirty years for coding, School as institutions are uncertain as to where these and other digital transformations fit in.

Something also noted by Wan Ng (2015) in New Digital Technology in Education, who cited Holkner et al’s (2008) view that “there is still confusion about the use of technology in the classroom and widespread reluctance to move beyond tokenistic use.

I see this as part of an ongoing debate going as far back as Taylor’s (1980) differentiation of approaches to computer use in education, and pertinently examined by Seymour Papert’s (1997) in Why School Reform is Impossible (1997) where he highlighted the limitations, defensiveness, and assimilating powers of the Grammar of School as a self-serving bureaucracy.

Papert also put faith in evolution through teacher demonstration.

Fast forward to Mal Lee’s (2015) Digital Technology and Student Learning: The Impact of the Ecology, where he cited John Hattie’s criteria for success for educational institutions, including clarity of vision, high expectations, and clearly identifiable educational benefits.

Yet Ng (2015) notes, citing Holkner again, that “there is not a universal, shared vision regarding the use of technology in the classroom and teachers are confronted with many theories and instructional designs and bombarded with confusing, even romantic, views of what the technology is capable of delivering. It is not possible to definitively establish a direct link between learning with technology and improved outcomes.

If Digital is to play a part in Digital Age Education, then perhaps School needs to develop ‘digital-first’ mindsets and better communication of benefits, as identified in Why Digital Transformation is so Difficult, and 8 ways to Make it Happen (McKendrick 2015).

Only then might there be any chance to move beyond the first-order barriers (access, time, support, attitude) that are still in play.

If School wants to be effective then this will include commitments to organisation, expectations, leadership, and clarity of mission ( 2013). If Schools want to be great then an intentional culture must be created to be perpetuated (Bassett 2013).

At the heart of this would be evaluation of where School is heading with digital: Integral to School, Integrated to the Grammar of School (after all we’ve only been trying for 30 years), or Isolated (as a segmented disjointed consideration).

Only then can the educational affordances of digital 4 learning be truly understood. Affordances that range across Inquiry, Research, Connection, Meta-cognition and Literacy.

Despite what the politicians, limited edtech proponents and commercial interests might assert, this is a complex issue and there are no shortcuts (as Ng (2015) once again reminds us). But where would you start?




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Learning How to Learn (aLearning + cLearning + sLearning + dLearning)

Posted by jturner56 on July 19, 2015

How did you spend your summer break (if you were fortunate enough to be in the education business)?

Apart from soaking up the fine produce of Tasmania and the fine Melbourne football, I sought out the question: what is learning how to learn?

It led me to a MOOC – Learning How to Learn – out of The University of California in San Diego, led by Dr Barbara Oakley, Professor of Engineering, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Oakland University, and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, University of California, San Diego.

My interest was twofold; (1) to hopefully progress my understanding of learning needs, and (2) to better understand the MOOC teaching and learning constructs.

Perhaps the first piece of advice is to always take note of the full title. In this case it was Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects, aligned to the book A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) It turned out to be more about study techniques for formal education, with supportive links from neuroscience. As a study preparation course for individuals it had merit. Its boundaries around formal knowledge acquisition and commitment to traditional expectations were clear.

But it did provide some thoughtful insights. As part of the MOOC a response is required to develop one’s OWN learning module covering at least three (3) major concepts/ideas covered in this course. As someone more interested in investigation over transmission I look instead at question arising and avenues for further inquiry.

  1. The course, reinforced by neuroscience and/or cognitive science research, reinforced many known positive for learning
    1. importance of diffuse thinking opportunities to embed (as distinct from focused learning when adding new knowledge)
    2. the importance of sleep and exercise
    3. use of metaphors and analogies to aid understanding
    4. techniques to help overcome procrastination
    5. focusing on process over product
    6. spaced repetition for strengthening memory transferral
    7. recall study approaches (in preference to re-reading and highlighting)
    8. preferred Group study and test preparation techniques (such as checklists, team checking, as well as stress and question management)
    9. importance of perseverance
      • all of which will be something to take back to see if the school is adequately helping students understand the benefits of such approaches.
  2. The course was a bit light on in the dangers of subject concept development *(although it called for learner questioning “until sure”). The dangers of “checkbox learning” and its short term way forward for longer term shortcomings. A good example is provided by Richard Skemp (1987) in The Psychology of Learning Mathematics who quotes Whitney (1985) “we try to cure symptoms in place of finding the underlying disease, and we focus on the passing of test instead of meaningful goals.” (p3) The critical importance of good teaching is clearly supported here.
  3. Which brings us to the boundaries. What is apparent is that the MOOC deals with academic learning (aLearning), formal learning viewed through traditional assessment practices. It is clinical and conservative. Interestingly it highlights through ignoring learning such as cLearning (reflecting the hyperconnected world we all swim in, bringing new collaborative, cultural, citizenship, creative and choice dynamics that are defined by what can be and is constructed around the question “what can you do with that learning?”), sLearning (for social learning, reflecting the relationships between people that support learning) and dLearning (digital learning that brings with it new dynamics in information, media and communication). To be fair, they are all touched on, but only in a secondary way. aLearning, cLearning, sLearning and dLearning form and interlocking 3-D Venn Diagrams that warrants more closer consideration than what aLearning is limited to.

A good wrapping up statement, “we’re learned from you as you have learned from us,” encapsulates the two way nature of learning. We may well need to take responsibility for our learning, but this is only part of the wider social interactions (digital / physical) in play. How schools take on this is how they will defined moving forward. Defined by the questions:

What is valued?

– in what ways?

– to what ends?

Good learning (and teaching) one and all for the coming school year.

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Do we do enough on educating How to Learn?

Posted by jturner56 on January 20, 2015

My interest in this question was piqued by the UK Open University’s Innovating Pedagogy list for 2014, which included Learning How to Learn as an innovation whose time had come.

This made me think, how well in education do we help our students learn how to learn….and is this important? Not a new question, as Alvin Toffler postulated in 1971, “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Is this a school thing? Or do/should we just set up our students to take this on once they mature beyond their school years?

The Open University seems to be more interested in adult learning’s (andragogy) relationship to heutagogy (learning to learn). Perhaps it could have also looked more into Novak and Gowin’s (1984) examination of learning how to learn, that highlighted the affective considerations (that also formed part of Bloom’s Learning Taxonomies.)

Lisa Blaschke (2012) has some helpful insights into capacity building for self-directed learning. She points to Web 2.0 as an instrument requiring and supporting heutagogy. Design elements for developing such approaches are listed:

  • learner defined learning contracts
  • flexible curriculum
  • learner-directed questions
  • flexible and negotiated assessment

Me, I’m just a practical educator interested in what we should do regarding students who see ‘means to an end’ learning as a desired school educational pathway. Perhaps complemented by check box teaching. (described by the OU as “single-loop thinking that involves reacting to events, solving a problem in a familiar way and accepting information at face value.” (p21)).

As Bernard Bull highlights in his primer on pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy, in the digital age heutagogy is needed to move learners beyond teacher-centric attitudes to leverage the vast resources now available to facilitate lifelong learning.

Where lies you school in this?

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What value does digital add to learning?

Posted by jturner56 on December 14, 2014

Some updated thoughts in the light of the 2014 21CLHK Conference

This started with an associate posing the question: What value does digital add to learning?

My response is Socratic: what learning is valued?
This hopefully as an opening for a conversation around learning.

I have throughout been steadfast in my personal view that digital can extend cognition and can help build relevant learning through immediate feedback loops. Be it in the early days of pre-Office word processors, spreadsheets, databases and coding, through to information and media redefinitions brought on by the WWW, and more recently social communication and collaboration mediums.

Parallel and related to this I have seen power shifts, from computing power lying in schools in the 1980s and 1990s, to the power shift into home around the turn of the century, to more recent shifts of computing power into personal mobile devices. There has always been a non-standardisable element of personal computing that School as a system has as yet failed to harness (perhaps they never will). BTW, Personalised Learning is not the same as personal learning, particularly related to digital.

School as a system continues to be at odds with digital perspectives on learning, particularly the higher up a student ‘progresses’ in school. This is most evident in

  • formal standardised, high stakes assessments, usually paper based, that focus on closed knowledge or boundaried problems open for regurgitation responses.
  • inadequate teacher learning systems within a system where wash out rates in the first five years can approach 50%. Lifelong learning in the digital age is a cultural necessity for all.
  • curriculum politics within bureaucratic straight-jackets

What the 21C Learning HK Conference provided was an opportunity to review against significant researchers. I’ll focus on two in particular, Ruben Puentedura (the originator of the SAMR model for technology integration in education), and Angela McFarlane (Professor of Education at University of Bristol, Researcher in learning & e-Learning who looks at the role of digital technologies in education.)

To summarise (as a personal view) what I gleaned from the two:

From Ruben

  1. combining SAMR and TPCK provides opportunities to see where jumps in understanding (and related belief warranting such jumps) are required; but to see such progress as linear in time and effort misses the point of Kuhn’s paradigm shift theory
  2. examples put forward as justification, that were being done going on 20 years ago, points to serious questions on system progress.
  3. Tool choice geared to teacher action is but one side in a socio-cultural environment that holds sway in each school. The only way forward is flattened classrooms that value the learning and learning potential that all bring to the environment.

From Angela

  1. Good Inquiry Approaches improve motivation, and can help better prepare for future study and nurture transferable skills. Such approaches also align with what is needed to succeed in our current world
    1. being able to take on learning new things
    2. being able find, analyse and use information
    3. being able to communicate effectively what one knows
    4. being flexible
    5. being able to make decisions with an incomplete set of information
    6. and, being able to work in teams
  2. This list is along the same lines as what it means to be a successful teacher in the 21st Century
  3. However, the importance of good teaching, if Inquiry approaches are to be effective, must not be underestimated. The prevailing learning culture and style of each teacher needs to be taken into account.
    (Mark Bennett in the latest TIE magazine highlights the strengths of Inquiry approaches to value prior knowledge, build learning ownership, advance metacognition, realign assessment to student needs, embrace student perspectives and to motivate.)
  4. Value of Inquiry for advancing digital support for educational approaches runs up against Instructional Preferences deeply ingrained.
  5. Research justifications can be very selective, but has inherent shortcomings re variables and culture explanations that can be called upon. Hattie, Tamim, Voogt, Cuban were a few names bandied about (some more so than others).
  6. But in the end you cannot teacher-proof curriculum. “Effective teachers use technology effectively”. Effective technology needs to be reliable, useful and robust. Although that doesn’t stop claims that the Educational Business Model required for the Digital Age will see teacher replaced by “coaches” because educational services can be delivered to the students (the consumer) directly through making digital technologies the lynchpin of the educational system (Dorrington 2014).
  7. System philosophies cycle, although more recently focused on better balancing opportunities to learn over black or white choices have emerged (even if too often drowned out). Not helpful when Inquiry advocates such as Mark Bennett also contend “rote memory has proven to have a negligible effect in education.”

Though this I now better understand

  1. If you wish to lead group or system change through digital education then an understanding of the range of teachers is required, and support appropriately provided if the end aim is system advancement. Frost’s Road Less Traveled should be open to all, but never alone (unless we prefer Huxley’s Brave New World. Soma anyone?).
  2. System change requires support systems catering for a range of backgrounds, beliefs and aspirations. Build capacity, never assume it.
  3. Politics and Education are close if odd bedfellows. Politics is built on personal beliefs linked to communal power and preferred futures. So is Education. Lead in hope, that’s education’s greatest weapon.
  4. There is a danger in EdTech with its constant streams of change to go simple, be selective, keep it narrow, ignore history, focus on selling the future over building a better one, and ignoring cultural perspectives. The choice is there before everyone.

So in the end we are left with the preferences that individuals, groups, communities and systems wish to value. Value lies in the conversations and actions arising that are willing to be embraced. Digital is just a mirror for those who might seek to look deeper. Just as books were and are.

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Will BYOD go the way of 1:1?

Posted by jturner56 on October 11, 2014

In the ever thickening forest of digital’s impact on school (replete with falling tress and poison ivy aplenty) where lies the path to the promised land?

Perhaps a revisit to MLC in 1989 as the first 1:1 laptop school might be instructive. It’s basis of constructing knowledge was well founded on strong learning and pedagogical principles. Yet where does it lie today up against standardised knowledge and conflicting demands as its students transverse towards the higher reaches?

Too often digital ‘solutions’ are presupposed on Field of Dreams expectations. “Build it and they will come.”

My thought is that any digital consideration to be truly valued it should first find a place in a sustainable curriculum. Education after all is about agreement on what should be “value added” and in what ways. Increasingly I see this as needing to include a digital base. While digital remains as not “mission critical” in education this might be a tall order.

But such a curriculum would need Digital Literacy benchmarking as a foundation for processes of learning that enable constructive thinking, dynamic problem solving and valued approaches to social learning (such as balance, identity and connection). Areas to be reconceptualised would need to include Information Literacy, Informal Personal Learning, Opportunities for Authentic Specialisation, and Lifelong Learning (for teachers too). Assessment would need to be dynamic, not standardised.

Opportunities for deep learning could then be supported through personal projects that lead to authentic outcomes (authentic in that the project outcome is valued without having to be “graded”.)

To this end it is increasingly in the cloud where lies the possibilities and the risks.

BYOD needs to start there; if not, we are likely to be decrying its lack of systemic success in similar ways to all the other digital developments in education that have come before. Proponents will be left hanging their hats on individual or sub-group “justifications.” Or perhaps this is enough to justify a assimilation approach with how school has operated for over 100 years.

In any case, as put forward by the Alberta Government through Bring Your Own Device: A Guide for Schools, if combined with the right pedagogy and used responsibly, BYOD technologies can add value in a changing learning landscape facilitated

by web-based tools and resources.

So what changes are we making to the educational landscape to support this? Is this primarily a resource question that has seen us bogged down in not being able to see beyond this to the promise of digital as a personal learning device? Or will school evolve through new accommodations with digital in ways foretold by the likes of McLuhan: “It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame.”

Week 1: Bridges
Week 2: Busyness
Week 3: Beliefs
Week 4: Build (1) School Community + Digital Learning Ecosystem
Week 5: Blog (cross posted here)
Week 6: Build Learning Opportunities
Week 7: Balance
Week 8: Beliefs
Week 9: BYOD

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Do you believe computers improve learning?

Posted by jturner56 on October 2, 2014

This week I was drawn to a call to ban laptops from the classroom because “research on learning (which) has consistently and overwhelmingly demonstrated that even the proper use of laptops does not further student learning“(1). This was supported by more formal findings by Carrie Fried that “laptop use posed a significant distraction to both users and fellow students“(2).

Yet elsewhere there is strong support for the positive effects from the impact of technology of learning, as reflected by Susan O’Hara and Robert Pritchard that “research literature throughout the past decade has shown that technology can enhance literacy development, impact language acquisition, provide greater access to information, support learning, motivate students, and enhance their self-esteem“(3).

It seems that the reality lies in an understanding of the differences between education and learning (4), and what educators sees as the objectives of education.

A good formal insight is provided by leading cognitive psychologists, Robert Sternberg and David Preiss that reported “computers do not improve academic achievement per se: Their impact depends on a positive confluence of several variable, such as student engagement, group participation, frequent interaction and feedback from mentors, and connections to real-world contexts“(5).

Such complex considerations are not helped by language misuse, misrepresenting intelligence, learning, education, school etc depending on the perspective wishing to be advanced (which includes commercial interests and can extend even into formal research practices.)

But this is not a new question, even if new technologies give the appearance of changing opportunities and needs.

Roy Pea and Midian Kurland in the mid-1980s, when looking at the cognitive effect of computer programming raised concerns that “available evidence, and the underlying assumptions about the process of learning to program fail to address this issue adequately”(6). Pea went on to look at the capacity of computers to amplify and reorganise cognition, concluding that “the cognitive technologies we invent serve as instruments of cultural redefinition (shaping who we are by changing, not just amplifying, what we do), defining educational values becomes a foreground issue“(7).

Yet educational change experts such as Michael Fullan largely ignored the relationship between digital and educational values (8) until more recent times (9). As Fullan notes “the meaning of change will always be “new” because it is a human endeavor that is perpetually dynamic. Educational change has meaning because it pursues moral purpose and does so by bringing best knowledge to bear on critical issues of the day“(10). He also sees “changes in beliefs and understanding (first principles) are the foundation of achieving lasting reform” and that “the keys to successful change is the improvement of relationships.

Therefore if one, or a group, or a school, or a system, is truly committed to trying to advance school education through digital means, a basic understanding of the ecosystems at play (both locally and globally) is a primary prerequisite. As Neil Postman postulated over twenty years ago “technological change is neither additive nor subtractive. It is ecological” (11).

One part of this relevant for the digital age is appreciating the Cognitive Load (12) that comes with taking on new digital technologies, be they productivity tools, programming constructs, multimedia constructions, web-based information, social media or personal mobile interface. All digital change is demanding and tiring, but then so is all worthwhile education and change.

While there are many, including myself, who can attest to the learning benefits that have accrued from taking on the challenge of digital in education, one should not underestimate the complexity that has to be taken on to extend forward momentum across curriculum teams of diverse views, changing teacher groups, school curriculum’s yet connected across K-12, while taking into account school cultural needs and priorities, changing relationships between home, personal and school computing systems, and the changing impact and relationships on classrooms as traditional learning ecosystems.

King Canute, Icarus and Thamus all have salient lessons for this.

  1. Banning Laptops from Classrooms (updated July 2014)
  2. In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning
  3. What is the Impact of Technology on Learning?
  4. Difference Between Education and Learning
  5. Intelligence and Technology
  6. On the cognitive effects of learning computer programming
  7. Beyond Amplification: Using the Computer to Reorganize Mental Functioning
  8. The New Meaning of Educational Change (1981-2007)
  9. A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning
  10. The New Meaning of Educational Change (2007)
  11. Technopoly: The surrender of technology to culture
  12. Integrating cognitive load theory and concepts of human-computer interaction

Week 1: Bridges
Week 2: Busyness
Week 3: Beliefs
Week 4: Build (1) School Community + Digital Learning Ecosystem
Week 5: Blog (cross posted here)
Week 6: Build Learning Opportunities
Week 7: Balance
Week 8: Beliefs

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School Week 3: Beliefs underpin student and teacher contribution at the heart of school

Posted by jturner56 on August 24, 2014

This week we settled into the routine of school. This included starting our fourth year of our Digital Ambassadors‘ program,da2 where each Middle Year’s class contained students who volunteered to support and connect on all things digital. Belief in student voice, and belief by students that they can contribute, underpins a strong school culture.

Also important is teacher belief that students have an active role to play. I’m sure, though, that as teachers caned students in the 60s they (in most cases) thought they had their students’ best interests in mind. If not, I hate to think what might have been their rationale.

In more modern times, yesterday I overheard in a coffee shop a teacher considering their students primarily in terms of what problems and homework needed to be set (to be answered on paper), judging by “what works for me” and observing that “only some kids can self-monitor.”

John Hattie’s oft-referenced research identifies teacher mindframes as one of the most important issues for school education. So as one considers student-centered learning (AITSL 2014) one should know that teacher inclusion is required if anything worthwhile is to be achieved. External “solutions” cannot succeed (and have not succeeded for many years) if teachers mindframes are not taken into account. Using common mindframes as justification can lead to segmented thinking. Team development needs to be integral to any organisation building worthwhile capacity, as recognised in a recent Forbes article. School have a role to play by leading by example.

Understanding why or why not digital works in a school ihas a lot to do with teacher mindframes and how they interact. Perhaps a good reference is Levitt and Dubner’s (2014) Think Like a Freak that identifies several steps to help move forward. These include “learning to persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded—because being right is rarely enough to carry the day.”

Finally the importance of leadership was reinforced this week by research into online professional development. It found that while self-discipline, motivation & self-regulation are known to be success factors for online teacher professional development, school Principal expectations are equally as important.

Beliefs matter! So does strategy!

Week 1: Bridges
Week 2: Busyness
Week 3: Beliefs



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Practical Examples of Learning in and for the Digital Age

Posted by jturner56 on March 23, 2014

I sometimes tend to take a philosophical prism to what may be. But always grounded in what is actual. And it is in this light that I share three examples from this past week which support and highlight Digital Age Learning.

  1. Exploring Algebra with Grade 6 students
    Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 7.21.10 AMInvited to show students and teachers how spreadsheets could be used to broaden mathematical experiences beyond traditional worksheets, I re-visited experiences 20 years ago when I created a comprehensive set of maths challenges for middle school students. Why little progress after 20 years? Perhaps a clue lies in Sherry Turkle’s 2004 article How Computers Change the Way We Think when she opined that “in most elementary schools today, the ideas being carried by information technology are not ideas from computer science like procedural thinking, but more likely to be those embedded in productivity tools like PowerPoint presentation software.” The value of Spreadsheets to support computational thinking through inquiry is always worthwhile.

    BTW, when quizzed afterwards, about a quarter of students reported they preferred the worksheets, which was a similar response in my PHD 15 years ago. Perhaps they represented the Maths teachers of tomorrow (sorry, just being deliberately provocative).What I learned from this experience > #NewPedagogies and #DigAgeLearning have been around for quite a while. It’s a value judgement, but one still needing to be made.

  2. Grade 7 Movie Making Project
    photo(1)As part of a Humanities + Design project all students created a short movie on Saving The School. Kudos to the development team and in particular David Larson. What was particularly interesting in this project was the students’ use of their mobile phones to take the shots. In a 1:1 laptop school they incorporated their personal mobile devices to good ends. This raises the question of how BYO might be employed as a personal auxiliary device to add value.

    Another example could have been in the previous Grade 6 Spreadsheet task. Paper was provided to add switching, although if students had personal tablets (and about 30% indicated they already have one) then they could have been used (as well as for the supplementary inquiries).What I learned from this experience > BYO possibilities need to be assessed against learning and curriculum opportunities of value.

  3. Grade 8 Science + Design iBook Project
    photo(3)Finally, a project where all Grade 8 students working in teams of four are creating chapters on particular diseases for a Class iBook. What was interesting here was the minimal amount of time needed to ‘teach’ how to make iBooks. The students deconstructed, peer supported, problem-solved and manged themselves as an effective publishing unit. My role was to help them set design specifications and introduce the iBook mechanics, bring to their attention other resources that were useful, such as Bookry and, provide milestone discussions (ie Project Management modelling) and support the subject teacher in supporting the students on content.

    What was also noteworthy was the interest in teachers creating subject iBooks which was supported by this curriculum project towards rethinking subject materials not through textbook Substitution (according to the SAMR model) but as evolving knowledge.

    What I learned from this experience > The importance of teacher modelling and recognition of student capability to learn and take on new technical challenges in collaborative ways (This was similar across the three examples).

Overall, these are but three examples, but highlight the need for constant evolution of ideas, recognition and revisiting of shortfalls, the importance of teacher modelling, curriculum linkage, and appreciation of student Digital Age potential.

I am sure I could give at least three more examples next week. The challenge though is to connect and evolve ideas across a whole learning community that is progressive and adaptive. This is where something like a #NewPedagogies approach comes in.

As Rebecca Alber recently pointed out when writing about 21stC Literacy:

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 7.12.13 AM

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Is the computer the ultimate Digital Age game for learning?

Posted by jturner56 on March 2, 2014

I have observed over the past two decades the foci of computer power for learning  shifting firstly from schools to home in the late 90s, and then to mobile devices towards the end of the first decade of this century. What I more recently have observed is the growing embedded relationship between digital and the brain, particularly in the young, but across all age groups.

Neuroscient researcher Jay Giedd summed it up well:

The way adolescents of today learn, play, and interact has changed more in the past 15 years than in the previous 570 since Gutenberg’s popularization of the printing press (Giedd 2012)

There is a danger for schools and systems that continue to externalise this as an optional consideration for curriculum, school structures and decision making.

What does this have to do with computer games? Well, in considering Klosowski’s Psychology of Gamification (2014), what struck me was the close relationship between school education and gamification. Consider

  • Gamification uses game mechanics in a non-game context to reward you for completing tasks.” And school does what?
  • Gamification, like learning, works best when there is
    • Autonomy
    • Value
    • Competence building

Way back to when Logo programming and Appleworks supported engaged, personalised, competency building, I could provide examples across the years where well designed digital learning tasks have led to levels of engagement and focus that the computer gaming industry aims at. Of course education has enjoyed neither the money nor expertise that business and entertainment have. So the game setters, the teachers, remain integral, but their understanding and pedagogical skills need to continue to evolve.

Because in the Digital Age the computer is the ultimate game+

  • bestowing autonomy, value, competence
  • personalizable, yet challenging to break beyond, add value
  • linking learning into ever changing environments
  • opening the door to creating the future we want

The digital environments and tools available have thrown up, and continue to put forward, opportunities to use the game-nature of digital to support learning. Context matters. So does connection as the social brain takes on more consideration.

There is, though, a danger in seeing this or that game as a solution, rather than the evolving relationship between gaming and Digital Age learning. A danger exemplified in the Open University’s (2013) Innovating Pedagogy

There is increasing interest in the connections between games and education. When implemented as ‘edutainment’ or ‘gamification’ of learning, teaching practices can gain superficial elements of entertainment and reward. This may encourage learners to continue, however misses the power of digital games
for engagement, reflection and self-regulation. (p5)

So as the relationship between the brain and digital evolves, will schools create learning experiences utilising gamification that embrace and respond to Digital Age needs? Or hold on to outmoded industrial priorities?

If the Climate Change debate is any guide, the worry is it will be the latter until the gurgler beckons.

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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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