We are experiencing a world of rapid and transformative change in the ways in which we teach and learn. Good teachers are good learners, and good learners — of any age or experience — can be good teachers. Additionally, the use of the wide range of presentation and communications technologies that we have today have blurred the lines between the roles of “teacher” and student'” and will continue to do so in the near– and possibly the far — future.
Consider this blog to be a guide to that transformation: improving instruction via the use of digitally-based presentation and multimedia technologies.
First, some astute thoughts that are aligned with the philosophy of this blog.
“Technology drives change. Change requires that we are flexible, and adapt as we go, which promotes more change. Individuals who do not adapt and change should never be our educators. The constant in education should be the learning and not the status quo. If society is moving to change at a rapid pace, then we need to develop in our children the skills and abilities to change as well, and that requires the same abilities in the educators who are charged with teaching our children.”
—Tom Whitby, My Island View
“If you’re going to get lectured at, you might as well be at home in bunny slippers.”
– Scott Freeman, University of Washington
A Glance at the Past; A Look to the Future
What’s in store for us in the near future? You might ask how we as a nation are doing in terms of education, digital and regular literacy, and the preparation of our students for the future. Strip away the political rhetoric and the United States isn’t doing as stellar as we like to think we are in comparison with dozens of other countries.
Now is the time to consider using every tool available to us. Tools that would:
- allow us to reach more students
- allow for a more individualized education
- allow immediate feedback on student performance
- let students learn more via engaging presentations, projects, and procedures
- aid students in learning concepts in new and novel ways
- let us creatively produce engaging projects and products
Welcome to the digital world…
Knowing what we need is one thing. Knowing what to do in order to achieve it is another.
“We are so quick to characterize education as How much do you know?” when a lot of frontier efforts in education are emphasizing “How much can you figure out?”
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku grade American schools, and it’s not pretty.
One of the key questions of this decade and the next– especially in the shadow of the global financial crisis and a lengthy recession–is what do our young people need to know in the future? What skill sets will they need in a professional or work world that will be constantly evolving and shifting? What knowledge will they need to fall back on in order to adopt and adapt to a shifting future?
This is a tough nut to crack… Ultimately, what do we teach to young people today to make them profession- and job-ready, when we don’t even know what these jobs will be — as they don’t yet exist?!
And if you’re training or teaching adults, many of the same questions can and should be posed. With declining blue-collar jobs, the encroachment of on-the-job automation, and shifts in the white collar and professional workforce, these questions are going to become even more important to ask.
Whether these jobs themselves come to pass, or not, is less important than the discussion they elicit about the skills and development we are investing in today. At the most basic level questions need to be asked of primary and secondary education, but we need to rethink our approach to corporate training and development too. These will, in turn, have a reciprocal impact on tertiary education and the career choices it prepares graduates for.
Schools need to shift from teaching children “information” to teaching them how to use the things that already provide that information with a higher degree of relevance and accuracy. In a world where a child is currently only expected to meet the minimum standard of information regurgitation to pass a subject they will be the peasant class of worker in a world serviced by super-computer powered Artificial Intelligence enhanced by Machine Learning algorithms that go far beyond anything a school teacher can impart.
School children need to learn how to use the work product generated by these advances in technology, but in a way that positions them for succeeding advances too.
This means teaching HOW to think, not just WHAT to think.
Encouraging QUESTIONS not teaching ANSWERS.
Developing the ability to METAMORPHOSE from a worm to a moth, not just EVOLVE into a better worm.
Perhaps someday we’ll do as well academically as we do in sports! After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
The Olympics are held every four years and test the skills, training and dedication of athletes from all over the world. The winners return home not only with gold medals, but the pride of representing the best of their nations on the international stage. With such high stakes, it’s no wonder that the Olympics are a global media spectacle, with billions of dollars and countless hours invested the world round in the hopes of success.
We here at Certification Map hoped to borrow some of this sheen and direct the spotlight to another realm of international competition: education. It’s in schools that each nation also invests its wealth, time, energy and, most importantly, its youth. So how do the winningest Olympic nations fare when it comes graduation rates, class sizes and teacher salaries? Do the countries with the greatest athletes also produce the smartest students? Whose schools will ultimately bring home the gold?
A good place to start is to ask tough questions and make even tougher comparisons in terms of what our educational systems are doing for and to our students. This is what the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) has done. During 2013 and each year thereafter, this group has surveyed 166,000 adults in 22 countries. They asked questions about literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, collaboration, managing time, and other skills thought to be key for surviving beyond 2014. They also examined the…
“…social and economic context, the supply of key information processing skills, who has these skills at what level, the supply of and demand for these skills in the labor market, the acquisition and maintenance of skills over a lifetime, and how proficiency in these skills translates into better economic and social outcomes.”
PISA–Measuring student success around the world. Source: OECD.
Key findings from the surveys of adult and youth skills.
Find out what a tertiary graduate is!
This slide deck presents the most recent findings.
Courtesy of and © OECD. Click or tap.
What about the Adults?
And what about adults who are older than 25 but not old enough to retire? Are they involved in training on or off the job? We always hear about adult learners, but to what extent are “older” people still involved in learning experiences of some sort? OECD’s 2016 survey data pegs that percentage at 46%. So, even if you’re not teaching K-12 or college, there’s still a lot of work to do!
Where Are We Headed?
In a recent Hechinger Report newsletter (2/7/18), Tara García Mathewson gives us some ideas in her article “Following the lessons of learning science in schools isn’t convenient.” Source: The Hechinger Report.
So it appears that the United States is due for a change in the way we view education and training, especially for younger people.
Do you remember what grade you were in when you were introduced to synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms? Do you remember what synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms are? How about number theory and systems? Fractions and decimals? Transformations and symmetry? Tessellations, congruent shapes, and symmetrical figures?
Assumedly we were all exposed to these concepts, and probably memorized a lot of aspects related to them as well. But, if we memorized them then, why can’t we remember them now? For that matter, are any of these important in your life right now? Do you use any of them on a day to day basis?
By the way, if you said anything other than “third grade,” you would have been wrong.
Let’s jump a couple of grades, say, to fifth grade! Take this test and see how you do…
In a later post, we’ll return to the formal and informal ways in which we learn, and the system’s that have been put into place to assure that this happens. Or not.
Bottom Line: Instruction and learning are inextricably bound; the quality of the former will affect the latter. But that leads to questions such as why rote memorization in our schools and training sites is so important. Does doing so on a repetitive basis yield a learner who is agile in thought, or can see the “bigger picture?” Can he or she problem-solve themselves out of problematic situations? Be more creative? And, are these “upper level” skills even addressed in instruction commonly found in the schools?
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