Keywords: Personalised learning, challenge-based learning, digital pedagogy, iPod touch, OLPC XO laptop
As a learning support teacher, I happily spend my days teaching struggling and disadvantaged students in years 4-7 some of the basics that they have missed or have difficulty with. I see groups of four to five for 60 or 90 minutes a week for about half the year. Is that enough time for one teacher to ‘fix’ them, or have them ‘catch up’?
No. And yet for five years I have been content that the regular improvements 75% of them make each year are sufficient. But I’m changing my mind now. I’ve identified that in fact, much of the improvement I see is in danger of falling away once my regular but limited scaffolding and support is not available. Some of their classroom teachers are able to provide ongoing scaffolding also, but in a room of 28 needy kids, I ask how can learning support students experience ongoing success in their learning?
I recently blogged about just how many giant shoulders I feel I stand on in being awarded a Smart Classrooms Teaching Award and being a finalist in the Handheld Learning awards. Giants like my own Education Department’s Smart Classrooms framework, the Connectivism ideas of George Siemens, the ‘death of education but the dawn of learning’ thinking of Stephen Heppell, the ‘less us, more them’ philosophy of Gary Stager, the #eqelearn twitter network of engaged and dedicated Queensland teachers, fellow edtech bloggers (especially this post from shanetechteach and this one from josephperkins and this article), the Challenge-based learning tenets of Marco Torres and fellow Apple Distinguished Educators, the ‘addicted to learning’ mindset of Kristine Kopelke… All these and more have been percolating thru my mind over the last few months.
So in recent weeks when I asked ‘how can students experience ongoing success in their learning?’, an answer has started to emerge. Its probably not half as innovative or radical as I’d like to think, but it does reflect a big change in the way I’m going to approach my teaching. A change from incorporating bits and pieces of digital pedagogy into existing programs where I as teacher chose entirely what students needed to learn, to one where the presence of digital tools makes it possible for students to begin to take charge of their learning.
And I’m going to do it! I’m going to attempt to teach my students how to reflect and HOW TO LEARN rather than what to learn. With this skill and awareness, they will be able to succeed on their own.
Now, it is true that I’m only able to do this because:
- The ‘digital’ in this digital pedagogy ie. iPod touch’s and XO laptops are available to me in enough numbers now to be used by students as personal learning platforms
- I have a supportive local and regional administration
- I stand on the shoulders of the giants above
- My education department recognises how key ‘digital pedagogy’ is
- I feel confident enough to attempt it.
So what will this look like in practice? Well here is a draft diagram:
Basically the plan is that students will reflect on what their learning strengths and weaknesses are and create an iLearn plan by selecting the learning tasks (in this case, XO activities or iTunes apps) that will help them improve. They will further be shown how to ask if their choice is in fact working or what other resources (podcasts, Smartpen ‘pencasts’ etc) they might incorporate as well. Finally, because data and assessment are still the be-all of the curriculum in which we teach, the original instruments and data which students based their iLearn plan on will be re-sat/ administered.
Sound ok? A bit simple? A bit …? Please all feel free to contribute feedback – in fact I’m inviting it. After all, why not ‘crowd-source’ a project like this and give it a better chance of success?
Over to you, and the kids…