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Innovative Teaching or Innovative Learning

innovateI am preparing a keynote presentation innovation for a faculty at a community college. The campus recently opened a small innovation center with the hope of getting students and faculty to consider new ways of teaching and learning.

In doing some research on this area, I immediately was struck with the split I saw between topics about innovative teaching and innovative learning, as if they were different things. That made me pause. Are they different, the same or inextricably linked?

My talk - "Creating a Culture of Innovation" - will look at how society drives innovation in higher education through the challenges it presents to educators. Increasing demands to lower costs, improving completion rates, competition from alternative credentialing, and the possibility in my home state of New Jersey and other states for free two years of college will all dramatically force shifts in classroom demographics and approaches to teaching and learning.

Innovation requires innovators. In higher education, they can be faculty or administrators who promote pedagogical approaches, such as adaptive and active learning. The innovation of adaptive learning is not so much that adjustments are made to the learning process based on feedback from the learners. Good teachers have been during that forever. The innovation comes from the ways that technologies have been aiding that monitoring of feedback and automating some of the adaptive paths.

Innovation can emerge from philosophical shifts, such as moving to the use of Open Educational Resources.

Innovation can also come from the learning spaces and new technologies made available to teachers and students.

You can find many different approaches to innovation in education, and some of them have come from outside education. One that is out there is agile teaching. Agility is a topic that has been a concern and approach in the business tech world.   

I continue to see examples about the changing world of work that concerns innovation and have many educators considering how they might prepare students better for what they will encounter after graduation. This does not mean job training or vocational skills. It more often is concerned with the learning process, methods of evaluating learning and seeing student applying their learning to new situations. 

For those things, you might be using blended/hybrid courses whose structure is such that theory is always put into practice. Courses using makerspaces and other active learning environments address some of these concerns more than traditional lecture courses.

But I have been hearing about the departure from lecture-style, sage-on-the-stage courses for two decades, and yet I know many courses still follow that model.

In earlier posts here, I have written about innovation or innovators in education or the ideas about the disruptors that make an innovative university, I have said that companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ lives change. For example, they create newer and more powerful phones that have features customers have not asked for. Apple believes it knows what you want before you know you want it. 

But I don't think that model works in education. Our students are often ahead of us with not only technology, but sometimes with innovative ways of learning. Are they ahead of many of their teachers in using their smartphones as computers and portals to information, and apps as tools? Yes.

How Disrupted Is Education?

track disruption

I had bookmarked a post last fall on emergingedtech.com about digital disruption and it got me wondering about just how disruptive some recent "disruptors" have actually been to education. The article lists six: Delivery, Flipped Classroom, Tools Available, Micro-credentialing, Competency-Based Education (CBE) and Learning Science.

You can argue with their six choices, but they are all disruptors. I might have added others, such as Open Education Resources, including MOOC, but I suppose that might fall under "delivery" too. 

In 2012, when I was deep into MOOCland, I read The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside OutIt is co-written by Clayton Christensen, who is considered "the father of the theory of disruptive innovation." His previous books include The Innovator's Dilemma, which examined business innovation, and The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

After four decades as an educator, I would say that education in general gets disrupted rather slowly, but here are some thoughts on these disruptions. Are we talking about disruption in K-12 or higher education, or in the whole of educations.

By DELIVERY, they are including, and probably focused on, online delivery. The US DOE reported back in 2012 that 1 in 4 students has taken some or all of their courses online, and that figure is predicted to grow steadily. In higher ed, online learning is firmly in place. It disrupted, and now the waters have calmed. In K-12, the disruption is still to come.

The FLIPPED CLASSROOM was big a few years ago in K-12. It never really caught on or was part of the conversation in higher ed. It's not gone and it is still being tweaked and studied. This idea of  on continues to expand. The annual Horizons Report for 2015 predicted this would have widespread adoption immediately, but that didn't happen.

Certainly the number and VARIETY OF TOOLS available to educators has grown and continues to grow every week. Viewed as an umbrella of tools, they are more disruptive than any individual tool. We have seen many predictions that adaptive learning tools, VR and AR, 3D printing and other tools would radically change they way we teach. None of them have "changed everything."

Maybe you're seeing a pattern in my responses. There hasn't been a major disruption. When I wondered four years ago who was really being disrupted in higher ed, I was thinking about what a University 2.0 might mean. I have the larger category on this blog of Education 2.0. We definitely moved into Web 2.0 after only a few decades, but after a few centuries education is beyond 1.0 but not over the line into a major change that I would consider 2.0. 

I do believe that things like MICRO-CREDENTIALING, CBE and the growth of LEARNING SCIENCE will change things. Combined, all these disruptors will certainly move us closer to that Education 2.0.

Beyond micro-credentialing, I see an entire reconsideration of credits and degrees as the biggest disruption to traditional education (as opposed to learning). Will movements like the Lumina Foundation's framework for “connecting diverse credentials” unite (or divide) non-traditional sources like MOOC courses and professional development training?

That leads right into Competency Based Education. The Department of Education (which plays a much bigger role in K-12) seems to be very serious about CBE.  This is big disruption of the centuries old clock hours and seat time for credits towards degrees. 

LEARNING SCIENCE that is deepening what we know about how we learn, and the relationship between different tools, may have a bigger impact on pedagogy than on how a school looks when you walk into a classroom. 

Maybe the Internet or "technology" should be the disruptor we point to that changed education as it touches all of these other disruptors. 

Connected Educator Month


ce15

Connected Educator Month (CEM) is October (hashtag #CE15) is an initiative that networks educators and education stakeholders through connected professional learning experiences worldwide. Over the past three years, millions of educators and others around the world have participated in hundreds of professional development and other educational opportunities.

This year’s celebration will focus on the following themes who will be led by the organizations listed below. ?Each theme will have a page dedicated to the activities and adventures they will lead during October.

Future Ready - Led by Cable Impacts FoundationHow do you make a school “future ready?”  What combination of infrastructure and devices, pedagogy and professional development, curriculum and content, leadership and culture will enable schools to effectively prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges in college, career or civic life?  Explore the answers to these questions and the best tools and resources for helping schools make that future ready transformation.

Innovations in Assessment - Led by the National Council of Teachers of EnglishAssessment is something educators use daily to gauge what students are learning and inform how they teach. Assessments come in many different forms and serve different purposes. However, most public conversation around assessment tends to focus on state testing and its use for evaluating teachers and schools. How might we shift the conversation toward a more holistic and well-rounded understanding of how we can know what kids know and can do?

Social and Emotional Learning in School Settings - Led by a coalition of projects and Centers at American Institutes for ResearchResearchers continue to show the importance of supporting the development of children’s and youth’s social and emotional skills in school settings. As a result, education policymakers, district and school administrators, teachers, and popular media have invested greater attention to understanding, planning, and improving education systems that promote Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), a process through which children and youth develop and apply the requisite knowledge, attitudes, and skills that enable them to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make ethical decisions.

Broadening Participation in STEM Education - Led by the CS10K Community: In today’s global world, we need students with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Of particular importance is broadening participation in these fields by underrepresented populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, women, and students with disabilities. Connected education helps to level the playing field as teachers and students alike are able to leverage the power and potential of technology to strengthen their learning and collaboration with peers near and far. Join us as our partner organizations shine a light on the importance of STEM and connected learning.

Connected Learning in Time & Space - Led by Educator Innovator:  Powerful learning occurs when youth, driven by their own interests, are supported in being creators and not just consumers of knowledge. In this theme, we’ll focus on how we can create opportunities, time, and space for all youth to be agents in their own learning. In most learning spaces today, time and space are precious commodities, and learners, as well as their teachers and mentors, are challenged to find time to deepen learning through connecting passions and interests, personal or political, that cut across the different spheres of young learners lives. Join as we use Connected Learning principles to support the sharing of ideas and strategies throughout October and beyond.

Sparking Creativity & Curiosity in Students and Schools - Led by The Teachers GuildTeaching is the most human centered profession. So, let’s build on other’s creativity, and design new ways to light up curiosity in our classrooms and schools! Throughout the month, we invite you to collaborate and make each other’s ideas awesome. Join our collaboration, connect with other teachers, and design new solutions for your students and schools together.

Building Quality Beyond The Bell - Led by Beyond the Bell: Afterschool and expanded learning programs provide a place for young people to grow and learn during their out-of-school time. Research shows that high-quality afterschool programs lead to improvements in school performance, including decreased disciplinary incidences and improved school day attendance, course grades, and standardized test scores. In addition, participation in afterschool programs has been associated with improved socio-emotional skills and beliefs such as improved self-perception, interpersonal behaviors, and decision-making skills.

Innovations in Professional Learning - Led by ASCD: ASCD believes that effective professional development must be customized to the individual needs of a school or educator and focused on building professional capacity. Importantly, professional learning must be job-embedded – included in each educator’s day-to-day professional life – rather than limited to a few designated inservice days. Consistent innovation in the way professional learning is delivered and consumed can keep educators prepared to meet the goal of education: to prepare all students for a successful future.