Monday, October 14, 2013

Putting learning in the hands of the learners

In a recent ISTE article ("Taking Aim at Innovation" by Grant Lichtman) from Learning and Leading, I read an interesting line: "As a group, schools are still mired in the mindset that technology is the innovation, not that it is a tool embedded in innovation."

As I look around my campuses and what we have marked as our successes, I realize that we, too, are victim to this method of thinking. We have  deemed our successes by being a Google Apps for Education district, BYOD, 1:1 at the 9th and 10th grade levels, and have rolled out a variety of new technologies. Though these are all part of being innovative, they are not the innovation. Rather, they should be the tool that helps enable the innovation. Therefore, what is innovation? What is evidence of innovation at our district? We know the tools that we have put in place to help innovation, but do we know what innovation has actually occured?

If innovation is "preparing students for the future, not the past," what does that look like? The concept of a flipped classroom is gaining momentum - allowing students to watch videos and lectures at home so that classroom time is devoted to discussions and enhancing learning. This is innovative. However, it is not flipped learning. The author brings up a great point of the difference between a flipped classroom and flipped learning. Oftentimes, students go into classrooms and ask "what are we going to do today" or "what are we going to learn today." Sadly, though, that means the students have no responsibility or say-so in their learning.

Last week, I mentioned the lack of passion in students - this apathy for learning and the future. What if we did ask students to think of their learning as their own journey? What if we asked students to define their learning? In doing so, we would be preparing students for the future. The technology we once deemed as the innovation would be come the tool for helping students with their learning paths. It goes back to JFK's infamous quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Learning is not about what we can do, but what it will bring to our group.

Likewise, technology is not the innovation. It is a great tool for making innovation happen. When this is realized and addressed, I believe, true innovation will occur.

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