The world is changing at a rapid rate and education must change with it. Like never before students have the ability to learn anytime, anywhere, about anything due to the revolutionary new technology available. States and school districts in the United States are tackling enormous challenges.
A study conducted in 2009 by Indiana State University indicated that most students, most of the time, felt bored and/or unchallenged in the classroom. To combat these issues, America has made some drastic and innovative changes in recent years to schools around the nation. These changes and innovative practices are of high interest to me as throughout my teaching career I have seen similar issues of student inattention and disengagement. Studying in the United States will offer new possibilities for our organisation and the positive impact digital technology can have on student engagement.
My study paper will be focusing on the following:
“How do we create engaging, digital, innovative, personalised learning opportunities for students?”
- Do innovative learning environments (ILEs) or altered learning spaces contribute to improved student outcomes and engagement?
- How important and effective is digital technology for personalised/customised learning? How does ICT support this learning and assessment?
- What new models of schools have emerged from the use of innovation and digital technologies? How is literacy and numeracy incorporated into student learning?
- How does technology, innovation and 21st century schools challenge the traditional school model?
Here is a sneak peek of the Universities and Schools that I will be visiting the USA on my Hardie Fellowship:
Yong Zhao – University of Oregon, (PH.D, Professor, Department of Educational Methodology, Policy and Leadership)
I will be visiting Yong Zhao to discuss and be mentored in relation to my research paper. The input and work with Yong Zhao will help Tasmanian Department of Education tackle its change agenda. Yong will arrange school visits in Eugene, Oregon.
High Tech High – San Diego, California
High Tech High is a group of eleven public charter schools. Students are selected by a lottery system according to postcode, using an algorithm which ensures the school population reflects the demographics of San Diego.
High Tech High is a school dedicated to a mastery-learning model. The emphasis is on a student centred approach through project-based learning that integrates technology as learning tool. The students are integrated across learning classes. Students are engaged in learning by making, doing and completing projects. The school walls are permeable; students are going out on internships and helping out in the community. Businesses and general community are welcome to come in at any time, for example, they have public exhibitions. At High Tech High, ICT is implemented as a tool to learning, just like a camera in photography and hammer in construction.
Carpe Diem, Indianapolis
Carpe Diem has taken a new approach to education and has designed its school around the student. Carpe Diem doesn’t look like any other school. It is based on the blended learning model; it blends the best of face to face instructions via workshops, discussions and conversations around key concepts, technology and extended learning opportunities. The teachers’ leverage on student knowledge, experience and savviness about technology in the classroom motivates students to learn subject areas.
At Carpe Diem, education is customised to the students’ level and needs; the model allows for students to move along at their own pace and provides more time for one on one teaching. Students attend workshops around key concepts and making learning more relevant by giving the students projects. Relationships are extremely important in this model. Teachers get to know their students by having the same subject teacher for the entirety of high school. The teachers learn the context of the students’ lives, interests, goals, careers and aspirations.
Rocketship Elementary, San Jose
At Rocketship Elementary, they realise that we all learn in our own unique ways. From the time we’re children until long after we leave school, each person has their own way of learning and advancing. Unfortunately, the traditional school system doesn’t allow for that.
At Rocketship the students are called, Rocketeers–where they receive a personalised learning instruction, targeted to their needs and tailored to their unique learning styles.
At Rocketship they implement a blended learning model which combines traditional instruction, technology and tutoring, allowing every Rocketeer to learn at their own pace. And best of all, this model works for all Rocketeers, in the Rocketship program, whether they are catching up or racing ahead.
Harvard University – Think Tank on Global Education
Think Tank on Global Education will allow participants to consider the role curriculum, pedagogy and instructional materials; assess methods for engaging and connecting students globally; and learn how to create shared global learning experiences for students.
In order for students to understand and address the multifaceted global challenges and opportunities they will face, we as educators must create opportunities for students to develop intercultural awareness, knowledge and perspective on global issues.
iZone – School of One, New York City
School of One gives students computer-generated personalised learning plans, which are known as a ‘playlist’. The ‘playlist’ of activities is displayed on large screens at the front of the classroom that students follow for that day. The playlists are tailored to students’ needs, allowing the student to work at their own pace, within a learning space designed to accommodate different skills taught simultaneously in different parts of the classroom.
A part of their personalised plan is one-to-one consultation with a teacher and followed by group work. This model allows teachers to focus on getting to know students, developing learning tasks that explore real-world situations like architectural design, product development and financial investment and enabling students to apply these to real life contexts.
Quest to Learn (Q2L), New York City
Q2L engages students using cutting edge technology, through ‘mission-based’ learning and digital gaming. There are three key principles:
- Learning by doing
- Building on experience
- Applying knowledge in a range of different settings
Students are engaged in ten week ‘missions’ which are a series of ‘quests’, where students solve problems that are posed to them through a variety of methods: gathering resources, calculations, experiments, analysing and building their own games.
Students are exposed to the role variety of industries/businesses depending on what the task requires (scientist, photographer or an engineer) and approach problems in character.
Bringing The Experience All Together
A visionary leader by definition is someone who plans for the future using innovative and bold strategies. This seven week experience will provide me with the opportunity to meet and collaborate with visionary leaders that are adapting education to a changing world.