What is the perfect instructional model for education? In the classes I am taking at BSU to earn my M.E.T. I have been introduced to several different learning models, and each one has merits. Some of the new terms I have met recently are Constructivism, Instructivism, minimally invasive education, and Connectivism. Some old friends have surfaced, too: Inquiry-based learning, Project Based Learning (PBL), Problem Based Learning and Guided Discovery. With so many choices, can there really be one perfect model? Or even one “best” model?
Add to the equation all of the different learning styles that greet us in our classrooms on a daily basis. It all adds up to something akin to the digits for Pi – a never ending combination of strategies must be used in order to reach the students entrusted to us. Technology will continue to play a pivotal role in the mix. With the rapid changes in digital technology available to teachers, there is no end to the tools that can be put to use in the classroom. We are limited only by our school budgets and our imagination. I can’t address the budget, but I may be able to offer some insight to help get your imagination going.
Professional Development: Slides, Document, and Game
Each of the topics and definitions presented in this blog entry and its components have come from either my EdTech 501 class-Introduction to Educational Technology, or EdTech 503 class – Instructional Design.
I have developed four components to this lesson. The first is a Google doc about the recent history of the changing role of educators. This changing role is a fast trend in the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition, presumably because teachers’ roles are in a constant state of change with the rapid development of technology and its implications for the classroom.
There is also a Google Slides presentation. You are free to use the presentation for staff development. You are also welcome to use the Google doc and the two games (below). The document, presentation, and game provide sufficient material to deliver a 30 minute Professional Development session on learning models.
In keeping with the idea that building something helps reinforce learning, I built a Jeopardy-style game to reinforce the concepts included in the slide show and document. The game also provides an opportunity for extending the lesson. Some of the answers include links to web sites with more information on the given topic.
If you choose to use these materials for a Professional Development session, work through the presentation first. Then split teachers into teams so they can compete with one another and try to win the game.
I used FlipQuiz to produce the game. FlipQuiz was very easy to use. The free version was sufficient for this lesson. But, if I were to use the site regularly in my classroom I would go with the paid version. The paid version has some features that I would find useful enough to justify the monthly subscription price.
Since FlipQuiz was so easy, I produced a learning game for my music class. Using a variation of Mitra’s (2001) minimally invasive education technique, I turned my third grade music class loose on the game. A few students were hesitant to get started, so I paired them with other students. Within about ten minutes every student had completed the whole game (20 answers/questions). This was definitely guided discovery, not open discovery because I had already taught the concepts in the game. I did not tell them the rules of the game, or how to play. They were interested immediately, though, because their only instruction was to play the game. No one was worried about if they got it right or not, as is often the case in a pure Instructivist environment. This game would work very well for a skill review, and it is sustainable because I can use it with future classes. The whole game took less than an hour for me to build, and part of that time was searching for free-to-use images. The implications for the classroom are obvious. FlipQuiz would be a great site to use in implementing Web 2.0 technologies in the music (or any) classroom. You can play the quiz at this link.
Changing the Face of Education
The four components above demonstrate one way in which technology is helping to redefine the role of teachers. Web 2.0 tools have made it possible to develop in this case a stand alone training module on learning models, complete with an educational game, multimedia presentation, and printable materials. The best part – no programming knowledge was necessary. This opens up a new avenue of instruction for teachers with even the most basic of technical skills.
Another way that educational technology is changing the roles of teachers is in the tools available to students. Many students have computers and mobile devices in their homes. 1:1 programs are becoming more abundant (another trend in the 2014 Horizon Report), making the technology available for even those students who don’t have it in their homes. Public libraries are being stocked with equipment for students to use without any charge. There are many ways to incorporate digital technology into the students’ educational experiences.
One thing we have to consider as teachers is the kind of Internet access our students have outside of school. If it is primarily by way of their parent’s smart phone, then that defines how much they can use it. It also defines what they see. Many web sites aren’t conducive to good learning on a mobile device, for example. It used to be that a text book was a text book. It looked the same at home as it did on campus. With all manner of e-readers now, and phablets, and iWatches, our students are seeing a myriad of different “books”, even if they are all reading the same book. Case in point – some of my classmates refer to page 2482 of a textbook we read for class, obviously from a digital book. My softbound copy has only 542 pages in the whole book.
All in all, this was a great lesson on learning models and teaching styles. I can see why the changing role of teachers is a fast track trend. If we don’t change what we are doing, we run the risk of not reaching our students, which puts them at risk for not being prepared properly in order to experience a full and rewarding education and career. If we honestly wish to prepare our students for their future, we need to work with them to help them grow in a host of new skills that previous generations of teachers didn’t have to fret over. Creativity is one skill that students are falling behind in due to the change in play patterns. Collaboration is another. However, in the work force many jobs do not get done by one person, and the instructions and solutions aren’t handed to the workers. People have to work together, and they have to come up with creative solutions to problems. Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning and Guided Discovery all help to develop both creativity and collaboration skills in students. Technology lends itself well to these kinds of learning environments, and it will be present in many of the future work environments, as well.
One thing is for sure about technology, though. The tools that are prevalent today may not be prevalent tomorrow. We need to teach our students how to work with the technology that is currently available, and how to adapt to the new technology that comes their way. If we also teach higher order thinking skills, then we will effectively be teaching them how to develop new technologies, too – a really nice bonus!