Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hacking Higher Education: Evolving Technology, Pedagogy and Faculties of Education

The teachers that operate in classrooms today, whether in universities, high schools or elementary schools are products of the training that they received from the respective faculties or colleges of education. If you notice a common thread or pattern to their methods it is the fact that they were trained in the "one-size fits all" model of education.

 Having said that, I know that educators will point out that the drive for what is called "differentiated instruction" in which individual learning differences are addressed within the classroom, is alive and well. I would point out that I too was in the brick and mortar school system at the time of its introduction and my observation was that although in the public arena, it was mandated and proclaimed  and heralded as a panacea for learning differences, in the day to day front lines,it was difficult to implement effectively. If this was indeed the case, we have to ask:

"If  individualized learning or differentiated instruction was such a noble undertaking, why has it not become the "de facto" approach to learning? Why do educators struggle with implementing it effectively within their classes?"


 Hacking Faculties of Education--Getting Started

The following are some ideas on how faculties of education can start the needed transformation to training teachers as agents of change in keeping with the needs of a globally connected collaborative world:

Disruptive Change: Effective institutional change does not happen over night. However, as societies will testify, we can not keep turning out "industrial model education clones" that will continue a vicious cycle that is well past its "best before date". Therefore, it would be worthwhile for the faculty to establish a educator training section designed to reflect the purpose of training educators to become agents of change. In business, when it needs to nurture innovative ideas, some devote on average 10-20% of its resources to pursue innovation while still being able to maintain its mainstream activities. When we look at the evolution of learning in the 21st century, it is a good idea to take stock of where we presently sit.

Credit: Paul Taylor (2015)

        We also need to recognize that we need to change from what we may term the "old transmission model" of learning entrenched as a result of the industrial model mindset to a model that is more reflective of how human beings really learn as evidenced by research from Neuro-Cognitive science.

Credit: Graham Attwell (2008)



A New Purpose = New Skillsets:

If  we train new educators for the purpose of creating agents of change who will then go into classrooms, either online or in the brick and mortar environment, they will need to model and encourage a new set of skills that more effectively meet the needs of a 21st century globally connected and collaboratively networked world. The following are representative of the needed skillsets:
  1. Move from use of technology as an "add on" to use of technology as an extension of man's creativity, innovation and problem solving ability. Something that becomes far more comfortable and intuitive.
  2. Move from protected and separated "silos of knowledge" to "cross disciplinary, collaborative groupings"; almost symbiotic in terms of relationships.
  3. Move from static pedagogy to a more open, adaptive, fluid pedagogy.
  4. Move from single discipline problem solving to cross disciplinary collaborative solving of complex real world problems.
  5. Move from emotionally based thinking to a linking of divergent and critical thinking.
  6. Move from instructional design based on one method to more network and design thinking.
  7. Move from instruction to accumulate content to the active creation of new knowledge and skillsets.

 Although technology is impacting education, it is pedagogy that needs to evolve by harnessing technology to open new paths to make education and E-Learning in particular more irresistibly engaging to teachers and the students of the 21st century. The essentials for this may be represented by a proposed model by Terry Heick.

Credit: Terry Heick

An open, adaptive and agile pedagogy can open opportunities to use the resources of the web to enrich and extend the learning of students and teachers alike.

The Opposition to Disruptive Change:

It would be naive to believe that such changes will not be met with skepticism, resistance and a drive to maintain the status quo because it is comfortable and very predictable. Consider the degree of resistance to the idea of social networking as a simple example where educators would rather have an outright ban on the use of social media in the classroom rather than incorporate it as a means of extending and enriching education. The history of resistance to it has not really improved today considering how much we now know about it.

Credit: Graham Attwell (2008)
Consider the opposition and misinformation that exists in regards to E-Learning in its many forms. The attitudes of high education educators in many institutions to the use of E-Learning in their practice is a symptom of the problem.

Credit: (2015)

Credit: (2014)

 Our faculties and colleges of education are still organized physically in the same way as they were in the prime time of the industrial economy.


"Are we still entrenched in a "command and control" system which prepares educators for the world of the past?"

Can we still afford this type of organization or is it time to learn how to harness disruptive change to the benefit of a growing, increasingly disconnected generation of students?

Next... Pursuing the Future

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