Friday, 13 May 2016

As an educational consultant, I try to... (Part 3 and 4)

As an educational consultant, I try to predict the future and make sure that we design our schools and prepare our students for this future.  As said by others, it is a future that we have no idea what it is going to be like.  So, how can one effectively predict and prepare without accurate knowledge?  Work with what we know.  We are not in a factory era; we are in an information era.  We need to teach students how to answer questions, not content.  The information age presents way too much information to try to learn it all.  Students need to be equipped with skills that will allow them to find the answers to anything they want to know.
There are twelve points every educational institution and educator must understand to continue to be effective in the future.
The third and fourth are

The complete educational areas within a facility need coverage with wireless accessibility.    Faculty and students should be able to roam freely in all areas of the school and be connected.  Wireless technology has improved so that it is now possible to provide this coverage effectively and is not cost prohibitive.  The access to a wireless network needs to be secure but also painless for students to use a variety of school-owned equipment as well as a student’s own devices.

Many schools have 100% wireless coverage.  Security protocol and acceptable-use policies will be necessary to facilitate students bringing their own devices to school.  Each of the classrooms will require charging stations and others should be available throughout the school in common areas.
A security system which tracks who is logged into the wifi system and what they are doing on the system is a must.  This level of security will allow for the safely of the students and other users.  Just as it is necessary to know who is on your school’s physical space and what are they doing, the same thing applies to the virtual space.  A well-trained employee will make for a wireless system which is safe but is also easily accessed and is of value to the users.

Online teaching and learning

How and what is being taught can be enhanced by using an online curriculum, tools, and pedagogy.  The access to this online support material will redefine how and what is taught.  Effective educational change can be driven by providing supportive information, training, content and tools to a world-class teacher to develop a more individual, collaborative, project-based approach to teaching.  Technology can present relevant on-demand content that allows the teacher to move away from the “sage on the stage” to more of a facilitator.

This current educational trend and research that speaks to this is the “Flip Classroom” movement.
Online teaching or learning should occur in the school, and access to the Saskatchewan Curriculum guides online is a resource which should be accessed by the teachers.  Below are three commonly used programs in schools:

Lezia Learning   Lexia reading is a technology-based reading program that increase reading proficiency for all students pre-K –grade 4 and at-risk students grade 4-12.
Starfall  Free site to teach the basics of reading.  Features interactive books and phonics games.
Mathletics  Mathletics is the next generation in online math learning platform, helping students enjoy math and improve their results.

To fully utilize these online programs and others, classroom computer pods would allow for successful individual scheduled access.  The computers on wheels will also facilitate this.  The computers on wheels do require planning, setup and are usually scheduled for the class as a whole.

The use of online material can change the way the school functions.  In an information society, like the one that is accessible on the internet, a teacher should not be teaching content.  A teacher should work as a guide on the side and facilitate the use of online apps, games, learning tools, and full courses.  The items mention above can assist a teacher by providing lesson plans, materials to share with students, individual programs for students at different learning levels, support materials as well as full courses.  The teacher via internet communication tools can invite content experts digitally into their classroom. Access to online courses can allow students access to master teachers as well as expand the available course offerings at a smaller school.  The flip classroom concept can be implemented which is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed.  The students do content exploration through short educational videos, cyber school course or online material as homework and then in-class time is devoted to exercises, teacher help, discussiom, and projects.  The most successful integration of technology is a hybrid model of “traditional classroom teaching approach” and “interactive online technological digital sharing, collaboration, and creation of material”.

For more information contact Darren Cannell Educational Consultant.

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