3 big shifts, 8 building blocks, and some guiding questions
3 Big Shifts That Our Schools Need to Make
- From Low-Level Thinking to High-Level Thinking. From an overwhelming emphasis on students doing lower-level thinking tasks (factual recall, procedural regurgitation) to students more often engaging in tasks of greater cognitive complexity (creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, effective communication).
- From Analog to Digital. From local classrooms that are largely based on pens/pencils, notebook paper, ring binders, and printed textbooks to local and global learning spaces that are deeply and richly technology-infused (devices + Internet).
- From Teacher-Directed to Student-Directed. From classrooms that are overwhelmingly teacher-controlled to learning environments that enable greater student agency (ownership and control of what, how, when, where, who with, and why they learn).
8 Building Blocks for the Future of Schools
- Project- and inquiry-based learning environments that emphasize greater student agency and active application of more cognitively-complex thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.
- Simulations and problem-based learning experiences that foster students’ ability to engage in authentic, real-world work.
- Competency-based education and standards-based grading efforts that shift the focus from seat time to learning mastery.
- 1:1 computing initiatives (and concurrent Internet bandwidth upgrades) that give students powerful digital learning devices and access to the world’s information, individuals, and organizations.
- The expansion of digital and online (and often open access) information resources that increase the availability of higher and deeper learning opportunities.
- Online communities of interest that supplement and augment more-traditional learning communities that are limited by geography and time.
- Adaptive software and data systems (and accompanying organizational models) that can facilitate greater individualization of learning content and pace.
- Alternative credentialing mechanisms that enable individuals to quickly reskill for and adapt to rapidly-evolving workforce needs and economic demands.
Guiding Questions for Moving Forward
- What can we do to increase the cognitive complexity of students’ day-to-day work so that they are more often doing deeper thinking and learning work?
- What can we do to better incorporate digital technologies into students’ deeper thinking and learning work in ways that are authentic, relevant, meaningful, and powerful?
- What can we do to give students more agency and ownership of what they learn, when they learn, how they learn, and how they show what they’ve learned?
- What can we do to better recognize and assess when students’ deeper thinking and learning work is (or isn’t) occurring?
- What can we do to build the internal capacity of both individual educators and school systems to be better learners and faster change agents?
- As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, how do we bring educators, board members, parents, communities, policymakers, and higher education along with us?
- As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, how do we ensure that traditionally-underserved student and family populations aren’t further disadvantaged?
- As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, what individual and societal mindsets – and local, state, and federal policy supports and/or barriers – need reconsideration?
- How do we balance competing (often unproductive) demands from other fronts so that we can do this important work?