Recently entrepreneur and researcher Vivek Wadhwa posted an insightful piece on Reinventing the Classroom for the digital age. He talks about the potential for a revolution in education:
I am talking about a complete transformation of the way teaching is done, with the computer taking the role of the lecturer, the teacher becoming a coach, and students taking responsibility for their own learning.
How can this be done? Although there is talk of "digital tutors" and MOOCs (Massive open online courses) replacing traditional lectures and courses, Wadhwa feels this is a bit far-fetched in the near future. True revolution, he asserts, will happen in the way teaching is done; a shift from focusing on the group in learning, to one-on-one instruction.
He goes on to share lessons from an innovative teacher in Pao Alto, Esther Wojcicki, who has worked for 30 years to change the culture of her classrooms. Here are some highlights from her book, "Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom", distilled from Wadhwa's post:
1. Giving students some control of their learning is the key to engagement.
- The implication here is that teachers have to be able and encouraged to do so; not criticized for losing control.
- This also implies (in my opinion) less of a focus on pace and amount of content - if students need more (or less) time with concepts, they deserve to have it!
2. If we want to train a generation of innovators, then we need to give them an opportunity to be innovative in school.
- The entrepreneurship focus we are starting to see in postsecondary environments is a promising step; integrated project-based units in elementary and high schools would fit here too.
3. Students do well in classrooms when they are treated with trust and respect. Everyone, especially a child, wants to feel important and empowered.
- The culture of the classroom is the key to getting kids excited about learning.
- The 'eulogy virtues' described in this New York Times post, and this post on qualities to live by help to explain the shift needed in the role of the teacher and values in the classroom.
4. Mastery of learning.
- Children need an opportunity to redo assignments until they learn the material. Some people take longer than others to learn, but that does not mean that they are inferior or cannot learn.
- Grades can hinder this; the authors suggest feedback instead of grades until a student masters the concepts.
5. This can apply to all subject areas.
- Even 10 percent of time devoted to work on a project of the student's choosing would bring more excitement towards learning.
Wojcicki says that 50 percent of the time should be dedicated to blended learning. These 5 takeaways provide a helpful start!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!