Saturday 25 October 2014

Peer into the Future of Education by Alan November

This was the conference that I attended yesterday. I have to admit that on my way there, I had been hoping that it would end early because I had so many errands to run. But it did not end early and I was not disappointed because it had succeeded in making me think! More specifically, it made me think about how technology can help us teach better than ever.

The first example that November gave us that illustrates the change in what we can teach and now expect from our students, is how we are no longer limited in the sources of information that our children have access to. If we give students an assignment to write about an event in history they are no longer limited to using only sources from their own country. They can access sources from other countries to understand other perspectives on that event and then learn from these differing perspectives.

Of course this access to other sources also means that we have lost control over what sources are available to our students and it is critically important that we teach them to analyze what they read. Two very important elements that we need to teach them is to look at who is producing the content that they read and how to confirm which of two conflicting sources is correct. The examples that November gave us for teaching who is producing content were a “.org” page owned by someone who does harm to that cause and an article that superficially looked like it was produced by a well renowned university but was actually produced by a student at that university who did not have his facts straight.

Alan November also showed us numerous websites that offer terrific learning and teaching opportunities. Here are some that I intend to explore further: Diigo, WolframAlpha, Kaizena,, Clubacademia, ScreenChomp, Scratch, Edx, FanFiction. I have to admit that none of the things discussed at this conference were things that I could do with my early primary class that I currently teach. However I did spend much of the day thinking about what skills we should be teaching our students in the early primary grades in order to enable them to be successful learners in tomorrow’s world.

It does seem reasonable to expect that the future of learning will be more about setting up individualized learning programs for children and the teacher’s role will be to assess where a student is at and use that information to create a learning program for them. For students to get the most out of this type of a learning program it is more important than ever for them to be independent, motivated, and capable learners. This means that early on in their education we should be teaching children to learn how to learn. In my online course, Learn Easier Study Better, I stress that learning how to be a better learner involves understanding  knowing how to motivate oneself, having a “can-do” attitude, developing confidence in one’s abilities, knowledge of the learning process, and good practical learning strategies. These are all things that we can and should teach our children starting at a young age. My passion for teaching my students how to learn better was definitely fed at yesterday’s conference!