Today I’m sharing a thought to conjure with. My recent presentations to schools have increasingly emphasised the inclusive nature of effective learning design. The importance of designing different pathways around the learners, those people, both students and teachers, who sit at the heart of how we think about learning programmes.
Dimensions of effective teaching
A recent browse back through Hattie’s research – particularly this paper, Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? – reminded me that the dimensions that differentiate between novice and ‘expert’ (my inverted commas) teachers can be identified as being able to:
” identify essential representations of their subject,
guide learning through classroom interactions,
monitor learning and provide feedback,
attend to affective attributes, and
influence student outcomes.” (p.5)
What is of most interest to me, taking an e-learning lens on this, is that effective teachers are those who are able to make decisions about differentiating content knowledge on the fly. They don’t just have deep content knowledge, but they understand how to adapt their teaching so that this knowledge is taught effectively.
Implications for a BYOD environment
As we move into increasingly one-to-one environments, be it BYOD, 1:1 or similar, the pathways into learning multiply, the possibilities that a teacher needs to conjure with widen. And so they should. With different devices in the hands of learners that can potentially open multiple doorways into learning, it would be a wasted opportunity were every learner to to be lock step in identical activities.
Not only is this a management challenge, it becomes a learning design challenge.
It seems to me that teachers who are operating in a digital environment not only need to confidently hold models of effective use of technologies (e.g. TPACK) in their heads; they need to have deep, conceptual understanding of the curriculum learning areas and how best to adapt this, in multiple ways, for their diverse learners. A challenge indeed.
The implications for schools are interesting here. How many schools address content-specific learning as part of e-learning PD? How often does a session on BYOD unpack the conceptual nature of science and the different ways to offer pathways into scientific knowledge? How are teachers supported to understand the specialisms of the curriculum as they discuss ways to effectively use digital technologies?
It’s an interesting idea that I shall keep grappling with into 2014. Perhaps we can start to consider e-learning as actually being about understanding concepts in learning areas, being confident in your pedagogical choices and then quietly positioning digital technologies in the supporting role that they deserves.
And the challenge for school leaders is to consider how to have these conversations around technologies, so the focus is firmly on those dimensions of effective teaching. Because, after all, the answer to supporting our learners
“lies in the [people] who gently close the classroom door and performs the teaching act –the [people] who put into place the end effects of so many policies, who interpret these policies, and who are with students during their 15,000 hours of schooling.” (p. 2-3)