The recent and ongoing events of 2020 have brought about difficulty’s in teaching and learning for both k-12 and higher education. Many schools struggled with closed campuses, hybrid classes, meeting software and lesson planning. Teachers, not knowing the the type or level of technology used by the students, often posted everything on the LMS and hoped students would login to one many online meeting tools to show attendance and sit for traditional lecture. It’s been shown that students loose interest if there are no graded tasks or activities.
It’s been shown that when administration, teachers and students have a common learning platform and digital tools, there is clear ownership of responsibilities that lead to higher levels of interaction, diverse assignments, personalized instruction and opportunities for authentic learning.
I propose all administration, teachers and students be assigned a highly flexible digital learning device. Specifically an Apple iPad with Apple Pencil. The focus will not be on the device, but on the learning activities that can happen when everyone understands the capabilities available through the common learning device. Removing ambiguity for the teacher helps foster new and diverse learning opportunities through observation, data logging and content creation and assignment reflection with handwriting, drawings or audio and video.
Administrators do not have to change their LMS, but will need to promote the digital learning environment through direct training, surveys and discussion, and sharing of ideas. Teachers will need to take a hard look at their syllabi and rubrics to change their focus from direct transfer of knowledge to activities (preferably self directed) that help demonstrate understanding of the concepts and material. Students will need to understand through demonstration and minor activities what the capabilities of their common tools are and how they can be used to complete assignments and collaborate with their peers. Electronic or e-portfolios can be easily created as a media-rich working document or posted online with free web tools like WordPress.
- Provide understanding of the digital learning environment trough training on the capabilities of the university provided digital tools . This can be achieved through online or in-person activities and consultations. Administrators will focus on maintaining the underpinnings of the environment and promoting the use of the new tools through community buy-in, professional development and self paced trainings. Teachers should be encouraged to incorporate the new digital tools into assignments, activities and demonstrations of subject mastery. Students will need to have the understanding that the tools of the common learning environment are there to help them complete the adapted tasks and build their understanding through mobile access, digital note taking, on-line class resources and built-in applications for collaborating and sharing their knowledge and progress.
- Commit to this endeavor long enough to affect the desired change. Often the problem is identified and the digital tools to help change the problem is provided, but the allocation of time to fail and learn from those failures is not incorporated into the overall plan. Teachers and students don’t know what they don’t know about many digital devices, apps and interfaces. They will need some extra time and advice when they demonstrate fear or a lack of confidence using digital tools. While student will pick-up on the tools quickly, they often don’t understand capabilities at the outset. Much like teaching anything, when a learner knows their capabilities they strive and find new ways to use them.