In today's dynamic classrooms, the teaching and learning process is becoming more nuanced, more seamless, and it flows back and forth from students to teachers. Here's a look at current trends in teaching and learning, their implications, and changes to watch for.
The Three Key Trends
If Web 2.0 has taught us anything, it’s to play nicely together. Sure, there are times for buckling down and working alone, but in most cases, the collaborative process boosts everyone's game. In progressives schools across the country, students and teachers are learning from each other in all sorts of ways.
Sharing information and connecting with others -- whether we know them personally or not -- has proven to be a powerful tool in education. Students are collaborating with each other through social media to learn more about specific subjects, to test out ideas and theories, to learn facts, and to gauge each others' opinions.
Collaboration is also finding its way into curriculum with open-source sites to which everyone is encouraged to contribute. Working together is woven into the fabric of project-based schools like the Science Leadership in Academy, which focuses on science, technology, math and entrepreneurship, and Napa New Tech High High. The idea is simple: by working together, students figure out how to find common ground, balance each others' skills, communicate clearly, and be accountable to the team for their part of the project. Just as they would in the work place.
Watch for:(1) Department of Education working to establish a one-stop shop for teacher networks. (2) Commonly accepted guidelines for using YouTube, Facebook, and other social media in schools.
Students in high school and college are using digital portfolios -- the equivalent of resumes -- to showcase the trajectory of their work on websites that link to their assignments, achievements, and course of study, using photos, graphics, spreadsheets and web pages.
Watch for: The explosive growth of high-tech companies and venture capitalists investing ever-more capital in the education market.
Simply stated, blended learning is combining computers with traditional teaching. Knowing that today's learners are wired at all times, teachers are directing students' natural online proclivity towards schoolwork. It's referred to as different things -- reverse teaching, flip teaching, backwards classroom, or reverse instruction. But it all means the same thing: students conduct research, watch videos, participate in collaborative online discussions, and so on at home and at school -- both in K-12 schools and in colleges and universities.
Teachers use this technique in different ways. Some assign interactive quizzes and online collaborative projects at home, some use computer time in class, some assign watching videos and lectures at home and use class time for hands-on projects, some place most of the curriculum online and work one-one-one with students in class. However they choose to do it, the best examples of blended learning programs involve teachers who use home-time online discussions and collaborative projects as fuel for content and discussion in the classroom.
This movement is growing quickly -- the Department of Education plans to spend $30 million over the next three years to bring blended learning to 400 schools around the country.
Watch for: Schools using blended learning to save costs on books and supplements.
What these trends mean
Given the growing momentum of these trends, what does it mean for students, teachers, schools, and the education community at large?
Teachers' and students' relationships are changing, as they learn from each other.
Teachers roles are shifting from owners of information to facilitators and guides to learning.
Educators are finding different ways of using class time.
Introverted students are finding ways to participate in class discussions online.
Different approaches to teaching are being used in the same class.
Students are getting a global perspective.
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