The Horizon Report provides a great snapshot into the world of EdTech and the direction that innovation is taking in classrooms. Several of the trends outlined either echo what I am doing in my class, or would like to do. The trends that I most closely connected with are coding as a literacy, the growing focus on measuring learning and digital literacies. Moving classrooms from the comfortable industrial type model that is largely based on an Instructivist approach to learning is a tall task. It requires “a true spirit of innovation (which) is exactly what our educational system needs to crush complacency, stomp the status quo, and forge a path into a future that is perpetually in flux.” (Couros, 2015)
“Computer science drives innovation in the U.S. economy and society. Despite growing demand for jobs in the field, it remains marginalized throughout the U.S. K-12 education system. Opening students to the world of coding will not only help them view computers as more than simple toys, but have an overall appreciation and understanding of how our world relies on coding and the potential it presents for their future. ”. Coding is a tool that remains largely untapped. Even for myself, as a previous ed-tech coordinator, it was not something that I was very comfortable with. As I attended sessions on it, I began to realize that coding is not only important, but it will be a vital tool for students’ future. In fact, the eye opener for myself was being trained on the MIT developed program, “Scratch Jr.” by a fourth-grade student at a PD session that I recently attended. She sat with me for over an hour and described her thought processes as she created different scenes with the many different Sprites in the program. I was fascinated at the resiliency that she described and the level of self-efficacy that she displayed. As an ed-tech coordinator, I began to incorporate this into my lessons. I saw these same attributes in the students that I teach. As a new Vice Principal in a school, I am intrigued with the prospects that coding can bring to my entire school. There is the potential to incorporate it into math lessons with my own grade 4 students that I teach, as well as with my entire student population through coding clubs and staff professional development. Yet, in spite of the clear benefits to coding, many teachers are unaware of the both the need for students to understand coding, and their engagement when they do so. As the Horizon Report mentions, it is not being lost in other parts of the world. Countries like Australia and Ireland are already adopting coding into their curriculum and North American governments are starting to legislate the same thing. In Alberta, Canada, the curriculum is being overhauled and one of the main additions is coding. The Horizon Report really reaffirmed the focus that I need to place on coding, not only in my own classroom but in my school building.
The way that we collect and analyze data has changed because of technology. Data is becoming one of the most sought after resources by companies and organizations around the world. Nearly everything that we do as Internet users is valuable data depending on who is using it. Everything from our Social Media use, to online surveys and our personal shopping habits are being analyzed to provide you with better service. However, the Horizon Report made me question if we are collecting the right data in our school and whether we are properly using the data that we do have. In my experience, we have been placing too much data that is general or derived from a small sample size. This includes district or government standardized testing that is often times completed in one sitting in a pen and paper form. This means that by the time the data is processed, it is old and rarely has a direct impact on student learning. However, with the increased reliance and access to technology in my school building, we could be collecting data more regularly and processing it faster so that we can tailor learning experiences to individual student needs. “Learning analytics has driven a fast-growing trend toward personalized learning systems (PLS), or computer- based management programs that
- assess individual student learning needs using complex algorithms and collections of data across students
- provide a customized instructional experience matched to each student”
Being able to identify data provided to us through Google Apps, as well as a variety of other web based resources would help up to better understand our students’ interests and learning needs more efficiently. The best part of leveraging Learning Analytics is that it does not necessarily mean that we are introducing new tests that are time-consuming and require teacher training to administer and analyze. Our school is looking to use math diagnostic tests at the beginning of our school year that is completed in Google Forms. The tests are organized into different topics within the math curriculum and can be marked electronically. Within a day, the teacher can administer, mark and analyze the data. That data can then be used to identify the strengths of that student and areas of development. This data can then be shared with students and parents and will lead to goal setting for that student’s areas of growth for the upcoming year. The Horizon Report clearly outlines that this is a direction that schools need to be looking in order to enhance student learning and performance.
Digital Literacies has now become one of the most difficult, yet most vital skills that we can impart to students. One of the difficulties is that unlike, other types of literacies, this is the first generation of students that have required this. And unlike other literacies, there is not widespread support from home because parents are either unaware of the need for digital literacies or they are struggling with understanding digital literacies themselves. Many of the concerns are related to anxieties related to their online lives as well as the distractibility of the students who are trying to manage their online activities with their student responsibilities. In a Canadian survey of teachers, 76% of teachers report having witnessed students multitasking with technology. The teachers overwhelmingly felt that student anxiety levels have increased over the past three to five years. Along with social media, critical analysis is becoming increasingly crucial. With the rise of the fake news problem and the overabundance of information at our disposal, deciphering fact from fiction is challenging. The Horizon Report cites a study from Stanford that found most students in K-20 are not prepared to judge the credibility of news and information that they see each day. To complicate matters, many students are unaware of the implications of their online habits and that their activities are often public by default. This would suggest that as I reflect on my role as a teacher and administrator, I need to be paying attention to these trends and take proactive steps to increase digital literacies and citizenship at my school. This will help students make positive choices about how the access, use and share information. In my role as an ed-tech, one of my duties was to collect information from administrators about how they were dealing with digital citizenship. Many of them responded that they were not doing enough especially in light of the fact that many of the discipline issues they were dealing with stemmed from students’ online activities. In my role, I see the opportunity to start early. Waiting until students are in middle school or later is too long and mistakes have already been made and habits formed. At the elementary level, I can begin to instill good habits as young as first grade. Students at this age can be taught about Internet safety skills. As students progress to fourth and fifth grade, students will benefit from repeated lessons on understanding digital footprints and critical thinking. Classes could incorporate tools like Twitter into their classroom routine to model effective digital citizenship and ensure they are sharing and using information appropriately and respectfully.
The Horizon Report provides many good insights into how we should be utilizing technology in our classrooms currently and thinking towards the future. I am excited about the possibilities that I will have this school year to impact growth in my school building as a school administrator. It helps me filter out what the priorities should be, so that staff is not simply implementing technology without making a true impact on student learning. All of the topics covered in the report provided me with some insight, but these three will certainly be the target areas for me in my classroom and school.
Anybody can Learn. (n.d.). Retrieved September 09, 2017, from http://code.org/
Couros, G. (2015). The innovator’s mindset empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.
Early Childhood. (n.d.). Retrieved September 09, 2017, from https://education.alberta.ca/
Growing Up Digital (GUD) Alberta. (n.d.). Retrieved September 09, 2017, from http://philmcrae.com/blog/growing-up-digital-gud-alberta
NMC/CoSN Horizon Report 2017 K-12 Edition. (n.d.). Retrieved September 09, 2017, from https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmccosn-horizon-report-2017-k-12-edition/
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching.