Module 6: Curriculum and learning design in a connected world.
The title for this post comes from Julie Lindsay’s blog and her follow up comments in another post. It was, therefore, imperative to find out what fishbowl technique actually is, and whether the concept might be useful for C21st educators to apply to their real or virtual learning experience design.
There is definitely a place for such a tactic in student-focused classrooms and also for adult participation in professional learning experiences. Designers of meaningful lessons based on Mystery Skype or Skype and author use a similar technique – allocating roles to participants to enable the process to unfold smoothly for the connected groups, and sharing the workload in a collaborative fashion. Fishbowl structure presents domination of any one individual during a debate or discussion.
The spelling in the title of this post is based on a pun of Julie’s during the development of her post when she believed that Karl Fisch was the creator of the technique. Knowledge networking resulted from this mistaken belief, with Karl participating in the online debate about the technique – and other connected learning experiences.
Theory and practice of connectivism in flat, global classrooms, are clearly dealt with real-world examples of different types of activities referenced. At about the 7-minute mark, Julie uses a new word: GLOCALISATION to sum up the type of knowledge networking involved. Cultural sensitivities must be considered when engaging with classes overseas.
At about the 10-minute mark, Julie comments that going global is a mindset, not a plane ticket.
Google I/O 2013 – Building an Online Education Platform using Google Technologies:
This video shows the range of considerations and developments Google has been working on to enable blended or flipped classrooms. The basis for driving this agenda come from the belief that the art of lecture is lost – we now have the ability to go back; lots of things about a book are better than a lecture; video production for supporting learning allow the luxury of rewinding and replaying until the process demonstrated or information presented is fully understood.
Jen Jonson explains what makes learning blended:
These terms are considered further in my next post.
Tom Barrett in his short and engaging book Can Computers Keep Secrets? How a Six-Year-Old’s Curiosity Could Change the World, poses a number of examples of the engagement of children in posing “what if” questions, and exploring imaginative possibilities as a way of developing understanding of the world (Barrett, 2013). He advises all of us to consider the role of playfulness in learning.
Many teachers introducing knowledge networking experiences into their classrooms and building on this concept of engagement, adding a layer of serious skill development and giving their students an authentic voice. One educator who exemplifies this is Silvia Tolisano, who blogs about her experiences in working with technology to enable her students to develop knowledge networks (Tolisano S. R., 2015).
The case studies she shares indicate the planning that must take place before starting this type of learning journey in order to gain the maximum benefit. Skyping an expert from any field requires preparation with the individual concerned, and also with the students. Most skyping experiences work best if the students have specific roles in both facilitating and recording the processes involved (Tolisano S. R., Amplifying Learning Opportunities: Part III of Literature Circles:, 2013). Using a service such as https://education.skype.com/partners/14-penguin-books teachers can link their class to an appropriate expert to provide authentic discussion.
Having experienced a mystery Skype lesson as an adult, the excitement of the challenge, the online “conversation” and the desire to beat the others to work out the solution are powerfully engaging (https://education.skype.com/mysteryskype). Setting this up in advance as the teacher, and allocating roles to the class members ensures all are involved and the learning is central to the process (Tolisano S. R., Framing a Skype Learning Experience, 2011).
Tolisano provides a framework for teachers to use to assess the desired learning outcomes from such an experience (Tolisano S. R., Amplifying Learning Opportunities: Part III of Literature Circles:, 2013)
She has analysed the learning that arises from a Twitter experience:
Langwitches assessment of learning from Twitter
This ensures that learning is assessed against rigorous expectations. A rubric for teachers to use when assessing such skill sets can be found here (Evidence of Learning in the 21st Century Classroom, Classroom Observation Rubric To Guide Leadership for Learning by Instructional Leaders, 2008) .
Other educators are also blogging about a wide range of activities which go beyond just linking up with other locations and contacting an author. Shannon McLintock Miller’s Rainbow loom project, for example, contains links to schools in another country as well as within the students’ own country (Miller, 2014). Again the entire project has been carefully weighed up in terms of learning outcomes.
Such educators provide crucial skill development across a broad spectrum of education for the students in their care. Their wok deserves emulation in a wide range of classrooms.
Barrett, T. (2013). Can Computers Keep Secrets? How A Six-Year-Olds Curiosity Could Change The World. Edinburgh: No Tosh.
This post assesses the ways in which personal knowledge management works according to Jarche, H. (2013). PKM in 2013 [Blog post]. Life in perpetual beta. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from http://www.jarche.com/2013/01/pkm-in-2013/ viewed 9 May 2015
“This is not a linear process, as in from information we get knowledge, which over time becomes wisdom. Gaining knowledge is much messier than that. …
Even today, we cannot become complacent with knowledge and just store it away. It has a shelf life and needs to be used, tested and experienced….
Knowledge shared inflows over time can help us create better mental pictures than a single piece of knowledge stock, like a book, can ever do.”
Collecting and curating knowledge is only part of the equation. In order for knowledge to become wisdom it must be used, compared against other sources of information related to the same topic, experienced. Developing a sense of knowledge flow within a classroom, school, or business can assist all co-workers to create a better understanding of the issue at hand.
This sense of creating a knowledge network (or ideas network, or a community of practice) will lead to enhanced serendipity and increase the value of personalised information seeking and understanding.
Goals or opportunities, what are your drivers?
This diagram is interesting because it indicates that some modes of information sharing may be more valuable to organisations.
Collaboration is seen by Jarche to be goal oriented and structured, communities of practice combine collaboration and cooperation; social networks are more informal and are based on cooperation. Jarche contends that innovation thrives in environments where social connections are weak and diverse. Strong social ties, on the other hand, enable the sharing of complex knowledge.
Some critical questions to consider: Are innovation and goal orientation mutually exclusive?
1. Are innovation and goal orientation mutually exclusive?
2. Are innovation and goal orientation mutually exclusive?
3. Does being driven by opportunity preclude innovation?
Deborah demonstrates effective use of digital tools for creative knowledge construction. She has chosen Powtoon as her platform and incorporated a range of their animations and images as well as photographs. Her artefact opens with this:
Teacher focussed androgogy
The image is immediately identifiable as a teacher – hence the apple; and the voice over makes clear that some pertinent advice is about to follow.
There is a further appeal to teachers raised by the link to coffee houses being places where ideas have been exchanged sine the C17th – an empathetic touch.
The transitions from screen to screen are smooth and the voice over clear and without error. The written and spoken words are appropriate for the images.
The various aspects that Powtoon offers have been effectively applied and the animated segments keep the viewer involved. A range of concepts is clearly presented using words and supportive voiceover reflective of the intention to educate adults rather than children.
A degree of lightheartedness adds an aspect of playfulness:
Broaden your horizons!
The combination of photographs, animations, thought/speech bubbles and typed words is effective:
Using Powtoon’s power to link images to concepts.
Consistent understanding of the features and tools of the host service enables the presentation a range of learning activities, not multiple opportunities to learn how to use them. This is where assessing the artefact in isolation from its learning intention adds a layer of difficulty divorcing comments from overall purpose.
A nice touch that appeals to teachers
Classroom connections are clear throughout
This artefact demonstrates a strong understanding of constructional design and the application of Knowledge Networking theory to the creation of a Knowledge Networking artefact. It demonstrates Deborah’s very effective use of the selected digital tools for creative knowledge construction.
A second critique: Heather Baillie:
From the opening screen of the artefact there is a professional polish to Heather’s work: a title slide with author acknowledgement. There is some information presented, followed by a clear statement of intention for the learning that will be addressed by the artefact delivered as part of the voiceover.
Topic is clear from the start of the clip.
Heather demonstrates a highly effective and seamlessly integrated use of digital tools for creative knowledge construction displaying a comprehensive understanding of the features of her selected platforms.
Image integration from screencasts.
The screencast middle of the artefact shows good integration with the animated beginning and end, but it is hard to see what is being shared clearly, and for novices this could be an issue. Again, the artefact may still achieve its learning intention despite this issue. This image is perhaps more difficult to interpet without a dgree of familiarity with the concept being modelled.
Showing Google Circles
A possible issue might arise for slower readers. Heather has a number of slides where two animated people are “talking” in speech bubbles at the same time – but this is a minor issue that does not detract from the overall excellence of the end product.
The transitions from screen to screen are smooth and the voiceover clear and without error. The written words are appropriate for the images. The various aspects that Powtoon offers have been effectively applied and the animated “bookend” segments keep the viewer involved
Quality learning activities are provided by the artefact. Heather demonstrates an understanding of constructional design and the application of KN theory to the creation of a KN artefact.
A range of concepts is clearly presented using words and supportive voice-over. The tone of the voice-over is encouraging. In terms of andragogy, this artefact offers a choice of tools to utilise, with specific instruction in Google +.
The final segments present information about those who have contributed:
Acknowledgements from applying knowledge networking. to the task.
and the final slide completes the polished approach to the artefact design which is visible from the start to the end:
Polished final credit.
Heather has produced an effective and thorough artefact with flair and a strong attention to detail.
Khan Academy, digital artefacts and The One World Schoolhouse
One of the best-known names in terms of digital artefacts and education is Salman Khan. His book: The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined, presents his vision for an education that is free, world class and available to anyone working anywhere in the world (Khan, 2012, p. 1). In its 257 pages, it outlines the events and experiences that led to his development of the Khan Academy as a theory and in practice. It has resonated with my study of Knowledge Networking for Educators in many ways; starting with one of his selected opening quotes from Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet. This sums up one of my concerns when observing the preparation and presentation of colleagues over the years I have been teaching: “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time” (Khan, 2012, p. vii).
Using a range of digital resources made available to twenty-first-century educators, or specifically created by them, or presented by their students, is one of the most positive aspects of access to technology and Internet connections. Such resources enable a range of teaching goals to be met through media that can be easily personalized, incorporate feedback mechanisms and be accessed anytime, anywhere, as often as required by the learners who use them.
While teachers must meet the requirements set by a mandated curriculum and assess within a standardized structure, they must also accept that no two learners are exactly the same (http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Pages/index.aspx). Standardizing works with curricula but not with the human brain (Khan, 2012, p. 52). Changing the system is difficult because it is the normality to which we are accustomed (Khan, 2012, p. 61).
Sugatra Mitra believes our current education model was designed in an era where civil service was a desired career, hence the skills were designed to assist with passing the entrance examinations. His proposed alternative, based on his wonderful hole in the wall experiment is described by him here:
Khan compares it to the Prussian model, which he acknowledges as revolutionary in in its time, but partly designed for the purpose of turning out tractable citizens who were imbued with the value of submitting to authority (Khan, 2012, pp. 76 – 77).
Mitra and Khan both consider teachers as integral to the learning process due to their unique gifts (Khan, 2012, p. 74). The difficulty for teachers in terms of avoiding the “Swiss Cheese” effect (where students have gaps in their earlier learning that cause them to “hit the wall” later) is their inability to provide sufficient time for all students to develop deeply functional understanding, due to the pressure of needing to have students ready to take scheduled tests (Khan, 2012, pp. 86-89).
How do teachers fulfil the needs of the students and those of the curriculum at the same time? What is the role of homework in this equation? Khan quotes a student who says, while he gets less homework than at his previous school, he spends more time working on harder tasks and feels a real sense of accomplishment when he completes the tasks (Khan, 2012, p. 107).
Khan’s video library academy has successfully provided access to learning materials that have been used successfully by students all over the world. While not designed with the intention of supporting “Flipped Learning” models, it has been used in this manner, which Khan sees as a double edged sword (Khan, 2012, p. 117). Despite the focus of flipping being to free up class time to delve into topics in a more stimulating manner using the advantages of face to face interaction, it is still based on the basis of the Prussian model of age based cohorts moving through topics within a set time frame (Khan, 2012, p. 118).
In his reflection on the differences between pedagogy and andragogy, Khan considers the importance of the emphasis. In the former, it is on the teacher; in the latter, the learner (Khan, 2012, p. 175). The key difference between the two, is, of course, the focus on choice: adults who want to learn are making that choice for themselves. Sugata Mitra, in his hole in the wall experiment, has demonstrated the power of children pursuing something because they want to know about it. Khan also poses the question: is andragogy appropriate for everyone (Khan, 2012, p. 176)?
Khan presents a broad view of the value of technology, nominating an enlightened approach as crucial (Khan, 2012, p. 123). He rightly emphasises the need to alter the whole learning process: the methods, goals and assessments and thereby liberate teachers from the mechanical chores and replace them with human to human interaction (Khan, 2012, p. 123). If school is to continue as the place where education occurs, it must offer something beyond what can be done from textbooks or online; the obvious difference is the face to face social interaction which teachers in classrooms can facilitate. Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2010) consider some of the aspects of this in their work focussing on the way in which institutions should be different in this digital age.
There are some schools which are challenging this paradigm of education: Templestowe College Bridgemary Community School in Gosport, Hampshire, UK, and Hodgkins School, Adams County, USA, are examples of this. Unfortunately, the effects of such changes will emerge over time and for many in leadership the risk is too big a requirement. Hybrid models which are enthusiastically recommended by those who have set up such learning programs, occupy the middle ground. Northern Beaches Christian College in Sydney is an example of this.
Templestowe High School, Melbourne’s Principal, Peter Hutton describes the teaching and learning program as:
“We have deliberately removed many of the restrictions that “traditional” schools place on students, such as year level structures, single age classes and authoritarian hierarchy structures. We do have a vibrant and productive learning atmosphere, scheduled class times, a uniform which is worn with pride and very high standards of respect shown for one another”. They are still meeting the curriculum requirements for the Australian Curriculum Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.).
Bridgemary Community School in Gosport, Hampshire currently has classes with mixed age ranges based on ability. Currently, this is based on a two-year age gap. Head teacher, Cheryl Heron states:
“This is stage four in a five-stage process which we hope will end with the school open 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We want it to be a true centre of learning for this community and this is just a step along that path. Eventually, this school will be open to adults and youngsters offering them courses and lessons they want to do when they want to do them.”
Adams County School District moved from age-based grouping to standards-based learning, three years ago. This belief is founded on the principle that every child learns in different ways. Hodgkins School Principal, Sarah Gould, states:
“Every single student is getting an individualized education. We are giving our kids exactly what they need when they need it.”
CNN televised a report on this process with the unfortunate title: School lumps by ability not age:
Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney has created a model that is somewhat hybrid, falling ideologically between the examples above and the traditional model of school. Their Principal, Stephen Harris is proud of the project based learning embedded into their curriculum, describing students as authors of their own learning journey, co-creating their learning with teachers as mentors, experts, and guides.
In all these examples, the issue of effective teaching (dependent on a combination of attracting the right people, and successful teacher training) is paramount. The following table indicates the skills and practices required:
Khan proposes a change to the way in which teachers are deployed, not a reduction in teacher numbers. His solution to the loneliness and isolation of conventional classroom practice is to see teaching as a team sport and facilitate this by placing between 75 and 100 students in a large space with 3 to 4 teachers (Khan, 2012, pp. 197-198). He also postulates that school would better serve its purpose of educating young people if it became a perpetual offering, much in the manner that Cheryl Heron foresees at Bridgemary Community School. The fluencies of C21st learning are well suited to this type of model (Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. 2011). Khan is putting into practice some of the theories postulated by those such as Lemke (2010).
Where does all this leave teachers debating the value of digital artefacts? Like any resource, there is a time, place and student whose learning will benefit from viewing such a production. Effective teachers will apply their skills to selecting artefacts recorded by others and making appropriate examples themselves. As with any other tool, digital artefacts will provide an addition to a personal toolbox developed since these teachers began their professional training.