Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Reflection on Key Trends from the 2014 NMC Horizon Report

The internationally recognized NMC Horizon Report examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry within the environment of pre-college education. There were some aspects of the recently released K-12 Report that particularly resonated with me. Today I will extract some "key trends".  The quotes are in italics and my remarks are in blue.

Key to nurturing the new role of teachers is providing them with plentiful opportunities for professional development. Singapore offers a noteworthy model in which every teacher is entitled to 100 hours of training per year, and each school has a special fund allocated to supporting these learning opportunities.

My university students-- all current teachers -- have made this point again and again. Even though they are early adopters they believe they and their colleagues (in different school districts of course) are vastly under-supported with PD.  At Mercy I find that providing PD for technology competes greatly for valuable PD time with other important training initiatives.  

To enable the shift to deeper learning, schools are thinking about how they can leverage technology to produce products and extend the learning experience 
beyond the classroom. Challenge-based learning, another thread of deeper learning, is defined by Apple as an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to apply the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems.

I conducted challenge based learning training for all of our teachers on an almost weekly basis three years ago.  Several successful initiatives were achieved.  But when the formal focus on CBL ceased, I soon found that I was the only one still regularly featuring this particular approach in my instruction. The Horizon Report calls the "shift to deeper understanding approaches" a fast trend.  I don't see the trend and it certainly was not represented in our Tech Talk conference.

Open educational resources (OER) are growing in breadth and quality, as is the use of these materials in classrooms, networks, and school communities world wide. The use and adoption of OER materials is increasingly a matter of policy in schools, especially in the many disciplines in which high quality educational content is more abundant than ever.

I think that OER is one of the most exciting trends out there, particularly in terms of creating open textbooks.  Michigan has some outstanding OER evangelists such as Anthony DiLaura of Zeeland.  The textbook publishers have been a thorn in the sides of our 1:1 program as too many of them drag their heels on supplying content to our iPads.  For such disciplines as math, science, and social studies, our answer may arrive through open educational resources.

A renewed interest in online learning has taken place over the past few years, fueled in large part by press attention to massive open online courses (MOOCs), but also by increased access to the Internet and broadband services, and a growing recognition that online learning can indeed add value to almost any learning environment. Hybrid learning models, which blend the best of classroom instruction with the best of web-based delivery, place a strong emphasis on using school time for peer-to-peer collaboration and teacher-student interaction, while online environments are used for independent learning. 

Last year I had the opportunity to teach a hybrid course at Madonna University. Despite the fact that our classroom meetings were four hours in duration (it was a spring term), I found it to be a very satisfactory arrangement.  I could "flip" content for the courses and reserve class time for discussions and student presentations (one of the best experiences in the class).  I think hybrid courses have tremendous potential for individualized learning.  However, if a course simply asks students to watch lectures outside of class and get help with conventional exercises in the classroom the hybrid model is essentially same-old, same-old.

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