Blurring the lines between education and workforce — from hechingerreport.org by Javeria Salman
A proposition to ‘blur’ the boundaries between K-12, higher ed, and the workforce industry

Excerpts:

One idea that’s been gaining steam since last year is to break down barriers between high school, college and career to create a system that bridges all three.

The concept is called the “Big Blur.”

“What would it look like to change the typical, or what we think of as the conventional high school experience and instead design something that was built for the modern economy?” said Vargas.

Vargas said that JFF is arguing for new programs or institutions that serve students in grades 11 through 14 (grades 13 and 14 being the first two years of college, under our current configuration). The institutions would be co-designed with regional employers so that all students get work-based learning experiences and graduate — without tuition costs — with a post-secondary credential that has labor market value.

 

From DSC:
The following items made me reflect upon the place of COVID-19 in causing the current ills within higher education — but also thinking about the ills that were present long before Covid hit us.

Key point:
We should be careful not to conveniently use COVID-19 as the scapegoat for all that’s wrong within higher education.


On the faculty/staff side of the house


The Season of Our Professorial Discontent — from chronicle.com by Paul Musgrave
The pandemic irrevocably changed the student-teacher relationship — and not for the better.

Excerpts:

As pandemic slides into endemic, it’s worth asking: Did the pandemic break something fundamental about academe? Was the spring of 2022 the end of pandemic disruptions, or the start of a new normal?

This time, as I delivered the lines to an audience of 30 in a course with 200 students enrolled, I was wondering whether I wanted to give a lecture ever again.

From DSC:
Regarding the first quote…several things were broken within academe long before COID-19. Re: the second quote, what should that tell us if only 30 students showed up in a class with 200 students in it?

Faculty autonomy and faculty satisfaction are being whittled away.

From DSC:
From what I can tell, that’s been happening for years within the K-12 learning ecosystem. It seems like this trend is now occurring within the higher ed learning ecosystem. (I could go off on a tangent about why we didn’t help our fellow educators within K-12 — whose “product” directly impacts those working within higher ed — but I better not. This posting is already packed with reflections.)

Below are some relevant quotes from Kevin McClure’s 5/27/22 article out at The Chronicle of Higher Education (emphasis DSC). I agree with much of what Kevin is saying here.

Don’t Blame the Pandemic for Worker Discontent
It hasn’t just been a tough two years. It’s been a tough two decades.

Excerpt:

The pandemic alone didn’t cause the low morale and turnover you might be seeing among your faculty and staff members just as the lack of personal protective equipment didn’t solely give rise to the Amazon Labor Union. Yes, today’s workers are re-evaluating their workplaces, seeking reassignment within their institutions, and in some cases resigning from jobs altogether. But they are doing so for many of the same reasons they did 20 years ago — poor working conditions.

So burnout isn’t just about people struggling to cope with stress; it’s about people struggling in workplaces where stress never subsides.

In my own interviews on morale, higher-education workers have talked about leaders who aren’t listening, low compensation, and understaffing.

We see our workplaces differently, and our tolerance of poor working conditions has evaporated.

 


On the student side of the house


“It hasn’t just been a tough two years. It’s been a tough two decades.” The same — and likely more — could be said for the student side of the house, especially in regards to the price of education and how relevant/up-to-date the content has been. As the prices of obtaining a degree have skyrocketed over the last several decades, students and parents now HAVE to ask, “What’s the Return On Investment (ROI) here? Am I gaining the skills in college that will get me hired after college?”

Again, the point I’m trying to make here is that we should be careful not to conveniently use COVID-19 as the scapegoat for all that’s wrong within higher education.

Along these lines, the following two quotes seem relevant to me from Beth McMurtrie’s (6/2/22) Teaching e-newsletter (also from The Chronicle):

I asked Walton to tell me more about the setup at his university. He said classes were fully in person but instructors were encouraged to record lectures and be highly flexible with due dates. The result: Most days he had less than 50-percent attendance, and he received a lot of last-minute emails from students who said they woke up that morning with a headache or otherwise not feeling well. A few filed documented absence requests, but not many, suggesting that these were not serious illnesses, like Covid.

I’ve never had more incompletes for courses than in the last two years, so signaling to students that their distribution courses are flexible and accommodating has only let them de-emphasize them even more.

There’s likely a variety of causes/possibilities here — and I’m sure that Covid-related reasons are among them. But it makes me really wonder if students don’t think that the content is all that valuable or relevant to begin with these days. Is college even worth it anymore? Why am I here in the first place? Where is the motivation coming from? Is it extrinsic or intrinsic motivation?

Perhaps it’s time to change the curriculum/content as well as the price.


Daniel S. Christian: My concerns with just maintaining the status quo (from 2009).

A graphic I created back in 2009, with Yohan Na’s assistance.


 

Teacher Moves That Cultivate Learner Agency — from edutopia.org by Paul Emerich France
Helping students become independent, questioning thinkers begins with stepping back and guiding them to take the lead in their learning.

Excerpt:

Cultivating learner agency is an endless journey. It not only entails knowing our students as human beings but also requires identifying and unlearning patterns in our teaching that unknowingly engender dependence in learners.

The term agency comes from the Latin agere, meaning “to set in motion.” It is precisely what agency should do in our classrooms: empower learners so that their minds and hearts become the engines that drive learning in our classrooms. This isn’t as simple as some might believe. Providing too much voice and choice without proper scaffolds can be counterproductive, resulting in chaos in the classroom.

Consider the following moves that cultivate learner agency—and choose one to try in your classroom.

 
 

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

From DSC:
A family member struggles with spelling — big time. This causes her major amounts of anxiety in school.

Another family member had some learning disabilities and reflects back on school with some bad memories.

Another family member struggles with social graces and learns at a much different pace than her peers — the move to her education being (predominantly) done via homeschooling has helped significantly.

A friend of mine has Dyslexia. He recently said that school was hell for him.

Another person I know doesn’t understand his daughter’s learning disabilities — at all. He’s asking a fish to climb the tree and yells at his daughter when she doesn’t produce like the other kids do. Her school is for college-bound learners, and there’s always pressure to maintain the school’s “blue-ribbon” status (i.e., sorry if you don’t fit in…but please board the train anyway, as it’s about to depart).

These people and stories about their educations got me to reflect on all the people who went through the school systems in the United States (over the last few decades) that didn’t work well for them. In fact, not only did the systems not work well for them, they were the sources of a great deal of pain, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and embarrassment.  Instead of being a place of wonder or joy, school was a painful, constant struggle to get through.

For those who can keep up or even excel at the pace that the trains travel at, school isn’t that much of a problem. There are likely different levels of engagement involved here, but school is manageable and it doesn’t cause nearly the stress for someone who struggles with it.

For those with learning disabilities, I’d like to apologize to you on behalf of all the people who legislated or created rigid, one-size-fits-all school systems that didn’t understand and/or meet your needs. (Why we allow legislators — who aren’t the ones on the front lines — to control so much of what happens in our school systems is beyond me.) I’d like to apologize on behalf of all of the teachers, administrators, and staff who just accept the systems as they are.

Please help us reinvent our school systems. Help us develop the future of education. Help us develop a more personalized, customized approach. For those who are working to provide that, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

To everyone working within Pre-K through 12th grade, help us offer: More voice. More choice. More control. The status quo has to go. School should not be a constant source of pain and anxiety.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

 

 

Seeing the possibilities, I finally took a chance. I studied English, political science and finite math, and each class I passed deepened my confidence and self-love.

This growing self-love was key to my academic development. Growing up, I didn’t experience much real love, outside of my mother and a few family members. I most often encountered the kind of false love expressed through violence and monetary possessions. College changed the way I thought about myself and others. I worked hand-in-hand with men from all backgrounds to complete assignments, and even taught other students. Before I knew it, I was getting A’s on my essays and solving quadratic equations in math class.

When people question why it’s important to educate prisoners, I remind them that to see change, we must support change. We must give individuals the opportunity to see themselves as more than the harm they’ve caused, more than what was once broken within them.

Christopher Blackwell

Also relevant/see:

Calvin University's Prison Initiative

 

University Behind Bars

 

A Conversation with Ken Robinson’s Daughter about Their New Book on Transforming Education — from betterhumans.pub by Eva Keiffenheim
Kate Robinson and Co-Author of Imagine if — Creating a Future for us All

Excerpt:

In writing the book, we highlighted ten “Manifesto Statements” that really summarize the key points the book is making.

The main themes of them are:

  • we are all born with immense creative capacities
  • our incredible powers of imagination are what separates us from the rest of life on Earth
  • Education systems are based on conformity
  • real life thrives on diversity
  • we are in the midst of two climate crises: the crisis of the Earth’s natural resources, and the crisis of our human resources
  • and no matter who you are, you are the system — if you change your behavior, you have changed the system, and when enough people commit to changing the system, we have a revolution that will change the world

According to Imagine if…, the future will be grim unless we take action to change the course where we’re heading. What actions need to be taken and what needs to be done and how? Where do we start?

The first and most important step is to embrace a richer conception of human intelligence. Like any ecosystem, our cultural ecosystems depend on a wide variety of talents, interests, and capabilities to thrive. Therefore, we must actively encourage each person to connect with and make the most of their own abilities and passions.

 

Want Students Who Think for Themselves? Let’s Eliminate Our Standardized School System — from edsurge.com by Zachary Morita

Excerpt:

It is a wake-up call when a student feels defeated by an educational system that focuses on standardizing students who feel like they are “the problem.” We can’t expect students to understand the purpose of education on their own. They need educators, leaders and supporters to guide them to create the education system they deserve to succeed in life. I stand by what I share with all of my students: that we must reimagine and redesign our education system so that students are NOT the problem.

Instead, we must ensure that learners are intrinsically motivated through learning activities that are challenging, purposeful, relevant and empowering.

 

Nurturing Non-STEM Gifted Kids and Meeting Their Needs — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

But what about that kid who doesn’t want a new chemistry set or microscope for Christmas? What about the gifted kid who doesn’t really get your science puns? What about the brilliant child who isn’t into STEM at all?

They’re rare, but they’re out there. Artists, chefs, readers, writers, dancers, musicians, linguists, all of the above. Kids who like space just fine, but like nature even more. Gifted kids who can crush their math work but would rather crush pigments. Gifted kids who can learn to code, but whose heart swells when guitar strings strum. Brilliant babes who appreciate the arts, the stories, or are just filled with curiosity that isn’t subject-specific. You see, intelligence isn’t a stereotype. An IQ score isn’t like a horoscope. Scoring a few standard deviations above the norm doesn’t dictate your personality, your likes, dislikes, talents, passions, or hobbies. It means your brain processes information differently than the majority of the population. That’s really it. Intelligence and brilliance are as likely to be found on a stage as they are in a lab. For every Einstein there is a Beethoven, for every Musk there’s a Spielberg.

What Can You Recommend For Students Who Finish Their Work Early? — from teachthought.com

Excerpt:

How to respond when students finish their work early is a classic teacher challenge.

Most of it boils down to lesson design–creating learning opportunities where students are naturally funneled toward extending, improving, and sharing their work so that ‘stopping points’ are more of a matter of scheduling than learning itself.

Motivating your child with ADHD: 7 tips for your homeschool — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

This series is all about homeschooling a child with ADHD. Today, we are discussing 7 of our best tips for motivating a child with ADHD.

Preparing Kids With Real-World Skills via Ed-Tech — from emergingedtech.com by Kelly Walsh

Excerpt:

Educational technologies enable children to learn things on a whole new level, broadening their minds and their capabilities. The practical applications alone make ed-tech a highly valuable tool in the classroom setting, but these technologies also can enhance kids’ skills as well as their emotional and cultural awareness and intelligence, which can better prepare them for real-world situations and scenarios.

Edumilestones Has Launched Career Lab™ For Progressive Schools — from edtechreview.in

Excerpt:

Edumilestones, a pioneer in career guidance platform has now launched a next-generation Career Lab™ for schools. Based on 11 years of experience in career counselling industry, this technology is set to help students to identify and execute their career goals with clarity and confidence.

 

Why some teams boost motivation while others totally sap it — from psyche.co by Ann-Kathrin Torka, Jens Mazei, Joachim Hüffmeieris, and edited by Matt Huston. With thanks to Mr. Tom Barrett for this resource via his weekly newsletter.

Excerpts:

In contrast, when people perceive their contribution to the team’s outcome as indispensable, they tend to show greater effort than they would when working alone. These ‘effort gains’ can be due to team members aiming to be prosocial: they care about others and want to make a difference to the team. By helping their team succeed, members also feel better about themselves – they can see themselves as helpful and competent human beings.

Managers, instructors, coaches, and other leaders can use this knowledge to design teamwork that boosts team members’ efforts. Remember the student from the introduction: maybe she felt that she could not contribute much to the academic team because the project did not include a specific (sub-)taskfor her to work on and to feel responsible for. If the instructor or a teammate had broken down the project into subtasks for each member, she might have felt that her efforts were indispensable.

 

 

See the Appvent calendar from ICT Evangelist

Excerpt from this posting:

Welcome to day 21 of the 2021 Appvent Calendar. It’s been so much fun sharing all of these amazing tools each day across the month so far. With Google featuring twice already on the calendar, it’s great to share again the awe and wonder of human history in the arts and within our cultures with the sharing of this amazing free app. Thanks to Gustavo Calderón De Anda for suggesting it!

Also see:

  • 14 measurement apps for teaching math & science — from teachthought and Glenda Stewart-Smith
    Glenda Stewart-Smith of Surrey School District #36 in Canada, along with TeachThought staff, helped put together this collection of iPhone and iPad apps that offer all of these measuring abilities and more.
 

What motivates students to learn? — from edte.ch by Tom Barrett
In this article, we explore the key factors that influence and predict student academic motivation.

Excerpt:

Here are the top three ranked, according to this meta-analysis, from l’Université Laval, Monash University and Curtin University.

1 — Competence (I can do this!)
2 — Autonomy (I get to choose)
3 — Belonging (I am not alone)

 


From DSC:
I’m once again reminded of the following graphic:

Tom’s posting also reminds me of the power of storytelling, as Tom makes a solid point:

A notable missing piece of the student motivation paper is the role of emotion in learning. When I search the document for reference to ‘emotion’, the only returns I get are from citations and other works.

Along these lines, see/listen to:


 

The Push-Pull of Leading Motivation Using Microlearning — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Robyn Defelice

Excerpt:

So, let’s pick up from there: You’re a learning leader in an organization that has aligned all these elements and is ready to see microlearning put to good use. So, what’s the obstacle in your path?

Maybe you’re stuck on using microlearning as a motivational tool for performance growth but are not sure if a formal or informal approach will have more appeal. Should you push or pull, as they ask. Let’s get you out of this tug-of-war and address how your L&D team can lead the way in motivating the learning audience for new performance gains by implementing a microlearning campaign (or two or three)!

Push (formal) vs pull (informal)

 

3 Tips for Making Passion-Based Learning Work Successfully — from thejournal.com by Dennis Pierce

Excerpt:

Passion-based learning, a form of self-directed learning in which students pursue projects of interest to them, is becoming more popular in schools — and for good reason: Educators who have set aside time for passion-based learning have discovered that students become highly engaged and motivated when learning about topics that intrigue them, while taking their learning much deeper than they would in a traditional lesson.

 

3 Tips for Making Passion-Based Learning Work Successfully — from thejournal.com by Dennis Pierce

Excerpt:

Passion-based learning, a form of self-directed learning in which students pursue projects of interest to them, is becoming more popular in schools — and for good reason: Educators who have set aside time for passion-based learning have discovered that students become highly engaged and motivated when learning about topics that intrigue them, while taking their learning much deeper than they would in a traditional lesson.

Passion-based learning initiatives include Genius Hour and 20time, both inspired by Google’s program that lets employees spend 20% of their time on projects of their choosing to spark innovation.

Giving all students the option to explore their interests can be challenging on a large scale. To overcome this hurdle and make the process easier for teachers, Sonora Elementary uses a new peer-to-peer learning platform called Tract, which is a collection of video content organized into self-directed learning paths.

tract.app allows students to be creative and practice their storytelling and multimedia skills

From DSC:
I love the type of tool/app like Tract — as students can work on a variety of skills:

  • multimedia development
  • music
  • acting
  • writing/composing
  • digital storytelling
  • …and more

Such projects/tools can unleash a great deal of creativity, engagement, and positive energy. Learning becomes more relevant, enjoyable, and interesting when we can provide more choice and control to our students.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian