From DSC:
NOTE: The K-12 education system that I’m talking about in this posting is the pre-COVID-19 education system.



What Cory Henwood describes here…

The paradigm of one -- as described by Cory Henwood

is what I describe as the quickly moving K-12 education train that stops for no one!

K-12 education in America is a like a quickly moving train that stops for no one.

(image source)


This becomes especially troublesome for those on either side of the 80% bell curve.
I know about this, as one of our daughters has been living through this phenomenon for years. We are seriously considering homeschooling for her as we want her learning experiences to be more positive ones for her. We want to provide more choice, more control for what she wants to learn about — and the pace at which she can go through those experiences. We want there to be more joy in her learning experiences. This will hopefully help her build more positive perspectives about learning in general.

This is not a mute issue…nor is this a topic that’s focused on just students with special needs. In fact, this topic is relevant to every single student in America — as everyone is now required to be lifelong learners these days. Grades need to diminish in importance. The enjoyment of learning needs to rise.

Note: There were some times in public and charter schools that provided courses and topics of great interest to her, and provided some great joy to her. Plus, there were some incredibly-dedicated teachers and staff that created a team around our daughter. I’m very grateful for them and for their efforts. But positive learning experiences were becoming too few and too far between. The train left the station *for everyone* at such-and-such a time, and stopped *for everyone* at such and such a time. The education system required that she and her classmates move at a certain (high) speed — regardless of their mastery of the content. Teachers know what I’m talking about here…big time.

We need to get to what Cory discusses about when he discusses competency-based education.

We need to get to what Cory discusses about competency-based education.

Plus, we need to get to a place where there is:

 

Silver Lining for Learning, Episode 05: Rethinking school with Will Richardson — from dangerouslyirrelevant.org by Scott McLeod; joined by Chris Dede and Curt Bonk as well

Per Scott:

I was fortunate to be the primary host for Episode 05 of Silver Lining for Learning on April 18. Our guest was Will Richardson and we had a fantastic discussion about both the realities and possibilities of school transformation.

Will has been talking about how to rethink learning, teaching, and schooling for decades. He is the author of multiple books and has launched major collaboration initiatives such as the change.schoolModern Learners, and Powerful Learning Practice networks. If you weren’t able to join us, the archived video is well worth it!

 

From DSC:
Let’s hope that Cisco Webex learns from Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, and likely other products/vendors as well — in terms of providing easy-to-setup and use, seamless breakout rooms.

The breakout rooms in the Cisco Webex’ Training Center product are audio-only, which represents a major gap/disadvantage for numerous courses out there. (And, last I knew, there aren’t breakout rooms in the Cisco WebEx Meeting Center product.) The idea of community, presence, and collaboration is supported by providing audio and video. Video is critically important in certain courses.

Plus we are finding at WMU-Cooley that we need to create main rooms PLUS additional breakout rooms and assign students to each breakout room. But then, audio and video issues abound. Such a complex setup requires that the faculty member (i.e., the host) of such meetings needs to be pretty savvy in order to make things work well. 

The transitions of going from the main meeting room to breakout rooms needs to be quick and easy. Bb Collaborate did a great job with this, and I hear Zoom does a good job with this as well. Cisco Webex does not.

Cisco — if you’re going to be in the world of higher ed and in the K-12 world, you need to fix this ASAP. 

Flipping things around…Zoom, you had better learn from Cisco Webex if you want to play in the worlds of education as well. Your “Zoombombing” and security-related issues are not good.

Also see:

 

From DSC:
On the positive side…

What I appreciate about ‘s article is that it’s asking us to think about future scenarios in regards to higher education. Then, it’s proposing some potential action steps to take now to address those potential scenarios if they come to fruition. It isn’t looking at the hood when we’re traveling 180 mph. Rather, it’s looking out into the horizon to see what’s coming down the pike. 

6 Steps to Prepare for an Online Fall Semester — from chronicle.com b

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Plan for a multiyear impact. If colleges are forced to maintain online-only instruction in the fall and to defer reopening their campuses to in-person instruction to January 2021, the impact will be felt for years. College leaders should start thinking now about how to manage and potentially adjust spring-2021 (and beyond) course offerings, course sequencing, and degree requirements to avoid saddling students with graduation delays and the accompanying direct and indirect financial costs. In addition, colleges should anticipate a smaller-than-normal entering first-year class in fall 2020 (and thus a larger-than-normal enrollment a year later) and devise strategies to help mitigate the resulting stresses on admission rates and classroom and dorm capacity for first-year students entering in fall 2021 and beyond.

If instruction remains online-only in the fall, colleges won’t be able to afford that sort of inefficiency. College departments should start now to identify opportunities for collaborations that would draw on the collective wisdom and labor of faculty members from multiple institutions who are teaching similar courses. This would lessen the burden of migrating teaching materials and techniques to an online format.

From DSC:
I’ve often wondered about the place of consortiums within higher ed…i.e., pooling resources. Will the impacts of the Coronavirus change this area of higher ed? Not sure. Perhaps.

On the negative side…

I take issue with some of John’s perspectives, which are so common amongst the writers and academics out there. For example:

Conversely, an entire generation of current college students is now learning that it can be pretty boring to be one of several hundred people simultaneously watching a Zoom lecture.

You know what? I did that very same thingover and over again — at Northwestern University (NU), but in a face-to-face format. And quite frankly, it’s a better view on videoconferencing. It’s far more close up, more intimate online. I agree it’s a different experience. But our auditoriums were large and having 100-200+ students in a classroom was common. There was no interaction amongst the students. There were no breakout groups. The faculty members didn’t know most of our names and I highly doubt that the well-paid researchers at Northwestern — who were never taught how to teach in the first place nor did they or NU regard the practice of teaching and learning highly anyway — gave a rat’s ass about body language. Reading the confusion in the auditorium? Really? I highly doubt it. And those TA’s that we paid good money for? Most likely, they were never taught how to teach either. The well-paid researchers often offloaded much of the teaching responsibilities onto the teacher assistants’ backs. 

Bottom line:
Face-to-face learning is getting waaaay more credit than it sometimes deserves — though sometimes it IS warranted. And online-based learning — especially when it’s done right — isn’t getting nearly enough credit. 


Addendum: Another example of practicing futures thinking in higher ed:

 

From DSC:
The article below is meant as fodder for thought for us now…until we get back to holding class in physical learning spaces again. But it caught my attention because I’d like to see us give students “More choice. More Control.” in all areas of their learning — whether that be in the physical realm or in the digital/virtual realm.

 

 

4 reasons to build choice into classroom design — and how to make it work for students — from spaces4learning.com by Deanna Marie Lock
A look at the key elements of a modern and highly engaging learning space

 

providing more choice and more control to students within the physcial classroom

 

From DSC:
The “Pair & Share” method allows students to find a fellow student to talk about the question/topic at hand. Then, depending upon time and your learning objectives/lesson plans, some students can report back to the larger classroom about what they discussed. In the digital, synchronous realm, one can achieve this with private chat rooms — given that you’ve changed a setting to allow this to occur. Posting the pairings ahead of time should help establish a quick, smooth transition.

(The graphic below is for the Cisco Webex Meeting Center on a MacBook Pro).

Providing a quick pair and share method using the Cisco Webex Meeting Center product

 

 

Homeschooling During the COVID-19 Pandemic — from cato.org by Kerry McDonald

Excerpt:

In a recent three-part Cato Daily Podcast series, I spoke with host Caleb Brown about this unprecedented educational moment, including sharing strategies and resources for overcoming the challenges of unexpected, unchosen homeschooling, as well as possible outcomes as more parents seek alternatives to conventional schooling post-pandemic.


More Free Resources For New Homeschoolers — from forbes.com by Nick Morrison

Excerpt:

Last month I highlighted some of the free resources available for parents — and teachers — during the pandemic, but since then a number of other organizations have offered their resources, expertise and support for free, so here is another selection, for the benefit of ordinary homeschoolers in these extraordinary times.


From DSC:
Below are excerpts from a recent email that I received as a cc: to our son and am passing it along in case it helps others out there.

I would like to share with you important guidance on how to get the most out of your online learning experience.

ORGANIZING YOUR SPACE
Set up your home classroom space. This is important. Be sure you have a space that is comfortable and where you can focus on your studies, your practice, your craft and your learning. This can be private or shared, whatever works for you and your family.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

  • Computer
  • Internet Access, preferably high-speed broadband, is required for video conferencing and class assignments. Most of the expected work will not require streaming, but a secure internet connection will help a lot.
  • Headphones help minimize extraneous noise. They can also help signal to others in your home that you are online and on-task.
  • Zoom, our preferred video conferencing software, can be downloaded here

SCHEDULE
You will complete your work and engage in your lessons in two ways. Some assignments are laid out in your Canvas class and can be completed at your own pace, turning work in when due. And some of your classes and lessons will require you to connect with faculty and students in real time. When a real-time option is possible, be sure to take it. 

STAYING CONNECTED
Again, be sure to connect in real time as often as possible. There are lots of opportunities to connect with faculty and students every day.

Join in as many real time experiences as you can. These human connections, across the internet, are so important during this time when we are all separated physically.

NORMS FOR VIDEO-CONFERENCING

  • Log in on time, and be fully prepared with any necessary materials, notebooks, etc.
  • Wear clothes like what you would wear to school.
  • Remain present and engaged throughout the session. Do not open additional windows or use other technology during the session, unless it is part of class.
  • Join sessions in a quiet space, if you can, where you will not distract others and not be distracted. 
  • Mute your microphone when not speaking.

SUMMARY OF STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Establish a daily routine for your school work.
  • Find a comfortable, distraction-free place in your home where you can work.
  • Check email and Canvas each day to learn about the expectations for your work.
  • Perform tasks as outlined by instructors in Canvas and seek clarification from teachers on any assignments where you need it.
  • For classes meeting “live,” login to real-time video services (Zoom) for dialogue with teachers and members of your class. Attend faculty office hours. They want to see you!
  • Put forth your best effort.
  • Communicate with your instructors, your advisor, your residence life coordinator, and/or Academic and College Counseling.
  • If you need anything, let us know.

Under the Table and Teaching: 11 Expert Tips for Schooling Kids with ADHD from Home — from additudemag.com
Unschooling. Homeschooling. Crisis schooling. What is the difference? And what are the best learning strategies for your child with ADHD at this stressful time? Here are tips and strategies from education experts who understand the distinctions and today’s inescapable realities.

Excerpts:

11 Ways to Support Learning at Home

    1. Focus learning on your child’s natural interests.
    2. If your child gets stressed, take a break.
    3. Make learning a game.
    4. Embrace Minecraft.
    5. Add movement to promote learning.
    6. Build focus with busy hands and feet.
    7. Tap into online tutors.
    8. Ditch the worksheets. Use educational videos, phone apps, educational podcasts, or other media to introduce or expand on a subject.
    9. Take things one day at a time.
    10. Follow your child’s lead.
    11. Accept that homeschooling may not work for you.

 

unschool


 

Research Quest Live sign up
Though the museum is currently closed, the Natural History Museum of Utah is allowing kids around the globe the opportunity to transport back in time to a past where dinosaurs roamed the world. With the recently launched Research Quest Live, offering a taste of the world with virtual tours and free access to daily online science classes taught by museum educators.


Common Sense Launches Wide Open School to Help Families and Educators Transition to Students Learning from Home — from commonsensemedia.org
As Schools Continue to Close as a Result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Some of the Most Respected Companies in Education, Media, and Tech Join Forces to Offer a Free and Open Collection of Quality Online Learning Resources to Educators and Families. 

Excerpt:

SAN FRANCISCO, March 31, 2020—Common Sense, the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to help kids, families, and educators thrive in a world of media and technology, has convened a group of education, media, and tech partners to launch WideOpenSchool.org, a free online resource to support families and educators who are transitioning to remote learning as a result of the coronavirus.

Wide Open School features the very best resources from publishers, nonprofits, and education companies, including the American Federation of Teachers, Amplify, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Head Start, Khan Academy, National Geographic, Noggin, PBS, Scholastic, Sesame Workshop,Time for Kids, XQ Institute, and YouTube. Find the full site at WideOpenSchool.org.

 

From DSC:
Very nice! “The Contemplative Commons at the University of Virginia” — from csc.virginia.edu
The Contemplative Commons embodies a new model of higher education at the University of Virginia that is based upon immersive, experiential, and participatory modes of deep learning that facilitate student flourishing.

 

The Contemplative Commons at the U of VA

 

 

From DSC:
Below are some resources for teaching at home. And some of this (much of this?) is not typical homeschooling, just as much of what’s being done out there isn’t necessarily typical online-based learning. And some out there may not like such lists, and would prefer a detailed report on just one tool. But this last week was incredibly busy — and time is not a luxury I have right now. And these resources might provide someone out there with just the right tool or pedagogy that they’ve been looking for.

Also, I might suggest:

  • Creating a Google alert (google.com/alerts) on HSLDA, on homeschooling, on homeschoolers, and/or on related searches.
  • Create a Keyword Alert on an RSS aggregator such as Feedly
  • Follow relevant hashtags on Twitter such as #homeschooling

Some analog ideas:

  • Reading a book together
  • Watching a play, drama, or another type of program together
  • Taking a walk out in nature together
  • Gather together as a family and/or lingering over breakfast or dinner
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Taking pictures

And now is a great time to see what your child or children WANT TO LEARN ABOUT! Turn over the control to them for a while — and watch what happens when intrinsic motivation takes hold! 


Not a teacher but find yourself homeschooling? These educational apps are free — from parade.com by Stephanie Osmanski

  • This posting covers 25 Free Learning Apps

We are all homeschoolers now (podcast) — from cato.org featuring Kerry McDonald and Caleb Brown
Thanks to COVID-19, many parents find themselves with kids at home all day. What’s the best way to keep them engaged in their educations? Kerry McDonald, author of Unschooled, comments.

Getting Smart’s Getting Through

Free, Online Learning Resources When Coronavirus Closes Schools — from cato.org by Kerry McDonald

Homeschooling Mother and Author: 6 Ideas For Parents While Schools Are Closed — from fee.org by Kerry McDonald
Amid the Covid-19 lockdown, there are steps parents can take to make time at home with their children more rewarding and tolerable.

Apps for Special Needs Students—As School Buildings Shutter — from edutopia.org by Janey Clare
The coronavirus creates a unique challenge for special needs students—educators share recommendations for apps to support learning at home.

How to Support Home Learning in Elementary Grades — from edutopia.org by John Thomas
A first and second grade teacher shares his home learning plan for his students and how he is engaging their families.

6 Lessons Learned About Remote Learning During the Coronavirus Outbreak — from blogs.edweek.org by Mark Lieberman

 

Play is disappearing from kindergarten. It’s hurting kids. — from edsurge.com by  Joe Martin

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In an increasing number of schools, teachers of very young students are pressured to pack every moment of the day with structured, academically rigorous tasks. One recent whitepaper linked the practice to preparing kids for the long road of schooling ahead, in which progress is measured through standardized testing starting in third grade.

Friedrich Froebel, a pedagogue of modern education, coined the term “kindergarten” in 1840 after recognizing the importance of play in the development of young children. Inspired by the idea of a garden, he designed a classroom where the teacher presented children with objects, which they were allowed to play with in any way they could imagine. When they lost interest in one object, they would be presented with a new one to spark curiosity and creativity. Children were encouraged to grow and flourish in this free form, play-based environment.

From DSC:
Given that we are all into a lifelong learning situation now, I vote for more importance being placed on whether someone enjoyed their learning experience. That said, I know there is struggle in learning…and learning in the struggle. But we focus so much on grades and standardized testing. This robs the joy from the teaching and learning environment — for the teachers as well as for the kids.

Also see:

 

From DSC:
When I saw the learning space as pictured below, I couldn’t help but ask a couple of questions:

  • Doesn’t this look like a colorful, fun, engaging active learning space?
  • One that encourages communication and collaboration?

The natural light is wonderful. And the physical setup seems to let the students know that they will be collaborating with each other the second they walk into this learning space…and it does so without saying a word. 

This type of learning setup seems like learning could be very fun and collaborative!

 

The Dangers of “Teaching the Way We Best Learn” — from scholarlyteacher.com by Todd Zakrajsek

Excerpts:

Not everyone sees the world as I do, and not everyone learns the way I do. Thinking of the implications of implicit bias is scary, but there is freedom in knowledge. Using evidence-based teaching allows faculty to overcome the adverse effects of teaching as we were taught.

We, as faculty members, are not passive recipients who choose a pedagogical strategy because we have no choice. We may select teaching approaches that work for ourselves as learners, not because we are consciously deciding to ignore the needs of others, but more so because we fail to understand effective alternatives exist.

This need not be an admonishment on our professional responsibility to educate others. It is merely a recognition that when we look at the world, we tend to see it from our perspective, the one with which we are most familiar. It takes effort to consider other perspectives.

The challenge is that teaching is not about our learning; it is about our learners. It is not the job of the server in a restaurant to offer only the food they most prefer, but instead to help you to navigate the menu to identify what works best for you, food allergies, preferences, and all.

I should not always “teach the way I best learned.” To do so will disadvantage students who are least like me, and those students deserve an opportunity to be successful.

If I primarily use the lecture method of teaching, I should add a “think-pair-share” at times. Perhaps even a jigsaw and problem-based learning sprinkled throughout the semester. If I get bold, I might also try a role-play in class.

From DSC:
I appreciate Todd’s reflections and insights in the above posting. I’d like to sprinkle in a couple of graphics to it.

 

A two-part series from Educause regarding inclusive design/accessibility — with thanks to Ray Schroeder for his posting on this out on LinkedIn.

An excerpt from Part II:

The previous two definitions have tried to articulate the idea that students carry intersecting invisible circumstances with them into the classroom. Whether or not students disclose their circumstances—or whether faculty members invite students to disclose them—does not determine their existence. From this perspective, inclusion means designing and teaching for variability. Faculty can practice inclusive pedagogy by following universal design principles and offering multiple options for representation, engagement, and expression:

Options are essential to learning, because no single way of presenting information, no single way of responding to information, and no single way of engaging students will work across the diversity of students that populate our classrooms. Alternatives reduce barriers to learning for students with disabilities while enhancing learning opportunities for everyone.4

In a Nutshell …
Inclusive pedagogy can be an act of intention—something that is initiated before and during the course design process—rather than being an act of revision or omission.

 

Also see:

Live from Bett: What’s new in EDU–Free resources to boost engagement and collaboration — from the Microsoft Education Team on January 22, 2020

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In addition, on the day of a presentation, educators and students now can help every person in the classroom or audience understand what they’re saying by clicking on “Present Live.” Live Presentations enables every audience member to view the presentation on their own device, such as a laptop, tablet or phone. Each audience member can turn on live captioning and choose subtitles from more than 60 languages. They can even navigate between slides, so they don’t miss a single, important detail. The audience is engaged throughout the presentation and sends reactions in real-time. After the presentation, the audience can provide feedback on the content and delivery of the presentation, which educators and students can use to improve skills over time.

Live Presentations will be coming soon to PowerPoint for the web as part of Office Education, which educators and students can access for free. If you haven’t already done so, get started with Office 365 Education now.

 

From DSC:
Might this type of functionality be a solid component of a global, next generation learning platform? Hmmmm…

 

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