Friday, January 13, 2017

Who Owns the Learning? Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age

On February 6, 2017, the Moultonborough School District is thrilled to welcome Alan November, an educational leader who advocates specific steps in how to transform teaching and learning by using technology. Schools have put the emphasis on adding technology in the classroom, but in the end if teachers and students have not adapted to the new realities of an environment pervasive with devices and connectivity, then they are not accomplishing their mission of delivering a quality education. November argues that it's not about technology, it's about student engagement and ownership in their learning.

In this thought-provoking book, Who Owns the Learning? Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age, November argues that school has short-changed students under the current model. The learning belongs to students, and not to teachers, and November presents the Digital Learning Farm, a model that shifts educational control towards students, empowering them to make decisions and to guide their own learning. The Digital Learning Farm model allows students to develop and own their learning through the use of four different roles: the tutorial designer, the scribe, the researcher, and the global communicator.

In essence, the tutorial designer creates movies that explain a problem to others, be that a math question, or a how to video. These are then posted to the web so that everyone can benefit from what is being taught. The scribe records the notes and events that happen in the classroom. Every day, a different student takes notes. These notes are reviewed by the teacher and the class and are posted on a blog or wiki so they can be accessed by everyone in the class. The researcher investigates questions that arise during class by finding answers and resources online. Finally, the global communicator reaches out to other people online who can help with the topics or subjects at hand.

These four roles really tie together the transformational 6 that Alan November mentions in a recent article entitled Walk Through for Innovation: Six Questions for Transformed Learning. In this article, he states that if your lesson or assessment answers no to all of these questions, then technology has not been successfully integrated in your classroom and you are doing a disservice to your students. This book, while preceding these questions, does a great job of demonstrating how all of them can be addressed by adopting the Digital Learning Farm model. Ultimately, students must own their learning to be really successful, and educators and even students should demand access to an education model similar to what November proposes to enhance both their interest in school and their desire to better perform as students.

Thus, on February 6th, the entire staff of Moultonborough School District, as well as students will be working together to examine these six questions and take steps to begin the transformation that is necessary for our students to succeed in today's world and own their learning. In the same article, November talks about being technology rich and innovation poor. We believe ourselves to be technology rich, and innovation middle class. We do many things right, but we can always improve. This professional development day will help us get better at connecting our students to the world and making their learning even more relevant. We will start the day with a keynote by Alan November at 8:15 am. We invite members of the public to join us for this exciting keynote.

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