Schooling will be out of business if we don’t ‘revamp’ schools. This was Michael Fullan’s reply to my question last week of whether he thought there was a growing gap between schooling and learning. Interestingly, Fullan doesn’t believe we need to start from scratch. Rather, he suggests looking at ways of extending the boundaries of schooling; making them more permeable in today’s world. Technology can be a great tool to help bridge this gap.
While Fullan admits that while technology is a ‘pull’ factor for students and one of the game changers for schooling, the vast majority of digital use in schools is superficial. What is needed is an engaging pedagogy to pull students in and equip them with 21st century skills. This contemporary framework is built on the 6Cs: creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, citizenship and character. As Fullan says better learners, lead to better global citizens and the better the learning for students, the more focused the work of teachers. Schooling becomes an open-ended and collaborative experience for students as well as teachers.
The next wave in education will be combining digital and student agency to deliver improved learning outcomes. Gaining greater understanding of student learning by assessing how students like to learn, whether they feel they belong to their school community and what are their expectations. The good news is these factors are not fixed – they are able to be leveraged because student engagement and learning success is inextricably linked.
How students participate in their learning, experience it and succeed is the next chapter for many education systems. Powerful mobile connected devices will not do anything to improve student learning on their own. Schools need to design realistic learning experiences which engage and stretch students and use the devices as enablers. This involves both the teacher and the student in a complex process of learning together. This moves our understanding of learning and teaching today from a mechanistic and didactic process to an organic and transformational one. Of course, passionate and proficient teachers working together in this way show us what teaching needs to be in a knowledge age.