Tag Archives: 21st century

The Jobs of Today May not Exist Tomorrow – How do we Prepare Students?

Not long ago, I wrote a blog post entitled: Lifelong Learning is an Essential Skill, not a Buzzword. The more I read about future-readiness, 21st century skills, job market reports, and advances in technology (especially AI), the more I understand this to be true. Recently, PEW Research published a report on the Future of Jobs & Job Training.

18732734804_7b3a90ea19_h

Courtesy of Gerd Leonhardhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/gleonhard/18732734804

This report reaffirmed the fact that in the near future, millions of jobs will be lost to automation and AI that can do these tasks not only just as well, but often better than their human counterparts. These are not just rudimentary, repeatable tasks, but sophisticated, white-collar jobs that have generally been considered “safe” from automation: dermatologists, journalists, claims adjusters, financial reporters, and more. With the rise of automated driving, millions of workers who rely on driving as their means of employment are looking at becoming obsolete (long-haul truck drivers, taxi drivers, delivery wo/men, and more).

Pushing aside the very real, and daunting, questions of what this means for our job market and even Capitalism, for educators and parents this means: how do we prepare students for the stark realities of an ever shifting job market? While new technologies may be depleting jobs, knowing how to leverage them will become an even more essential skill in the future.

“The education system will need to adapt to prepare individuals for the changing labor market. At the same time, recent IT advances offer new and potentially more widely accessible ways to access education.”

Looking at how and when people learn job skills and other training will also need to be examined. Will a traditional high school, college, and beyond model remain the default given the rapidly changing employment models?

“A central question about the future, then, is whether formal and informal learning structures will evolve to meet the changing needs of people who wish to fulfill the workplace expectations of the future.”

PEW delves deeply into this topic, asking experts about their vision of the future and determined 5 Major Themes:

Five major themes about the future of jobs training in the tech age

Considering the uncertainty of the future, what we do know is that we must prepare young people to be flexible and agile learners, critical thinkers, entrepreneurs and innovators, and to know that they must develop a passion and drive for lifelong learning.

While the article is long, I strongly encourage my readers to check out PEW’s publication and put together your own thoughts.

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iPad Summit 2014 Boston – Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacob via Curriculum21.com

Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacob via Curriculum21.com

The iPad Summit Boston is finally here! I have been attending the iPad Summit since its beginning several years ago. This is one of my favorite ed tech conferences. The keynote speaker is Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs of Curriculum21. This blog is live, so please excuse any typos or inconsistent writing! It’s tricky to get it all down.

Heidi’s work on building 21st century curricula is at the forefront of 21st century pedagogical and curricular development. I’m excited to hear her ideas. I’ve been following curriculum21 for years and been inspired by many of the tools and ideas that they highlight. Heidi’s talk is entitled: “Integrating the New Literacies: Digital, Media, Global Into Every Classroom.” Heidi tells us that this is an incredible time to be a teacher. There is so much going on in the world of education. “You’re not learning, if you’re comfortable” – Piaget.

“How do we prepare our learners for their future?”

Heidi tells us that any point we raise on instructional time, professional development, curriculum, schedule, use of space (physical and virtual), student grouping, etc (all practical choices) should be in our students’ best interests. In schools, we seem to forget that. None of us would take a child to a doctor using the same tools and practices of the 1970’s, yet in education we are comfortable with old practices.

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Courtesy of Wikimedia

“What year are you preparing your learners for?”

Are driving principle in schools is assessment. What the assessment is can be standardized tests like state and federal tests, APs, SATs, ACTs, etc. These are event based – one day and time, on a schedule. Schools very rarely prepare their students beyond 1990. Having tools doesn’t ensure a contemporary education. You can do “dumb things” with “smart boards.” You can use an iPad with dated content or as a digitized worksheet processor. We shouldn’t be fascinated with tools, but with the teaching and learning. We are in sedentary rooms, don’t encourage collaboration, ignore play, etc. Our schedule is 19th century, our curriculum the 20th century, and our students are 21st century. We need to elevate the practice.

Are we ready for the Class of 2031?

As we design schools for the future, they need to look very different than they do now. We need to modernize our standards. United States standards are similar to those around the world. Many developed countries, around 2010, began changing their standards. They all reference digital media and digital applications as well as global standards and concepts. However, just because methods are “Classical” doesn’t mean they are worthless. “Classical is timeless.” Quality teaching is timeless. There is a reason why the Socratic Method is still used in classrooms today (we just call it a “curriculum of inquiry”).

Learners Create & Share Knowledge Differently

Students need direction in being self directed. The tool isn’t enough! Students have new needs. This means that we need a new kind of school. We also need a new kind of teacher. This means we need learning environments that keep the classical concepts and respond to modern learning. Our teachers need to be digitally literature, media savvy, and globally connected. As we examine, we need to keep two things in mind: beware of “habits” (they are not classic) and imagine possibilities.  Design teams in schools need to think not only for needs in “the now,” but what the needs of the future are. Heidi says that she’s against “reform” because it simply tweaks things. She advocates “new forms” of school. We have to think about space both physically and virtually. We need to work on multiple levels.

Heidi now shares a few examples of school designs from Fielding Nair International. They are building schools that are both exciting, but incorporate different spaces for different types of learning activities. This means seminars, reading nooks, gardens, workrooms, etc.  Not only is the focus on creativity and innovation, but sustainability, collaboration, and engagement in a variety of ways. This means that we have new names, such as: Town Square, Learning Students, Classics Academy, DaVinci Lab, Interactive Gallery, R & D Garage, etc. By shifting our terminology, it gives us new vision about our curriculum. So an old space can be transitioned into a new learning environment. Institutions are changing structures that inhibit us with new and interesting physical spaces. Heidi states that she believes that these also have parallels in virtual spaces. She says that our thoughts about space are what limit us. One concept she highlights is MakerSpace environments. These are environments where you can create and design.

Looking at new literacies, Heidi thinks our problems is that we tend to be too generic. Instead of online learning, we need to consider on-line courses, events, point-to-point, games, viewing video and live-stream, blogging, networks, etc. Each of these have distinct meanings and value sets. Just choosing an app is not enough.

Heidi states that there is a new type of teacher emerging; an Independent Practitioner Leader. This has democratized education. You don’t need to be on the school board to impact educational ideas and pathways. Now you can broadcast and share a myriad of resources and tools. Even if you are working in a traditional environment, you can breakthrough, broadcast, and share. Teachers are not only working in their classrooms, but in new ways of collaboration with their peers.

How do we help Support a new Type of Teacher?

Heidi states that there are several myths in this: technology = 21st century environment; Innovation is a step by step sequential process; and We are victims of “the system” and are powerless to modernize. It’s not the technology; it simply allows us opportunity for advancement. Innovation is organic; you have to make decisions, go through trial and error. Prefabricated coverage of curriculum does not allow this. Heidi says that the last one, that we are victims, troubles her the most. It is critical that we step up how we can. Even working in a traditional system, there are other tools available to you. You can push for innovation in your school.

New Literacies

So Heidi highlights that literacy is communication, accessing language, and making meaning. To be literate, an effective communicator, is to have a solid command of language. Heidi says that “literacy is a coin with two sides.” One of the sides is phonemic awareness, the ability to decode signs and symbols. That doesn’t make you literate in and of itself. The flip side of the coin, making meaning, cultivates literacy. If you can translate and make responsive meaning, you are literate.

You can apply these concepts to new, digital literacies. Just because you can access tools, doesn’t mean that you are literate. I run into this all of the time. Just because a student can craft a tweet or send a text message doesn’t mean that students are digitally literate. We need to cultivate digital, media, and global literacies. Heidi believes that one of the problems with schools is that we are mooshing these together and not examining them independently.

Digital Literacy

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you want a student to be digitally literacy, he needs proficiencies in keyboarding, touch and effect, and voice tools. Heidi believes that touch and effect is the most prominent today, especially with smart phones and tablets. What she doesn’t see happening is enough policy work on access in early childhood. Students need to learn how to touch and interact with a tablet. At what point do we start to work with early childhood students? While keyboarding is dying, Heidi says that it is still important, especially with coding. Voice activated technology is becoming more prominent and will likely become self directed.

Selection Capability & Cataloguing

We need to teach children to curate. They need to know how to strategically select and tag content. We are faced with a glut of information and nee to learn to categorize and organize. Students should be able to make annotated judgments about tools and content. We already do this with our own iPads and Smartphones (all of my social media tools are in one folder labeled “Social”). When a student reads material (in a classical environment, like a book) and a teacher asks them to play “fetch” (What is the name of the main character of a story?). That learning isn’t theirs. However, when a student reads material and categorizes it on their own, it’s theirs. They are becoming literate. Self-navigation is a powerful tool of ownership. Heidi highlights her own website curriculum21. It highlights a clearinghouse of tools which are catalogued and tagged. As an educator, you can have students create their content and submit their tools for the units they are working on. We need to look at creating curriculum with new tools and concepts. One of the most popular methods of employing this in educational environments is student curated Digital Portfolios. Students must curate and design a website, select various modules of work, and then match them to individual standards.

The Power of the Adverb “independently”

If you put the word independently at the end of any standard, it’s a game changer. You want students to be able to play music, draft an essay, and perform research without you. When we are developing modern learners, we are cultivating their independence. Students can create their own apps, navigate social media for learning, and develop their own learning models.

Media Literacy

Receptive and generative capabilities. Students need to be able to critique media, question sources, recognize bias not only in text, but in imagery, framing, and audio. Students right now Google and then go to one of the first few sources like Wikipedia (which is actually pretty good) and a paid resource. Not only with online content, but television literacy is important. Someone chooses what we see and what we don’t see. This includes not only adds, but news resources. Students need to learn more about film and quality. Students need to see quality films, documentaries, etc. Film should be a formal area of study.

After students are able to consume content, they need generate high quality content. Many teachers, however, have no training in creating content, which makes them uncomfortable asking their students to produce it. They need to learn the difference between quality and mediocre content is having students engaged in creating a collaborative rubric. We can all think of a podcast that is good. So choose your favorite and then deconstruct it for content and design. If you want high quality, then be tool specific; e.g. “What makes a good iMovie?” There are many media making tools, but we need to use them with our students.

Instead of faculty meetings, take the time and give it to teachers to explore tools like iMovie, Movie Maker, or Blogger! We don’t have time, we have to make it. A quality digital media project should be an assessment. Instead of a report, we’ll use voicethread or vimeo, or other tools. The media that you create should be a replacement for more dated forms of assessment. You can’t add content to your curriculum, but you can replace it.

Global Literacy

Heidi says that she is most worried about developing Global Literacy. Americans are highly isolated and we do not explore the world around us. The overwhelming majority of Americans will never leave this country… ever. Not everyone is comfortable with it and it’s pricy; even though we are bordered by three countries. Students don’t have a realistic perception of how the world views our country.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you look at the job market in a global economy, we have problems. Digital literacy is content free. However, Global Literacy is not. Too many people view this as a “social studies” issue. We need to put the term “geo” in front of our curriculum, geo-economics, geo-ecology, etc. We need to expand the portals. We need to explore our tools in exploring this topic. Heidi believes we need to be aggressive about this. Schools are not working on this. We do not study the BRIC countries, most don’t know who they are. We need to use our digital tools to explore these concepts in a curricular driven environment. Global literate learners have four competencies: investigate the world, recognize perspective, communicate ideas, and take action. Heidi recommends Facing the Future, which incorporates contemporary queries with repurcussions for the future. These are inherently interdisciplinary. We need to deliberately globalize our schools and communicate these ideas. Not only connect our students with others, but our teachers and administrators as well. You can find tools for doing this on curriculum21.

Heidi finishes up with a thank you and encourages us to cultivate our own digital and global experiences.

Digital Parenting 101: An iTunesU Course For Parents

Great resource!

Hooked On Innovation

digitalparentlogo Digital Parenting iTunesU course

Part of having any type of success in a school is to have the support of parents.  While some schools can overcome a lack of parent involvement or support, most depend on the idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child.  The same is true of any successful mobile device initiative.  I’ve had over 50 talks/discussions/trainings with community members and parents in our district since the launch of the LEAP iPad Initiative in Fall of 2011, and that’s still not enough.

We’ve hosted panels of parents discussing their concerns and values with technology use.  We’ve brought in experts on cyber-bullying and internet safety.  We’ve even had back-to-school nights where we’ve invited parents to see and use the device as a child in the classroom would.

Knowledge is a powerful thing and lately, many parents are looking for more and more materials on what to…

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How to Infuse Digital Literacy Throughout Your Curriculum

This is reblogged from my post on PLPVoices.

digital-literacy-250So how are we doing on the push to teach “digital literacy” across the K12 school spectrum? From my perspective as a school-based technology director and history teacher, I’d say not as well as we might wish – in part because our traditional approach to curriculum and instruction wants to sort everything into its place.

Digital literacy is defined as “the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate, and create information using a range of digital technologies.” Many educational and business professional cite is as a critical 21st century skill. Even so, many schools have struggled to adapt it into their curriculum.

This is often because most institutions already have rigorous, established curricula with little wiggle room – and this is especially true in schools subject to state and federal testing. Content becomes king. However, there are ways that schools can adapt these skills into existing structures – integrating them into their current pedagogical framework.

Evaluating online content is a research skill

Administrators often tell me they cannot meet new digital literacy requirements because they cannot add a “digital literacy” course or requirement. Here’s the other way: the need for students to “critically navigate and evaluate” online content is better viewed as an extension of research skills. Just as we don’t teach a class called “research,” we do not need to teach “evaluating online content” as a separate course or unit of study. We should teach research skills in the context of existing subject matter.

For example, when my students do research in US History, they are not only allowed butencouraged to use online content. However, when using internet material (as opposed to a peer reviewed article or an academic book), they need to include further evaluation of the content.

CRAAPtest-visualOne of my favorite tools to use in doing this is the CRAAP test developed by the University of California at Chico. This method requires students to evaluate a source based on its Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. In fact, this method could easily be applied to “traditional” sources as well. (Here’s a public source handout.)

With the rise of academics who write blogs and use social media (such as Twitter and Facebook), and given the wealth of self-published content generally, pertinent information is now moving away from traditional forms. A student in science can learn a great deal from Neil Degrass Tyson’s Podcast; in fact, it’s likely a more accessible medium for young students than his published articles. Additionally, students need to know what online content they can reproduce and how to credit it properly (digital ethics).

The problem students face in the new world is no longer access to information, but rather how to deal with the glut of content that confronts them when they google a research topic. If we want them to effectively navigate online material (as 21st century learners), then research now needs to include not only “traditional” methods and materials, but digital ones as well. We need to ensure that they know how to evaluate a website, a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook entry. These evaluative skills transfer cross curricularly and prepare students for the broader world of online communication.

Engaging online is a modern communication skill

Engaging in effective discourse and debate is a necessary skill that many of us learned in school via class discussions, group activities, classroom debates, in class presentations, etc. Being able to effectively communicate is a requirement to success in many facets of life (academia, business, personal life, etc).

In our emerging digital world, a new medium of exchange has developed: online engagement, especially via social media. Effectively engaging online requires a myriad of skills that we strive to foster in school – effective written communication, brevity and civility. These components are often highlighted in Digital Citizenship programs, but in tradition-bound K12 education, we often deride social media as trite or ineffective.

Brian-MuseHowever, social media use has quickly grown in professional and academic realms. I recently had a conversation with a friend from my high school days, Brian Muse. Brian is a successful attorney with a practice focused on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). The primary focus of our conversation was the role that social media plays in Brian’s practice.

Even I (an avid proponent of the power of online engagement) was surprised at how much value Brian and his peers put on social media. In addition to maintaining an active Twitter account (with the full encouragement of his firm), he also writes a blog on relevant ADA law.

Brian told me that social media, especially Twitter, is an effective tool for legal professionals in several ways: networking, branding, and research. As an attorney in a dynamic field, it’s his job to predict where the law is going; Twitter serves as an effective crowdsourcing medium for him to take the pulse of labor law. His online presence and engagement (through his blog and Twitter account) allows him to share his knowledge with others and has led to several referrals from attorneys or chambers of commerce.

Speaking both a professional and a parent, Brian told me: “Any child that graduates high school with these skills will have such a leg up in this business world.”

Just as we anticipate that the traditional communication skills we teach children as part of our established curriculum will translate to a broader skill set, so will their ability to engage with people safely and effectively online. Likewise, just as we do not need to establish a separate curriculum or class for “digital literacy,” we can incorporate updated 21st century communication skills across our established curricular models.

Students need to create. Projects become digital.

If you are familiar with the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, then you know that creation is at the highest order of learning. Teachers recognize this; it’s why we give students various projects and assignments: a science experiment, a research essay, a model UN debate, etc. With new technologies, students have the ability to create dynamic, multi-media projects quickly and easily. By combining these tools with a sophisticated topic, we can engage students in new and creative ways.

For example, my history students make documentaries for class. This project requires that they perform sophisticated research (using both traditional and digital resources), incorporate a variety of media (images, video, sound, etc), they must write, and then they present/peer review in class. This modernized research project addresses all of the elements of digital literacy in my classroom yet doesn’t require additional in or out of class time to implement. It is an effective way to engage my students in effective, 21st century learning.

One reason that teachers are often hesitant to adopt new technologies or give students digitally enhanced assignments is because they themselves are unfamiliar with the available tools – and suppose that giving a “Movie Project” requires that they teach about movie making software. I try to encourage my faculty to “let go.” Tell the students what the final project should look like (such as a video) and then tell them to pick the venue that works best for them to create a finished project.

New technology is easy to use/navigate and with YouTube and online blogs, students can easily teach themselves how to use them. Now this doesn’t mean that faculty should not learn these new tools. In fact, I often challenge my faculty to use MovieMaker for their laptops or iMovie on their iPads to create a video of anything they want (their children, a pet, a favorite sports team).

Not only do they discover how easy it is to use the software, they see how quickly they can overcome any hurdles they encounter in the process. In fact, I often tout creative problem solving as important skill for students to develop – projects like this help them to develop those skills.

Digital Literacy: An everyday dimension of learning

Digital Literacy is a crucial skill that we as educators must foster and encourage in our classrooms (and administrators must support in the broader curriculum). I hope that these examples have helped to demonstrate how 21st century skills do not require additional class time or new course development. They often do require some tweaking of our established curricula.

I strongly encourage administrators to provide robust professional development and learning time for their staff and faculty. Your teachers can integrate digital literacy into everyday learning, provided you share the resources and support they need to shift a traditional curriculum to a more innovative one. If you do, our students will be better digital citizens and curators of online content; a necessary skill for success in the 21st century and a valuable contribution to civil society.