Challenges in Education

Every year the New Media Consortium publishes with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the International Society for Technology and Education (ISTE) a report on emerging trends in K-12 education, Higher Education, and Museum Education. This year’s challenges are really the keys for what educators need to consider. Here are the challenges:

  1. Ongoing professional development needs to be valued and integrated into the culture of the schools – We know that without proper training teachers are much less likely to make the necessary changes in practices. We now have the opportunity to develop Communities of Practice or Professional Learning Communities to use tools for collaboration to change the dynamics for professional development. The research from people like Richard Dufour shows that when teachers collaborate and plan together the quality of learning improves. We need to think about personalizing the delivery of training and tap into community resources as well as students.
  2. Too often it is education’s own practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies. – I call this the “inertia factor.” It happens with every institution. However, K-12 education has been more recalcitrant, since there have been few incentives to innovate. Most schools do not reward taking chances or taking risks. In the Pittsburgh area the Propel Charter Schools are one good example where they are trying to overcome this challenge by promoting grant opportunities for students and educators who are willing to be “innovative.” This is what every school need to become. The South Fayette School District changed the title of their IT leader to Director of Technology and Innovation. Again this sends a signal that we’re not going to limit our scope. We are going to search for new and better ways to meet the needs of learners.
  3. New models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to traditional models of schooling. – Blended learning is taking off. We need to look at the opportunity to tap into online and Internet resources. Flipping Learning is a great example of how to address the issue of “Time” and create more personalized learning opportunities. I’m working on a Carnegie Mellon University project with my colleague, Ananda Gunawardena, to add learning analytics and deeper conversation to Flipped Learning through the tool created by CMU, Classroom Salon. Starting in July there will be a free course through the HP Catalyst Academy to look at this strategy. (The HP Catalyst Academy also includes may other new models to examine.)

The Horizon Report highlights additional challenges as well as strategies to support changes to better meet the needs of learners. In my next posting I’ll address some of these other dimensions.

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