Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) executive director Hugo Marcus referred to author Milton Chen’s revolutionary ideas around classroom learning in a recent keynote address, and he says he’d love to see school leaders explore the concepts and suggestions further.
In his book Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools, Chen offers a vision for a “new world of learning,” according to one description. The book draws on Chen’s extensive experience in media and as executive director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
“I used the information from Education Nation as an indication that we are not the only ones with concerns about the changing face of education and the challenges we will encounter,” says Marcus. “I view (Chen’s ideas) as suggestions to explore and experiment with.”
Chen proposes there are six leading edges of innovation schools can run with to move beyond the “inadequacies of our current education system.”
He suggests education leaders with a thinking “edge” will have different views on the learning process itself, redefining the role of teachers, parents and students and reflecting on what’s possible given technology.
Schools seeking a curriculum edge will be asking themselves how they can provide learning experiences that are relevant to the lives of students and their communities and the larger world. Student assessment will focus on deeper authentic learning.
The technology edge is sharpened in schools that recognize and act on the myriad uses of the computer in learning.
Educators that want to hone their time/place edge will be open to the idea that classroom walls are “crumbling” as enclosures for learning. For instance, learning can now be found in unlikely places, such as in one school district in New York where Wi-Fi on the bus enables students to complete homework, turn in assignments and search for Internet resources.
Schools with a co-teaching edge will have teachers, parents and students all engaged in providing learning.
Finally, what Chen calls the youth edge will be developed by capitalizing on the digital generations, he says, noting this could be considered the biggest edge of all, the 50 million students who are digital natives, born digital and in fact have much to teach their parents and teachers in this regard.
A key premise of the book is that in this digital age the number of new ways to teach and learn is ever-expanding and includes laptops, wikis, teacher-parent communication platforms, “serious games,” social media and GPS devices, amongst many others.
Marcus adds he believes that while the six edges are intriguing “we need to remember that (a) the enthusiasm of digital learners does not mean that they set the standards, and (b) someone has to focus on discernment in the use of technology and learning.”
Marcus also recommends member school leaders look into the ideas found in literature like 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn.