Archives for September 2014

Rich Learning to Deep Learning

ipadMy daughter can immerse herself in learning in ways I could only have dreamed of at her age! I watch her, slightly enviously, as she travels across the solar systems and oceans, and talks (or at least listens to) real live astronauts and experts of choice. Instead of reading thru a couple of possibly musty, dusty, static books about space, she can soar thru galaxies. How magnificently engaging.

The change in our learners’ capacities to access and engage with information, and the increasing impact of media and technology on how young people learn and relate to the world and to each other is a huge driver for being a part of the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Partnership.

A question for me is how do we turn this Rich Learning into Deep Learning; several drivers seem to push us in this direction more and more strongly.

A recent book excerpt, Teaching for Meaningful Learning, by Brigid Barron and Linda Darling Hammond finds that:
• Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they to take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
• Active learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable
• Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn

We see more and more reports from industry and employers nominating skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, problem solving, initiative – these again confirm for me the need to be explicit about developing the 6 C’s – Deep Learning Competencies.

Shifting Rich Learning to Deep Learning revolves around knowledge construction, and about application of this knowledge in new contexts. It’s about intentionally building learning processes that allow us, and our learners, to navigate unknown learning territory, and emerge with fresh understandings, ways of being, and banks of knowledge that lead to action.

And for me this in one of the most exciting aspects of the project – the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other leaders and teachers, and then connect our learners in work that means something, work that is about learning about each other and acting together to address real issues that affect us all. Developing the 6C’s is critical to continuing to build a productive and effective global society, and doing this work with likeminded colleagues and countries is a huge lever in its sustained success.

Deep Learning must have this authentic base of engagement for both us as teachers and our learners.
An explicit and intentional focus on designing to develop the 6 C’s leverages Rich Learning and shifts it toward Deep Learning. Creating the conditions to support, measure and test this line of thought remains a challenge.
But Rich Learning alone won’t create tomorrow’s astronauts.



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making meaning of a MOOC

Several colleagues and I recently engaged in a MOOC focussing on Collaborative Problem Solving. we have been debating and deconstructing the experience, in particular around the mode of delivery.  I think we have consensus around the value of open content, but are grappling with  the manner in which we might best “make meaning” in our own contexts.mooc

So I used the word “social” to describe how I learn…maybe  that’s not the best description, but as I reflect on my own learning, it’s optimised when I can reflect on inputs, and then make meaning in concert with others. This is not always a linear, or indeed synchronous process, but the notion of sharing and voicing perspectives enriches the learning significantly when compared to solo efforts.

ZPD has some relevance here; high value making meaning is dependant on informed, focussed thinking and dialogue – some from outside the box, sure, but commonly aligned in terms of focus or output or outcome.

This is where the breadth of MOOC discussion forums challenges me. I respect the fact that there are many motivators for MOOC participation, and equally as many diversities across participants. What strikes me is the inherent potential to get lost in forums for days……without really leveraging learning.

The MOOC model won’t be for everyone; time, commitment, and personal engagement may all affect engagement, BUT they are free, open and can offer wonderful opportunities to access content AND  learning.

Can we structure them better? On a local scale, the our Tasmanian Professional Learning Institute is grappling with personalising engaging and high yield online learning….seeking to make it more that a series of lectures down the camera. We hope to dip our toes in the water with this complex mode in the near future, and it will be really interesting to evaluate our success in facilitating the making of meaning in virtual environments.

New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Foundations

Having facilitated our 4th and 5th days of work in Tasmania, I really began to sense a consolidation of our shared understandings. These workshops devoted time to hearing each others’ stories, and further contextualising the heavy content base we have previously worked through. My model of the core New Pedagogies is becoming more simple with time!npdlmodel

The synergy between elements is also becoming more evident. The deep learning progressions are in a way the measure to see if all our other interventions around building capacity are working. If we have invested in developing understanding of the core aspects of NPDL – teachers as activators, new learning partnerships, student agency, fusing new and existing pedagogy and learning conditions – we would expect to see growth in student capabilities, as measured on the Deep Learning Competency Framework, over time.

There is a strong synergy between all of the tools; one that allows us to unpack and analyse components and their effect on learning, but also to bring them all together as a cohesive approach to teaching for deep learning.