Monday, 25 June 2018

If You Are Using Google Classroom, It Isn't Enough.

I have a fear that in 20 years time when I am probably ready for dying, that school will still be the same as it is now.  There are still too many teachers still standing in front of classes "delivering" the lesson to the learners.  Andreas Schleicher says in this 2017 video, at about 12mins 30 seconds, that we have 21st-century technology and 21st century learners, with 20th-century pedagogy, in 19th-century institutional structures.

This is why we are in a position where technology has not necessarily been helpful to learners yet, because we are doing old things with new technologies, which means students have "mile-wide, inch-deep understanding" as Schleicher puts it.  Deep conceptual understanding is not there, as shown in the PISA testing.
Schleicher says to overcome this, we must find a way to amplify the relationship (13'56") that teachers have with their students, because learning is a very social, relational process.  Just replacing a teacher with technology is doing more bad than good.
I have noticed teachers telling me that they are using digital technologies really well because they are using Google Classroom. This is not enough.  Don't just use the technology to "deliver" a lesson in the same way that you would have delivered it in the past.

So how can you amplify the relationship?  You as the teacher are the person that they know and trust.  How can you make sure that you multiply your availability without wearing yourself to a frazzle?  Some of the things that I would try would be to

  • have a class blog or site that your learners can refer to for aspects of their work, like resources.  Personalise it as much as you can with your face, interests, and snippets of what you thought was exciting on the news or in school.  
  • make little instructional videos with your face embedded (yes, get over it, it is a 21st century requirement).
  • get involved in social media - professionally!  Use Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter in your classes for learning.
  • reach out to your students through feedback forms (getting to know your learners, finding out their questions, formative assessments).
  • make the conversations two-way.  Respond to their work (through commenting, posting, voice notes).
  • ask an open-ended question on Flipgrid at least once a week and review/respond to the answering videos.
  • explicitly include collaborative digital activities in your classwork, and assign a group leader each week to give feedback to you and each other on how work is progressing.  Ask them their next steps.  Develop their collaborative problem-solving and social skills so that they can work with people who think differently to them.
  • teach and learn about digital citizenship (that is, how to be a good person, no matter what the medium).
  • use social bookmarking (sharing resources through an app like Diigo) and share your comments, while asking for their comments as well.
  • make connections to your learner's whanau through google classroom, Seesaw, Flipgrid or whatever your poison, through positive affirmations on achievements.
  • acknowledge talents and adjust students' work accordingly
Doing any one of these things takes time to set up, so start with small steps and build up from there. Your aim is to amplify the relationship that you have with your learners digitally so that your face to face time with them is a lot less demanding and easier to manage,
I will be really interested to hear of other ways that you have amplified the relationship with your learners, and of course if you try any one of these things then what have been your successes and failures?  
Schleicher says you have to believe that education can change.  I hope my fear is not realised.


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