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Collaborative Model Building

Part of planning for success in a 21st Century Learning organization is understanding and prioritizing the investments in technology. Success is about aligning the work in K-12 schools with the deployment of infrastructure, services, and supporting administrative operations. As we attempt to prioritize our work, such models can direct the planning and delivery of key actions to support personalized learning.

This draft describes the attributes and key change drivers of a 21st century learning organization from a technology perspective (the lens). I would greatly appreciate your comments and feedback. I am interested in collaboratively building and sharing a model that reflects the thoughts of many.

If 21st Century Learning is described as personalized, anytime, anywhere learning, what are its attributes?

*Flexible Learning Platform
Technology empowers the learner by shifting the locus of control. The teacher’s role in choosing appropriate resources and activities, creating resources and framing the environment is supported by the delivery of the learning platform and access to resources. The learning platform can be a loosely coupled collection of tools or a tightly woven software application.

21st Century Learning means that knowledge is neither hoarded nor stranded. 21st Century skills include the ability to search, retrieve, critique and expand upon existing knowledge. This can only be achieved in a connected learning environment.

Data is necessary to inform the changing practice and focus on individual student achievement. This continuous improvement (or adjustment) cycle requires access to data, capacity in the analysis of data, and the ability to interpret and apply the results of the analysis.

*Effective and Efficient Operations
A 21st Century organization leverages technology to deliver wold-class services. Targeted application systems provide secure and reliable data and transaction processing, and support the information management strategies of providing the right information to the right people at the right time.

*Safe and Secure
The reliability of the technology environment is enhanced when it is secured from unauthorized and malicious access. Reliability is a key predictor of availability. Security also applies to the steps taken to provide an age-appropriate, safe online environment for students.

What are the key drivers of change today in the technology supporting 21st Century Learning?

*Professional Learning and Support
Staff learning is a complex topic. Just-in-time and job-embedded development strategies deliver a change in practice that is both more immediate and more sustained. A support for staff personal learning creates a sustainable model for professional learning approaches.

*Student Access and Connectivity
Students need 1:1 access to the learning platform so that they can participate effectively in 21st Century Learning. This can be achieved through a combination of robust networks, district-supplied computers and connectivity that allows student-owned devices into schools.

*Technology Choices
The size of the technology footprint in a school district is driven by the range of technology choices that the district chooses to support. The technology footprint if not managed has the potential to lead to escalating costs.

*Tools of Web 2.0
A question remains as to whether the flexibility of the learning platform requires flexibility relative to the collection of tools or simply flexibility in the use of the tools. This very discussion is driving change.

*Focus on Green
Elearning, ecommerce, and all the other e’s have reduced energy hogs such as air travel. But on the flip side, data centres and personal computers devour energy. As we teach our students the importance of global citizenship, we need to send the right message about the impact of technology on the environment.

Thank you for participating. I will continue to post iterations of this work.


3 Responses

  1. Hi Cindy,
    Nice post. Here are a few points you may want to consider.

    Under “flexible learning platform”, I’d like to challenge your thinking on this. Would the term “platform” apply to the “loosely coupled connection of tools”? And what do you mean by flexible? I assume you mean things like scalable, standards-compliant, etc., as well as the notion of shifting of control.

    With “connected”, where does “access” or “accessible” come in?

    With “data”, what about the notion of “rich data”?

    What about a category re: openness or transparency. Is this something you are considering?

    With “professional learning support” I’d just love to get a better idea of what this means, but perhaps this is not the time for it.

    Ahhh … I see access there now.

    With “technology choices”, are you considering options for technology brought into the institution by students and staff?

    I’ve been trying to avoid “Web 2.0” as a term, especially in documents that will be read in years to come. Social learning tools might be a better generic replacement for longer term thinking. With this, you may also want to consider looking at the potential of the semantic web.

    These are great ideas, just trying to help you consider a few things along the way. This is partly selfish as I am really interested in what you are doing here!


  2. Thanks Alec. Your comments are very helpful. I think one of the challenges with the model is that it is inherently trying to bridge old and new thinking as it addresses the changing environment while capturing language that appeals across time. And of course attempting to be brief and concise in this version.

    The problem is especially true in regards to use of the term “platform”. In its strictest technical sense, a platform is usually defined as the server or its operating system that supports an application. But I think platform can mean the full collection of technology tools that make up the environment. Flexibility is then defined in one of two ways: either the teacher/learner has flexibility to use the environment in a variety of ways or has the flexibility to select a range or from a range of tools. The question is begged: how much and what kind of flexibility is enough?

  3. I think you’ve uncovered a strong issue, Cindy, when you consider how much and what kind of flexibility is enough. And of course, this is context dependent. As a user, I might want more flexibility for some types of my learning than with other types. But my wishes will be idiosyncratic, at least to a degree.

    One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the issue of authority –how to make choices learner-centred by giving authority to the learner to make choices (or acknowledging that learners always had that choice whether we “gave” it or not). But competing with this is the need to move learners to take that authority seriously — to “make” choices that go beyond taking the default, familiar or less challenging routes.

    Okay, now I really have to leave.

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