On my mind…


Capturing up to 5 top things that are on my radar at a time

1 MyWays Student Success Series – Next Generation Learning Challenge


The MyWays Report was created to serve communities of all types and grain-sizes —from states and cities to schools and classrooms — that are ready to reimagine themselves and what is possible for children. Its strength resides in its centerpiece: the MyWays Student Success Framework which articulates a sharp synthesis of 20 competencies that students need for success in learning, work, and life. Drawing from more than 25 major success frameworks and 200 studies, it serves to guide the creation of a deeper and more powerful vision of success during this time of accelerating change.

If you need to direct your attention somewhere, I recommend Report 11, a focus on learning design — and specifically the concept of extending the field of learning which shows learning activities organized by the combination of the thinking skills and the real-world abilities they require. The left-field line uses Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking skills. The right-field line represents the authenticity and complexity of the learning task.

Why I can’t stop thinking about it: There is really no way I can capture all this series represents in a brief synthesis but it’s worth the hours of reading. I tackled it in one sitting (albeit on a flight from NYC to San Francisco) and it was as though I walked off a different person than the one that walked on. Aside from the fact that I think @andrewcalkins is one of the smartest, kindest, funniest people I know, the report combines our greatest hope with our greatest insights about learning.

2 Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age — George Siemens

In this primer, George Siemens advances a theory of learning that builds on the limitations of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. It is consistent with the needs of the twenty-first century and certainly more relevant than ever. His theory takes into account trends in learning, the use of technology and networks, and the diminishing half-life of knowledge. It seeks to answer a question of our time: How do learning theories address moments where performance is needed in the absence of complete understanding?

As he notes in the conclusion, “Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today. A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses. Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity.”

Key Principles:

  • Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

Why I can’t stop thinking about it: Ten years ago (gasp!) I facilitated online communities of practice for EL Education in my role as Director, Online Professional Learning. Those lessons are becoming more and more relevant as I step into this next phase of my learning. How do we herd the learning across our networks so we can act on what we know is best for learners now? Facilitating the shift from campus-based to online and now back again demands a critical skill: synthesis. As Siemens notes, “In today’s environment, action is often needed without personal learning – that is, we need to act by drawing information outside of our primary knowledge. The ability to synthesize and recognize connections and patterns is a valuable skill.” Recognizing we do not know/ cannot know is a place of extreme vulnerability. I feel it as a leader and I see it in our teachers. Siemens highlights for me we need to think and approach learning differently, trusting it is not our own short-comings, but instead the realities of a dynamic world and an opportunity to rethink how we organize for learning and action .

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