Content Creation Calibration Presentation

I had the pleasure of presenting at the Virginia Society for Technology in Education 2018 Conference. I shared my ideas on Content Creation and Calibration with learners and I took feedback from the audience regarding the topic.

Some of the key questions were:

  • How do I engage dormant learners in the design process?
  • How do I provide support to dependent learners?
  • How do I educate parents on student content creation and calibration?

I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions. Nonetheless, take a look at the presentation and provide your feedback. Is it really possible to have students create instructional content?

 

 

Exploring Student Interests for Personalized Learning

Most of what I am reading has defined personalized learning as learning that incorporates student needs, student interests, and student preferences. For many, there is no confusion around these variables, however, I became interested in student interests because I recently encountered a student who did not know what he was interested in, as he was not well read and he focused much of his time on playing video games. This intrigued me, as I thought about ways teachers could help students cultivate interests when students have limited interests in sanctioned subject matter.

I started researching this matter in the early part of the academic year and I came across a chapter in volume two of Instructional-design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, which linked student interests to motivation. “Cultivating interests and the desire to cultivate interests, based on the joy or utility they provide” is directly linked to motivational development (Martin & Reigeluth, 1999, p. 494). Martin and Reigeluth (1999) further noted that motivational development is linked to Affective Education. They defined Affective Education as education for personal-social development, feelings, emotions, morals, and ethics. What is particularly important about Affective Education is the discovery that it may actually dominate cognitive learning, and “serve as the mind’s primary architect” (Martin & Reigeluth, 1999, p. 488). So what does this have to do with cultivating student interests? Since student interests are linked to self-motivation, and motivational development is linked to the affective domain, then I believe that educators are obligated to consider incorporating objectives from the affective domain for students with limited interests in sanctioned content matter.

Affective Objectives

Martin and Reigeluth (1999) argued that, “attitudes are the crux of all the affective dimensions of development. An attitude can be defined as a state of readiness or as a learned predisposition to behave in a consistent way. It is made up of cognitive, affective, and behavioral elements” (p. 496). Hence, teachers can help cultivate student interests byway of attitude training. Attitude training involves focusing on the non-cognitive and non-technical skills, also known as soft skills.

  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork capability
  • Negotiating skills
  • Self-management
  • Time management
  • Conflict management
  • Cultural awareness
  • Responsibility
  • Etiquette and good manners
  • Courtesy
  • Self-esteem
  • Sociability
  • Integrity / Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Work ethic

When students have soft skills, then they have the attitude necessary for a learning predisposition that will make them available for developing motivation and interests in sanctioned subjects. So how best can attitude training be implemented in the classroom? And how does it link to personalized learning? The answer to both of these questions is Project-based Learning (PBL). “Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge” (BIE, 2018). Below is a list of steps for getting started with PBL.

  1. Teacher uses standards to define the learning
  2. Teacher plans an entry event into the project
  3. Students are presented with a driving question
  4. Students generate their need to knows based on the driving question
  5. Teacher helps students to map out the project and create partnerships with stakeholders
  6. Instruction is planned based on student needs
  7. Project is carried out and evaluated

In sum, PBL is the vehicle for ushering in personalized learning and incorporating the much neglected affective domain of learning. I would also argue that PBL can recapture those students who are academically dormant and uninterested in sanctioned learning.

Reference:

Buck Institute for Education (2018). What is Project Based Learning retrieved from https://www.bie.org/about/what_pbl October 12, 2018.

Martin, B.L. and Reigeluth, C.M. (1999). Affective Education and the Affective Domain: Implications for Instructional-Design Theories and Models in Reigeluth, C. M. (2012). Instructional-design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, Volume II. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Digital Media Design and Blended Learning

Blended learning can be defined as a formal education program in which a student learns partly online and partly face-to-face. Blended learning is also an exciting way to personalize learning for students however, creating and calibrating assignments for different blended learning models can be daunting.  Blended learning has many models (i.e., station rotation, lab rotation, individual rotation, flipped classroom, flex, a la carte, or enriched virtual) and assignment/task creation for each model depends upon the purpose of the learning task and the learning path that the students are on. 

Specific blended learning models can be used to fit the differentiated need of learners based upon the instructional learning goal. Using Coil’s (2010) Horizontal and Vertical Differentiation Model, learning experiences can be tailored for specific students according to their specific learning needs. The table below shows how blended learning can be meshed with Coil’s (2010) Horizontal and Vertical Differentiation Model in order to consider how to design and calibrate assignments and tasks.

Much of the current content for assignments and tasks being used for the various blended learning models are pre-packaged by publishers, hence, transferring those materials to a district’s online learning management system as well as converting materials into digital media can be quite time consuming and overwhelming. Hence, when creating assignments for the different blended learning models, the standards of learning, the instructional procedures and the students’ learning stages and learning processes are essential to the creation and calibration of content design and digital media design.

Creation and calibration of assignments and tasks considers whether one should use analog or digital tools within the design while examining best practices for streamlining online assignments with other activities. If digital tools are to be used, then students can help co-design the digital media that will be used to enhance their learning. The following is a list of questions that teachers can use when creating digital media content:

  1. In order for this assignment/task to work, what gaps need to be filled with other tools/strategies?
  2. How will this assignment/task evolve?
  3. Does the assignment/task as intrinsic value for students?
  4. How can learning be distributed to students by students using digital tools?
  5. How will the learning be assessed?
  6. Can assessments be organically built into the assignments or tasks?
  7. How will the assessment be used to enhance student learning?

In sum, Kalaitzidis, Litts, and Rosenfeld Halverson, stated that “Instruction and the design of it should not be rigid, top-down activities. As learners grow, create, and demand new resources, the design of instruction must adapt to meet their needs. Instructors should elicit ideas for these refinements from learners themselves” (p.177). This suggests that instructors should keep assignments and tasks flexible and dynamic.

References:

Coil, C. (2010). Teaching tools for the 21st century. United States: Pieces of Learning.

Kalaitzidis, T.J., Litts, B., and Rosenfeld Halverson, E. Designing Collaborative Production of Digital Media in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. (2017). Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.

Content Creation and Calibration

Let’s be honest, it is hard to truly personalize learning when there are established standards for learning. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing against standards for learning, I’m simply trying to reconcile the ideas behind the two approaches to distributing and measuring learning. I call this ideological dissonance, the instructional dichotomy. The table below illustrates my ideas on the difference between standardized learning and personalized learning:

Table: The Instructional Dichotomy

Learners vs. Students

Why am I interested in this topic? To answer this question, I must first start with a quote.

“If you consider anyone who is learning at any age and anywhere a “learner,” then you give the responsibility for the learning to the learner. When the institution or anyone who is teaching students are accountable for the learning — not the learners — the responsibility falls on the teachers for what “students” learn. Doesn’t this seem backwards? Where is the incentive and motivation to learn if all the responsibility is on the teacher? If you change the thinking behind the terms, then using the term “learners” makes more sense” (Bray & McClaskey, 2014). 

Bray and McClaskey’s (2014) quote caused me to examine the notion of personalized learning in a standardized classroom.  How can teachers possibly shift the onus of learning from the institution to the learner?  And how can teachers employ individualized instructional procedures that are in sync with each students’ learning stage and learning process? There is no straight answer for this. Nonetheless, Kalaitzidis, Litts, and Rosenfeld Halverson (2017), asserted that today’s communities of learners “thrive upon innovation in tools, meanings, and ways-of-knowing, and favor distributed, emergent, and egalitarian methods for achieving goals” (p. 179). Hence, to authentically personalize learning in a standardized classroom, teachers will have to adopt “design identities” and learn to distribute learning, teaching, and assessment across the entire class community (pp.195-197).  This will require ontological and paradigmatic shifts towards learner-centered instructional designs (Kalaitzidis, Litts, and Rosenfeld Halverson, 2017, p. 182).

Action steps for personalizing learning in a standardized classroom

Developing “design identities” will take time to cultivate and implement in our schools. Nonetheless, I have created some action steps that I believe teachers can use to help address the instructional dichotomy of personalizing learning in a standardized educational field. Let’s begin by stating, true personalized learning starts with the student and his or her learning goal. However, to remain in compliance with the State’s required standards, I suggest starting with the standard and help students contextualize their learning goals within the required State’s standards. The student’s learning goals can be converted into competencies that align with the State’s standards. Below lists the remaining steps in my action plan:

  1. Identify Learning Objectives and Learning Outcomes – aligned with the standards and converted into “I Can” statements
  2. Identify Student Learning Goals and Student Learning Goal Attainment – aligned with the learners
  3. Identify Instructional Methods and Procedures: How will the learning objectives be achieved? (e.g., direct teaching, games, simulations, lab, multimedia, discussions, reading, field trip, drills, demonstration, brainstorming, etc.) – aligned with the standards
  4. Identify Learning Stage: What learning stage is the student in? (e.g. acquisition, fluency (reinforcement), generalization (maintenance), adaptation (experiential)) – aligned with the learners 
  5. Identify Learning Process – Doing something (Concrete Experimentation), Thinking about it (Reflection), Doing some research, Talking with others and applying what we already know to the situation (Abstract Conceptualization), Doing something new or doing the same thing in a more sophisticated way based on our learning (Active Experimentation) David Kolb – aligned with learners
  6. Teacher provides feedback to student – Feed-up, Feedback, Feed-forward; (Feed-up – clarify the learning objectives; Feedback – Respond to Student Work; Feed-forward – Modify instruction for future lessons). – aligned with the standards
  7. Student provides feedback to teacher – Feedback – aligned with the learners

In sum, I still believe that it is hard to truly personalize learning for students when there are established standards for learning. Nonetheless, to help address this instructional dichotomy, I suggest that we continue to start with state standards and help students contextualize their learning goals within those standards.

References:

Bray, B., & McClaskey, K. (2014, March ). Building Personalized Learning Environments. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from http://www.advanc-ed.org/source/building-personalized-learning-environments

Fisher, D; Frey, N. (2009). Feed Up, Back, Forward. Educational Leadership. Retrieved September 12, 2018, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov09/vol67/num03/Feed-Up,-Back,-Forward.aspx

Kalaitzidis, T.J., Litts, B., and Rosenfeld Halverson, E. Designing Collaborative Production of Digital Media in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. (2017). Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.

Ode to OERs

My institution of higher learning is moving towards adopting Open Educational Resources (OERs). Thanks to policies and initiatives such as the Maryland Open Source Textbook (M.O.S.T),  my colleagues and I are working on creating and sharing OERs in all of our courses. I’ve spent the last few weeks exploring OERs and their potential to remove barriers for learners and faculty alike. I was so impressed with what I saw, that I decided to write an ode to OERs. Here goes…

Ode to OERs

OERs give learners and faculty  true creative freedom.
Liberated from ultra-expensive textbooks, all shout nil desperandum.
Opening the windows of the mind so that rays of knowledge shine in.
Librarians and Creative Commons Licenses are part of its underpin.
Information freely plays amongst different ideas.
Dynamic teaching materials and media, one truly endears.
Appealing to instructors and learners because of its public domain,
OERs present high quality resources that copyright would otherwise detain.
Constellations of resources unlocked by a Creative Common License,
freely creating and sharing information with unbounded salience.
Years of development and attention have bought them up to par,
As such, much learning begins and matures with powerful OERs.

How is Personalized Learning related to an Ownership Quotient?

“Tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs and interests–including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when and where they learn–to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible” (Abel, 2016).

This quote is an excellent summary of all of the articles that I have read on personalized learning thus far. Embodied in Abel’s quote is the assumption that learners will take ownership of their learning, hence leading to greater self-efficacy, self-regulation, self-direction, and learner independence, which are all by-products of learner ownership. As a result, all of these by-products create high quality personalized learning.

Using the balance scale as an analogy, high quality personalized learning repositions the learner on the balance scale, thus placing equal weight of accountability on both the learner and the teacher. Therefore, high quality personalized learning enables learners to pursue proficiencies and competencies that are aligned to established standards while teachers create on-demand “instructional interventions and supports for each student” during the learning process (Abel, 2016).  Out of this dichotomy comes an ownership quotient. 

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In the world of business, the ownership quotient encompasses a degree or amount of a specified quality within an organization. Specifically, it is the quality of the linkages between employees, customers, and profits. These linkages create a service/profit chain.

This same concept is applicable to education, especially under the umbrella of personalized learning. Instead of the linkages being the employees, the customers, and the profits,  for a school district or educational organization, the linkages are the faculty, the students, and student achievement.

According to the Ownership Quotient (2008), there are 8 key links within the service/ profit chain that influences linkages. I’ve adjusted those 8 links to fit education, hence they are key links within the service/student achievement chain.

1.  The ownership opportunity (e.g.,opportunity for faculty and students to own the teaching and learning process).
2.  Build ownership into the strategic value vision (e.g., adding methods for achieving staff and student ownership in the both the district’s vision and the strategic plan).
3. Leverage value over cost (this principle is aimed specifically at district level leadership).
4. Put [students] to work.
5. Boost the [Faculty] Ownership Quotient (e.g., faculty feels like a co-owner within the organization).
6. Engineer ownership through anticipatory management (e.g., create buy-in from faculty and students by planning for possible learning difficulties or setbacks).
7. Build a strong and adaptive ownership culture (beginning at the district level and ending in the classroom, every individual associated with the district owns the teaching and learning process).
8. Sustain success.

In sum, the Ownership Quotient theory applies well to the idea of personalized learning. As students begin to own their learning, the quality of the service/student achievement linkages improve since the following elements show true ownership of learning and constructs each link in the chain:
a) self-efficacy,
b) self-regulation,
c) self-direction, and
d) learner independence

Reference:

Abel, N. (2016, February 17). What is Personalized Learning. INACOL. Retrieved July 02, 2018, from https://www.inacol.org/news/what-is-personalized-learning/

Heskett, J. L., Sasser, E. W., & Wheeler, J. (2008). The ownership quotient: Putting the service profit chain to work for unbeatable competitive advantage. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

Empowering Learners with Non-linear Learning Progressions

Most curriculum theory models use linear learning progressions that create continuous linear pathways of knowledge and skills for students to achieve within a fixed period of time. Students must know and be able to do several predetermined behaviors that are a direct result of a meaningful learning experience in order to achieve mastery. But are linear continuous learning progressions conducive to personalized learning?

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Curriculum Theory Models use prearranged learning criteria that fails to include the students’ voice or offer the students choice in what, how, when, and where they learn. Whereas design-oriented models, use a prescribed set of learning criteria that begins with the students’ voice while offering the students choice in what, how, when, and where they will learn.

Thanks to technology and adaptive learning platforms, the linear path of learning progressions that currently exist for many students can now be rearranged into a constellation map of knowledge and skills. This constellation map of knowledge and skills is also known as a learning skills map. With the learning skills map, students are no longer limited to a linear scope and sequence of knowledge and skills of content acquisition, and they can progress through their learning with more flexibility and enrichment.  The learning skills map links many interconnected concepts that students opt to pass through on their learning journey, in any order they wish. The learning skills map also allows students to craft their own learning playlist. Thus, students choose which concepts and skills they would like to study and the sequence they would like to study in.

In sum, personalized learning is far from being a continuous and neat linear learning progression. It’s a messy discontinuous non-linear learning progression that is different for every student.  Much like gaming, personalized learning allows students to be immersed in a rich learning experience that yields multiple outcomes of learning, thus generating a constellation of knowledge and skills.

Reference:

Achieve, (2015). Retrieved from https://www.achieve.org/files/Achieve-LearningProgressionsinCBP.pdf

Personalized Learning is a necessary commodity for a V.U.C.A. world

How should learning look in a V.U.C.A. world? V.U.C.A. is an acronym that stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The age-old dependable formula of traditional school being used today is not enough to prepare students for a VUCA world.

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Spencer and Juliani (2017) in their book, Empower: What happens when students own their learning, stated that many students in traditional schools were and still are actively compliant, “trying to navigate a system that was designed to produce people who follow the rules and waited to be told what to do.” After graduation, many students, including some of us, waited for someone to tell us what to do.

Opposite of traditional schooling is personalized learning. Personalized learning is the best approach to mass education within a VUCA world because a VUCA world needs students who are go-getters, decision makers, designers, creators, and dreamers. According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) personalized learning tailors instruction, expression of learning, and assessment to each student’s unique needs and preferences. Additionally, personalized learning foster’s self-regulated learning and self-directed learning skills needed for a VUCA world.

In sum, Spencer and Juliani (2017) submitted, “our job is not to prepare students for something; our job is to help students prepare themselves for anything.” By employing the principles of personalized learning, we can effectively prepare students for a VUCA world.

Reference:

Turn your classroom into a personalized learning environment. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=416&category=Personalized-learning&article=Turn%2Byour%2Bclassroom%2Binto%2Ba%2Bpersonalized%2Blearning%2Benvironment 

Spencer, J., & Juliani, A. J. (2017). Empower: What happens when students own their learning.

Finding the Sweet Spot in Personalized Learning

The optimum point at which the most effective contact occurs, is known as the Sweet Spot. Hence, what is the optimum point of personalized learning?

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According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Personalized learning tailors instruction, expression of learning, and assessment to each student’s unique needs and preferences. Hence, learners are the heart of personalized learning because they have to make the choice to interact with the content and they have to decide how much attention and effort they will devote towards the learning task. In other words, the optimum point or the sweet spot of personalized learning is the learner’s ability to self-regulate and to be self-directed during the learning task.

So what is the difference between self-regulated learning (SRL) and self-directed learning (SDL)? According to Pamela Bracey’s Literature Review, self-regulated learners decide what, when, where, and how to learn. They also choose how much effort they will employ on the metacognitive, motivational, and behavioral aspects of learning. On the other hand, self-directed learners diagnose their learning needs, formulate learning goals, identify resources necessary for learning, choose appropriate learning strategies, and evaluate their learning outcomes. With self-directed learners, the learning is self-paced and usually initiated with an incentive and/or an interest.

srl-sdl

SRL and SDL are both necessary in a web-enhanced classroom in order to support the learner’s acquisition of knowledge and skills. Furthermore, the more sophisticated the learning needs of the learner, the more self-directed and self-regulated the learner will become. Adler (2011) in his Paideia Proposal, submitted that learners need to know the what of learning but not at the expense of the how for learning. Hence, by allowing learners to choose what, when, where, and how to learn, teachers are supporting SRL. When learners take the initiative to diagnose their learning needs, formulate learning goals, identify resources necessary for learning, choose appropriate learning strategies, and evaluate their learning outcomes, then they are at the why for learning. In other words, they are becoming self-directed learners. Teachers can support SDL by teaching students to use feedback, to self-assess, and to set learning goals.

Paideia Curriculum Framework

What makes SDL and SRL the sweet spot of personalized learning? First, students need to have an ample amount of self-directed and self-regulated learner characteristics since these learning dispositions help students reach the optimum point of personalized learning.

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Second, SDL and SRL support student agency, student identity, and student power. In an earlier post, student agency was defined as the making and remaking of the students’ self, the students’ identity, and the students’ relationships. Student identity was defined as the ability to be able to identify with a particular discourse community or identifying with the language of various learning communities. Finally, student power was defined as productive power built on rich relationships and high quality interactions. SDL and SRL provides students with space to develop their intellectual skills and to enlarge their understanding of ideas and values related to the learning outcomes.

In sum, possessing SDL and SRL skills are necessary for 21st century learning. The instructional design process for web-enhanced classrooms can not meet the unique learning needs or preferences of students without consideration of SDL and SRL, the sweet spot of personalized learning.

References:

Adler, Mortimer J. (2011). The Paideia program: An educational syllabus. New York: Macmillan.

Turn your classroom into a personalized learning environment. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=416&category=Personalized-learning&article=Turn%2Byour%2Bclassroom%2Binto%2Ba%2Bpersonalized%2Blearning%2Benvironment 

Learning Objects promote personalized learning

As I do more and more research on personalized learning, I realize that student voice can easily be incorporated into lesson designs. One way that students can contribute to their own learning is by creating learning objects. Learning objects are modular instructional tools related to content, practice, or assessment. Depending upon the topic at hand, students can be encouraged to create learning objects for themselves and/or their peers.

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Learning Objects in a web-enhanced classroom can increase learning engagement and student understanding. Learning objects can take the form of a video, an interactive learning module, or a photo. The main purpose of learning objects is to take a “meaty” learning standard and boil it down to specific knowledge and skills that can be taught in smaller units.

For example, according to the Common Core State Standards, in Grade 8, students should: Understand and apply the Pythagorean Theorem.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.G.B.6
Explain a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse.
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.G.B.7
Apply the Pythagorean Theorem to determine unknown side lengths in right triangles in real-world and mathematical problems in two and three dimensions.
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.G.B.8
Apply the Pythagorean Theorem to find the distance between two points in a coordinate system.

This is a “meaty” standard that requires unpacking. Once unpacked, one can see that students need to know and understand how to first explain a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. A learning object can help with that. Students can learn Pythagoras’ theorem using a professionally created learning object or a student created learning object. Once they understand the concepts behind the theorem, then they can be encouraged to apply the theorem to a relevant situation within their lives.

anigif_enhanced-5542-1442311388-2In a web-enhanced classroom, teachers would encourage their students to create learning objects using such tools as Explain Everything, Screencast-o-matic, or Doceri. With student created learning objects, students can now clarify their understanding at their learning pace and share their learning with others.  Thus, having students create learning objects authentically promotes personalized learning because the student’s voices are now added to the mix.