Education is one of the most critical areas of life today. For instance, it can change a person’s identity, decision making, career, and life opportunities. It is also responsible for increasing people’s knowledge and skills. Many companies are now considering blockchain technology to improve the way they educate their employees or students. In this article, we will discuss how blockchain technology and Web 3.0 can be used to improve the education system of tomorrow.
The need for Future Ready Education
The need for Future Ready Education is obvious and pressing. The world is becoming more complex every day through technology, social media and other forms of communication making it difficult for people who are not digital natives. Not only does the education system need to prepare students for the more skilled jobs of the future in which automation by AI or robots is less likely, but the world has changed rapidly in the last few decades and continues to change at a pace that makes it impossible for any one person or organization to keep up. This means that if you want to have success in the marketplace of the future, then your education needs must be future-ready!
How to Get Education Future Ready
The future of education is fast approaching and it’s time to prepare. Here are some tips on how to consistently learn in preparation for the future:
Peer-to-peer learning and exchange
While you might think of peer-to-peer learning as a way for students to learn from each other in a classroom setting, this isn’t always the case. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that there are many ways in which they can use technology and social media platforms to share their knowledge with others.
There are a lot of online resources available on the web which allow users who want to learn more about something specific (such as computers) or even about anything at all (like history). This means that anyone with an internet connection can access these resources without having any prior experience or unique skills — just like if they were sitting next to each other!
What is Blockchain technology or Web3?
Blockchain technology is a decentralized public ledger that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records called blocks. Anyone can join the network and add new blocks to the chain, but only if they’re connected to it through their own private key. These blocks are public and immutable or permanent making it an optimal resource for the storage of educational resources and educational certifications.
Decentralized Web 3.0 in Education
Web 3.0 is a decentralized network that uses blockchain technology to create an internet without intermediary organizations or corporations. It’s also known as “The Decentralized World Wide Web” or Web3 and it will allow users to have complete control over their information; they won’t have any middlemen like Facebook or Google who can sell their data and spy on them at any time they want!
The first step towards decentralization is having more people using browsers that support HTML5 standards instead of using outdated browsers which don’t allow you access certain websites or social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger or Twitter due to security issues caused by these companies’ lackadaisical approach towards ensuring user safety online.
Web3 is positioned to disrupt many aspects of our society just like it’s predecessors Web1 and Web2 did in previous decades. Before Web1 was a ubiquitous aspect of our every day lives, information traveled slower, we had to go to stores to purchase goods instead of ordering online and everyone we’d meet was in person (so mostly local to us). Web2 changed much of that with the social web. Social media has enabled the much faster stream of information to be passed globally, much of shopping moved online, and we started meeting people virtually, oftentimes not ever meeting in person. In each of those instances, education had to (or at least should) change to accommodate the disruptive technology. As someone who was in high school during the shift from analog learning to Web1, I remember having to physically go to a library every time I had to write a paper since peer reviewed resources couldn’t be found en masse anywhere else. However, for my doctorate I was a virtual student which is the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to availability of information and method of delivery of that information.
Using cryptoassets for knowledge and skills certification
The future of education is here
The future of education is here; it’s decentralized, it’s technology driven, and it’s collaborative. Education is becoming more global and accessible to everyone regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.
The world has changed dramatically since the 1950s when we sent our kids off to school at age 6 and they’d continue to earn a diploma that was not necessarily worth something in every country around the globe. Today’s students are being taught by methods that were once reserved for only elite private colleges: MOOCs (massive open online courses), e-learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy, blended learning programs like Khan Academy or edX…the list goes on! Now, education is motivating, immersive and applicable to a changing world. We have programs like Ledger’s School of Block, University of Nicosia’s Open Metaverse Program and BitDegree which blend together immersive and personalized pedagogy with future focused blockchain content. Following this blog, I will be reviewing each of those educational programs through the lens of a cognitive neuroscientist and classroom educator (including virtual classroom) with over 10 years experience. I’ll be going through the methods of instruction (pedagogy), the cognitive load of each and learning goals covered. In that way, anyone interested in learning about this disruptive technology will be able to find the program and school that they feel is right for them!
The education system is changing rapidly and we need to adapt. The future of education is here, but it isn’t just about the technology. It’s also about how we think, teach and learn — all together in the same place. The good news is that we can use blockchain technology to make this happen! Join me on my journey to explore the available learning tools available now and that will become available in the future. Don’t let the future pass you by!
According to experts, one of the essential factors of future-ready education systems is a student-driven learning environment. Developing skills that are ready for the future goes hand-in-hand with having students explore educational concepts. Ultimately, future-ready education is about making content relevant to students lives, and creating opportunities for students to engage with one another, teachers, and other competent adults in authentic learning experiences. Future-ready schools are teaching students how to apply the knowledge they have acquired to the contemporary context to successfully address the needs of the environments they inhabit.
A future-ready environment also builds deeper learning experiences for students, providing opportunities to apply their skills in real-world situations. Future-ready educators realize the tremendous collaborative potential when creating content online, and they impart that knowledge onto their students. This is because globally aware teachers realize the importance of preparing their students for a world that is much bigger than their classroom. Globally conscious teachers invest in opportunities that help them to help their students to be global citizens.
The skills students learn in school will help them be successful adults, whatever comes next. School helps students build skills for life, as well as laying the groundwork for knowledge that will make it easier for them to be successful as adults. We must also emphasize deeper learning for students, providing opportunities to think critically and apply skills they have developed in a real-world setting. Project-based learning allows students to take that to the next level, by focusing on solving real-world problems, and providing them with authentic, meaningful work that is both engaging and allows them to build collaborative and critical-thinking skills.
Future-ready K-12 educators also place a firm focus on critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills to help students learn to problem-solve in productive ways. Education that is future-ready must focus on developing productive citizens based on creativity, critical thinking, and working together, no matter what the career path. Future-ready education means placing emphasis on developing these skills and attributes, replacing traditional teaching with an array of new pedagogical approaches that will give our students the tools needed for success, and producing curious, engaged, resilient individuals capable of taking on the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.
Acquiring these skills and attributes for future-ready learning will enable our students not only to deal with the rapidly changing world and uncertainties ahead, but also to put themselves in a stronger position to capitalize on the exciting opportunities emerging technologies provide, to not only change their lives, but also to address the challenges that confront us as human beings and make the world a better place. It is imperative that schools and educators continue to adapt to the constantly changing needs and acknowledge the importance of adopting learning collaborations and technological solutions to prepare students for the future. Education must change so it can educate and prepare students for the needs of our future workforce, and the skills needed to facilitate that will keep changing at an increasing pace.
Future-forward educators are cultivating personalized, flexible approaches to instruction — with strong technology — to better equip students with essential attributes and competencies that will be in increasing demand as they enter the workforce. A future-ready environment prepares students for success in a tech-driven world that will demand them to be problem-solvers, creative thinkers, and possess the cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence expected to help them answer tomorrow’s questions. By focusing on their futures and building skills to prepare them, students can shift their focus away from the chaotic external world toward a well-organized, customized plan that empowers them to prepare for the university or career that motivates them.
Social-emotional skills and future-readiness skills like critical thinking, creativity, and emotional awareness, and resources that can assist in planning for college and careers, are essential for each student's learning pathway. Edtech focuses on student-driven tools of learning, skills development, and ease of access critical to students becoming future-ready, as are educators and education institutions that facilitate this educational shift needing to prepare all learners for the constantly moving and evolving flow of information and innovative technology.
While on the airplane flying back to NY after attending MiamiNFT week, I was reflecting on the weekend. I realized that I needed to write down all of my memories from the weekend as they were still fresh. All three days were bustling with excitement and with people making connections across the industry. It was such an honor to represent Floki and crypto education at MiamiNFT week! I have made some lasting connections while increasing recognition for Floki within the Web3 community. Through Floki, I am bringing the principles of cognitive neuroscience to crypto education to help people achieve success and financial independence.
I spoke during the morning of the first day. Even though I got to the venue an hour early, I still felt rushed. At first I was a bit nervous that there would be low turnout so early in the conference. I couldn't have been more wrong. The auditorium was packed for the panel and the audience was receptive and appreciative. On the panel with me was Gareb Shamus, the founder of ComiCon and Dogewood Captain. It was moderated by Jason Nguyen, the founder of House of Kibaa and we had a panel discussion called "The Secret to NFT Utility"; since at Floki we are consistently adding more utility to our lines of NFTs, I fortunately had a lot to add to the conversation.
Most of the time when I mention crypto to someone, their first comment is how crypto investors are out for themselves and all about the money. The running theme of the weekend for me was how that line of thinking is completely wrong. Almost every panel talk and keynote emphasized both charity and education and I rarely heard people talk price predictions for their projects. There was an overwhelming feeling of community with people having a shared goal of mainstream crypto adoption, exploring ways to join forces, and cooperate instead of compete. Of course, money is involved as it is with every economy. That's really what blockchain technology is doing, changing the very fabric of our society; from the way we prove membership to organizations or ownership of assets, how we subscribe for services, as well as how we bank and pay for goods.
It was amazing to see the amount of people who knew about Floki. Some came over to me to ask questions or comment on our powerful community of Floki Vikings. Everyone who knew about the project only had positive things to say about the insane amount of utility being developed by the core team for both the NFTs and token. I had a great time introducing so many crypto investors to the project since all it took was a mention of the Vikings for questions to pour out of their mouths.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this conference grows in future years. With the speed of technological development and mainstream adoption, I believe we'll have a different crowd in the audience next year, looking to be educated about blockchain technology as crypto and NFTs become more ubiquitous in our society.
As we finish off the summer and get ready for reopening the schools, it's amazing how we have not taken this revolutionary moment in society to reimagine education. I understand that many people have always really loved the way that schools have functioned; sometimes because they really enjoyed being in school and that's why they wanted to become a teacher or maybe it's just because they're accustomed to the way that they were taught and if it was good enough for me, it's good enough for my kids. But the thing that those people are constantly forgetting about is that the world has changed. It always does although typically not this rapidly. We shouldn’t be teaching kids to live in the world that we grew up in, we should be preparing them for the world of the future.
There's a saying that the only constant in life is change. That’s especially true in 2020 since the global pandemic has brought to light drastic inequities that have been either largely unnoticed or not spoken about until the world locked down. There's nothing more consistent in life than the fact it is always changing, however, although we can understand that concept, we are often still attached to another time whether it's because we enjoyed our life during that time or because we have a level of comfort with it. But true growth happens through discomfort.
I am constantly looking for silver linings of difficult situations and now is no different. We can focus on the difficulties in social distancing and wearing masks or we can focus on how this time is given to us to reevaluate our prerogatives and our priorities.
I love being a teacher and I respect my students enough to continue to learn and to continue to challenge my own thought processes, but I’m concerned that too many people in charge are not willing to do the same. I don't know if it's because they don't want to be told that they were wrong, which at the time it may not have been, or because they cannot imagine another way of school to be so they don't want to take the chance. But I think that our children are worth that chance.
Although I’m not an expert in public policy, I'm an educator as well as a cognitive neuroscientist. As a neuroscientist. I focus on how our brain is capable of learning. Our brains are not the same as they were 20-30 years ago. Our brains don't absorb information in the same way. Most of that's because of our consistent exposure to multimedia and the constant onslaught of information from our news feeds. So that's given us a society based on instant gratification.
If you're not willing to compete with all of the moving pictures pervading our students’ attention, they may not see you. Ignoring these facts is just going to create a situation where students don't learn and the teacher becomes frustrated because they feel that it’s a problem with the students since all students ‘should’ be learning in the manner in which they were taught. But if we actually look at the students, if we actually listen to them, and we teach them the way that they're learning information every day anyway, they'll be more likely to understand and actually take ownership of their cognitive processes. We need them to take that ownership. We need them to have that autonomy because without that innovation will die and critical thinking, which is so necessary to swim in the sea of misinformation they’re exposed to daily through social media, will go flat. We're not going to foster the critical thinking that students need to develop their autonomy and to become functioning and well balanced citizens with worksheets and lectures.
Now that we're being forced to live a bit more virtually, we can learn how to adapt to this ‘new’ digital world and become more a part of the world that our students live in. However resistance to change is common and human. Typically, Superintendent Conference Days are filled with an exciting energy in the air but this year, it was more like dread. As much as I'd like to say that I still had my jump in my step and the excitement that I had in previous years, honestly, that's just not true. That’s partially because of the Zoom video conferences which have replaced meetings and collegial circles, but mostly because instead of spending the six months from when schools closed for the quarantine until reopening to truly really evaluate how education is done in this country and globally, we have spent countless hours to just try to get back to a past level of normal and a comfort with how we've always done things. But, just because we've always done things a certain way doesn't mean it's the right way or that it's the best way to teach now. If we keep on teaching our students the way that we learned we are doing them a disservice. Yes, we could have really loved the way that we learned and the way that school was when we went but that was for the world that we grew up in, the past. If we keep on teaching students the way we were taught, then we are preparing them for a world that's becoming obsolete as they graduate as opposed to teaching them how to think problem-solve and innovate for a future that we haven't even considered.
Do I think that we should have students learning using their computers and smartphones at home forever? No. But I also don't think that viewing ourselves as content resources as opposed to facilitators of learning makes sense when information is a click away.
And I think that because the world has changed, as it always does, if we guide them to function in the world of today as well as to change the world of tomorrow, they’'ll be less likely to make the same mistakes.
-In 2013, I was observed teaching a class about genetics by using one of the original social VR programs, Second Life. Second Life has an entire world created by users and that world is built on virtual replicas of real places, learning experiences, and recreation like events. People live an entire "second life" there and in moments like now, during the COVID19 pandemic, it never made more sense. Every day since the emergency pause order, Governor Cuomo has held press conferences guided by data and logic. He so accurately expressed how we shouldn't be merely trying to reopen the schools, but we should be reimagining education. We shouldn't be trying to go back, we should be imagining a better future.
When I reimagine education, it is adaptive, personalized, immersive, and, perhaps more importantly, social. In an information-based society, our importance as teachers is more reliant on our ability to make a connection with the students than on the distribution of information which can be difficult in the spatially constrained video conference communication model currently used in software like Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype. Social VR rooms are surprisingly more analogous to real-life even when avatars are the only representation of the individual present, since we can move around, talk with specific individuals in the room without interrupting the room and talk without having to make full-blown eye contact for long periods.
As we're being asked to reimagine education, why not recreate what we can in a virtual space to instill a sense of "normalcy", recognition and comfort? We can also use the power of VR to teach things that would otherwise be too dangerous (ie. Chernobyl and nuclear radiation), expensive (ie. how to use Crispr), or impossible (ie. deep-sea hydrothermal vents).
A quick Google search for VR classroom or virtual reality classroom will reveal how many teachers are thinking along the same lines as I am. Humans are social, spatial thinkers and although our cognitive talents have enabled us to develop a technological society capable of seemingly unlimited streaming multimedia services to binge on and witty Zoom virtual backgrounds, we are restless and inquisitive by nature; constrained by squares on a computer monitor and forcing eye contact with a camera lens.
Although Second Life is still around, it can only be used by Windows and Macbook laptops, no Chromebooks. This is a challenge since the district gives out Chromebooks to students without sufficient technology in the home. AltspaceVR is also available for Windows and Macbook but there are talks of it coming to Chromebooks soon. Luckily, Mozilla has developed a perfect solution; Mozilla Hubs. These private VR spaces can be made for up to 30 individuals, and various permissions can be selected for those individuals (including the ability to draw in the space and fly). It is open-source (yes, it's fully free), can be embedded in a website or LMS and I have not found a limit to the number of rooms you can create or resources that can be uploaded to each room. This makes Mozilla Hubs perfect as the backbone to my "Virtual School".
As with every adventure into VR, it all starts with an appropriate looking avatar.
Loom.ai has recently released a virtual camera so that instead of a video of my face being stuck in that box on the screen, it's a 3D avatar that looks exactly like me, animated by my voice and can provide a sense of fun, immersion, and consistency among video conference and Mozilla hubs avatar. LoomieLive is exceptionally easy to use. After making an avatar of yourself using the mobile app for Android or iPhone and installing LoomieLive on your computer, you can login to your account on the computer and choose a background for your avatar. Once you open up the video conferencing software (such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype), and open up the settings of that program, you'll see a new camera in the webcam selection dropdown called LoomieLive Camera.
Selecting that camera will replace your video with one of your avatars.
Eventually, it would be great to use a LoomieLive animated avatar as my Mozilla Hubs avatar but it's understandable to think that it may not come with the capacity to be animated. Since LoomieLive is a virtual webcam, it can be used in all video conferencing software and that includes Mozilla Hubs webcam share feature! So luckily, my LoomieLive avatar can still guide students in the virtual class by sharing the webcam, a perfect solution!
Tomorrow I will try out my "virtual classroom" made from Mozilla Hubs and LoomieLive, and I will report back before delving more into ways to use both resources in remote instruction in future blog posts.
As I reimagine the field of education I can't help but think that this not as much of a reimagining but an acceptance. The picture of education as it was during industrialization is no longer appropriate in a world where assembly lines can be automated; the ability to innovate becomes more valuable. As I mentioned in my last article, educational technology developed in the last decade and on the fringe of adoption for those years has been thrown into the limelight during the COVID-19 quarantine and educators who have been resistant to learning the new technologies found themselves in a situation where they had to try to catch up quickly.
So many educational technologies have sat, gathering dust on the Horizon Report future trends list that it’s hard for educators without a technical background to see the variety of resources and pedagogies available now. Adaptive educational resources like Inq-ITS and ASSISTments personalize learning experiences for the individual learner. No more do teachers need to drown in a class of 28 students who all learn in different ways and at different paces. Adaptive resources typically provide teachers with invaluable information about their students learning processes so that they educator can continue to guide and provide necessary resources to supplement what challenges them. However, as we saw at the start of the pandemic closedown, catching up with the current technologies can be stressful if you haven't been keeping up.
This all goes back to lifelong learning. All too often individuals get attached to information they learned before all of the facts were in or from a non-expert. It is human nature to become attached to information you were told when a topic was new in your brain. In neuroscience and psychology, this is referred to an anchoring bias. According to neuroscience, this is because in an effort to conserve resources, the brain takes many "shortcuts" in order to quickly reconcile new information. After the brain encounters new information and considers all possible interpretations and consequences, it can be considered redundant to go through that same thought process every time that same information is encountered. So the brain creates a shortcut assuming that the information it has encountered and the meanings that information was interpreted as containing currently has is accurate That's what leads to the dreaded confirmation bias. When an individual begins research to confirm their previously held beliefs they will typically be successful since their previous bias serves as lens in which the individual interprets the research. Ever talk about an article you read with someone and wonder if you were even reading the same article since your interpretations were so different? That's because of confirmation bias. In research, we aim to disprove possible hypotheses as opposed to prove one.
What we need to reimagine is the structure of the school day for student in various phases of their K-12 journey. We need to rethink how to have less students in a classroom so that we can adhere to social distancing guidelines, but a good student to teacher ratio has always been desirable and a change educators have requested for at least a decade.
To me, reimagining education in a socially distanced way, means that we are using spatial computing to educate. Immersive educational resources like Augmented Reality (AR), for example Google’s new embedded AR, can be used to engage and educate from a distance, while Virtual Reality (VR), especially social VR programs, can be used to combat the mental effects and isolation involved in social distancing and quarantining. For example, Mozilla Hubs is a free resource to make social VR rooms which can be shared at the click of a button and on any device which makes it ideal for distance learning and apps like Spatial, Rumii and EngageVR enables educators to run their own virtual classroom and AltspaceVR has events including mindfulness training with EvolVR (for VR headsets and 2D on PC). In fact, recently I attended a few presentations conducted about the use of VR in Demark schools which to me, is what education in 2020 should look like. Students use avatars in class where teachers can use presentations, interactive elements and 3D animated models. Using avatars can be helpful for anxious students and to help students to feel comfortable as they are in control of their appearance. Want to teach students about deep sea hydrothermal vents? Bring them there! Teaching students about an ancient civilization? Bring them there! VR can be used to teach things that were too costly or dangerous to bring into the classroom before.
For years educational technology specialists have yielded the Horizon Report as the prophecy on the future scope of educational technology in our schools. Since 2002, the NRC has published the report which focuses on recent and upcoming trends in edtech and for years we have tried to incorporate new technologies and introduce our colleagues to the ways of the future only to be met with derision and laughter.
How often have those colleagues said: Why fix what ain't broke? The way that we teach is the way that I learned and students learn with direct instruction, worksheets and practice multiple choice questions. Those are the people who have always referred to digital resources as “bells and whistles” which don’t really teach. For years I fought back against the monotony and the common thread but I was the odd one.
It's amazing how all it took was a few weeks and a global health crisis to change everything. Really all it took was the horrible response about the pandemic from the US to take educators from across the country and throw them into a living horizon report.
Up until 2020 the Horizon Report has always given forecasts as to when you can predict to see specific tech in classrooms from immediate (less than a year to a year), to soon (2-3 years) to future (4-5 years). It's amazingly coincidental how they gave up on that practice this year for the 2020 report. They explained that it wasn't considered the most informative aspect to the report since for years some technologies waited patiently on the list of upcoming edtech, never fully reaching mainstream adoption.
It took a national crisis for the people who could never imagine the adoption of this technology to, not only see how it could be useful, but to start singing its praises. If we were to have spent these years on creating good practices and having educators learn these new technologies instead of being resistant to change, then when the pandemic hit we would have been in a much better position. The reality is it's so hard for many of us to change what's so comforting and what we already know.
So we don't change until we're forced to and that's what this was.
This was all of us being forced to acknowledge the technologies that have been developed in the past decade. Those technologies have changed the way we access information, how we socialize and how we learn. We need to adapt to this new world and as educators, we need to keep up or else we are teaching our students about a world that no longer exists. When information is so easily accessible and digital resources are developed to personalize learning for individual students, the role of the educator changes from content delivery to facilitator.
This may be the most uncertain and stressful time period this century, but I always look for the silver lining. The silver lining here is that we're being forced to really rethink the way that we do things. And, because the status quo is not as comfortable as it once was, we really have to think about if we are attached to past practices because we're comforted by having learned that way, or if we really believe that that's the best way that people learn. I believe it was the former. Once people realize the benefits technology presents in education, and that we may learn better in different ways, then we can work together in order to make a new educational system using that new knowledge. I think the fear that we’ll be replaced by technology needs to be reexamined because one really important lesson that we've learned from this entire pandemic and social distancing situation is how important social experiences are for people and how important it is to nurture us as social beings.
That which does not bend brakes so we need to be flexible. We need to change the way that we teach; to go with our current reality as opposed to fighting against it and being brittle. Now is the moment for us to reimagine our educational system so let's think about the best way for students of different abilities to learn together. Perhaps leveraging technology and using machine learning we can create personalized learning resources using adaptive technology tools.
How do we teach and support the individual student in a class of 28 students of varying abilities? In a traditional classroom, that has always been a challenge but the environment is not all about learning, what about the social aspect of learning which is challenged in this remote educational scenario and supported in a classroom?
No matter what, this pandemic has forever changed the world of education. The faster the world develops and things change, the less useful it is for us to teach what we learned before because now it's irrelevant and obsolete. What's better is to teach students skills necessary to learn and then learn alongside them.
Sitting in my house, at my computer working on the management of my now online high school Living Environment course, I can’t help but reflect on how I ended up here. Most of us are still reeling about this global disaster which seemed to develop in hyper-speed over the past six months. The COVID-19 pandemic first showed up in the United States at the end of January, and now, 3 months later it is in every state. With school closures across the country, people are understandably worried about what will happen as the school year comes to a close. How will students complete their courses so they can move on next year?
This is an unprecedented situation. The last time there was a global pandemic, the world wasn’t quite as well…. global; people were more spread out and didn’t travel across the Earth with the ease of an airplane ticket. Yet, as smartphones have become ubiquitous in our society, it’s amazing how unprepared we are to teach and learn remotely. As anyone who has completed a degree online, just because you can do the work while wearing your pajamas, doesn’t make it easy. In fact, when comparing degrees I’ve gotten in a traditional format versus degrees I’ve earned online, the online programs are typically harder since body language can’t be used to convey understanding. And that doesn’t even bring in the teachers’ knowledge or ability to use the software to design and manage their courses online so that students can learn at a distance.
As an Ed-Tech specialist, I typically make use of a variety of digital resources in creating learning experiences for my students. I like to view myself as a facilitator, as someone who designs the learning experiences for my students and then helps guide them through the resources to learn the content. With information so easily accessible via smartphones and the internet, our role as content delivery vehicles is changing. Not that we should start educating students by plugging them into a computer with no personal element much like how the Vulcan’s of Star Trek are educated. But education should be keeping up with society’s technological innovations.
And I can’t help but think that this remote learning experience will change our educational system going forward. How could it not?
That might be a silver-lining on this whole experience. Not that this once in a century event will happen again, but because of how much it could add to the experience of learning. The more that we use research and technology to increase quality of life, the longer and healthier we live so why wouldn’t we do the same for education? Why wouldn’t educators use new research and technology to increase the quality of the learning experiences in education?
That is not to say that worksheets should be replaced with pdf scans of worksheets. Substitution is the lowest level of the SAMR framework for integrating educational technology which is followed by addition, modification and then redefinition. Immersive learning redefines teaching and learning which is the highest level of that same framework. Immersive learning can be used to teach the abstract and the impossible. With virtual reality, I can teach sharks in marine biology by virtually bringing my students face to face with a virtual shark. Digital resources can also be used to personalize learning experiences for students or adapt to their needs. For example, Inq-ITS virtual labs utilizes adaptive learning to teach science concepts while reinforcing NGSS cross-cutting concepts and the Claims Evidence Reasoning framework. The teacher’s dashboard keeps track of each student, in real-time, what they are understanding and what they need help with.
However digital the learning becomes or no matter the distance involved, education needs the human element. That much is for sure. No matter what digital resource is being used, learning doesn’t happen without feedback and transfer. Someone has to look at student results to guide their path through the curriculum. Someone needs to know the resources available and in which situation students need to use them. Someone needs to know the individual students, how they learn, how to relate the information to them, engage them in learning and help keep them motivated.
I can’t help but wonder what the future of education will look like after this COVID-19 ordeal but I am hoping that we learn the assembly-line method of teaching students doesn’t work in today’s world, that teachers should be teaching students to think and not memorize content that can be looked up in seconds using a smartphone, and to not be afraid of using technology to personalize learning experiences for our students.
What exactly is a blog? This a question I keep on asking myself as I try to get back on track with blogging. Doesn't that just seem backward? How can I blog when I don't know what a blog is? Well, I guess in reality, many people do things that they don't know what to do. Last year, the Atlantic wrote a great piece about what Blogging has become and reading that really made me think about the evolution of information writing on the web. A lot of it goes back to this one source of Blogs called Medium which is the company that created Blogger and then Twitter. They are on the forefront of trends of internet information. Think back to when the internet began and there were online encyclopedias. They were just like print encyclopedias that went out of date just like, well, print encyclopedias. You had to update them every year. Now, when there is a new scientific discovery, (BAM!) you know about it right away. On April 15, 2013, during the Boston marathon, when two bombs went off near the finish line, the first "news source" to find out about it was.......twitter!! 8 million relevant tweets went off related to the bombing! Granted only approximately 20 percent were accurate but who said all of the reported news was always accurate?
And that paragraph was written 2 months ago. This is the perfect example of how the life of an educator can get in the way of the creative process! Well at least outside of the classroom....
In these past few months I assigned research papers in my classes. I cannot even count the amount of times that I have had students try to pass off blog posts as references in their research papers. Try to explain to students (or even their parents) that they cannot use a blog post as a reference in their research paper and you are met with a blank stare because they seriously don't know the difference! How many times have you gone on to social media when people have passed off a blog post as a scientific fact or reference? It is the same thing as passing off an editorial or opinion piece as factual news piece. How do we explain the difference to our students? How do we explain the difference to the general public? This has become another challenge of being a teacher.
However, I do believe that blogging is still important. Getting those thoughts out there and sharing/ collaborating is what is important. Blogging has evolved since the 1990s to where it is now what we just need to do is educate our students so that as they become adults, they can tell the difference between opinion and fact; between a blog and a reference.
It is the middle of February and I haven't written a blog post since the beginning of January and I sit here wondering where the time has gone. I could give excuses as to my absence; a challenging year at work, a new house to get used to, an older cat that hunts a younger cat like I live in the wild kingdom (sounds ridiculous but it's true), but in reality 'life happens' to all of us.
I feel like everyone has these situations that make them feel like they lose time like this but we should set priorities; the important habits that shouldn't suffer no matter how insane our lives get and no matter how difficult it is to juggle our responsibilities. Sometimes, we just need moments like these to reevaluate our priorities. I started to notice that I wasn't looking at my "to do" app as regularly as usual and I have weekly tasks that I have automatically go into my "to do" app but, embarrassingly, I started to notice me ignoring or deleting them from the app if I wasn't in the mood to do it!
For someone as habitual as I tend to be, this is very uncommon! This could be an issue with using the wrong app. Do It (Tomorrow) is a great and intuitive app that I have used for a long time but maybe since I have switched from Evernote to the Googleverse (most recently adding Google Keep for the final notes that Evernote was still being used for) since that one app is not connected to the rest, it keeps my "to dos" unconnected (especially since I put many to dos into Google Keep also).
These all seem like details, but you know the saying, the devil is in the details! All of these tiny details can easily throw you off when you rely on your habits! What suggestions do you have to consolidate all of these to do lists and remember these daily/weekly priority tasks like blogging?