Education is Freedom
Proposed Innovation for Stafford High School
I hope to enable each student to learn to their fullest in my class. Technology gives us the opportunity to make this happen. Seizing the opportunities made available by today’s technology will unshackle each student from each other, and from the teacher. In turn, it frees the teacher to move from teaching the whole class to teaching each student. I propose to transform my teaching by embracing technology in the classroom.
Before, teachers needed to present the information to the students, and the most efficient way (almost the only practical way) was to present it to all of them at once. The unavoidable fact being that time spent only on one student was time that every other student was not able to learn from that teacher. While teachers might work to find moments for smaller group interactions, the basis of instruction was them, and the whole class relied on them and required their time.
Now, however, technological advancements have opened the door for potentially-significant improvements.
The more obvious technology is the ubiquity of smart devices. Students can have the power of the internet at their fingertips. They can watch videos when they want. They can re-watch videos if they want. This, alone, is a big improvement, because the student who didn’t understand the first time can immediately rewind. This was not possible before. Learning thus becomes instantly individualized with no extra work on the part of the teacher. Furthermore, these devices allow those who prefer to learn from videos to focus their attention towards videos, while those who prefer reading can still rely on textbooks or webpages. Again, the devices allow for individuals to make choices in their education.
The less obvious benefit of technology is how easy it has become for teachers to create diverse learning opportunities. Ask me in 1988 if I would ever make a video and I would have thought of Hollywood and laughed. Yet with iMovie anyone can make a video and posting it to YouTube is only two clicks of the mouse. Teachers are no longer thinking in terms of “class periods” when they plan to present information and are now free to create videos constrained to a distinct topic. This will create clarity.
The Blackboard Learning Management System implemented this year at Stafford affords further individualization of learning. Teachers can preload feedback that for specific errors that are instantly given to each student that makes that error. Again, all without extra effort by the teacher after the initial creation. Only those students who make that error see that feedback. Learning therefore is further customized. And students who did not make that error are neither confused as you correct those who did, or slowed down while you correct that error. They have already moved on.
The teacher, free from delivering content to the class en masse, is free to interact with the students one on one, as needed. The teacher becomes a coach and facilitator, and the resource to help the student over particularly hard things to learn. The teacher is there when needed, as needed.
This will, of course, require a lot of work ahead of time setting the lessons up to be presented this way. The better constructed the lessons are at the start, the less work in the long run, so I propose the timeline here for the plan of attack.