The recent issue of the Brilliant Report discussed the concept of productive failure. “Allowing learners to struggle will actually help them learn better.” This concept tends to go against the natural instincts of teachers. Typically, we want to give our students a strong sense of structure and guidance, build their knowledge base, and then set them free to master their learning.
Yet, research seems to be telling us something different. The idea of productive failure emphasizes the idea that learners need to struggle with material in the beginning, with limited assistance from teachers for a while. As students work through the learning process, without the scaffolding provided by instructors, learners dissect the problems (test questions) and can often develop a greater understanding of the structure of the problem. Once learners can recognize the structure of problems, they are able to transfer this knowledge to new problems. We are not teaching to the test, but providing students with the opportunity for real learning.
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In September, we posted a TED Talk from Angela Duckworth. Her topic? Grit and the Key to Success. In December, this video and the concept of Grit was discussed on LINCS, a professional learning community for adult educators.
So, what do we do with this idea of grit? How does understanding this idea improve our student’s retention and their overall success?
This is a very exciting time for the i-Pathways project. In January, i-Pathways 2014 will complete deployment of new curriculum, new instructor and administrative centers, and a revised technical infrastructure. The i-Pathways project has been deployed now for over 10 years and has gone through several revisions both to the curriculum and the technical infrastructure that supports it; the changes for 2014 represent the biggest revision since the project was launched in 2002.
We have worked very hard over the past year-plus to align our curriculum with the changes to the GED® test, align to both content-area and the common core standards, and with the HiSET. It is still as rigorous as it always was, but it also more adaptable and responsive to the changing landscape of high school equivalency tests.
As we revised our curriculum, we used teachers in the field as peer reviewers of the content to allow them to bring their classroom best practices to the project. We used that experience from the field to develop curriculum that we think will meet students’ needs. Throughout our 10-plus year deployment, we have always tried to be responsive to feedback from the field and incorporate suggestions into the i-Pathways project. We believe part of our success is due to listening to the teachers and administrators in the field.
We have also made a very significant change to how i-Pathways is presented on computers, tablets, and smartphones; we designed it to work the same on any device. It is completely mobile ready! By using a technique called responsive design, we are able to provide the same user experience from a desktop computer to a smartphone. We know the ability to access curriculum from a mobile device is going to be more and more important. With the ability to use a tablet device to connect to i-Pathways rather than a desktop computer, programs have the potential to stretch scarce dollars. Also, the option for students to continue their study outside of the classroom on their smartphone or tablet could increase their time working through content.
We are ready to work with educators and programs to move forward into 2014, and support them with curriculum and tools to help their students achieve their educational goals.
We often talk about building 21st Century skills with adult learners and the need for integrating technology in the classroom. What does this mean for curriculum selections? It means that in order to truly assist adult learners become self directed, the curriculum must be accessible from mobile devices.
As we look at students today, their common characteristic is that they expect anywhere, anytime access to instruction. But are our learners mobile? The answer is yes!
Over half of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone.
66% of adults between the ages of 25 to 34 own a smartphone.
44% of K-12 students have access to a smartphone.
The mobile phone is the single most common device people use to access the Internet worldwide.
So how do we meet this demand at a time of diversity in skills, background knowledge, and access to technology in the classroom? A simple and cost effective strategy to help fill these gaps can be the establishment of a BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device policy.
While this concept is becoming more popular, there are steps involved in establishing an effective BYOD plan which leads to successful student outcomes.
A BYOD classroom enables students and teachers to access mobile devices including laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the classroom.
Program administrators and instructors need to create acceptable usage policies so students are aware of expectations in the classroom. Teaching responsible use of mobile technology also helps build digital citizenship.
To be successful with BYOD, its more than allowing students to bring their devices, but it also includes selecting appropriate curriculum that is truly mobile.