Defining Your “Language of Innovation”

Setting The Stage For Higher Ordered Thinking

One of the most powerful teaching and learning capacities adults and students have is the ability to adapt and learn new vocabulary to scale their understanding. With most fields of study, a student can learn the general vocabulary and corresponding meaning across contexts very quickly. With technology, the ever changing landscape continually shifts, requiring users to adapt to new vocabulary to use it most effectively. Understanding the language and the context of student learning with technology is a necessity to prepare students to understand the scale of skills and associated knowledge’s to achieve higher ordered learning experiences. A never ending shift of transitioning terms and learning experiences providing tremendous amounts of innovation in schools and in preparing students to be college and career ready.

The Words We Use Create The Context Of Our Learning

In the past few years alone we have seen several words come to the forefront in education that challenge the context of teaching and learning. Words like personalized learning, gamification, college and career ready, big data/data driven have arrived and begun to become a consistent language of teachers, administrators and students. These words inspire a new type of learning that supports enabling students to have access to a more individualized experience with their content. Not only is learning content on a pathway which meets them where they are at but it is also delivered using technology interfaces and devices that meets them in equitable ways. Well aligned digital curriculum and devices which enable teachers to assess and measure each student to best identify their needs has shifted student learning experiences.

Shifting Teacher  Practice Through Language

Educator’s awareness of the tools to shift their practice to provide deeper student learning with technology drives digital learning. It can be extremely difficult for teachers and students to find the time to become familiar with these terms and to recognize the ways to shift their practice and learning. A district needs to adopt a “language of innovation” which can be a part of their culture and to implement this language with a sincere approach that is collaborative and includes sharing their early adopters experience liberally.

To assist in scaling the digital learning initiatives in North Reading, I believe it will be essential to keep in mind the key terms and goals in educational learning environments.  Identifying a common language of terms can assist to scale student and teacher understanding around powerful dialogues in educational technology.  Scaling student understanding between grade levels will require compelling conversations around the integration of technology to support student learning that are considerate of the most innovative strategies.

Defining Key Areas & Support Needs

Within K-5, words arise quickly out of the components of our current digital learning curriculum. Words like online safety, digital citizen, coding and information literacy are commonplace in the elementary schools and serve to provide a base of knowledge to protect students as well as support their growth with technology. Digital learning specialists and teachers work in traditional and interdisciplinary spaces like the Makerspaces which also introduce a range of new understandings such as the Design Thinking and Engineering Design Process. These learning spaces are shifting the contexts of student experience and also adding new entry points for learning in hands-on ways and provide a systematic problem solving process that enables them to engineer the futures.

Within the 6-12 grade levels, the “language of innovation” continues to challenge traditional classroom pedagogy and enable students to be to college and career ready. Students are refining their ability to communicate digitally and utilize web based citation tools to improve their writing. Students are exposed to robotics and the prototyping processes that drive creative solutions and improve collaboration skills. Topics such as cloud computing, sensors and user interface design support students in the early stages of considering college and career focus areas to explore deeply.

The digital learning team teaches and supports the “language of innovation” across the schools. It is important that we scale understandings, tools and pedagogy related to personalized learning and college and career options for students. When we scale these understandings, we are scaling the opportunities for our students. With technology it is important to keep an open mind and recognize the tremendous trans-formative powers it has to student learning and how we can best prepare students whose futures require that we are open to it.

Learn Launch Across Boundaries Conference: Start Ups Meet Student Innovation

On February 3rd, I attended the Across Boundaries Learn Launch conference at the Hynes Convention Center. As the tech director for a catalyst district, it is a great opportunity to get a better handle on the dynamics of the Learn Launch community and the MAPLE personalized learning initiative in Massachusetts.

North Reading’s Middle School robotics project Mission to Mars was accepted as one of the 28 ignite sessions of student groups who presented their innovative projects. The other sessions targeted educators, ed tech start ups, venture capitalist’s and collegiate academics. A range of topics from the role of Big Data to the challenge of scaling start ups in the ed tech space.

This conference was a great opportunity for students to share and connect around their projects. Students spoke from their heart around topics such as Makerspaces, design process, green engineering and robotics. With each year these topics become more embedded into schools in a variety of formats and curriculum’s and challenge the traditional formats of school.

The energy which comes from the presentations related to ed tech businesses and student learning creates a ranges of diverse feeling and dichotomies as the understanding of educators as to what is important in an ed tech product is sometimes different than the perceptions of an ed tech entrepreneur. Over time, I am sure the dialogue between these two groups will congeal and become more streamlined and open.

As a catalyst district I feel the MAPLE personalized learning initiative will assist districts in moving forward with expanding the discussion and strategies around blended and personalized learning methodologies in schools. This conference provides a chance to connect and build new relationships in a new context of ed tech.