Four Mindsets for Digital Learning

Four Mindsets for Digital Learning

I often get asked about changing mindsets for digital learning. This is a great question. I tried to tackle this question in the June 2016 blog post. In the last year, I’ve come to realize there are four identifiable mindsets for digital learning. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first ask, “What is a mindset?”. Mindset as a Competency The Learning Accelerator partnered with the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) to work with experts and practitioners around the country to draft the iNACOL Blended Learning Teacher Competency Framework. The document identifies 12 key competencies, organized into four large domains and mindsets is the largest domain. In the document, mindset is defined as “the core values or beliefs that guide thinking, behaviors and actions that align with goals of educational change and mission.” Four Digital Learning Mindsets Teaching is a craft, an art, and the core values stem from seeking instructional methods that better serve students’ understanding and growth. The digital learning environment requires teachers to re-think their place, their role, and the needs of students when digital curriculum aides in the delivery of content. When looking back at the 10 models of digital learning we begin to see several different educator mindsets when deploying digital curriculum: Online Blended Innovator Designer Each of these minds sets come at a different cost of change. See the Four Digital Mindsets  infographic below. Online $$$ Too often when digital content is first introduced, the initial thought is, “I’m now an online teacher.” This is a huge mind shift change. Teachers feel out-of-control when the digital content takes the lead and determines the...
Keep the Human Touch in the Online Learning Environment

Keep the Human Touch in the Online Learning Environment

Too often we hear talk about teacher-absent online courses, where someone made the decision that the digital curriculum was enough, but is that what we really want? The human touch is so important. When a teacher shows that they care about their students, the student in turn cares about the class. Many times over we have seen students who showed that ‘mean and nasty’ teacher a thing, by failing their course. Student can also rises to the occasion and achieves more than possible because the kind heart of the teacher coached the student to believe in their abilities, grew self-confidence, and pushed them to success.   Keeping the human touch in the online classroom creates a student-centered learning environment and conveys a sense of who the real person is behind the academics. Don’t think that just because your classroom is blended and your students see you on a daily basis, doesn’t mean that you can be absent from the online environment. These strategies are just as important to the fully online arena, as well as the blended learning environment.   Be seen. Your presence in the online classroom is important. Use video clips to communicate with students (and their parents). Start with a welcome video that shares your passion for the subject.  Consider weekly video announcements. Provide assignment feedback in video format, using the student’s name and looking directly into the camera so they feel your presence. The discussion area is a wonderful place to give public praise by quoting students. Get to know your students. The first week of any class is tough for both the students and...
Changing Mindsets

Changing Mindsets

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Instructure Canvas Learning Management System staff about preparing teachers for a digital learning classroom. Over the last five years working with Nevada’s Clark County School District, with over 10,000 teachers, in this area we’ve seen the full scope of educators from early adopters, to middle meddlers, and the slow to change. Moving to digital learning takes a mind shift in pedagogy and philosophy that embrace technology as a tool for instruction. Too often professional development is focused on the tool’s “point and click how to” leaving teachers with little ideas on “why to” or “when to” deploy the tools.  It is important to take the time to start with pedagogy and philosophy, so that teacher understand initially why and how to adopt digital learning.   Concerns that teachers bring to digital learning professional development range from making the change from a comfortable known environment, being replaced by technology, lack of control over pace and content, to fear of failure. Internal voices scream these concerns loudly through participant’s heads as they partake in professional development. What we do to calm these concerns and reduce the internal chatter is key to helping change teacher’s mindset.   To reduce teacher concerns about the digital learning classroom have them become a digital learner themselves. Having them step into the role of an online/blended learner makes the unknown and makes it known. Learning through technology helps participants see that technology does not replace the classroom teacher, but rather changes their role. By being an online learner, participants discover the teacher’s role and allows them to become...
10 Models for Courseware

10 Models for Courseware

There are many vendors in the digital content market that sale online secondary semester-based courses, which they will all claim are aligned to every state and national standard. Before making a purchase, start with confirming they meet your specific state standards. Then ponder how best to deploy the courseware. There is no one right solution, but many ways courseware can be utilized. Here are ten different deployment models to consider.  These different models demonstrate how to reach more students with a single product. Exceeds our typical 500 word post, but well worth the read, plus bonus infographic at end.   Traditional Semester Calendar-based Online Courses. Use the product as intended within an 18-week semester calendar to pace student. Highly qualified subject area teachers can be in the room with students or from a distance. This is ideal for programs with limited enrollments, such as Advanced Placement or world language courses. For example use courseware to assign AP Calculus to students who sit in the back of the room in a mathematics instructor’s pre-calculus class. Using an 18-week semester calendar will help pace students (and posting of grades to transcripts in the student information system), as the immediate access to the instructor and ease for one-on-one instruction will enhance student opportunity for success.   Single Content Area Virtual Lab. Schedule students in a lab for one period of the traditional school day. Assign one subject area (e.g. English, grades 9-12) hosted in the lab with a highly qualified teacher in the room. The instructor may conduct whole class activities (great for hands-on investigations or projects to enhance the digital content),...