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:
Each of these minds sets come at a different cost of change.
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 content, the delivery modality, and even the assessment elements. When students and teacher are physically distance communication is difficult. With no bell schedule, self-motivation is essential for both the teacher and student. Lack of control creeps in when teachers don’t physically see their students daily.
When students and teachers see each other daily, it is much easier to control the learning elements, even when introducing digital content. Consistent social dynamics among peers and with the teacher in the daily face-to-face classroom allows teachers to take control of the learning environment. The role and expectations change in this environment, however there is comfort in the traditional bell schedule and the ability to pace student learning.
Early adoptors tend to be risk takers and enjoy the thrill of trying something new. They typically can deal with change and the need for iteration. The ability to take risks with others can support teachers. By creating a peer group that openly reflects upon the classroom changing dynamics when digital content plays a role can sooth the anxiety of possible failure. It’s learning from failures that drive this mindset.
Open educational resources (OER) and learning management systems (LMS) have created an environment where many administrators believe teachers can create their own digital learning environment. It takes a rare person, with LOTS of time to curate OER content, craft a digital learning environment in a LMS into units of instruction based on the components of an effective lesson, with thought-provoking assignments and quality assessments – PLUS teach. That is asking a lot!