Jeff Sandefer at the Acton Academy in Austin, TX describes the innovative work they are doing there:
At the Acton Academy in Austin, TX, we are experimenting with a “Learner Driven Community,” a disruptive approach led by self-directed learners, in a community tightly bound by personal covenants and contracts, using the full power of the internet to craft a transformative, personalized learning path.
While we are in the early stages of refining the model, I believe schools like ours can deliver a transformative learning experience for less than $2,000 annually per student.
My favorite surprise:
Surprise #3: In the 21st Century, ‘Learning to Do’ and ‘Learning to Be’ are ten times more important than ‘Learning to Know.’
The Academic Technology Committee at UHS has been engaging in a lively discussion about digital distractions and digital opportunities.
An article that highlighted one end of the debate examines how some faculty at Northwestern University have started to ban technology in lecture courses as a result of the rampant distraction stoked, in part, by the ubiquity digital technology.
As a counterpoint, an article by Sal Khan asks educators to rethink our assumptions about what a class or school should be. The neuroscience of attention reveals why lectures are ineffective and how digital technology can help facilitate more active learning.
Inevitable, technology – whether in education or in society at large – isn’t an either/or proposition. Grey area abounds. Which is why robust discourse is so essential if we are to figure out the best ways technology can enhance teaching and learning – and the ways it can derail it.
Yes, the constant arrival of information packets can be distracting or addictive, especially to people with attention deficit disorder. But distraction is not a new phenomenon. The solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life.
A recent New York Times article provides a good overview of how flipped teaching can, if given the right framework, provide the conditions for developing mastery. The crux of the approach can be distilled down to this pedagogical switch, “In traditional schooling, time is a constant and understanding is a variable…But there is another way to look at schooling — through the lens of a method called “mastery learning,” in which the student’s understanding of a subject is a constant and time is a variable.”
The Fourth Amendment of the Bill Rights has traditionally been Americans’ constitutional protection against government spying, but, as an recent NPR article revealed, “since the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court and other courts have issued a series of rulings declaring that the government does not need a search warrant to obtain your personal documents if you have already shared them with somebody else. For instance, since you allow your bank and credit card company to know what you buy, and since you let your phone company know whom you call, you can’t claim that information is private. It’s the legal version of the lesson you learned when you were 12 years old: If you don’t want everyone else to read your diary, then don’t show it to anybody.”
Flipping the classroom has received a lot of press, thanks, in part, to the popularity of Khan Academy. The basic premise of flip teaching is simple: video lectures are watched at home and homework is done during class time. Proponents of flip teaching say the advantage of this model is that students can apply the knowledge they learned during the video lesson in class by solving problems in an interactive group environment. The teacher has the opportunity to work with differentiated groups and can more easily tutor students at their own pace and level. This interactive pedagogy converts learners from passive note-takers into active teachers who have to explain their understanding and ideas to their group and the teacher. By some estimates interactive learning can triple students gains in knowledge.
Check out a flip video one of our science teachers, Vivian Byun, created below.