Mal Lee and Roger Broadie
In shaping the digital evolution of your school and creating the desired 24/7/365 teaching and learning environment we suggest it is important to address something schools have not done well – engage each and every learner.
Take advantage of the digital operational base and the opportunities opened by the digital to engage an appreciably greater percentage of the student cohort.
Despite generations of hype, and thousands of well-intended efforts schools globally have a long way to travel before they can seriously engage all learners.
With over a 100 years experience with schools between us we are realistic enough to acknowledge, that despite the important ideals of government and educators, schools as institutions might never engage every student but they can do appreciably better than now.
The Fall 2015 US Gallop Poll (Gallop, 2015) found 50% of secondary respondents were disaffected with the schooling provided.
While the figures might be vary slightly from nation to nation in all there will still be a significant proportion of the students disaffected, particularly within the secondary school and within the lower quartile of the primary school.
Thirty years ago Eckert in Jocks and Burnouts (1989) classically identified the 30% plus of students who knew how to play the ‘school game’ well and succeed, and the very considerable percentage of ‘burnouts’ who very early on lost interest in playing that game and succeeding academically at school.
Secondary schooling – whatever the local nature of the school game might be – is still failing too many students. Despite the many, often punitive, efforts of government, the percentage of students completing schooling has largely plateaued.
In many respects that should not come as a surprise in that the nature of schooling and the culture therein in most schools has not fundamentally changed in the last fifty plus years. The vast majority of schools, particularly high schools are still insular, paper based, risk adverse organisations focused on readying the ‘good’ students for tertiary entrance.
The movement to the digital operational mode, the young’s normalised use of the digital, the gradual shift in schools from a total preoccupation with teaching and learning within a physical place to the recognition that it can happen anywhere anytime 24/7/365 opens the way for schools at all levels to take risks and try new ways of engaging more students.
The digital and the socially networked is not going to be the answer for all, and most assuredly not overnight, but it does provide educators with a plethora a of options unavailable to those working with paper as the underlying technology.
Critically by going digital school can more readily look to:
- move the learner to the centre and make learning more intrinsic
- better individualise and differentiate the teaching and learning
- shed the reliance on the physical site, and have the teaching and learning occur anywhere, anytime and in context
- make learning and teaching more attractive and relevant for the full spectrum of students
- recognise and build upon each students out of school digitally based mode of learning and self -teaching, passions and achievements
- appreciate most young in their use of the digital don’t employ the traditional highly linear mode of teaching and learning
- make greater use of peer teaching
- take risks and try different modes of teaching, learning and assessment.
After 40-50 years of continued failure it is surely time to stop flogging a dead horse, to move from the one size fits all approach, to make greater use of in context teaching and learning and to try alternative approaches.
Seriously ask what percentage of your current cohort are disaffected or disengaged and how you could better use the digital to engage those students.
In asking that question look at the full array of students and appreciate that many of the capable students are as bored and disengaged as the less capable.
- Eckert, P (1989) Jocks and Burnouts NY Teachers College Press
- Gallup Student Poll (2015) Engaged Today: Ready for Tomorrow Fall 2015 Gallup – http://www.gallup.com/services/189926/student-poll-2015-results.aspx