Because our middle level learners are ready for more independence, age-appropriate challenges, and they crave mastery of skills, we need to teach them differently. Middle level learners need to spend less time memorizing content and more time developing skills. They need to imagine more, choose more, produce more so that they like school more. A skill-centered curriculum, using content as a vehicle for skill development, is the future of middle level education.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Heading for Launch

I have been thinking a lot lately about the role of technology in the classroom.  I am particularly interested in exploring how the educational technology industry is approaching skill development. Technology is great for accessing information and creating documentation of content mastery, not to mention the proiliferation of "personal learning management" applications, but I want to see if anyone is tuned in to the possible market for technology products that engender skill development.

To that end, I am heading out to Launch Education, a two day conference in Mountain View, to see what is new in the industry. A number of educational technology pioneers and entreprenuers will be presenting their latest products and websites. I look forward to talking to a number of established companies and start-ups to see what they have to offer students. I plan to review some of the products and assess the general state of the educational technology industry in these pages in the coming weeks.

I am afraid that skill development is getting marginalized by the twin specters of highstakes testing and sexy technologies. While Common Core is an improvement over NCLB, it still requires excess attention to content digestion at the expense of process practicing. And the amount of resources- both monetary and temporal- that can readily be devoted to technology management with middle level learners further cuts in to teacher directed skill development. I am no Luddite, but I want to see the power of technology harnessed for deep learning , and I believe this a time-consuming and labor intensive process. Many schools are prioritizing technology acquistion over teacher training becuase of a societal preference for form over function. Or at least such a preference by those schools' most influential stakeholders...

It is an exciting time in education; I see a lot of signs that we are moving into a new period of reconceptualization of the currency of the classroom. Its not a revolution, but an evolution towards more compassionate, student-centered instruction.

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