I always get a little excited when the Horizon Report comes out. I feel like by reading it, I become privy to information that few teachers get even though they could easily access it. Reading the preview of the 2017 report has me thinking about how some knowledge of what is on the “horizon” is already affecting my teaching practice in the realm of Social Studies. Of all the upcoming trends that this report highlights, I can see three that could be integrated easily in my area of the school and in some cases, have already started to implement.
Redesigning learning spaces is one area that interests me a great deal. Already, early adopters in my school are started to embrace the notion that our classrooms should be more student-centred than teacher centric (Horizon Report, page 4). This idea follows the notion that we need to teach our students how to learn as much as what to learn. In fact, my jurisdiction has recently signed on to an Alberta Education initiative called Moving forward in High School Redesign. Under this initiative, we can allow several entry and exit points for students throughout the year. For example, if a Math prodigy has learned an entire course by mid-march, why would we make him sit in the class until the end of June. The goal of redesigning this structure of High School is ultimately to have students be more accountable over their education. In fact, Alberta Education defines flexible learning environments as a place where learning is student centered and teachers are empowered to decide how best to structure time to teach students (Alberta Education, page 2). So far our experience with this flexibility has been positive.
Another trend that I have already experimented with to a certain degree is Authentic Learning Experiences. I started to use Project Based Learning with my classes last year as PBL’s foundation has authentic learning at its core. (Boss, 2017). I found that when students have a real live, authentic, activity it is more meaningful and they are more apt to retain what is learned. Although not a new phenomenon, authentic learning may go to the next level thanks to advancements in educational technology in areas like virtual reality.
Finally, our school’s makerspace (Horizon Report, page 7) is one thing that I have a keen interest in. This is a recent addition to our Learning Commons area and now that I am the Vice-Principal responsible for tech acquisition I’ve been purchasing some pretty interesting things. Recently, I acquired a 3D scanner that can scan a nut and bolt for example and then our 3D printer can recreate them. In fact, if I was to evaluate my school and it’s readiness for the upcoming trends in education technology, I would give us an above average grade.
Alberta Education. (4 Mar. 2016). Foundational principles for high school redesign: Flexible learning environments. Retrieved from <https://education.alberta.ca/media/3069751/flexiblelearning.pdf>
Boss, Suzie. (20 Sept. 2011). Project-based learning: A short history." Edutopia. Retreieved from https://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-history
NMC/CoSN Horizon Report Preview 2017: K-12 edition. (25 May 2017). Retrieved from https://cdn.nmc.org/media/2017-nmc-cosn-horizon-report-k12-preview.pdf