Chapter 2: The Classroom
I am currently reading The Learning Edge: What Technology Can Do to Educate All Children by Alan Bain & Mark E. Weston as part of my personal growth plan. You can access the summary to Chapter 1 here.
I really enjoyed reading this second chapter, titled “Classrooms.” As a former classroom teacher, I like how the authors describe several scenarios, then help the reader analyze what is happening. One topic the authors discuss in this chapter is the idea of teacher cognitive overload. That is, without automating some tasks for the teacher and using technology to its fullest potential, our best hopes of having a completely differentiated classroom focusing on higher-order tasks seem daunting, if not impossible. I also saw close ties to our CITW work as they described cooperative learning, even citing Slavin’s two criteria for cooperative learning to which I also adhere.
The authors outline three shifts that classrooms need to make to be successful twenty-first century (my own words) learning environments:
Shift 1. Bringing down the load. This refers to reducing the cognitive load on teachers by automating what can be automated. By reducing the demands on teachers, they can focus on their students…which is what is most important.
Shift 2. Reconceptualizing the role of students. One line I really liked here is that outdated forms of education “typecast [students] as consumers of curriculum, instruction, and schooling.” The authors go into more detail about shifting student roles into active partners in their own education.
Shift 3. Changing learning spaces and places. I saw several ties here to other things I’m reading (both the pros and cons) of the Flipped classroom, online learning, and other new ideas with which education is grappling right now.
The chapter then goes into tools that the authors are helping to develop that speak to these shifts.