Category Archives: LearningEdge

The Learning Edge by Bain & Weston (Summary 8 of 8)

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. Click below for summaries of previous chapters

Chapter 1: Education & Technology

Chapter 2: The Classroom

Chapter 3: Schools

Chapter 4: Transforming Districts

Chapter 5: Associations and Edge Technology

Chapter 6: Policy Shifts

Chapter 7: The Role of Industry

Chapter 8: Stakeholders Connected

The book closed with a look at how changes in how educators think (a paradigm shift) could lead us to creating what the authors refer to as a Type-B model of education. One quote in particular stood out for me:

“In a self-organizing system, change emerges bottom-up and control is dispersed, and leaders – with their helicopter perspective – prompt change.” (page 189)

What this reminded me of was the fourth scenario in The Future of Schooling: Educating America in 2020. In this scenario, change came about almost organically as communities, parents, museums, and a variety of other interested stakeholders began using the plethora of online resources available to create their own “unschool.” While only a few students were engaged in this sort of learning experience by 2020, indications were that this was where education was headed. (For a synopsis of each of McREL’s four scenarios, you can listen to “What Does the Future Hold for Education?” a brief podcast located here.)

I want to thank the authors for allowing me to read and reflect publicly on my blog. The Learning Edge has interesting perspectives on how to change education. Definitely check it out!

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The Learning Edge by Bain & Weston (Summary 7 of 8)

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. Click below for summaries of previous chapters

Chapter 1: Education & Technology

Chapter 2: The Classroom

Chapter 3: Schools

Chapter 4: Transforming Districts

Chapter 5: Associations and Edge Technology

Chapter 6: Policy Shifts

Chapter 7: The Role of Industry

I admit…I had to take a step back from reading after this chapter. Perhaps because I AM in “the industry,” I was more critical of this chapter than in previous ones. Some of the issues in education that the authors say the industry dismisses happen to be the very topics that my organization discusses every day.

Two points that most captured my attention were:

1. When talking about education’s resistance to innovation (which I concur is a problem), the authors quote, “This fact is apparent in the field’s general ambivalence (Fullan, 2007) about so many students dropping out of school, scoring poorly on tests, and being unprepared for the world of work.” (page 160)

2. On the same page, the authors offer that the field (of education) is “uninformed by research.”

While I think we have many issues that educators are trying to solve with varying degrees of success, I must disagree that educators – be they teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, or consultants – are ambivalent about dropout rates, test scores, or preparing students for their future. (Indeed, I more often see evidence that we are hyper-focused on test scores.)

I also disagree that education is uninformed by research. The very reason my organization is often sought by clients is because of our research base. I agree that there is conflicting and, in some cases, a lack of research, but I wouldn’t go so far to call it uninformed.

Interestingly, the Summary at the end of the chapter worded the problem of “research” in a way that I find more agreeable:

“The field of education’s lack of consensus about research-informed practice makes it difficult for the ICT industry to build responsive and scalable business models to benefit education.” (page 184)


The Learning Edge by Bain & Weston (Summary 6 of 8)

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. Click below for summaries of previous chapters

Chapter 1: Education & Technology

Chapter 2: The Classroom

Chapter 3: Schools

Chapter 4: Transforming Districts

Chapter 5: Associations and Edge Technology

Chapter 6: Policy Shifts

This chapter focuses on why 30 years of educational policy changes and implementations have not led to huge impacts on student achievement. One of the most informative chapters so far, this one quote really resounded with me:

“…practices that are distally connected to student learning and achievement (e.g., remuneration, computer access, school type) have been the foci of policy and surrogates for the proximal, high-power solutions (e.g., research-based teaching and learning approaches, feedback, and cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies ) (Hattie, 2009) that research shows do make a difference.” (page 133)

Besides many connections to my work with CITW strategies, this quote also reminds me of the many examples that I have witnessed where a new initiative focuses on a small, measurable change (such as numbers of laptops per student), but doesn’t also focus on the pedagogy needed to make use of those changes (such as what changes in lesson design have to happen to make the best use of the laptops).

Among other barriers to implementing effective policy, the authors also discuss how politics can be part of the problem. Liberating Learning by Moe & Chubb, which I read several years ago, also has interesting things to say about this issue.

As always, good food for thought.


The Learning Edge by Bain & Weston (Summary 5 of 8)

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. Click below for summaries of previous chapters

Chapter 1: Education & Technology

Chapter 2: The Classroom

Chapter 3: Schools

Chapter 4: Transforming Districts

Chapter 5: Associations and Edge Technology

This chapter was very thought-provoking for me and I admit that I struggled with some of the messages contained in it. Though “Association Type-A” was never named, I felt that the authors were talking specifically about an organization of which I am a member and, in spite of some flaws, generally support.

With some of the issues the authors raise about professional associations, I agree. For example, I agree with the perception that associations seem to focus more on their annual conferences and the revenue that brings in than providing support and advocacy for educators during the rest of the year. Even with that statement, however, I can already think of many publications, webinars, and other connections for learning from which I benefit year around.

I also agree with the tendency for organizations to move from one “hot topic” to the next. On the other hand, what else are organizations supposed to do? If they didn’t do so, they would be accused of being “out-of-touch” with the current landscape and continuing business as usual without paying attention to what the field is saying.

I must disagree, however, with the perception that it is distally connected  to its members and that members have little say in the workings of the organization. Professional organizations and associations, at least those of which I am a member, are constantly asking for volunteers and feedback, asking members to help select presentations for their conference, and recruiting for special interest or focus groups. I could be much more involved than I am and often feel guilty that I don’t have (or make) the time to do so.

This chapter did force me to ponder, however, what it is that I find so appealing about the rather new CoLearningNetwork. This is a grass-roots effort comprised of local (Colorado) educators with whom I have had the pleasure of learning and working over the years. Some are former clients, others are former professors from my Master’s program, still others are educators I’ve met along the way at various conferences and gatherings. I like that the focus is on rich conversations and ideas that are happening right here and that the leaders enthusiastically encourage participation and leadership from its members (or soon-to-be-members). Most of all, I love that revenue-generation is not the remotest of its purposes.

I thank the authors for giving good food for thought with this chapter…


The Learning Edge by Bain & Weston (Summary 4 of 8)

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. Click below for summaries of previous chapters

Chapter 1: Education & Technology

Chapter 2: The Classroom

Chapter 3: Schools

Chapter 4: Transforming Districts

The most powerful part for me in this chapter was at the beginning, as the authors describe what happens so often when test results are low and, consequently, stakeholders at every level begin pushing those below them (e.g. parents & school board members to superintendent; superintendent to principals; principals to teachers) to fix the problem.

The “fixes” that happen are typically decided at a much higher level than the classroom, resulting in teachers feeling unheard and overwhelmed with mandates that came from conversations in which they had no part or input. In the vignettes, the school leaders also introduce a 1:1 laptop initiative, resulting in teachers feeling even more overwhelmed. Not surprisingly, the 1:1 initiative has little impact on teaching and learning.

The authors then go on to describe how a Type-B district would go about solving the problem. I won’t give away the ending, but suffice to say that this has been my favorite chapter thus far.


The Learning Edge by Bain & Weston (Summary 3 of 8)

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. Click below for summaries of previous chapters

Chapter 1: Education & Technology

Chapter 2: The Classroom

Chapter 3: Schools

This chapter focused on common decisions that schools often make to solve student achievement issues, namely addressing standardized test scores, that are often faulty or inefficient. They list several solutions to these issues, but the ones that really resonated with me were:

1) Put systems into place so that teachers’ ability to address learning concerns are immediate and emerge bottom-up from students rather than top-down from administrators. As technology becomes more sophisticated and ubiquitous, teachers are more and more able to get real-time feedback on student learning so that they can immediately address learning gaps rather than waiting for annual test results.

2) The second recommendation is to actively involve students in problem identification. In my work with CITW, we often talk about the importance of involving students in self- and peer-feedback. When we do so, we not only build life-long skills of meta-cognition and self-awareness of gaps in understanding, but we also go directly to the source rather than trying to hypothesize why last years’ students didn’t understand a particular concept.


The Learning Edge by Bain & Weston (Summary 2 of 8)

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.