Tuesday, April 8, 2014

K-12 and the joy of learning

By Ramón Talavera-Franco
Photo by Dell
How can we help K-12 students enjoy learning? I think that if teachers and school decision-makers are interested in answering this question, it is necessary to listen first the students' voice. The millennial generation registered in K-12 education has been demanding the reinvention of school for quite some time. Are we listening to their voice?

Let's analyze some of the characteristics of the millennial generation and compare it with the instructional methodology, design, and pedagogy that we are offering in schools.
Millenials are:

· Tech-savvy
· Multitaskers
· Connected through social media
· Team-oriented
· Look for instant gratification and recognition

Are our pedagogical approaches, teaching methodologies and education tools responding to these characteristics? How are our schools settings? Do they respond to our students’ learning needs?

To reflect in this subject, I would like to share with you three videos. The first one explores how students see schools' educational environment and methods, and what tools they demand to be included in their learning approaches. The second one explores what MOOCs are developing to help K-12 students to engage in the learning process. The third one is a futuristic view about how education could be implemented in schools within the next years. The three videos talk about whom we are teaching and what students need from us.

The first video is “The rap of education”. Produced in Spanish-language by Fundación Telefónica, this video explores how students want to learn in the XXI century. The video illustrates the gaps that K-12 pedagogy needs to fill in order to transmit knowledge to our students. This is the best video that I have seen so far on the matter. I strongly recommend it!

For those who don’t speak Spanish, here are some of the topics addressed in the video:

• Students live in a world of technology
• Students want Education 2.0
• Students’ voice is in the cloud
• Students have different learning rhythms
• Students perceive classrooms like cages
• The world has reinvented? Why not schools?

The second video is the participation of MOOCs in K-12 education. Khan Academy has developed instructional material to help K-12 students to learn through an innovative approach. Khan’s instructional design responds to the need to incorporate technology in education. There are thousands of students registered in Khan Academy courses. I strongly recommend exploring this video.


 Finally, I would like to share with you a video produced by Pearson. It is a futuristic view about how students are expected to learn. Beyond the use of technology, the video explores the theory of connectivism, pointing out the benefits of social media and social networks in the learning process. Learning, according to this video, trespasses brick-and–mortar schools and the concept of online education, and highlights the accessibility of knowledge and education through our mobile devices. In minute five, the video explores the possibility of connecting students from different countries to work on a  project together. Strongly recommended!


 Definitely, millennial students need different approaches to improve learning. MOOCs are one solution; however, MOOCs still need to find ways to motivate high school students to study on their own. What other solutions can we incorporate to reinvent schools?

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