Lately, this blog has been less active than usual. I don’t want folks to give up on my posts because of this inactivity so I thought I would explain myself. I am writing as much or maybe even more than usual, but I am spending most of this time updating our Kindle textbook. Academics typically make their selections for the new academic year (Fall, 2016) late in the Spring. This means if you want your most current work to be considered, the new content must be available by then. Doing the background work and then the writing to meet this deadline has kept my pretty busy. I can wait until the summer to make adjustments to our book related online content.
Doing the background work and then the writing to meet this deadline has kept my pretty busy. I can wait until the summer to make adjustments to the online content that extends our book in keeping with the goal of using the online resources to provide the most current content possible. For example, the new ISTE standards for students should be finalized about the time of the ISTE conference and these standards should receive considerable attention in an edtech text.
One of my goals in writing a textbook is to try to bring attention to themes we see in the field. The organization of a textbook around major themes is a benefit we believe is missing in unrelated resources that can be used to organize ideas for readers. A topic that has existed in our previous work, but has not been emphasized might be described as the opportunities in using technology to individualize student learning experiences. While we prefer the term “individualize”, others might use “personalize” or perhaps some similar term. I like individualize because I can define what this means to me (no matter how others use it).
Our content is based on a cognitive perspective. Individualization is inherent in cognitive models of learning. No matter what the experiences external to each learner, common experiences or not, the external experiences are processed uniquely by each learning as a function of existing knowledge and experiences and differences in aptitude and motivation. The work of learning cannot by done by anyone else.
Our work already has a heavy focus in problem-solving and problem-based activities. Multiple problems can be offered to learners (individualization) or students can be allowed to take on problems of their own choosing (individualized or 20% time projects). Technology offers so many ways to identify, research, and propose solutions to such problems.
The newest area in which we feel technology has offered significant opportunities for individualization is computer-based instruction. Some might argue we are recognizing a use of technology that has been around even before the age of the personal computer (e.g., Plato). Of course, but the key to our claim is the phrase “significant opportunities”. CAI/CBI was never available to many learners and existed in only a rudimentary form for those who did have access. This has changed with online curriculum (e.g., Kahn Academy).Access to online curriculum seems to generate a strange reaction in so many educators. There seems to be a negative gut reaction that is difficult to understand. Mention of computer and instruction within the same phrase might encourage concerns that technology is replacing teachers or have some vague connection with political-based education issues. It all seems to depend on how you see the possibilities. Teacher as facilitator is consistent with online curricula and so is individual models of student progress.
Access to online curriculum seems to generate a strange reaction in so many educators. There seems to be a negative gut reaction that is difficult to understand. Mention of computer and instruction within the same phrase might encourage concerns that technology is replacing teachers or generate some vague connection with political-based education issues. It all seems to depend on how you see the possibilities. Teacher as facilitator is consistent with online curricula and so are individual models of student progress.
We approach individualizing instruction from a mastery perspective. The Kahn Academy, for example, offers a way to engage students in a mastery approach to learning. My interest in mastery learning as a way to meet individual needs has been a fascination throughout my career. One of my first publications back in the late 1970s and my last publication in 2014 both concerned a mastery approach to individualizing learning. The first, of course, did not involve personal computers.
I guess it is time to get back to work. Blog posts will be generated when possible and I will make an occasional effort to upgrade anyone interested on our progress in finishing our next edition.