There are really only 26 days in January – well up to and including Australia Day when Australia wakes up. As Australia hits the reset button and starts work on Jan 28, we thought we would craft our predictions for the future of Education, one for each of the 26 days of January. One Letter a day to think about. In keeping with the famous 12 days of Christmas Carol, excluding the harmony, there are 26 challenges we all face in Education. Maybe there are more? I would love to hear your thoughts. You might even re-claim one of the 26 letters from me!
A – Access to the Internet is the foundational future of business and work. The NBN or private Enterprise will fix access for all, one day.
B – Books will remain in vogue for another few years, mainly because people don’t really read anymore, including on-screen, so why change?
C – Commercially printed educational content will reach a use by date of 1 Jan.2020 – there we called it!
D – Data is the high-emission, large footprint exhaust jettisoned from every online interaction. This data exhaust will recombine as the eco-fuel of personalised education and education strategies.
E – Educators will be accountable for student outcomes.
F – Free is not the future of online education.
G – Global access to education will determine the future of economic and social stability.
H – Heutagogy will be driven by shifting labour opportunities.
I – Individualised, expert tutor instruction will replace low performing classrooms.
J – Juxtaposition and Just now strategies will help to calibrate personalised learning for students.
K – Knowledge will recombine and amplify from shared heuristic data analysis.
L – LMS systems are dead – they ended effective life years ago. No-one has told them yet.
M – MOOC tutoring and assessment services will re-bundle and deliver recognised and credentialed qualifications.
N – Numeracy remains a huge challenge for many Adults in the emerging nations of the world.
O – Outcomes of learning will self-align to labour-market needs, rather than ‘new’ bureaucratic curriculums.
P – Philanthropic funded endeavours will educate the world’s populations before governments and politicians do.
Q – Quantitative progress and visibility into the classroom will replace creative ‘sense-based’ reporting.
R – Research in education will be driven and measured by timely initiatives rather than decades of academic parlance.
S – Standardised testing will reduce. One size no longer fits all.
T – Technology will better assist teachers to help students rather than replace them. AI will get better at structured intelligence.
U – Universities will continue to overprice themselves through an insatiable appetite for money, averages, car parking fees and wealthy students.
V – Vocational Education Training will become so un-regulated, qualifications will be meaningless.
W – Written language and literacy capabilities will forever be in high demand.
X – Xerox copiers will pump out paper for another 20 years or until AI incorporates General Intelligence.
Y – Yielding to education system bureaucrats and politicians will end.
Z – Zealots will never get to teach soft-skills, mainly because they don’t have any themselves.
What can be done to ensure that technology truly improves learning outcomes?
For the last twenty years, educators, governments, technology companies and publishers have built a narrative that by introducing a new technology, be it a digital book, LMS, SIS, PC, tablet or iPad, there would be an immediate improvement in student learning.
The reality to date is that no-one has established an accepted nexus between learning outcomes and the use of technology. In 2012 Higgins and his colleagues, in their meta-analysis of the numerous studies on the impact of digital technology on student learning, concluded, “Taken together, the correlational and experimental evidence does not offer a convincing case for the general impact of digital technology on learning outcome” (Higgins et al, 2012).
Apparent from multiple teacher surveys, a large proportion of teacher-technology skills lie somewhere between Conscious Incompetence and Conscious Competence. That is, somewhere between teachers being aware they lack specific technology skills and knowing the skills they have are not second nature or fluent. This being the case, the foundations on which technology can be relied on to support stronger learning outcomes, need to be shored up.
We believe the tipping point at which technology will significantly contribute to stronger learning outcomes will be when teachers reach the level of Unconscious Competence with technology. This is when teachers, as a natural part of their professional repertoire, enhance pedagogy and student outcomes by blending the art of teaching with efficiencies and data delivered by supportive technology.
We have five suggestions we think will help technology improve learning outcomes.
1. Support teaching with technology.
Research has proven that teachers have the biggest influence on learning outcomes, not technology. It is however, far easier to make technology accessible than it is to lift teacher skills into a state of unconscious competence. We must refocus on supporting and encouraging teachers with intuitive tools that build capabilities to better inform teaching and learning.
2. Start measuring learning – stop the fixation on managing learning
Learning management is not learning measurement. For too long we have invested in technology that does not inform daily teaching and learning in an exacting context for each student. The idea that ‘I have taught it because it’s in the LMS’ has become a proxy for ‘they have learned it’, without a need for any independent check on what (if anything) has actually been learned. Technology needs to help teachers assess and measure learning.
3. Give teachers the tools to personalise teaching.
We would argue that the perceived need for more standardised ‘digitised’ curriculum content detracts from teachers focusing on having the answers to three critical questions every day. What does each student know now? What is each student ready to learn next? Where should I target and adapt my teaching? Personalised teaching happens naturally when teachers with an unconscious competence for technology are supported with quantitative capabilities.
4. Leverage data to inform teaching.
The most under-utilised, un-leveraged asset of every school is the learning data it produces every day. Schools must build a data capability and culture to surface data insights and help teachers to target teaching, improve feedback and learning outcomes. According to Scottish writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, “It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data”. Yet, for centuries, the education industry has implemented teaching practices without any data to prove its efficacy.
5. Extend strategic outcomes with data and technology.
Improving teaching and learning outcomes using data is operationally very effective. The same data builds the foundation of the next strategic step. Machine learning and assistive intelligence (commonly referred to as artificial intelligence) offer capabilities to scale finite teacher resources to automatically predict outcomes from captured learning data. A new teacher-dedicated digital assistant can suggest, adapt and prescribe personalised learning on demand.
Mark Stanley – CEO – Founder – Literatu
In response to recent media coverage of flat or backward NAPLAN results, I engaged in a correspondence with a reporter. Here’s what I wrote:
The perspective I can offer is one that focuses on how schools get the data as opposed to beating up the test, the schools or the government.
I can tell this story in three pictures (from screenshots of our software). This said, my point is not to flog our software, but to highlight the value of EASY ACCESS to data insights and how, without this, the lack of growth is not a surprise, but is, in fact, what we should expect.
All the screens are of actual NAPLAN data, but anonymised so as not to compromise confidentiality.
1) Flat results.
This visualisation shows 6 years of NAPLAN Band achievement across years 3, 5, 7 & 9. You can see that the real story here is one of No Growth – the results are essentially flat. This is the story your report told today. The reason I see this slightly differently is that we have schools who are just starting to use our software so 2017/18 is THE FIRST YEAR they have been able to easily see this data (and the next screens). So the point is that, without easy access to unpacking the band scores into skills and subskills, how were schools and teachers EXPECTED to make improvements? Thus schools and teachers worked very hard either doing the same things they have always done or guessing what needs fixing.
(click to enlarge)
2) Unpacking the Data – from Skill problems to identifying Subskills
No matter how hard teachers work, doing more of the same doesn’t necessarily address gaps in their students’ skills. Another visualisation shows how the data from the massive spreadsheets can be visualised in a way that goes from seeing the problem to seeing what needs targeting. Here, “traffic light colours” signal problems in specific skills and clicking one of the bubbles reveals the subskills that were assessed. NOW teachers know what they can target their teaching to:
3) Give teachers Insight into the students right in their classes!
The fact that NAPLAN data is often 1-2 years old by the time it reaches school and public attention makes it hard to use. The tests assess skills from the preceding year (e.g., Year 3 assesses Year 2 skills), then schools find out about the results toward the end of their year with the students and here we are almost upon 2018 NAPLAN and MySchool is only now updated with 2017 NAPLAN data. How is a classroom teacher meant to help the students in their classes today?
In the last screen animation, you can see the “Teacher Dashboard” where a school’s NAPLAN data is sliced and sorted for the actual students sitting in front of a classroom teacher. Yes, the data may still be a year old, but now the classroom teacher can accommodate and differentiate what he / she does based upon their students. In the animation, notice that both the data in the cards and the list of students in the right column change as I switch between classes (at the top of the dashboard). When I click on the NAPLAN Weather report card for writing, I can see which 4 students went backward from their 2015 to 2017 NAPLAN tests and which 5 achieved above expected growth targets. Then when I click the NAPLAN Skill Focus card (and its backside) I get details about the top 4 (then 8 when flipped) areas in each of the 4 NAPLAN domains where this particular class of students scored lowest. Again, clicking on the card, sorts the students according to the skill clicked so we can see who needs the most help and who could be extended.
So, to sum up, I see a big part of the problem is that classroom teachers have not been able to access the right kind of information easily in order to use the NAPLAN data (albeit a “snapshot” and a “diagnostic assessment being used as a high-stakes test” – two legitimate complaints against NAPLAN). In fact, we have run into the situation where one of the leading state’s association for schools takes the approach of helping schools unpack NAPLAN results through a workshop on using Excel spreadsheets!!!! In 2018!
Our schools are just this year getting such access and we work with them to take charge of their remediation programs and initiatives and expect to see upward trends as they continuously improve their teaching and learning practices.
I’d love to chat or even take you through this software as a way to point to other solutions than beating up teachers, schools or the government – not something your reporting has ever done, but these bash-ups tend to be what’s buzzing in the media. Perhaps a better, more productive approach is to use smart software to provide data insights?