Category Archives: Design Thinking

Most Urgent Student Learning Needs

What are our most urgent student learning needs?

This question is at the centre of tables around the province as boards and schools go through their new school and board improvement process (SILC: System Improvement Learning Cycles).  The new process, evolving from the former BIPSA process, is more agile (faster cycles), more targeted, and more responsive to student needs. The focus is on system improvement, which requires change at every level of the organization, but is only effective if it reaches the level of the student “desk”.

I have two wonderings about the new process.

  1. Where in this process is there an opportunity to truly look outside our walls and see what is happening in the world?  Our urgent student learning needs are not just tied to trailing data on past learning priorities. As the world changes at an exponential rate, who is determining what our students will need to thrive in that world?

“Being willing to constantly disrupt our individual and collective mindsets, if we are to come to terms with the needed disruptions that must occur in our own organizations if we are to truly unentrench ourselves from the status quo thinking that often buries us in practices of the past.

Seeing how ‘next’ practices are also in need of ‘next’ metrics if we are to pivot effectively towards this emerging and more desirable future we envision for ourselves and our organizations.”

David Culberhouse, Sept. 12, 2016

2. Urgent student learning needs are personal.  Every child, every adult in the system has personalized needs that cannot be determined by “average” thinking.

Our thinking, connected teachers, when they have a deep understanding of curriculum expectations, can design personalized learning for every child/student.  Creating this environment for our learners requires a foundation of connectivism thinking.  Teachers need to be able to access and participate in a rich network of support, and use this network to support the individual learning needs of every student.

How are we supporting educators to self-direct their learning through their own Professional Learning Networks?

“…it will not only be individuals that will need to become adaptable learners, remaining agile to our exponentially shifting world we now live in…so must our educational organizations if they are to remain significant, dynamic, relevant hubs of learning, innovation and transformation in the face of these seismic shifts and changes.”

David Culberhouse, August 13, 2016

 

We need to ask ourselves, “What evidence do we have to support the hypothesis that the most urgent learning needs of our students can be found in our data?”.

 

Featured image by Darren Kuropatwa CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

The Robots are Coming…. No, Wait, They are Here!

How are we preparing our students for the digital economy that is not their future, but their present?

How do we create the compelling argument that this is important, that this should be a priority in our school system?

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Walmart is mere months away from replacing their warehouse workers with drones and robots.

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More menial low-skilled standardized jobs lost to automation. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-wal-mart-drones-idUSKCN0YO26M

Automation is not new.  We have had the “robots are taking over the world” narrative in our minds for decades.

Have we become desensitized to it?

Because now they really are.

The extent to which robots are able to do menial jobs has grown exponentially, and artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction – it’s commonplace.

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Automation has become extremely sophisticated using AI to do jobs not previously thought possible. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2016/06/03/automation-isnt-new-so-whats-the-big-deal/amp/

 

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From http://chronicle.com/article/Robot-Proof-How-Colleges-Can/235057 by Joseph E. Aoun

 

But when robots can do standardized work, it creates new opportunities. New opportunities for creators, for coders, for those educated to take advantage of these new opportunities.

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by Joseph E. Aoun, Chronicle of Higher Education http://chronicle.com/article/Robot-Proof-How-Colleges-Can/235057

 

How are we embracing the opportunities robotics will bring to our economy? In Ontario alone, we will have a deficit of 76,300 digital economy jobs by 2019.

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Canada Labour Market Outlook http://www.vancouvereconomic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Labour-Market-Outlook-2015-2019-by-ICTC-March-20151.pdf

 

Or are we just going to continue to blame corporations for embracing the technology available to them?

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If we create standardized students, they can easily be replaced.

 

If we create unique individuals with the skills and competencies to rise above the menial and embrace new opportunities, we will be enabling our communities to continue to grow and  prosper in our changing world.

 

As a parent, do you ask your school how your child is being prepared to thrive in the digital economy?

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LEARN HOW TO LEARN

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Featured image shared by Robin Zebrowski under a CC-BY-2.0 licence.

 

 

References:

Technology Has a Language. It’s Called Code.

Are Robots Going to Steal Your Job? Probably.

3 of the World’s Top 10 Employers are Replacing Workers With Robots

What If? OPSBA 2009

A Vision for Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age OPSBA (2013?)

Robot-Proof: How Colleges Can Keep People Relevant in the Workplace by Joseph E. Aoun 

Canada’s Digital Talent Strategy March 2016

Digital Canada 150

Michael Geist: Digital Canada 150

Automation isn’t new, so what’s the big deal? by Jacob Morgan

 

 

We’re Different – And Why?

How do we successfully navigate the chasm between “progressives” and “traditionalists”?  The RSA Report (March 2016) Creative Public Leadership suggests that creating a compelling argument is the first step.

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For those of us who have been learning online for nearly 20 years, creating a compelling argument might seem redundant.

We wonder why it seems so hard to convince those higher up in the education hierarchy that change is an urgent need.

Perhaps the work of Roger Martin can help us understand the chasm more clearly.

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STANCE

If I am an educator and/or education leader, and I believe that I am doing excellent work, I have no reason to look for new tools to change my practice.

If I believe that I am a learner, and that my practice can always improve, I look for tools to help me organize my thinking, to learn more about the world and to connect with others in like roles.  These tools include traditional learning materials like books and research papers, but they now also include digital tools and social networking opportunities.

TOOLS

How I see myself and my purpose influences my choice of tools.  If leaders use traditional tools like books and articles, they might insist that I do as well.  But if I am an innovative thinker, I will stretch beyond what my leadership team is modelling and engage in digital tools that might lead me to online conversations and learning – to building a powerful network of online learners who challenge my thinking and invite me to participate in a whole different level of learning.

This begins to change who I am, and my thinking about what tools are best for my learning.  We can see already how this begins to conflict with the thinking of education leaders who have not used the vast array of today’s online tools for learning.

EXPERIENCE

Choosing digital tools creates opportunities for unique, personalized and deep professional learning, outside of what has been prescribed by education leaders.

This changes us.

Our thinking about our practice is now influenced by educators from around the world, not just those in our hierarchy.  And those “above us”  in our deeply hierarchical education systems may have no clue that this learning is possible, thereby devaluing its importance.

We liken this to coming out of a cave, realizing that the paucity of learning “in the cave” using traditional tools is not what we need in this *VUCA world.  We recognize that the vastly expansive and rich  learning opportunities and the tools that support and leverage them are critical to the success of our students today.

We are changed educators. But when we jump up and down and try to make others see this (invisible) world we have discovered, we are often met with disappointment (or worse).

David Truss, in 2012, described it beautifully here.

Seth Godin asks us today:

It’s far easier to worry and gripe about insufficient authority, about those that would seek to slow us down, disrespect us or silence us.

But we live in a moment where each of us has the power of influence.

What will you do with it?

Seth Godin, More Powerful Than You Know

*VUCA=Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

Featured Image by Carl Jones: CC-BY-NC-2.0

RESOURCES:

David Truss: The Lone Wolf

Heidi Siwak: The Very Strange World of Adult Problem Solving

Seth Godin: More Powerful Than You Know

Roger Martin: The Opposable Mind

The RSA: Creative Public Leadership

Canada’s Digital Talent Strategy for 2020

Harvard Business Review: What VUCA really means for you

Consumers or Creators?

Over the last few days I have been thinking about an article that was shared with me last week on Twitter.

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How can design thinking be used in classrooms to help students achieve the skill sets and mindsets needed in 2016?

From @eduwells Richard Wells http://eduwells.com/2015/02/04/design-thinking-in-the-classroom/
From @eduwells Richard Wells http://eduwells.com/2015/02/04/design-thinking-in-the-classroom/

In his book, The Global Achievement Gap, Dr. Tony Wagner outlined the skills all students now need to succeed (The Seven Survival Skills)

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship
  5. Accessing and analyzing information
  6. Effective oral and written communication
  7. Curiosity and imagination.

In his 2012 book, Creating Innovators, Dr. Wagner states that these skills are now critical but not sufficient to thrive in today’s world.

There are other qualities of innovators that are essential, such as

  1. Perseverence
  2. Willingness to experiment, take risks and tolerate failure
  3. The capacity for design thinking

Design thinking, requires these essential abilities:

  1. Empathy
  2. Integrative thinking
  3. Optimism
  4. Experimentalism – exploring problems and possible solutions in new and creative ways (Creating Innovators, 2012, Chapter 3)

How can we bring this thinking into the classroom?

In an environment focused on school and board improvement for raising test scores, how do we transform our thinking and turn our students into creators instead of consumers?

Richard Wells provides an infographic and a quick guide to starting design thinking and planning in the classroom.

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In addition, the FourSight Creative Problem Solving Model provides another structure for helping students tackle problems in new ways.

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From Foursight Technical Manual on Validity, https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0190/3788/files/foursight-technical-manual-on-validity.pdf

 

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From Strategic and Innovative Leadership, Schulich School of Business, York University, March 2016

At the BIT15 conference, closing keynote speaker Heidi Siwak introduced the work she is doing with students around integrative thinking.

Heidi’s post this weekend helped me to understand the urgency of changing how we think about what is important not only in our classrooms, but in the environments where those of us who support classroom educators think of how best to move forward.

From Heidi Siwak, The Very Strange World of Adult Problem Solving, http://www.heidisiwak.com/2016/03/the-very-strange-world-of-adult-problem-solving/
From Heidi Siwak, The Very Strange World of Adult Problem Solving, http://www.heidisiwak.com/2016/03/the-very-strange-world-of-adult-problem-solving/

 

In a culture, where BIPSAs and SIPSAs determine the inch we focus on, and where adults learned to thrive in an outdated system, how do we best move forward with trying to support our students in becoming creators instead of consumers?

 

Resources:

 

Canada’s First National Digital Talent Strategy Paves the Way Forward for an Innovative and Globally Connected Economy (March 2016)

Roger Martin: The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the next Competitive Advantage

Roger Martin: The Opposable Mind (Integrative Thinking)

Harvard Macy Systems Approach to Assessment

How Do You Know When Students Are Learning? –  David Truss

 

Moving From A Culture of Activities Towards a Culture of Learning

In a recent post (Where’s the Beef?), I identified the problem with sharing ‘activities’ in online environments.

How do we help educators and leaders identify visible learning as opposed to visible activities?

Silvia Rosenthal Talisano carried the conversation further, with the suggestion of the #document4learning  hashtag for sharing learning openly in social media.

My colleagues in the Ontario Early Years Division are interested in the answer to this question:

What system level structures and strategies are you finding that are supportive in moving from a culture of activities towards a culture of learning with evidence of children’s thinking and learning as the foundation?

What examples can you share?

Resources:

Ontario Capacity Building Series: Pedagogical Documentation

Sharing from #BIT15: Heidi Siwak’s Keynote Address

If you were unable to attend Heidi Siwak’s closing keynote at #BIT15 this year, you missed an amazing learning experience.

Let’s see if we can share the important points.

Here is Heidi’s link to the resources.

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Here is the storify of the Twitter chat for the event.

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