Ecosystem of Optimal Learning

There is a lot on my mind.  I am thinking about learners in a world that is not the same as the world I learned in while I was in school.  Technology and information was scarce and our understanding of learning was in a different place.  Now, we continue to learn more about learning everyday and information is coming at a rapid rate using tools that allow it to be at our fingertips instantly. In education we are at a place where the landscape of schools is at an interesting place.

Challenge or opportunity?

One of the books I am reading is Never Send a Human to do a Machine’s Job by Yong Zhao and a team of writers. The intriguing quality of the book is the collaborative work in the book.  In chapter one they talk about the relationship between technology and teachers.  The quote I keep coming back to is on page 13.

One of the reasons that this quote intrigues me is because the hierarchy conversation has been going on for so long.  It happened when radio and television came out.  Why do we think that technology will replace the teacher, the paper, or the conversation?  How might we shift the conversation to looking at the strengths that come from all of the resources that we have available?  How can we harness the understanding of learning to determine the interrelationships of resources that will make for the most of what Zhao calls the “optimal learning environment”?  As I said, I have a lot on my mind.

When I think through this whole idea of ecosystem I think about how I can help staff I work with.  It is a disruption in the way we think about tools we have available.  Here is a table I have been working on and am looking for feedback.  The first column is where we can look at the learning that we want for our students.  After are three columns to facilitate thought around the resources we have available to us in the ecosystem of our classrooms and schools.

  • The human resources represents how can we harness the capabilities and talents that we have as learners (kids and adults).  What strengths do we have as people that will provide for an optimal learning environment? This could be conversation, discourse, critical thinking, feedback, etc.
  • The non-digital resources represent the school supplies that have been a standard in our classrooms (notebooks, pencils, chart paper, etc.). How do we harness the strengths of these resources in that optimal learning environment?
  • The digital resources represents the technology tools that allow us to do things that would strengthen the learning environment because it may not be able to be done with the human or non-digital resources.  It may also allow us to strengthen the human connection or make the non-digital resources more accessible.

The power of this conversation, to me, is when we take the strengths of multiple resources for that interrelationship.  For example, we may have an amazing conversation around a math concept that we record on chart paper in class.  To make it more available to students so they can come back to it I could take a picture of the chart and post it for my students to access.  We have harnessed the strengths of multiple resources for an optimal learning environment,.

What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear what you think.

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