George Siemens wrote the Duplication theory of educational value about higher education, but I am going to share a quote from this with a couple adaptations for K-12 public education:
“Let me posit a duplication theory of education value: if something can be duplicated with limited costs, it can’t serve as a value point for [public education]. Content is easily duplicated and has no value. What is valuable, however, is that which can’t be duplicated without additional input costs: personal feedback and assessment, contextualized and personalized navigation through complex topics, encouragement, questioning by [an educator] to promote deeper thinking, and a context and infrastructure of learning. Basically: human input costs make education valuable. We can’t duplicate personal interaction without spending more money. We can scale content, but we can’t scale encouragement”
In The Global Transformation in Education (Updated) Mark Treadwell discusses the ‘perfect storm’ in education which includes the intersection of 3 storms:
1. The arrival of new technologies, and a shift to the internet.
2. A better understanding of how the brain learns.
3. “The ability of young people to build their own creativity; to learn, to be able to research, the inquiry process, action learning, to actually be able to do their own learning and build understanding, and take that understanding and be creative with it.”
One point of disagreement that I have with Treadwell is that he thinks there needs to be far great emphasis on teacher accountability whereas I believe in Andy Hargreaves opinion, in The Fourth Way, that we should be focusing more on teacher responsibility. [Update]
I think focusing on accountability invites a greater emphasis on content & easily duplicated, less valued educational experiences, compared to an emphasis on responsibility… which adds value and can be both humanizing and personalized in nature. On a related thought, and in a yet to be published blog post, I’ll add: (link will be ‘here’ after I post it)
I think one of the underlying things we are all looking at in the quotes above is the personalization of learning. To explore personalization a little deeper, have a look at this chart by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey:
“Assessment as learning (Personalization) is based in research about how learning happens, and is characterized by learners reflecting on their own learning and making adjustments so that they achieve deeper understanding… Reporting in assessment as learning is the responsibility of learners, who must learn to articulate and defend the nature and quality of their learning. When learners reflect on their own learning and must communicate it to others, they are intensifying their understanding about a topic, their learning strengths, and the areas in which they need to develop further.”
Going back to the George Seimens’ quote, educators add value to the learning process by personalizing the feedback and guidance provided to the learner.
Going back to the Mark Treadwell video, he asks, “How do we prepare teachers to teach young people to be lifelong learners? To apprentice them and gradually build the capacity over years to become capable of managing their own learning and learning forever.
Going back to my own quote above, educators openly sharing in learning communities, create an environment where teachers are learners, and they model what they want from students.
Going back to Bray & McClaskey, have a look at the last sentence I quoted above, only switch ‘learners’ to ‘educators’: “When [educators] reflect on their own learning and must communicate it to others, they are intensifying their understanding about a topic, their learning strengths, and the areas in which they need to develop further.”
We need to personalize the learning for our educators and our students… seeing both first and foremost as learners. We can’t cookie-cutter our professional development to teachers and expect meaningful results. We can’t evaluate students based on tests with easily Googleable answers. We can develop a sense of learner responsibility by personalizing learning, making it meaningful and making it work that matters.
Finally, if we decide to look at educators and students as learners first, then we also need to recognize the responsibility that comes with being a learner. So much of what I read about now is about things ‘we need to do’ to support the learner. But be they educators or students, learners need first to understand the importance of their own role in learning. Personalization isn’t just about catering to a learner, it is also about learner autonomy and thus learner responsibility.
And so I’ll leave you with a Participant’s Manifesto I wrote a while back. I think that if we are going to move learning on a path of greater personalization, then we need to start with the expectations of the learners (be they educators, students, parents or community members) in our learning spaces, (be they physical or digital spaces).
When I enter our learning space I will be prepared to learn, to participate, to engage, to discover, to play, to inquire, to create.
We are all different. Our opinions are different. We all learn differently. Our learning will be differentiated.
Respect makes all the difference.
We are not all equal, but we must all be ethical, just and fair.
Classes are not rooms; they are learning communities.
Our community will use technology effectively, affectively and appropriately.
Curriculum describes and directs; it is not to be prescribed or directed.
Knowledge is static. Synthesis is dynamic. We create meaning.
Collaboration is a series of learned skills.
Grades are measurements; Rubrics offer feedback.
Self-reflection is mandatory.
When I leave I will be more literate, more resourceful, more involved, more collaborative, more connected, more thoughtful and less willing to accept injustice of any kind.
I will make a positive difference in my world.