Scott McLeod’s Fourth Pillar of a Future School

Continuing Dr. Mc Leod’s conversation about the seven pillars of the future school, let’s examine his fourth assertion, “The expansion of digital and online (and often open access) information resources that increase the availability of higher and deeper learning opportunities.”, will be an essential component.

I take his point to mean that he foresees that the flow of information sources, often structured into courses of learning (aka MOOCs) will not only need to be recognized and properly channeled into any future learning system, but also need to be a springboard for different expectations for learning than we currently have.

Notwithstanding some of the disillusionment that the present wave of MOOCs have recently sparked, they will not go “away”. They will be improved, restructured and become a fixture in our education system in any of a combination of several ways:

Higher Education: Online, hybrid courses have increasingly become popular in lieu of or in addition to traditional college degree course offerings. Research about these courses’ viability is generally favorable not withstanding the birthing pains many appear to be experiencing right now.

Adult (lifelong?) Education: Individuals who already have degrees or who have new interests can now readily access sources like Coursera and ITunes U to learn new languages, new skills, sharpen old ones, and perhaps transfer these to the marketplace and / or to their employment options.

– Professional Development: School districts’ obligation to support their teachers’ development, especially in light of the kinds of expectations teachers have,  often requires that districts use a variety of ways to deliver both individualized and small group instruction. The increased availability of online and open source learning will require fine tuning for continuous sustainability.

– Become an additional venue by which students will learn: Creative educational systems sometimes of necessity, other times out of a drive for innovative program design,  have used distance learning approaches for some time. The opportunities to expand this are clear.

How would teacher preparation be different? Would students be expected to master a new set of critical thinking competencies that would help them filter inaccurate, untrustworthy, even malicious content?  How would we assess students’ ability to master P21.org futures – based literacies? Would the school look physically different? Would parents and would faculty have a “schooled” voice in how the school’s curricula would be spiraled? Where would real-world student projects and products fit?

So what would a School of the Future look like if it didn’t make systemic provision for open online learning sources in its instructional delivery and learning expectations?

So what would a School of the Future look like if it did make systemic provision for open online learning sources in its instructional delivery and learning expectations?

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