Education

Building Sustainable Learning Environments

By May 19, 2009 No Comments

SIIA logoIn early May, CB&A attended the SIIA Ed Tech Industry Summit in San Francisco, which addressed the theme of “Building Toward the Vision K-20.”  One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Mark David Milliron, President and CEO of Catalyze Learning International, gave a presentation entitled “Building and Sustaining Visionary K-20 Learning Environments.” He highlighted five key components educators need to consider as they work toward developing a sustainable learning environment for their students.

Blurring and Blending – Rather than debating the merits of face-to-face versus online instruction, schools need to offer a hybrid of both, according to Milliron.  A prime example is Florida Virtual School, where students are offered a blend of traditional classroom instruction with online courses to complete their middle and high school education.  (Other providers include Aventa Learning, which offers online courses to schools to help them broaden course offerings and individualize instruction.)

Mobility – The expectations of the Net Generation reflect the environment in which its members were raised.  Today’s students expect wireless network access at school.  In Milliron’s view, deprived of this access, they will leave the education environment and go elsewhere.  For example, McDonald’s now offers Wi-Fi access in more than 15,000 restaurants.

Gaming – The average age of a gamer is 33.  Surprised?  People of all ages are gaming, thanks to consoles such as the Nintendo Wii.  Research has shown the positive effect of cognitive games on brain development, which offers great promise for schools.  For more information, Milliron recommended Marc Presnky’s work on the benefits of edugaming.

Social Networking – A new Nielson Online report puts social networks ahead of e-mail in online activities.  Social networking has replaced old-school networking, Milliron pointed out, as people secure jobs through social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Students must develop social networking skills in order to compete in the 21st century.

High Impact Presentation – High impact technologies, such as the ‘hologram’ CNN debuted on election night, raise the bar on experimental learning.  Many colleges have been the first to adopt these new technologies, cited Milliron.  Examples include “beaming” an instructor to Spain to teach English, and taking a class on a 3D tour of Ancient Rome with Google Earth.

In summary, Milliron said students need to learn in a blended, mobile environment, which allows them to network in engaging, online environments.  For more from Dr. Mark David Milliron, visit his blog Catalytic Conversations.