What are authentic, transformational eLearning tasks?

Recently I attended a Breakfast Leadership workshop with an Apple Professional Educator Stephanie Hamilton. Her short presentation was about the importance on focusing on the learning occurring in schools and ensuring that technology is being used in an authentic way to transform the learning process.

She had gathered many of her ideas from travelling around the world and had lots of valid insights. She also remarked on the thinking of Ruben Pentedura and his research into eLearning in the state of Maine.  His research and presentation is available here. Transformation, Technology and Education. One important point of this research, describes what is occuring in many schools who are trying to develop models of 21st century learning.

Sourced from Ruben Pentedura (Phd) Maine Univerisity, Transformation, Technology and Education

All teachers who are new to a 1 to 1 programme find small ways to integrate technology into their classrooms, without changing their teaching strategies, or pedagogy. In my experience many teachers begin by substituting traditional activities for a digital approach which offers little, if any, functional change in the learning. One of the key feedbacks from students at our 1 to 1 school, is that they feel that some teachers are still making them write down notes from a Powerpoint into a word documents. I am guilty of this too at times, as this offers no real shift or improvement in learning.

To help teachers understand the shift required to create transformational eLearning tasks, requires a substantial commitment to professional development, on behalf of the individual and the institution. Innovative teachers will extend themselves to the top, thorough experimentation and adaption. For the laggards and the core population of teachers, it requires modeling, collaboration and all of the elements of a good professional learning environment. This was something I reflected on last week in my post eLearning and Professional Development.

The battle for schools implementing 1 to 1 programmes will be to push staff to modify or redefine the traditional learning tasks. I have read a nice post this week about an elementary class at Chatsworth International School, where students are experimenting with iPads. See post by Tyler Sherwood This seems like an excellent example, where through the use of iPads and apps, students can learn phonics and letters in a completely different way. For some teachers, the integration of this technology will redefine how their teaching strategies.

Our Leadership Breakfast presenter, Stephanie Hamilton only made this point at the very end of her presentation, and I think it is very important and often overlooked.

The process where teachers transform there teaching practice is incremental and ongoing. Seeing a classroom which has been transformed by eLearning is like a utopia. Through changing technologies, and new innovations, there will always be a better or different way to transform learning. Therefore,we need to explain to teachers that this is a journey, and not something that can be ticked off before summer vacation.

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