Author Archives: Rob Gratton

Interpersonal Small Group Mediation

The purpose of this guide is to support teachers/tutors in resolving conflicts within Learning Sets through Interpersonal Small Group Mediation strategies. 

As I have expressed in a number of articles on my site collaborativegrouplearning.com, Learning Sets are dynamic group structures designed to engineer and facilitate both effective socialised-learning and social relationships. The three principles of:

1: 6 in number;

2: Heterogeneous in character (diversely mixed);  

3: Sustained overtime;

have the potential to either enable high functioning learning and social relationships or low functioning learning and social relationships. To enable the desired outcome of the Learning Set relationships must be nurtured by all 7 members of the Learning Set; the 6 students and the 1 tutor

As with any group, problems and issues concerning relationships can emerge and if unresolved can evolve into corrosively negative group relations. The key therefore is to enable the successful resolution of substantive, communication and relational problems as they emerge. Vigilance, swift action and mediation on the part of the tutor can enable the group to locate the causes, course and consequences of the problem or issue and with this foster healthier Learning Set relationship.  

A Learning Set’s success is in direct correlation with the strength of the Learning Set’s relationship.

The long term goal is to enable students to better negotiate their own solutions to substantive, communication and relational problems. Students need to recognise that the relationship of the group is the responsibility of every member. Through modelling and interventions such as Learning Set Mediation, students can come to be ever more self-regulating, aware of how to negotiate their way through the complexities of learning and social relationships. Within this process the Learning Set’s tutor plays a key role.

Learning Set Mediation involves:

  • Voluntary participation (all members of the Learning Set agree to it
  • Face-to-face discussions between the parties in conflict facilitated through the tutor as mediator
  • An unbiased mediator who helps those involved to understand each other’s point of view and come to an agreement
  • Equal opportunities for all participants to speak and explain their perspective
  • All relevant information being shared openly by all participants 
  • A shared agreement between the parties
  • Revisiting the agreement to ensure application and resolution  

The Role of the Learning Set Mediator:

As mediator the teacher of tutor’s role is to enable the process of mediation to be undertaken.

The key to effective mediation is the tutors fulfillment of organisational and communication duties. Good communication during the act of mediation is crucial. Good communication involves the mediator putting aside their own views and feelings in order to help the parties listen to and understand each other. To these ends the tutor must place themselves physically within the group acting as a conduit of communication for mediation (discussion-resolution). 

A mediator needs a range of skills, including:

  • Active listening skills;
  • Questioning and clarifying skills (reflective listening, normalizing, reframing) to grasp both the facts and the areas of controversy;
  • Emotional intelligence to understand the underlying emotions;
  • Summarising skills to set out the main points of controversy, and underlying emotions, and also to help the participants to reframe issues in less emotive language; and 
  • Empathy to help each party to stand in each other’s shoes and understand each other’s point of view.

As a mediator the tutor must not take sides, or be seen to be acting unfairly. Acknowledge points made by all parties, and spend equal time with each person or on their issues, enabling them to speak and actively listening. 

The task is complex but is essentially all about being fair, listening to all and enabling all to speak. It is about not reaching a personal judgement but helping the group find an agreement enabling them all to move forward. Enabling, through questioning, to get to the root cause of the problem or issue by helping the group to:

  1. track back from consequences (the present situation);
  2. through the course (he said-she said);
  3. to the cause (where did it begin and why?).

Mediation can be time consuming and will require a number of daily-weekly-monthly sessions, all depending on the nature and complexity of the problem or issue. 

The time spent however can reap rewards for all involved in the long run and for the tutor cement their role as an informed and important member of the Learning Set.

The Mediation Process:

1: Preparation

  • Select a place to conduct the mediation. This should be a neutral and private space, free of interruptions, where the group can sit together in a circle with the mediator sat as part of this circle.
  • Each session should last not more than 20 minutes.
  • When sat in the circle members should be distraction free; nothing in their hands to fiddle with.  
  • Once in the space and sat the mediator needs to introduce themselves, set out the mediator’s role (to be impartial and help to communicate and reach their solution) and lay out the ‘ground rules’ for the mediation process. These should include the basic rules of communication (once voice at a time, eye contact with the speaker, no interruptions, use of a person’s name when referring to them) and confidentiality. 

2: Reconstructing and Understanding the Conflict

Through questioning, active listening, revoicing and management of the group:

  • Enable each member in turn to identify the present situation (the consequence, problem and/or issue)
  • Enable each member in turn to identify their feelings and emotions concerning the present situation (repeat these emotions back to enable all to recognise them)
  • Enable each member in turn to identify how the present situation has come to be (the course of actions towards the present problem and/or issue)
  • Enable each member in turn to identify what they believe the starting point or cause is of the present situation (the cause of the problem and/or issue)

3: Defining Points of Agreement and Dispute

During this stage, the tutor’s role is to help all to move towards a position where they start to understand each other’s point of view, and can then begin to resolve the shared problem.

  • Enable the group to move from a focus on the past to one on the future. 
  • Enable the group to see areas of agreement, commonality and shared feelings.

4: Creating Options for Resolution

  • Enable the group to develop options for resolution.
  • Help the group select the most likely to succeed option (relevant, achievable, suits all parties). 
  • When relevant offer tools to aid the successful application of the preferred option (Communication Cards, Learning Set Role Cards, Learning Set Report)
  • When relevant help the group to develop evaluation criteria, which should ideally be objective and in order of importance, for the successful application of the agreed option.

5: Moving Forward 

  • Enable the group to agree to the proposed resolution.
  • When relevant set the group or individuals SMART targets to enable the successful application of the resolution. 
  • Agree a follow up meeting to discuss how things are moving forward. 

A Potential Mediation Script:

1: Preparation

“Thank you for making the time to be here today  and thank you for joining the circle.”

“This is not about blaming anyone but a chance for us all to understand what the situation is, what has happened and how it is effecting you all.” 

“My role in this process is to be impartial, listening to what you all say and helping you all through effective communication reach a solution to the present situation so that we can all move forward.”

“Before we begin there are some ground rules to cover. For this to work well we must apply the basic rules of communication which are once voice at a time, eye contact with the speaker, no interruptions and the use of a person’s name when referring to them. Everyone will have many chances to speak and I would like to remind you all that everything you say here today is confidential. However if you say something that makes me really concerned about your safety and wellbeing I will have to report it to…”

2: Reconstructing and Understanding the Conflict

“Let’s take it in turn to share our thoughts and feelings about the situation. (name) will start first and we will move around the group in a clockwise direction listening to what everyone has to say”. 

“….what is the problem/issue/situation as you see it?” “How does this affect you?”

“….what has been happening to get to this point, can you think of any situations or examples of things that have happened?” “What has been your involvement?”

“I think I understand what you are saying, is it right to say that…”

“What started all this off?”

“What do you feel has caused this situation/to get out of control?”

3: Defining Points of Agreement and Dispute

“The past is just that, what can we do together to move forward? …what do you feel we could do?”

“I hear what you are saying, what do you…feel?”

“What I noticed when you were talking this through is that you agreed about…”

“Can we use what you agree about as starting point for a possible solution?”

4: Creating Options for Resolution

“Do you believe…that this is an effective resolution? How would you make it better? Who agrees/disagrees? What’s your opinion…?”

“I agree/disagree that the option you are suggesting will be the most effective at resolving the situation because…What are your thoughts…?” 

“What resources could I offer you to help you all move forward? Perhaps….would be of use.”

“I think that those evaluation criteria will work really well because…”

“I feel that some of those evaluation criteria could be enhanced a little, for example…”

5: Moving Forward 

“Do we all agree to the proposed resolution? Why do you…agree to the resolution? Why do you…disagree to the resolution?” 

“What would be the best SMART targets that you feel you could all follow to ensure that…”

“We will meet again…in order to see how things are moving forward, is this ok with everybody?” 

Developed with help from:

http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/mediation-skills.html#ixzz427eU7BsP (accessed 06/03/16)

Thorsborne. M., & Vinegrad. D. ( 2011) Restorative Justice Pocketbook, Teachers Pocketboks. Hampshire.

Ongoing research into situated group dynamics.

‘An Education for Education’ in response to, ‘What is the purpose of education?’

In response to the UK Governments announced consultation regarding the purpose and quality of education in England inquiry I was asked to offer my thoughts on the purpose of education by the EducationPolicyNetwork (@edupolicynet).

‘Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.’ (Freire, 2000, p.34)

Learning is a lifelong process of both passive and active engagement with the empirical and ontological world. It is a transformative process leading to a permanent capacity change, a process which, if actively engaged with and directed towards premeditated goals throughout ones life, can be called Education (personal enlightenment). From the cradle to the grave we learn with, from and because of others and the more we come to take control of these interactions the more effectively we come to learn about ourselves, others and the world in all its forms and strata. An individuals capacity for a lifetime of learning (Education) is shaped by countless variables, encounters, mechanisms and structures, yet one system plays a significant role in liberating an individual from dependance to independence, an education. 

In many cases formal education seeks to primarily induct an individual into the empirical and ontological reality of a given community and culture. Thus education systems provide a curriculum which imbues an individual with domain and non domain specific knowledge, embed that knowledge as understanding and foster the development of culturally prized skills. In the prevalent system this is important as mastering these grants access to later levels of education and is the currency of socio-economic mobility. Along the way a learner develops social skills, behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and in some cases attributes. But if we consider the work of Freire, Bernstein, Marx and to an extent Critical Realist philosophy, an education is more than a process of at best enculturation and at worst indoctrination. An education is an opportunity to liberate learners, furnishing them with the knowledge, understanding and skills, attributes and aptitudes to both master their learning lifelong and lifewide, enabling an individual to direct their personal Education.

Traditional transmission and ‘banking’ (Freire, 2000) approaches to education, and in turn teaching, which focus on the triumvirate of predefined knowledge, understanding and skills is no longer an appropriate preparation of todays adolescents for their place in our Brave New World (see for example Long, 1990; Field, 2000; Skidmore, 2003; Alheit, 2009). Top down and grass roots change have and will continue to undoubtedly occur within the how of learning, teaching and education. Yet the how without the why lacks true value. It is the question of why, and the purpose of an education, which still requires satisfactory address. An address not shaped by political and personal bias, but shaped by the hopes and ambitions we collectively have for humankind as it strides forward into an unknown future.

It is not for me to determine the why of education, but as someone actively involved in both my own Education and within the engineering and facilitating of the education of others I have come to recognise the following. My applied philosophy of Education is one which recognises that it is the duty of an education to enable learners to know enough about themselves, others and the world to find out more and to build a cognitive and social network of understanding. To enable learners to develop and practice a range of skills which they can hone, develop further and synthesise with others throughout their lives. To question, to be self motivated, self regulated and to be aware of how they, others and the world works. Education is about capacity building, facilitating an individuals ability to recognise, enable and enhance their own Agency. If an education is focused upon these goals then gender, race, background, socio-economic status should not hold an individual back. If an education provides the means to develop a lifelong-lifewide learning capacity through socialised-learning contexts where thought has been applied to how group interactions can be managed for the benefit of learners and learning then differences such as gender and race can became facilitators of learning rather than potential shackles on liberation.

To enable the above, systems of education, and associated pedagogies, must actively foster a learning orientation (Watkins et al., 2002), a willingness to learn (see Skidmore, 2003, p.15), and the attributes that could enable a capacity to engage with learning lifelong (Yaxlee, 1929) and lifewide (Ekholm and Hard, 2000, p.18; Alheit, 2009, p.117). Such an education would provide the route towards empowering all learners with the cognitive and social tools enabling them to positively interact with an undetermined future (see Costa, 1991; Broadfoot, 1996, p.23; Costa and Liebman, 1997; Skidmore, 2003, p.14; Watkins et al., 2007, p.18; Costa and Kallick, 2009). In addition to recognising the purpose of education expressed above, systems of education must also preach and practice the tenets of effective learning. Without experiencing a culture of effective learning how would an individual come to recognise and master their own effective lifelong-lifewide learning?

It is my fundamental belief that the most effective learning results from an active process of engagement with learning (Ireson, 2008, p.6) in order to achieve premeditated goals (Resnich, 1987). Illeris (2007) suggests that this active process is stimulated by the interactions between three dimensions of learning, content, incentive and environment, a theory supported by Claxton (1999), Watkins et al. (2002) and Ireson (2008). When such an interaction process is placed within a social context, such as the classroom or wider societal contexts, a further tri-directional relationship is activated between rules, tools and community, all of which shapes the activation, direction and nature of learning (Engestrom, 1987, 2009). At the heart of this active learning process is an acceptance of the enabling role of social factors, a central truth of constructivist, social-constructivist and particularly social-constructionist philosophies championed by Piaget (1923), Vygotsky (1978) and Burr (1999).

Learning, facilitated as a social process within education contexts such as schools, is explored throughout the literature relating to effective learning (see Lave and Wenger, 1991; Watkins, 2005), cooperative learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1999) and collaborative group learning (Gratton, 2015). The literature, drawn from diverse academic fields, highlights the varying cognitive, social, psychological and societal benefits of socialised learning, in particular learning which is collaborative in nature. Ding and Flynn (2000) highlight the relationship between an individual’s engagement with collaborative learning processes and the development of some of their more general cognitive skills, in particular, ‘intersubjectivity, planning, communication and inhibition.’ (p.3). Panitz (2011) furthers this, citing 67 benefits of collaboration including, improved learning and achievement, improved skills, improved engagement and responsibility and improved relationships. Bruffee (1993) believes that collaborative learning processes encourage learner autonomy through a development of ‘the craft of interdependence.’ (p.1). The development of this attribute promotes a shift from cognitive self-interest to mutual interest, the development of positive learning and social relationships between students and an increased openness to being influenced by and influencing others (Johnson and Johnson, 2008, p.12). Evidence also suggests that due to the way in which collaboration requires the use of dialogue, in problem solving and social mediation (Vygotsky, 1978; Mercer, 2002), verbal task regulation is stimulated (Biemiller et al., 1998, p.204), effective learning encouraged (Alexander, 2006, p.9; Kutnick, 2010, p.192) and personal identities developed (Bakhtin, 1981; Renshaw, 2004, p.1), helping to form socially adept individuals. From this it could be concluded that a learner may become increasingly more able to control their Education due to an education structured to engineer and facilitate socialised-learning as described above.

Applying the discussion above to an education raises numerous implications for pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. These aspects are widely researched, discussed and at times vilified, collectively generating much white noise within the ether of educational debate. I have written about and will continue to reflect upon how these aspects of an education may be reorientated to enable learning for the purposes of a lifelong-lifewide Education but other than promoting here a Collaborative Group Learning Pedagogy, a Connected and Collaborative Curriculum and Authentic Assessment I will say no more on these areas.

It is commonly accepted that Europe has socio-economically and culturally shifted from being “workshop of the world” to predominantly a “knowledge economy and society”. The post modern knowledge society and rapidly changing world we find ourselves part of requires much more from todays learners, their teachers and existing systems of formal education. An education must recognise this change and orientate itself towards educating todays adolescents with a capacity to engage with our rapidly changing world, directing their own Education throughout their evolving lives. Ultimately education should seek to build an individuals capacity to both actively and positively engage with and shape the world around them, enabling them to create their own reality; the defining element of ones liberation as a human.

Rob Gratton works as an Assistant Principal in a North London Academy with responsibility for Research, Pedagogy and Curriculum Design and continues to teach within the Humanities. In addition he works for UCL Institute of Education as Subject Tutor on the Teach First programme and is course lead on the Assessment for Learning Masters module. This work is furthered through a number of design and teaching roles which presently include working for the States of Jersey and the Government of Macedonia in the development of their ITT programme for Secondary practitioners. Facilitating this work within education is Rob’s ongoing Doctoral studies in the fields of socialised and collaborative group learning. Rob’s work in education is accessible at www.collaborativegrouplearning.com and @CGL_edu.

Creativity in teaching: Creative Pedagogy

In a previous article (ICT enhanced teaching and learning or ‘digital pedagogy‘) I shared my current work, commissioned by UCL IOE on behalf of the Government of Macedonia, concerning ICT, pedagogy and more broadly creativity within education. This article outlines my thoughts relating to creativity in teaching and creative teaching or ‘creative pedagogy’.

Why do we need creativity in teaching and education? 

The post modern knowledge society we find ourselves part of requires much more from todays learners and their teachers. Traditional approaches to the teaching of the triumvirate of knowledge, understanding and skills is no longer an appropriate preparation of adolescent learners for their place in our Brave New World (see for example Long, 1990; Field, 2000; Skidmore, 2003; Alheit, 2009 for a discussion of how education systems need to respond to global economic and social change).

Creative pedagogies which actively foster a learning orientation (Watkins et al., 2002), a willingness to learn (see Skidmore, 2003, p.15), and the attributes that could enable a capacity to engage with learning lifelong (Yaxlee, 1929) and lifewide (Ekholm and Hard, 2000, p.18; Alheit, 2009, p.117), offer a route to empowering students with the cognitive and social tools that would enable them to positively interact with an unknown future (see Costa, 1991; Broadfoot, 1996, p.23; Costa and Liebman, 1997; Skidmore, 2003, p.14; Watkins et al., 2007, p.18; Costa and Kallick, 2009).

What is the relationship between creative pedagogy and effective learning?

If the most effective learning results from an active process of engagement with learning (Ireson, 2008, p.6) in order to achieve premeditated goals (Resnich, 1987) then what can activate this process? Illeris (2007) suggests that this active process is stimulated by the interactions between three dimensions of learning, content, incentive and environment, a theory supported by Claxton (1999), Watkins et al. (2002) and Ireson (2008). When such an interaction process is placed within a social context, such as the classroom, a further tri-directional relationship is activated between rules, tools and community, all of which shapes the activation, direction and nature of learning (Engestrom, 1987, 2009).

At the heart of this paradigm is an acceptance of the enabling role of social factors, a central tenet of constructivist, social- constructivist and particularly social-constructionist philosophies championed by Piaget (1923), Vygotsky (1978) and Burr (1999). Learning as a social process is explored throughout the literature relating to effective learning (see Lave and Wenger, 1991; Watkins, 2005), cooperative learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1999) and collaborative learning (Gratton, 2015). A valid interpretation therefore is that if we are to engineer effective learning processes and opportunities we must consider and exploit the social nature of learning and to do so requires creativity.

What is creativity and creative teaching?

Of the various creative attempts by teachers to socialise classroom learning and to facilitate effective learning, such as Dialogic Teaching and Learning (Lefstein, 2010), Think>Pair>Share (Lyman, 1981), AfL (see Black et al., 2004) and Collaborative Group Learning (Gratton2015), the most beneficial methodologies seem to be those seeking to engineer and facilitate cooperation-collaboration between learners. Whatever the methodology one thing unifies them all, creative teachers and creative teaching practices.

The most effective methodologies are created and delivered by the most creative of teachers working in creative educational environments. A creative pedagogy is recognised within a teachers ability to develop something novel and adapt to new situations in order to enable effective learning. Unusual solutions alongside originality are visible parts of creativity (Hackbert, 2010; Lemons, 2005). Lin (2011) describes creative teaching from three different perspectives: creative teaching, teaching for creativity and creative learning; referring to them as creative pedagogy. We are particularly interested in Lin’s (2011) conception of creative teaching in particular. Creative teaching, focuses on teaching and teacher’s actions (Lin, 2011, see also Sawyer, 2004, 2006). Lin (2011) draws on Craft (2005) referring to creative teaching as a creative, innovative and imaginative approach to teaching. These ideas are extended by Sawyer (2004, 2006) who emphasises a creative teacher’s ability to use improvisational elements within their lessons. The creative teacher lives in the moment, acting spontaneously, courageously and confidently taking the ideas that have arisen from the student learners and change the lesson to finish it in another and arguable better way (Sawyer, 2004, 2006). This definition of creative pedagogy reflects both a creative teaching practice and the widely  recognised tenets of effective learning facilitation. It also highlights a crucial aspect of creative teaching, the capacity to be creative within ones teaching.

Creativity is a multi-dimensional and complex phenomenon (Toivanen et al., 2013). Conceptions of creativity sit within four dimensions: the creative person, product, process or environment (Lemons, 2005; McCammon et al., 2010). We are interested in the creative person, specifically a teaching professional, their creative product in the form of creative teaching methodology (Aleinikov, 1989) and the environment which enables creativity to occur (Lemons, 2005). Creativity is described, within the research literature, as a process and an inseparable part of its surrounding culture (Toivanen et al., 2013).

How do we enable creative pedagogy? 

Case studies such as High Tech High (San Diego), UCL Academy (London) and Ørestad Gymnasium (Copenhagen) reflect the existence of the four dimensions of creativity outlined above, in particular the creative environment or context. It has been recognised (Kim, 2010, 2011) that to enable creativity within teachers, education systems need to empower all to develop characteristics and attributes associated with creative practice; self-motivation, confidence, curiosity and flexibility. Flexibility within teachers and within school systems is the most important of these enabling states. Without flexibility, trust and the promotion of teacher agency, measured risks can’t be taken; with risk central to creativity (Cleeland, 2012). We can expect a certain degree of creativity from our teachers but to enable teachers to be highly creative in their approaches to enacting effective learning then the capacity to do so needs to be nurtured and supported.  Enabling teaching professionals, through training and support, to have a growth mindset (Dweck, 2012), to develop their own agency for enhanced professional practices (Priestly et al., 2012) and empowering them to form and use collaborative networks in order to enable a sustained application of a creative pedagogy are vital.

The type of society dictates the type of pedagogy. Our society requires a creativity, creative people and a creative pedagogy. As such it is up to those that shape education, in all its facets, to enable a creative pedagogy to be realised.

Presently I am undertaking some design and teaching work for UCL IOE on behalf of the Government of Macedonia. I am fortunate to be part of a small team developing a training program for the Macedonian Secondary Teachers ITT course and as part of this group I am leading on ICT enhanced teaching and learning and Creative teaching.

ICT enhanced teaching and learning: digital pedagogy.

At the moment I am undertaking some design and teaching work for UCL IOE on behalf of the Government of Macedonia. I am fortunate to be part of a small team developing a training program for the Macedonian Secondary Teachers ITT course and as part of this group am leading on ICT enhanced teaching and learning and Creative teaching. Below are my initial thoughts concerning ICT enhanced teaching and learning or ‘digital pedagogy’.

Why do we need ICT enabled teaching and learning and what is its relationship with effective learning?

It is my belief that learning results from an active process of engagement with learning in order to achieve premeditated goals (Ireson, 2008; Resnich, 1987). This process is enabled through cognitive and physical interactions between three dimensions of learning, content, incentive and environment, (Illeris, 2007) with the environment conceptualised as a tri-directional relationship between rules, tools and community, shaping the activation, direction and nature of learning (Engestrom, 1987, 2009). As in the cases of an active, critical and creative pedagogy, ICT enabled teaching and learning and a possible digital pedagogy should reflect this articulation of effective learning.

Students beginning their secondary level education will never have lived in a world without the internet or computers. Those in primary level education will never have experienced a world without smart phones. Such rapid advances have arguably revolutionised the way in which we learn, play communicate and socialise (Mouza and Lavigne 2013). This Net Gen (Tapscott, 2008) have Grown up Digital (Tapscott, 2009) and with this have developed a capacity to engage with the multimedia landscape, without being fully conscious of such a process, in such a way as to become more knowledgeable and skilled.

A utopian view of digitally enhanced self-directed learning (such as that championed by Sugata Mitra) is not the consensus. Many signal warnings with relation to digitally enhanced learning outside and within the classroom (see for example Bauerlein, 2008; and Twenge, 2006). Without seeking to undermine the well constructed arguments of the critics of digitally enhanced learning, I am confident that educators were equally concerned when chalk boards and textbooks were introduced into the classroom for the very first time. Whatever our sense or personal opinion about this new culture, as educators we can not ignore its existence or its obvious value and potential for enhancing effective learning. This is particularly true when it is evidently such an important aspect of the rapidly changing youth environment (Weigel et. al., 2010) and a symbiotic facet of our post modern knowledge society (see for example Long, 1990; Field, 2000; Skidmore, 2003; Alheit, 2009 for a discussion of how education systems need to respond to global economic and social change). To prepare through a formal education for an unknown future a creative pedagogy which empowers learners, is required. ICT enabled teaching and learning, what may be called a digital pedagogy, would be an example of such a creative approach to teaching and learning relevant to todays student learners. Such a pedagogy should be based on 1: understanding how new digital media can complement or enhance effective learning processes 2: how new digital media skills can be taught through an adapted curriculum and 3: a sustainable capacity to harness technology and new digital media to enhance all functions of the ‘teacher’.

What is ICT enabled teaching and learning?

According to Halverson and Smith (2010) Technologies for Learning are generic tools that define learning goals, develop structures to guide students, and in some cases provide measures of learning outcomes regardless of motivation or the ability of individual learners (see for example Khan Academy and MOOCS). Technologies for learners emphasise student agency by allowing learners to select their own route through their learning journey. These have begun to be increasingly prevalent in out of school contexts. Yet the enabled teacher could seek to enhance their practice and the learning of others by adopting such technologies within classrooms, forming a greater interface between the learner and the duel facilitator (teacher and technology). Bridging formal and informal learning contexts through augmentation of the digital and physical classroom could stimulate the most effective forms of learning. These digital technologies which support effective learning could be separated into 4 areas: Technologies that support,

  • Learning to understand and create;
  • Learning by collaboration;
  • Anytime, anyplace learning; and
  • Learning by Gaming (Mouza and Lavigne, 2013).

In addition to technologies for learning and learners, differing models of the relationship between humans and the digital domain where learning, of some form, happens can be conceptualised. The ‘Solarian model’ (Sternberg, 2010) of people in isolation learning online, a second model of distance learning where learners nominally work with unseen others, a third model of students working physically together in a 1:1 technology rich classroom undertaking lessons presented online, a fourth model of ICT enabled interactive group-inquiry taking place within a classroom environment where physical and online interactions can take place and a fifth ‘blended’ model where a fluid (solo-local-global) relationship of learning networks with pre-meditated and/or collaboratively co-constructed goals emerge (see for example the investigation into the causes of SARS in 2003). For the classroom teacher seeking to develop a digital pedagogy the above models may be considered but the most effective practitioners of a digital pedagogy will be those that collaboratively construct models relevant to their own contexts.

An effective framework has been developed by Law et. al. (2011) which can be used to model, implement, assess and evaluate levels of innovativeness within six dimensions of ICT enabled teaching innovation. These dimensions of Learning objectives, Teacher’s role(s), Students’ role(s), ICT used, Connectedness, and Multiplicity of learning outcomes exhibited, reflect features of professional practice within the online and physical classroom. Application of such practices combined with an understanding of the technologies and models of an applied ICT enhanced approach to teaching and learning is what is commonly being called a ‘Blended Learning’ methodology.

How do we enable a digital pedagogy? 

Plomp, Brummelhuis and Rapmund (1996) discuss the concept of emergent pedagogical practices arising out of the implementation of ICT within classroom based teaching and learning. They consider issues related to the management of change associated with integrating ICT into teaching and learning. Process is not just adoption of new technologies. The process must also, if it is to be sustainable and highly effective, produce new learning outcomes and new ‘creative’ modes of learning. Exposure to good practice case studies and the creative use of digital tools such as the Google Apps package or the educational use of so called ‘learning platforms’ is vital, but to impose ‘off the peg’ solutions such as IWB’s (see the 2007 IOE study) or expecting digital literacy from educators would fail to create an ecologically sustainable model of digital practice within education. This process of innovation is gradual and must begin with ITT and maintained throughout the lifespan of an educators professional practice. The approach outlined by Law et. al. (2011) should be coupled with,

  • ongoing teacher exposure to existing innovative practices;
  • awareness of developments in new digital media and technology;
  • the creation of an enabling environment for creativity and innovation; and, fundamentally
  • a teachers capacity to ask the question How will this enable and enhance the most effective learning?

Tools such as those developed by Law et. al. (2011) and an application of a taxonomy of digital and information literacies linked to Bloom’s Taxonomy,  such as that developed by Beetham and Sharpe (2013), would begin a learning focused engagement with ICT enhanced teaching and learning. To direct training and ‘innovation’ is ‘to do to’, but to empower and enable an educator to direct their own engagement with ICT enabled teaching and learning would reap a more fruitful digital pedagogy.

As has been discussed in previous articles on this site it is flexibility within teachers and within school systems which enables creativity in teaching, and what is more creative than coopting technologies and new digital media to the pursuit of organised effective learning? Without flexibility, trust and the promotion of teacher agency, measured risks can’t be taken; with risk central to creativity (Cleeland, 2012). Enabling teaching professionals, through training and support, to have a growth mindset (Dweck, 2012), to develop their own agency for enhanced professional practices (Priestly et al., 2012) and empowering them to form and use collaborative networks in order to enable a sustained application of a digital pedagogy are vital.

Engineering the Learning Set: A Socialised-learning Capacity

From the start I have been adamant that my doctoral research was of a nature that could have a true practical application rather than merely concerning itself with theory and principle. My research has resulted in an emergent understanding of the ‘Reality’ of learning as, with and because of a group, which has led to a redefined approach towards the initial construction of the group which seeks to enhance the socialised-learning process of collaboration within the classroom.

I have written about the theory, principles, practice and outcomes of constructing or ‘engineering’ such a group in a number of previous articles and will seek to avoid unnecessary repetition:
3 PRINCIPLES FOR CONSTRUCTING COLLABORATIVE LEARNING GROUPS
HOME & AWAY: CONSTRUCTING A COLLABORATIVE LEARNING GROUP

As such the focus of this article is upon the application of an eighth applied criteria when initially constructing the group; a socialised-learning capacity.

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One of the most fundamental aspects of Collaborative Group Learning is the construction of the initial group; the Learning Set. When applied to an educational context a student would be placed into an ‘appropriate’ group of 6 (the Learning Set) based on the following criteria to ensure Principal 3 (heterogeneity) of Learning Set construction is achieved:

academic profile
any additional learning needs
gender
reading age
socio-economic background
socio-cultural background
prior educational establishment e.g. Primary or Middle School

Ensuring that the Learning Set represents a balanced mix of the above criteria has been a successful means of enhancing the heterogeneity of knowledge, understanding and skill potential of the Learning Set as a whole, with that ‘whole being greater than the sum of its parts’. But what has been illuminated through my empirical research is that more was needed in terms of recognising and understanding the ‘parts’ and considering each individual in more depth before constructing the Learning Set.

As such I have devised and implemented an eighth criteria to the construction of a Learning Set;
8. a socialised-learning capacity.

Understanding the Learner

To gain a greater understanding about each learner before determining which individuals should be placed together to create an effective collaborative learning group I designed and applied (to a cohort of 180 11 year old students) a questionnaire comprising open and closed questions of a quantitative and qualitative nature.
These questions were designed to gather general information about the individual which could prove useful pre-knowledge (for example their language ability and their access to the internet at home), gain information relating to criteria 3, 6 and 7 of the heterogeneity principle, and questions which sought to elicit information about the individuals beliefs concerning learning and education and to determine the learners academic self-concept (the Myself As a Learner questionnaire was incorporated into the wider questionnaire to achieve this). In total the questionnaire comprised 51 questions in 3 sections (Tell me about you, Your views about yourself, Learning) and took between 25 and 45 minutes to complete.

Assessing an Individuals Socialised-learning Capacity

To ascertain an individuals ‘potential’ socialised-learning capacity a ‘crude’ point score system was applied to responses relating to the following questions:

Do you like learning the best…(mostly on your own, mostly with others, I don’t know)
Do you like helping others to learn? (Yes-No)
Even if this means you don’t get all your work done? (Yes-No)
Do you get frustrated when other people ask you for help? (Yes-No)
When learning in a group which role do you think you are most likely to take? (options provided)
I find it easy to work with others (MAL scale)
What are you motivated to learn the most by? (options provided)
I can make friends easy (MAL scale)
Which subjects do you believe you are good at? (number of selected subjects used to determine overall subject confidence)

A higher point value was assigned to a response which aligned with a belief which indicated a positive capacity for socialised-learning and a lower point value for a negative capacity for socialised-learning. A total of 23 points were available, with 23 indicating a highly positive capacity for socialised-learning. Once applied a point score was assigned to each individual, with point scores relating to this cohort ranging from 23 down to 5, and 3 coloured bands applied to aid categorisation (Red 0-11, Amber 12-16, Green 17-23). Both the band and the point score was then considered when assigning students to a group seeking to create a balanced mix of socialised-learning capacities.

Assessing an Individuals Academic Self-concept

By incorporating the well established Myself As a Learner suite of 23 multiple choice questions within this questionnaire it was possible to apply the MAL point scoring system and identify each individuals academic self-concept as a numerical score ranging from 53 (low self-concept) too 98 (high self-concept). As with the socialised-learning capacity point score 3 coloured bands were applied to aid categorisation (Red 0-69, Amber 70-79, Green 80-98). Both the band and the point score was then considered when assigning students to a group seeking to create a balanced mix of academic self-concept.

Constructing the Learning Set

Combining the two point scores, socialised-learning capacity and academic self-concept, and producing a third data set banded again into 3 colours (Red 0-79, Amber 80-99, Green 100-120) a new ‘total’ score was created for the mean of group allocation. By ‘reading’ both the point score and banded colours of each of the three categories, as well as considering the 7 criteria outlined above individuals could now be ‘matched’ to others in order to create a balanced and mixed group of learners.

1         2                       3      4     5       6      7
Girl     Islam                        12    71     83     2
Girl     No religion               15   62      77     2
Girl     No religion               16   96     112    2
Boy     Islam                       17    83     100   2
Boy    Judaism            Y     20    71     91     2
Boy    Christianity               21    89    110    2

The above highlights how the Learning Set (column 7) was constructed considering:

  1. gender
  2. identified socio-cultural background
  3. level of English language proficiency (EAL)
  4. socialised-learning capacity
  5. academic self-concept
  6. combined capacity and concept.

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This new approach was applied in the construction of a new cohort of Learning Sets in the summer of 2015. These individuals have been learning with, as and because of their Learning Sets for 6 academic weeks. So far observations of interactions and the nature of the socialised-learning being undertaken indicates that this more considered and detailed approach to group construction may have achieved its aim of enhancing the socialised-learning process of collaboration within the classroom. I will continue to observe the effects of this approach to grouping and will share my reflections in future articles.

If you want to know more about the approach undertaken or any aspect of Collaborative Group Learning feel free to contact me at rgratton.cgl@gmail.com

A Deeper Approach to Planning Learning Experiences

Engineering effective learning experiences: Motivated by a recent chat with the ever stimulating Carl Gombrich (@carlgomb) I wanted to take an earlier article where I discussed a form of Curriculum which synthesises Challenge Based and Collaborative Group Learning a little further.

In this article I wish to outline and extend an approach I and a number of colleagues apply when designing long term (curriculum) and short term sequences of learning experiences. The approach, presented here as steps and in diagrammatic form, acts as a learning driven planning framework which provides a foundation for a range of pedagogies, especially those aligned with a Group, Cooperative or Collaborative Group Learning Process, to be applied.

Step 1, the opening move: Before any other step the concept/theme/topic to be explored should be chosen, an aligned Driving Question designed and the time available (in and out of ‘class’) for the learning experience established.

The concept being explored is Justice. This concept will be explored through the Driving Question: How could you make your world more Just? 6 weeks are available for this concept to be explored.

Step 2, establish the Core: Decide what subject/domain specific Knowledge, Understanding and Skills you wish learners to develop. Due to longer term planning such decisions about KUS should be shaped by where the learning is coming from and where it is going to; what has been learnt, what needs to be developed. The chosen K & U act as a Case Study to be investigated and to be used to model later Collaborative and/or Individual activity. It should be these three aspects which will be assessed and progress within them recorded and measured thus providing the learning experience with an academic core.

In this sequence of learning experiences (a unit of work) learners will have an opportunity to develop knowledge about The Holocaust. They will have an opportunity to develop an understanding of The Holocaust in particular the Political Social Economic factors that contributed to The Holocaust and the role People Ideas and Events played within its development. Through this Case Study Learners will be provided with opportunities to develop the skill of Historical Interpretation through Collaborative Enquiry and teacher led Master Classes and enhance the skill of Research & Record through application supported by targeted Master Classes. The development of knowledge will be assessed through a factual test (at the start and end of the sequence to measure K development), understanding assessed through a piece of extended writing about the causes of The Holocaust using agreed criteria (I can statements) and the skill of Research & Record will be assessed through the accurate application of the R&R criteria during preparation for the final artefact; a collaboratively written 5 minute speech.

Step 3, once the subject Core of KUS has been chosen: Decide what Personalised Learning Choices students can make to shape their own learning experiences. The nature of these choices should be informed, but not limited, by the Core. The semi permeable PLC’s can also offer opportunities to connect subject areas. Learners may be given opportunities to find, establish, explore connections between subject areas in terms of KUS relevant to the guiding topic/concept/theme or the Core. Master Classes may be planned to provide personalised support for KUS development.

Learners will have the opportunity to choose an injustice present in their world which they find interesting, they have a passion for, applying R&R to explore the causes of, the nature of and possible solutions to this injustice. Opportunities to explore the injustice along the lines of differing perspectives, for example connecting to Theology, Law, Philosophy, Sociology, Media, Politics, Biology to explore more deeply their chosen injustice. Master Classes will be provided in class and online to support learners to enhance their R&R skills and to attend to emerging deficits in knowledge related to their chosen injustice.

Step 4, rest it all on 6 pillars: These pillars have been chosen as they represent what I believe to be fundamental facets of an affective-effective learning process. Others may feel this selection does not align with their own philosophical, theoretical or ideological beliefs. Many hardcore Constructivists would switch out most of these pillars while Behaviourists would choose a wholly different complement of pillars (perhaps bells and electric shocks).

  • Pillar 1: Metacognition. What opportunities will be provided for learners to reflect upon and act upon their own and others approaches to learning?
  • Pillar 2: Feedback. What opportunities will be provided for self, peer and expert feedback and feedforward? How will feedback be acted upon?
  • Pillar 3: Collaboration. What opportunities will learners have to apply and develop the skills of and processes of collaborative group learning?
  • Pillar 4: Enquiry: What opportunities will be provided to investigate and explore challenges and problems? What opportunities will be provided for learners to construct their own questions and investigations?
  • Pillar 5: Authentic Challenge: What opportunities will be provided for personalisation, in terms of choice and support? How will the learning experience be made authentic? Can the assessment of learning be made authentic?
  • Pillar 6: Pragmatic Rehearsal: What opportunities will be provided for learners to practice exam specific skills?

Pillar 1: Regular opportunities will be provided within learning sessions for students to reflect upon there own learning (WWW & EBI approach). At least two opportunities will be given for the Learning Set to reflect upon their group learning processes. This will in part be stimulated by peer and teacher feedback.

Pillar 2: Peer and teacher feedback will be provided with Warm and Cold forms. Follow Up Time will be built into Learning Sessions enabling learners to act upon the feedback, planning the next steps in their own or the Learning Sets learning. Feedback will be verbal and written, provided for in and out of class learning and following on from each assessment. The assessment of understanding will be followed by feedback and a planned opportunity for learners to respond to feedback. Feedback will also guide which Master Classes should be attended during the injustice investigation.

Pillar 3: The Learning Set will provide for ongoing collaboration, in particular through discussion. Collaborative processes will be activated during The Holocaust interpretations activity following on from The Holocaust Master Class. In particular collaboration will be undertaken through the planning of and undertaking of the injustice investigation (planning for and sharing research) and through the co-authoring of the final 5 minute script for the presentation script.

Pillar 4: The collaborative investigation will require question construction, both driving and research in nature. R&R will facilitate collaborative and individual enquiry into the chosen injustice.

Pillar 5: Authenticity through Learning Set choice of investigation. They will own this investigation, its topic and the questions designed to enact the enquiry. Learners will be encouraged to choose a topic they are passionate about or directly effects them. The final assessed speech will be delivered to a real audience made up of experts, staff, peers and parents.

Pillar 6: GCSE criteria will be applied to the extended paragraph on the causes of The Holocaust giving students a flavour of GCSE expectations.

An additional step could be implemented at this stage to add further sophistication to this planning process. A promotion of Learner Attributes or, as seems very popular with the establishment right now, Character through learning experiences may lead to planning for how each attribute is covertly-overtly developed. Similar to the pillar approach above one may consider how each and every or selected attributes are developed. For example how will I provide opportunities for learners to develop the attribute internationalism through this sequence of learning experiences? How will I recognise it when that attribute is developed? How can I measure the development of that attribute? (My next article ‘Facilitating and Measuring the development of Learner Attributes’ will address each of these questions).

In summary, within much ‘lesson planning’ the process seems to stop at Step 2. Such shallow planning for teaching rather than learning, if I may be so bold, is a hallmark of many classroom. The approach outlined here takes planning, informed by learning, deeper, creating a truer framework for learning and a guide for curriculum as well as ‘lesson’ planning.

I have provided the table below as a structure to guide the planning of sequences, a table which perhaps could replace the somewhat pointless lesson planning proforma many teachers endure while knowing it serves little purpose.

learning experience planning framework

A Marriage? Challenge Based Learning and Collaborative Group Learning

When designing a Curriculum which,

fully activates the processes across the Socialised-Learning Continuum, supports the application of the principles within each process stage of the Socialised-Learning Continuum and facilitates the application of a Collaborative Group Learning Pedagogy,

it is my belief that, in both its structural and applied (pedagogy) forms, it must be Collaborative, Connected, Challenging, Authentic in nature and driven by Concepts and Problems. Above all the Curriculum must be learner-centric and a educational route towards a Liberated Learning capacity.

A number of Curriculum approaches exist globally. Many would fundamentally fail to achieve the goals outlined above either due to their structural constraints but more likely due to their underpinning philosophies being at odds with the philosophies of liberation inherent in the vision of education these articles collectively champion.  Many, with reorientation, offer tried and proven approaches which align well with the ultimate aims of Collaborative Group Learning. Such Curriculum are epitomised by the International Middle Years Curriculum, the International Baccalaureate, High Tech Highs Project Based Learning (being applied here in London at School21) and Expeditionary Learning (which I recently observed in action at XP School in Doncaster).

In this article I want to present and discuss Apple’s (yes as in the IT Giant) Challenge Based Learning (CBL) as a model for Curriculum which I feel could help engineer and facilitate the processes, goals and aims discussed in this collection of articles.

I have drawn extensively from the Challenge Based Learning community to construct this article. 


What is Challenge Based Learning?

Challenge Based Learning is a collaborative learning experience in which teachers and students work together to learn about compelling issues, propose solutions to real problems, and take action. The approach asks students to reflect on their learning and the impact of their actions and publish their solutions to a worldwide audience.

As is highlighted in this opening statement, CBL promotes a process and structure of learning in tune with those of CGL.

It is clear that CBL seeks to mirror the 21st century workplace and it does this by promoting a Curriculum which make sure participants:

  1. Work in collaborative groups
  2. Authentically use technology commonly found in the workplace
  3. Tackle real-world problems using a multidisciplinary approach
  4. Develop practical solutions to these problems
  5. Implement and evaluate the solutions in conjunction with authentic audiences

The promotion of collaborative groups naturally reflects something I hold dear. However the CBL community have no stedfast rules to how these collaborative groups are constructed and seem to allow groups to reform from Challenge to Challenge. I believe this approach limits the effectiveness of CBL and CBL would be enhanced by applying the principles of CGL outlined within these articles (6, sustained, heterogeneous).

A real-world problem can stimulate increased interest, heightens engagement and gives value to the learning. Above all it makes learning authentic taking it out of the silo of a classroom and giving the development of KUS practical application, which is of course the reality of the ‘adult world’. An authenticity which prepares todays learners for tomorrows demands on so many levels.

Multidisciplinary approaches, facilitated by the a real-world problem, again promotes authenticity. The ‘real world’ is not a closed system where we apply KUS from just one discipline to solve problems of life, it is an open system where the messy ‘real world’ requires a messy application of KUS from so many disciplines to traverse the obstacles of life in its broadest sense. As such a Curriculum should model this very real way of learning and application and only through such a multidisciplinary approach can this be truly achieved.

I really like how CBL furthers this by ensuring every student produces, applies and evaluates a solution to the posed problem. A number of Curriculum will feature 1,2,3 but not go as far as 4 and 5. The creation of a solution, again mirroring the ‘real world’, makes education more than just knowledge consumption and regurgitation. Knowledge generation, solutions of practical worth, gives increased value to this Curriculum. Blending CGL and CBL has the potential of creating diverse solutions from diverse thinking, thinking made stronger through the application of CGL principles of group construction.

The community draw attention to the need to

  1. Connect standards-based subject matter to 21st century content and skills; thus requiring considerate mapping of subject Knowledge, Understanding and Skills across the Curriculum.
  2. Recognise that the teacher’s role is that of project manager, mentor; and, as I see it ultimately a resource.
  3. Let students determine the direction of their research and solution; thus fostering a capacity for Liberated Learning. 
  4. Enable students to have the opportunity to act on their solutions; giving the overall endeavour authenticity and moving education from knowledge consumption to knowledge generation. 

As I have written in a previous article new Curriculum approaches and pedagogies which seek to facilitate Collaborative learning processes require teachers to think and work differently. The CBL community recognise this highlighting that the task of the teacher in this new capacity is to work with students to take multidisciplinary standards-based content, connect it to what is happening in the world today, and translate it into an experience in which students make a difference in their community; a community which I feel scales up from local through regional, national to the  global. Accomplishing this goal necessitates teachers to give students structure, support, checkpoints, and the right tools to get their work done successfully, while allowing them enough freedom to be self-directed, creative, and inspired. Naturally the extent of ‘freedom’ should increase over time and as learners develop in competence with power moving from teacher to the learner; liberation.

The CBL community reflect on the evolution of the teacher role: Early on—when you introduce Challenge Based Learning to your students and set up the challenge—you are actively guiding the process by making decisions, communicating information, teaching skills, and answering questions about how the process works and what is expected of your students. In the middle stages, students take charge of planning and researching their own work and you serve primarily as a mentor working alongside the students, helping them through the rough spots and keeping them on track. In the later stages, students are deeply engaged in their own work while you monitor the mastery of required knowledge and skills through appropriate assessments. Finally, you will transition into the role of product manager supporting the students as they implement, evaluate, and publish their solutions and results.

I have reflected on this evolution within my Socialised-Learning Continuum approach where the shifting role of teacher, power, control and self-regulation is facilitated at each process stage from the Group towards the Liberated.

What are the Procedural Processes of Challenge Based Learning?

Challenge Based Learning begins with a Big Idea and cascades to the following:

  • the essential question;
  • the challenge;
  • guiding questions, activities, and resources;
  • determining and articulating the solution;
  • implementing the solution;
  • evaluating the results;
  • publishing the solution and sharing it with the world.

The Big Idea exists at a Conceptual level, for example Resolution, Conflict, Justice, and is then explored via the negotiation of a relevant Challenge, which is presented initially as a Driving Question and a community focused problem to be investigated. Such a question needs to be complex, requiring Foundational and Non-foundational knowledge to be drawn upon alongside a synthesis of skills from a  diverse range of subject disciplines.

Reflection, documentation and informative-formative assessment are an important part of the process at every stage as they reinforce learning, an importantly inform next steps and provide evidence of learning (collected and recorded in some form of portfolio). Self, Peer and teacher assessment should be applied throughout to facilitate the above.

Due to the CBL emphasis on exploring topics from many angles and through the lens of multiple disciplines teachers from different disciplines should work together. This not only enhances multidisciplinary approaches, provides the right level of discipline expertise/support while respecting and modelling the CGL approach of working in groups. To facilitate this form of teacher collaboration it is not just the Challenge and problem which need to be multidisciplinary but also we need to recognise the need for physical multidisciplinarity. Timetabling of staff, the design of teaching spaces, the application of technology, providing time for collaborative planning, evaluation and assessment, all need to be planned to enable this important aspect of CBL. Any school wishing to implement something akin to CBL must recognise and tackle these challenges.

Throughout the challenge the students, collaboratively and individually, must be provided with the opportunity to create a variety of products or, as I prefer, artefacts, which include:

  • a challenge proposal video,
  • a set of guiding questions,
  • research plans and results,
  • solutions with beta testing plans and evaluation parameters,
  • a solution video,
  • student journals, and
  • individual reflection videos.

Such artefacts provide evidence of thinking and the means to formatively and summatively assess learning as a process and its outcome. Also through portfolios it provides the evidence of progress for all stakeholders. The quantity and depth of products will depend on where the students enter the process and the length of the challenge. I believe that it is important that at the beginning of the challenge, teachers and students should work together to define the products and determine how they will be assessed, co-creating criteria guided by existing standards. This potentially increases understanding of requirements, buy-in and authenticity, when defined as personalisation.

Assessment, which I believe should be as feedback and feedforward, should be scheduled and should be regular. While CBL puts much of the responsibility in the hands of students, this is one area where the role of teacher is vital; mentoring, monitoring and managing. Examples of some prompts the CBL community use during these checkpoints are:

  • What part of the process are you working on this week?
  • What new knowledge or skills have you acquired this week?
  • What has been your biggest success this week?
  • What has been your biggest challenge this week?
  • How is your group doing as a team?
  • What are your top priorities for next week?

Summative assessment should take a variety of forms to meet the needs of the particular situation. With CBL a summative ‘event’ is built in with the completion and implementation of the solution. The solution will be tested in the real world and students will receive immediate and direct feedback, not just from peers and teacher but also from the authentic audience of that solution.

The Solution, Implementation, Evaluation Stage of Challenge Based Learning.

Using the research findings, gathered throughout the activities of the Challenge, students identify and consider a range of supported solutions before selecting the one that will be implemented. This key element of CBL is what makes it unique to other zeitgeist Curriculum. The solution they choose may involve

informing and/or convincing family, peers, or community members about the need for change;

specific actions that can be taken to address their challenge on an ongoing basis;

school or community improvement projects;

and other activities.

I think it is important to encourage the students to be creative in designing and carrying out their solutions and to document their activities. Naturally the desired levels of complexity present within the solution would be increased with the development of a learners KUS competency.

After identifying their solutions, the students will implement them, measure outcomes, reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and determine whether they made progress in addressing the challenge. When implementation is complete, students share their work with the rest of the world. I think this stage is a real strength of CBL. Quantitively and qualitatively evaluating the solution, ‘doing science’, with others gives the final outcome real value to the community while taking ‘real world’ learning to an increased level of complexity; a level most don’t experience until Postgraduate research.

Throughout the project students document their experience using audio, video, and photography. Near the culmination of the challenge, students build their solution video and record their reflections. The three-to-five minute solution video should include a description of the challenge, a brief description of the learning process, the solution, and the results of the implementation.

Students are encouraged to keep individual written, audio, or video journals throughout the process. As a culminating event, students can be provided a series of prompts for final reflections about what they learned about the subject matter and the process.

These solution videos, reflection videos, and any supporting documents should be shared with the world through web-based communities. It is also ideal to have a public event with all of the participants at the school or in the community to celebrate their efforts and thank those who have assisted. This could evolve into a Celebration of Learning, a wonderful learner-centric alternative to the stale Parents Evening.

The model of Curriculum presented here in the form of CBL aligns well with CGL and with minor tweaks, in particular the application of Collaborative Group construction, could be the basis of an exceptional Curriculum applied at a range of ‘academic levels’ here in the United Kingdom.

As ever keen to here peoples thoughts on this reflection.


Further information about Challenge Based Learning can be found here:

https://www.challengebasedlearning.org/pages/welcome

http://ali.apple.com/cbl/resources.shtml

https://www.challengebasedlearning.org/public/toolkit_resource/02/0e/0df4_af4e.pdf?c=f479

Framework


Cross-posted from COLLABORATIVE GROUP LEARNING