Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top Posts of 2017

Another year of blogging has come and gone.  Consistency remains a challenge, but I have committed to writing at least one post a week.   I also discovered Grammarly a few months back and have fallen in love with this tool.  Since I am not a strong writer to begin with, this tool, along with the superb proofreading by my mom, has helped to get thoughts articulated more clearly.  As I reflect on my own growth and learning over the year I can definitely see how this has impacted my writing as well as my work with schools, districts, and organizations. Evidence, accountability, research, and efficacy were the most common themes woven into the majority of my writings, which resonated loudly with readers of this blog.  

Without further ado, here are my top posts from 2017:

Competencies vs. Skills

As the world continues to change at an exponential rate there needs to be more of a focus on preparing competent learners as opposed to those who are just skilled. Skills focus on the “what” in terms of the abilities a student needs to perform a specific task or activity. They don’t provide enough connection to the how. Competencies take this to the next level by translating skills into behaviors that demonstrate what has been learned and mastered in a competent fashion. Success in a digital world will rely on much more than skills.  It's time to shift our focus and energy on developing and assessing core and innovative competencies that will serve all students now and in the future. 

Is Technology Being Integrated Effectively?

The key word in the title above is effective as it means different things to different people. The question provides a great opportunity for all of us to critically reflect upon the current role technology plays in education.  Effective use should result in evidence of improved learning outcomes, alignment to standards, going well beyond just increases in engagement, informing instruction, and transforming assessment.  Taking a critical lens to why and how technology is being used in classrooms and schools will only help improve efficacy (more on this below).

A Pedagogical Shift Needed for Digital Success

This post represents a much deeper dive into the topic of effective use. The main focus is how educators can use the Rigor Relevance Framework to improve instructional design.  It provides a solid lens to look at the learning tasks that students are engaged in and redesigns them in ways that move away from telling us what they know and instead showing whether or not they actually understand. Pertinent examples are illustrated to show what rigorous digital performance tasks look like in practice. 

Efficacy in Digital Learning

In short, efficacy is the degree to which desired outcomes and goals are achieved. Applying this concept to digital learning and innovative ideas can go a long way to solidifying the use of technology as an established practice, not just a frill or add-on. This is just the beginning. When integrating technology there needs to be a Return on Instruction (ROI) that results in evidence of improved student learning outcomes. In this post, I highlight 5 key areas that can put your classroom, school, district, or organization on a path to digital efficacy. These include essential questions, research, practicality, evidence/accountability, and reflection. To learn more about how efficacy can be achieved check out the Digital Practice Assessment (DPA).

10 Tips to Make Learning REAL

My first post of 2017 really resonated with readers. It encouraged educators and schools today to make learning REAL: relevant, engaging, authentic, and lasting. In addition to explaining why this is important, the how was mapped out through various practical tips and examples. 

Well, there you have it.  Thanks for reading and here’s to an amazing 2018!

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