Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just in Time Learning

Just In Time Learning

Educational technology is our future, but not for a different version of the 20th-century school.  Most schools in our area do have technology devices. The use of these devices is often  for engaging activities and testing. We need more innovative teachers willing to blend their textbooks and their devices. Often the device is used simply as a library with a research, read, and write cycle. This practice does not revolutionize education. Our admins, teachers, parents and students need to value the idea of  "just in time"* learning that can happen with technology. Instead, schools often lock up the technology and deny students access to their personal mobile technology. Admins deeply desire educational strategies to be  timely, appropriate, and best practice.

All too often schools are terrified by the idea what students might do with technology. Our state monitors which  websites are being accessed by students. Rather than lock down access to every possible harm, we need to educate our students to the positive powers of technology. Encourage students to use technology for their own "just in time learning."  +Common Sense Education offers courses in K-12 Citizenship for teachers, students, and parents.

Low tech version:  As a second-grade student I witnessed a tornado funnel cloud forming during recess. I pointed out the cloud formation to a classmate and then we ran to the library so that I could show her evidence of this type of cloud formation. Together, we found the reference books and poured through the material learning more about funnel clouds. While we were out of our assigned location, we did experience "just in time" learning.

"Just in Time" learning is timely. Students have access in 2016 to enough technology to allow the flexibility needed for "Just in Time" learning. Three years ago, prior to our next generation testing regime schools were not ready. It is now the time to empower our students and allow them to answer their own questions, not just in "genius hour" classes. We should expect our students to become their own genius in areas that they are interested in learning.

Higher Tech version:  Student asks a question in class regarding the validity of Shakespeare as the true author. The reality is the teacher may not have the knowledge, time, or resources to immediately respond to the student. With technology, the student could quickly gather resources to present a 5 minute lesson on the topic by the next class period. Student one learns, lesson progresses, and the whole class benefits from the original question. While this scenario does require flexibility on the part of the teacher, it is more likely to inspire students to want to learn and to continue to learn which is what teachers should be modeling daily.

It is time to take the tethers off of teachers and students and empower our students to own their own "just in time" learning. Although personalized learning incorporates this idea, it does not embody it. Allowing students to move at their own space and pace is not the same as allowing a student to discover the answer to their questions.  "Just in time" learning is timely, appropriate, and best practice.

Does your school allow "just in time" learning?

Digital Citizenship-Common Sense Education
Theory of "Just in Time"

Suzanne M. Rogers, M.Ed
Avid mom of two college cubs, AP English teacher, Instructional Facilitator, District Professional Development Director