Lockdowns are ongoing and more and more unpredictable. Talking about Austria, where I’m living, we just got the third lockdown prolonging until Jan 24th. And, to be honest, I don’t think that this is the real date for the expected reopening. I don’t want to be a politician at this moment taking decission on the reopening of businesses and schools due to the ever changing evidences of the COVID-19 crises.
Fortuntely I’m not a politician, but I’m interested in education and looking forward to fundamental changes in the educational system. It might seem too late and Austrians are well know to „sit things out and waiting for better times to come“. And still, I think there are changes worth looking at during these „unnormal“ times.
Studies on distance learning show, that students are already getting tired of it and are increasingly facing learning difficulties. On the other hand scientists like Christiane Spiel from University of Vienna state, that students are learning so many new things such as self-organization and digital competencies. But …
What is needed for these „new learnings“?
Self-organization needs (as a minimum) an overview of a manageable amount of topics and schedules. Normal schools have a fixed curriculum and scheduled lessons. (I don’t want to go deeper into the critics on that, I just accept it for the moment). As students are not at school at the moment and not all of them have good access to the digital tools needed for distance learning as well as their situation at home sharing space with siblings and parents working at home, too, is sometimes quite difficult, fixed schedules are needed and it would be extremly helpful to have a clear overview of the tasks to be accomplished at least for one week. So what are the main requirements for self-organization for students:
- Clear schedule
- Clear commitments and goals
- Personal significance and involvement
Most teachers have a clear picture of the topics of the next weeks or even month. Why don’t they transparently share this picture with their students. It could be a „roadmap“ of the curriculum for the whole year and they can then structure it for each month or semester using tools like eduScrum. This tool gives the students and the teacher control over the learning progress and enables self-organization with a clear schedule.
2. Clear Schedule
My elder son often complains that teachers pronounce a video-conference just an hour before starting or extend it by half an hour or more. Things that would never happen in daily school routine. I agree, that this is possible sometimes and flexibility is another skill, students can learn in these times, but it shouldn’t become the rule.
My other son has to be „at disposal for video-conferences“ for 6 hours every day. This reminds me of „big brother watching“.
Quick Check-In calls every morning and a short review at the end of the day aside with clear tasks for the week or month enable self-organization and give the teachers the possibility to help students who struggle with their works at any time needed. This help could also be given by peer-groups.
This schedules can easily be organized by the whole team of teachers and tools to vizualize it for everybody (including the parents) are free on the web.
3. Clear commitments and goals
To have an overview of the tasks to be accomplished is a fundamental need for self-organization. This might be interupted by new requirements or unexpected happenings, but should never be the rule.
If you use eduScrum, you make a backlog at the beginning and schedule sprints with the students with final presentations or just deadlines. You can even sign a commitment called a „Definition of Done“ in Scrum. If you wanna go a step further you can use a Burndown-Chart to make the progress visible. Daily reviews enable the students to address difficulties and success and avoid running into the same problems every day.
Students can easily work in small teams and practice cooperation and self-organization at the same time.
4. Personal significance and involvement
Personal significance and involvement is not the easiest point if you have a curriculum to follow in public schools. Anyway it’s a very bad excuse to always say „…, but we have to!“. Nobody is happily doing things without personal significance and students often don’t see the personal significance by just fullfilling requirements of the curriculum. Project based learning across subjects is one solution for that. Especially now, when students are at home and there is not so much need of a restrictive 50 minutes unit schedule, teachers could easyily try out interdisciplinary projects.
I guess there is so much more to add and I’m looking forward to your comments on this. We live in extraordinary times and, to focus on the positive side, we have a tremendous possibility to try out new things. We just have to do it, NOW. There is no excuse for waiting for the (often unwanted) „normal“.
#thetimeisnow #eduscrum #21stcenturyeducation