Roles for Technology

How should technology be used in the new paradigm of education? On my home page, I talked about four major roles for technology in the learner-centered paradigm of education:

        Planning for student learning

        Instruction for student learning 
        Assessment for/of student learning 

        Recordkeeping for student learning 

We call such a technology system a personalized integrated educational system, or PIES.

The most up-to-date and thorough guidance for the design of a technology platform to provide these four roles was developed by my PIES Research Team - see this publication:

Reigeluth, C.M., Aslan, S., Chen, Z., Dutta, P., Huh, Y., Jung, E., Lee, D.,

     Lin, C-Y., Lu, Y-H., Min, M., Tan, V., Watson, S.L., & Watson,

     W.R.  (2015).  PIES: Technology functions for the learner-centered

     paradigm of education Journal of Educational Computing

     Research, 53(3), 459-496. DOI 10.1177/0735633115603998

I also developed specifications for designing simulations and games for the instruction role of technology:

Reigeluth, C. M., & Schwartz, E. (1989).  An instructional theory for

     the design of computer-based simulations.  Journal of Computer-

     Based Instruction, 16(1), 1-10. 

Myers, R. D., & Reigeluth, C. M. (2017).  Designing games for

     learning.  In C. M. Reigeluth, B. J. Beatty, & R. D. Myers (Eds.),

     Instructional-design theories and models, Vol. IV: The learner-

     centered paradigm of education (pp. 205-242).  New York, NY:

     Routledge.

Instruction for student learning

 

This entails providing 1) a project environment, complete with project management and support tools, and 2) tutorial support similar to the Khan Academy that provides explanations and practice with immediate feedback, just in time for use in the project.

Regarding projects, the system (a) introduces projects to the student, (b) provides an authentic virtual environment within which to conduct the project or alternatively provides project elements that enhance real (community-based) project environments, (c) helps students organize and manage their projects (time and resources), and (d) helps teachers monitor the projects. It also (e) helps students collaborate with peers using various documentation and communication tools and (f) guides students to resolve conflicts that arise during teamwork. 

Regarding tutorial support, the system provides a just-in-time, personalized “instructional overlay” (such as simulations, tutorials, drill & practice, research tools, and student-expert academic communication tools) to support learning throughout each project. The emphasis of this role is on learning by doing multiple, authentic, divergent performances (to promote transfer) for individual skills, understandings, and other kinds of competencies until mastery, with the help of tutorials and demonstrations when appropriate, similar to the Khan Academy.  This is personalized instruction that is tailored to each learner’s profile in terms of learning styles, multiple intelligences, goals, preferences, knowledge, and background.

Assessment for student learning

 

The system assesses both team performance on the project and individual student learning in the tutorials.  Although we present instruction and assessment as two separate roles, they are integrated.  

 

The system assists team reflection on the team performance as a part of developing self-direction in learners, both during and at the end of each project.  And it assists a summative evaluation of the final product or performance in any of several ways, using the specifications in the project contract.

 

For individual learning, the performance-based assessment is integrated into the tutorial support.  Using "practice 'til perfect," the student continues with the practice exercises until she meets established criteria for competency, thereby not wasting any time on separate tests and avoiding the need to possibly remediate later.

Integration of the four roles

 

The four major functions of a technology system to support student learning in the learner-centered paradigm of education must be seamlessly and systemically integrated with each other.  In brief, the recordkeeping function automatically provides necessary information to the planning function.  The planning function identifies instruction functions (mainly projects) for the student to use. The assessment function is fully integrated with the instruction function.  And the assessment function automatically feeds information into the recordkeeping function.

Planning for student learning

 

This entails developing a personal learning plan for every student, with the student, parents, and teacher all having a say.  The plan includes learning goals and projects to meet those goals.

Planning should be done on multiple levels: school, advisory group level (equivalent to what was the classroom level), and individual student level.  We presently only offer guidance for the individual student level of planning.  We see seven parts of planning on this level.

 

  1. Career and long-term learning goals.  The system helps students explore options, select an option (or two), learn which competencies are needed for the option(s), and even offers information about potential community mentors, grants, opportunities, and other resources for pursuing the option(s).

  2. Current prospective competencies.  The system identifies the full range of required and optional standards (defined broadly as all kinds of learning and development) that are within reach for each individual student, given what competencies have already been mastered.

  3. Short-term learning goals.  The system helps the student and advisory committee to select, from the list of current prospective competencies, those that the student will work on next, based on the students’ long-term learning goals, interests, opportunities, requirements, parents’ values, and so forth. These goals include all dimensions of human development – social, emotional, physical/health, ethical, artistic, and psychological, as well as intellectual.

  4. Projects and other activities.   The system helps a student to select or design projects or other activities (e.g., readings with discussions, or tutorials) to attain her short-term learning goals.  For selection, it identifies and rank-orders projects/activities on the basis of how many short-term goals each addresses and how well it aligns with the student’s interests.  The system then helps the student select (with input from her advisory committee) a combination of projects/activities.

  5. Teams.  The system identifies other students who are interested in doing the same project during the same project period, and if different roles are needed, it identifies students interested in each role. Then the system helps the students select teammates who are in the same or even different schools. 

  6. Supporting roles.  The system helps the student’s advisory committee to identify people – including themselves as well as other teachers, community or academic experts, senior students, parents, and guardians – to play supporting roles in helping the student learn from each project or other activity, and helps them to define those roles.

  7. Learning contracts.  The system helps the advisory committee to develop learning contracts at two different levels: the student (or advisory committee) level and the project/activity level. At the student level, the contract specifies the short-term learning goals and all the projects and/or activities for a given project period. At the project/activity level it is prepared by all teammates and external collaborators (if any) and specifies the details for each project/activity.

Recordkeeping for student learning

 

This entails providing a map of attainments that are checked off for each student upon mastery.  There are three parts of this role: a standards inventory, a personal learning inventory, and a personal characteristics inventory.

The standards inventory keeps a list of all required and optional academic and nonacademic standards, offered by any source – national, state, local, and personal.  The standards are broken down in a hierarchical manner to individual learning targets such as skills, understandings, dispositions, and so on.  The standards inventory displays the attainments in a customizable chart format, along with levels, learning targets, and criteria at which they should or could be learned.

The personal learning inventory keeps track of each student’s progress on the learning targets in the standards inventory by showing portions mastered or under study.  The student’s progress is indicated, for example, by a learning target in the map automatically turning a darker and darker shade from when a student starts working on it, to when she masters it, along with date and time mastered and access to learning analytics that provide the complete history of her work on it, as in the Khan Academy.

The personal characteristics inventory keeps record of each student’s personal characteristics that are useful for promoting student learning.  These characteristics are different from general student data, such as address, birthdate, and information about parents or guardians.  Personal characteristics include learning styles, profile of multiple intelligences, special needs, major life events, career goals and interests, and so forth.  Personal characteristics are continuously updated through surveys and automatic collection of data from the instruction and assessment functions about which instructional methods work well for each student.

For more details about these design features for a learner-centered technology system, click here

For other articles of mine on technology in education, click here