The good folks at CORE in New Zealand have published recently their ten trends for 2013, as part of an ongoing annual exercise seeking to evaluate critical developments in learning and predict its course forward.

I’m a bit of a sucker for this kind of work.  Admittedly, we know it is not easy to do and that expert predictions rarely are borne out as predicted (in fact there is some amusing research easily found online of how poorly experts predict the future, worse than if they’d thrown darts at a bulletin board).

But the value isn’t in the substance of the predictions, necessarily, but in the thought-provocation of the predicting.

The ten trends published this year parallel nearly exactly that of the year prior, with a single small tweak.

2012

  1. Open-ness
  2. Ubiquitious Learning
  3. Smart Web
  4. Data Engagement
  5. Virtual Learning
  6. Personalisation
  7. Digital Citizenship
  8. Social Learning
  9. Thinking 3D
  10. User + Control


The one tweak is that in 2013, “Digital Citizenship” has become “citizenship,” which is fascinating to me because we had exactly that same conversation at OESIS during our Digital Citizenship session.   In the 21st century and our increasingly digitally connected and empowered age, how easily can we speak of citizenship which is not digital?   How can we be effectively, meaningfully, powerfully connected, collaborative, responsible, demonstrably respectful, without a digital presence?

As they explain in their discussion of the trend of citizenship in the slides above:

Citizenship involves understanding the rules and boundaries which exist in our expanding world which include the virtual, relearning the rights and responsibilities of being a good citizen in this new landscape.

How well is the concept of global citizenship embedded within your school curriculum?

Do you have a vision for the global future that your students will inhabit?

What is your personal/school vision for being digitally literate?

How are the practices of cyber-citizens being modelled in your school?

There is a lot of content here, but I’ll focus on six of the ten sections, in three pairs.

User+Control and Thinking 3D

I often write to explore and enthuse about the value and significance of 3d printing and “maker-spaces,” and on-line creation and participation, such as is represented by blogging by students.  I’ve also been slow to catch onto, but am now finally recognizing, the importance of coding in this same broader category: I’m so intrigued and impressed, for instance, by the coderdojo movement.  

This recent video also serves to advance broader recognition of the importance of teaching and learning to code– and to advance user+control.

The CORE discussion of these two trends, User+ Control and Thinking 3D, is great in the way it helps me toward seeing the linkages among these goals and practices.   I talk sometimes about the importance of autonomy, self-actualization, and initiative as key 21st century skills and habits of mind, and we need to honor them in the breadth of the digital realm for preparation.

“User + control” isn’t the most elegant way of saying it: the phrase sticks in your mouth a bit.  But kudos to CORE for capturing and emphasizing its importance as a trend in K-12 learning program going forward.

As they explain,

Users of technology are increasingly seeking ways to programme what they’re using, and exercise control over what it does and how it performs.

What opportunities do students have to create new knowledge (and things) as well as use existing?

What is happening in your school to cater for and encourage those students who have an interest in computer programming

The 3D discussion, which CORE establishes as an independent trend, reads to me as largely an extension of the user+ concept.

We live in a 3D world, and increasingly the technologies at our disposal are providing  opportunities to create, visualize, and represent our ideas in 3D.

How is it being promoted in your school?  What opportunities do students have to do 3D?

The CORE post about the 3D thinking trend offers some additional resources, including some of the TED talks on the topic and the following:

  • http://www.3d-thinking.com/ Interesting website that provides a philosophical rationale for the notion of thinking 3D — aimed at professionals in these emerging areas
  • http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/06/how-spatial-thinking-can-improve-math-and-science-skills/ How thinking in 3D can improve math and science skills – All of us, children included, live in a three-dimensional universe—but too often parents and teachers act as if the physical world is as flat as a worksheet or the page of a book. 
  • http://nrich.maths.org/2392 Useful article from the NRICH project on the value of spacial awareness and 3D thinking – Behind, beside, in front, to the left, to the right are all important in the development of children’s understanding of objects in three dimensions,

Data Engagement and Personalization

Data is now accessible in a range of new and exciting ways, changing from a passive to active experience. 

I like the idea as it is expressed, that data is and will as a trend continue to evolve toward an ever more active experience. This section, it has to be said however, leaves the reader quite a bit short.  Yes, we want to use big data for learning– and we understand that it is an important question to ask– but the devil is in the details and few are provided here.

Turning to the CORE 2012 Data Engagement detailed post, we can find more– though the section sprawls in many directions and doesn’t to this reader reveal terrific insights into how better to use data as educators.

Most intriguing is the concept we support students in becoming sophisticated data users by inviting and supporting them to become data visualizers with their own mash-ups, with Hans Rosling as inspiration.

Many governments and organisations are opening up their data bases to the public. In New Zealand, much public data is accessible—these provide rich sources of authenitc data for students to engage with.

There is an increasing trend to create ‘mash-ups’ of online data such as images, videos, documents, maps etc. These create novel combinations of data, which can present information in unusual and impactful ways. In New Zealand, there has been a couple of mash-up competitions organised by DigitalNZ. In 2011, there were well over 30 student entries.

This is cool– and I wasn’t very aware of this practice or these opportunities.

The section on Personalization better explores the implications of data engagement, wedding it to a broader educational purpose.

Schools provide a safe environment to nurture students’ talents and make the most of who they are. We’ve moved a long way from the old approach of everyone facing the front and writing down the same thing at the same time.

That model became popular, in part, out of necessity—we didn’t have the technology to set a class 15 different tasks at a range of levels of difficulty. Technology has meant that we can personalise learning and make a real difference for each child.

The personalization section has several elements, including a strong message about student initiative, a message we should strive to honor:

There’s some interesting research out at the moment that shows that if children initiate a learning activity, they’re more likely to learn more from it. Of necessity this is very personal. We have to give students space to initiate their own personal learning.

Data, they explain, can serve a critical role is in advancing personalized learning.

A really important trend in education at the moment is adaptive learning, or taking data about how students are progressing and using it to personalise learning. We have lots of data about student progress but what we’ve been lacking, and what’s emerging now, are the tools to use that data to personalise learning, adjusting for individual strengths.

Again, though, as important is this element is, there isn’t a lot of useful, applicable material here– adaptive learning is the claim for applying data, and the only links offered are (twice) to wikipedia.

So sadly, not a great deal of value to realize here from the good people at CORE.  In contrast, this is an area– data tools and learning analytics–for which the NMC Horizon people offer much more value and depth. 

Social Learning and Citizenship.

I’ve begun the citizenship discussion above, and I think it pairs well with what they call at CORE “Social Learning,” which is a variant on what I think of as Connected and networked learning and/or connectivism.

The questions they ask of educators in regards to leveraging this trend are spot on, and worthwhile of consideration:

  1. What use do you make of social media  [I’d add, “for your own learning”]
  2. What use of social media is made of by students in your school [for learning]?
  3. How does your staff understand the concept of networked knowledge building, and knowledge building communities?
  4. How are these understandings manifest in your school? 

Unfortunately, the 2012 video discussion and post for Social Learning adds little value; let’s hope the 2013 post goes deeper.

Paired with citizenship, we can see a richer dynamic at play: students learn to connect, contribute responsibly, and develop a learning network which will serve them as they serve it for a lifetime.

From the 2012 post on Digital Citizenship,

Don’t let stubborn cybersafety and digital citizenship concerns hold you back – If you are passionate about e-learning and student-centred practice, then:

  • Advocate for your school to incorporate a digital citizenship into its strategic plan.
  • Use NetSafe’s excellent Learn | Guide | Protect website. The website lists resources and approaches to embed cybersafety and digital citizenship within your practice.
  • Speak out for professional development for digital citizenship so your school community can get the most out of e-learning and not be left behind.
  • Check out Mike Ribble’s comprehensive work on digital citizenship.

Good stuff.

Though still too tentative and preliminary in places, the CORE project, which is an ongoing work in progress, is a good resource and worth keeping tabs on as we seek to do the impossible:  peer beyond the horizon.