Following on from Part I in this K12 New Horizon Report 2014 series, let’s look at important mid-range trends that are driving educational technology adoption in schools within three to five years.

INCREASING FOCUS ON OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES (OER)

Open educational resources (OER) are growing in breadth and quality, as is the use of these materials in classrooms, networks, and school communities world wide. Understanding that the term “open” is a multifaceted concept is essential to following this trend; too often it is mistaken to mean simply “free of charge.” Advocates of OER have worked towards a common vision that defines it more broadly — not just free in economic terms, but also in terms of ownership and usage rights. Open content uses Creative Commons and other forms of alternative licensing to encourage not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of pedagogies and experiences as well. The goal is that OER materials are freely copiable, freely remixable, and free of barriers to access, cultural sensitivities, sharing, and educational use.

The notion of sharing is inherent to the philosophy of open content, and in 2002, the non-profit organization Creative Commons began to address the need for alternative licensing so that people could legally share and adapt creative works. The result was a set of content licenses that fulfilled the void between “all rights reserved” and no rights at all.

The notion of sharing is inherent to the philosophy of open content, and in 2002, the non-profit organization Creative Commons began to address the need for alternative licensing so that people could legally share and adapt creative works. The result was a set of content licenses that fulfilled the void between “all rights reserved” and no rights at all.

In this landscape, open textbooks for K-12 schools have emerged as a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the related lack of educational resources in some regions.

Implications for Policy, Leadership, or Practice

Government leadership can support directives to create policies that acknowledge the potential of OER and allocate money specifically for its development. To aid teachers with integrating OER into their classroom practices, the OER Commons is an online hub for content curation and training that was developed by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. The OER Commons provides teacher education on the use and creation of learning materials with Open Author, a three-step online publisher that licenses and shares the content with the OER Commons community.

INCREASING USE OF HYBRID LEARNING DESIGNS

As teachers and students alike become more familiar with and adept at using the Internet, classroom-based learning increasingly includes online learning components, hybrid learning strategies, and an increased focus on collaboration within and outside the classroom. Schools that are making use of hybrid learning models are finding that using both the physical and the virtual learning environments to their highest potentials allows teachers to further personalize the learning experience, engage students in a broader variety of ways, and even extend the learning day. Hybrid models, when designed and implemented effectively, enable students to use the school day for group work and project-based activities, while using the network to access readings, videos, and other learning materials on their own time, leveraging the best of both environments.

A renewed interest in online learning has taken place over the past few years, fueled in large part by press attention to massive open online courses (MOOCs), but also by increased access to the Internet and broadband services, and a growing recognition that online learning can indeed add value to almost any learning environment. Hybrid learning models, which blend the best of classroom instruction with the best of web-based delivery, place a strong emphasis on using school time for peer-to-peer collaboration and teacher-student interaction, while online environments are used for independent learning. Blended learning is often used as a synonym for hybrid learning, although several authors would distinguish between the two. For our purposes, we are using the term hybrid learning to encompass both perspectives. These hybrid models may require students to watch videos at home through platforms such as Khan Academy48 or engage with other web-based content, while class time is repurposed as an opportunity for teachers to mentor individuals and groups, and for students to problem solve and work together with classmates.

Implications for Policy, Leadership, or Practice

By categorizing hybrid learning as either sustaining or disrupting the traditional classroom, the Christensen Institute report provides school leaders with an underlying structure to consider as they gauge the effects of their efforts.  Education leaders with limited budgetary and architectural options, for example, can bolster the traditional classroom model for years to come by incorporating hybrid learning designs such as the rotational model where students alternate between one-on-one time with the teacher, individual and group work, and computer aided instruction.

Teachers indicated that incorporating hybrid learning improved their ability to be innovative, monitor student learning, and enable greater one-on-one instruction. By allowing self-paced learning, teachers also reported positive correlations with quality of student work, interest level of students during instruction, and student perseverance. Additionally, teachers cautioned that hybrid learning projects take time and they recommended that teachers seek formal and informal training when possible.

Full K12 New Horizon Report