Content in Context: Putting Students Front and Center

June 13, 2017

Student-centered instruction

Much of my work involves hearing from diverse perspectives at a variety of industry events. One perspective I didn’t want to miss was that of Jeff Livingston, president and CEO of EdSolutions, Inc. Luckily, we were both speaking at the Content in Context conference’s EdTech Forum produced by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) PreK-12 Learning Group this past month in Philadelphia.

Managing Choice in a Student-Directed Classroom

In addition to laying the groundwork with such questions as “What does Student-Centered Learning look like?” and “What does this mean to the industry from a former publishing executive’s perspective?”, Livingston challenged attendees to focus on creating products that help educators better manage the process of student-directed learning. For example, one element to overcome is managing choice. It’s not necessarily that any and every topic is fair game when learning is student-directed, but that a student may select from a specific range of choices. It’s the role of the educator to provide the right kind of choices, e.g., with earlier grades having fewer choices, and higher grades more choices.

Teaching How to Learn

The rest of Livingston’s keynote provided a great framework for the rest of the day, setting up the point that student-directed learning is less about content knowledge and more about learning the process of learning: helping students to harness curiosity for their own betterment. 

For my portion of the panel presentation about making student-centered learning sustainable, I addressed three guiding questions:

  • “What does student-centered learning mean for the process and practice of education?”
  • “What are some tools and technologies that support student-centered learning?” and,
  • “What does it take to make all these tools and technologies interoperable?”

Four research-backed tenets, or principles, for powerful teaching and learning

(The Students at the Center Framework)

For context, I shared a great graphic—Students at the Center Framework (from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation) before launching into a review of the types of technology that best support the four aspects of student-centered learning:

  • Studying and note taking tools
  • Presentation software and classroom interaction tools
  • Learming Management Systems (LMS)
  • Device Management solutions
  • Network connectivity providers
  • Student information systems and productivity tools
  • Data integration and analysis tools
  • Content providers
  • Identity management systems.

All Together Now

Of course, not all of these types of technologies work together, which is where interoperability comes in.  Interoperability itself is complicated, but luckily, there’s been significant effort in the industry to make more and more tools work together. A good primer on the topic is available from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

For the panel presentation, I mapped out various tools and organizing principles in terms of interoperability to illustrate how these aspects of student-centered learning have different levels of possible integration due to interoperability standards.

Digging Deeper

In the second half of the day, participants split into breakout groups to examine four common use-case scenarios and reframe them from a student-centered learning perspective, using the six panelists (myself included) as facilitators for each of the areas presented earlier:

  • Assessment Data Interoperability
  • Learning Analytics
  • Instructional Metadata/Paradata
  • Educational Requirements Mapping
  • Reporting and Tracking of Learning
  • Managing Learners and Learner Assets

All of these insights were collected in a Google Doc and will form the basis for a white paper to be released later this year by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) PreK-12 Learning Group.

If you’re interested in learning more about how technology can be utilized to create successful student-centered learning solutions, please contact us.