Teachers are doing it tough
Teachers & educators already know:
Time is precious
The curriculum is full
Schools and their learners are judged on their ability to perform against metrics such as NAPLAN and HSC/VCE.
COVID has thrown a complete spanner in the works for schools
If the demands of teaching were not enough, COVID-19 has simply compounded these challenges. The current climate requires teachers to adapt, shift, pivot and learn new skills to develop effective, engaging and supportive online learning programs, which still achieve curriculum objectives and now keep parents happy - who are more aware and invested in the learning process. Many online learning designers with masters qualifications like myself, have months to develop online learning solutions, teachers had weeks or days.
Due to the many challenges faced by educators, some have had to revert to traditional teaching methods, including top-down teacher directive models and declarative teaching styles, both of which ignore the constructivist nature of effective learning (Chatti, 2012). Parents have also had feedback that they are required to play a large role in supporting some of their children to better self-regulate their learning. The declarative (tell you what you need to know) approach not only stifles creativity and innovation but also undermines the principles and strategies that are required for effective and deep learning (Moyle, 2010).
The Melbourne Declaration acknowledges the importance of developing lifelong learners who demonstrate creativity and problem solving skills (Moyle, 2010; Sawyer, 2006). Futurist Alvin Toffler claims:
“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
The sad irony is that these aims and aspirations are often in direct competition with existing traditional school structures and environmental demands and changes (Moyle, 2010). Australian educators are often stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side, there is pressure from policy makers to develop the capacity of ‘self-directed and lifelong learners’ (Moyle, 2010, p. iv). Teachers are expected to engage through collaborative and constructivist approaches required for deep learning. They are required to be “flexible, adaptable and to try new ways of doing things” (National Curriculum Board, 2009 p. 12). Yet on the other hand, they are not provided with the support and resources to enable them to facilitate, navigate and direct this type of change - and this was all happening before COVID ever entered the arena.
These challenges are related lack of specifically allocated in a busy curriculum, lack of tangible and practical resources as well as the limitations presented by the current ways in which learner success is measured. Current measurement standards and curriculum outcomes restrict and can inhibit deep and effective learning (Wilson & Hornsby, 2014). Therefore, policy statements become ‘window-dressings’ (p. iv) for the idealistic policy makers who do not provide the required support to help teachers implement the suggested changes.
I Learn for Life offers professional development programs for educators. The key skills within the program focus on developing a student’s capacity to work and learn online, yet still:
Ability to self-regulate (Nilson, 2013)
Manage their learning environment (Winne, 2011)
Improve their mindset toward learning (Dweck, 2007)
Understand their learning preferences (Sawyer, 2014)
Engage with effective learning design (Sawyer, 2014)
Various assessment tools and data collection methods will be utilised to gain an overall picture of a student’s learning environment and support them to improve this context. Educators can teach student's processes for engaging in deep learning and then apply and embed these principles in their current curriculum design.
The program specifically targets the 21st Century general learning capabilities identified in the Australian National Curriculum and are aligned with the national educational goals.