Exponential Growth Through Learning Communities


Literature has consistently linked social practice to learning process. It’s stated in several research and studies, that people learn better in communities. Information age turned the whole world into a global village, a large learning community where new knowledge and skills are fed from many resources to form a massive knowledge bank. Community means a group of people that share the same interests and consequently, the same learning needs. In schools where learning takes place, learning community have its prosperity. A learning community could be formed of staff, students or a mixture of both. The benefit reaches its ultimate extent when all stake holders form one large learning community. But then, how such a community could be raised up in schools and what is the role stakeholders can play in transforming schools into learning communities.

As a learning community, members share and seek to meet some well defined needs, accordingly a powerful start could be by stating these needs and planning to meet them. This, though led by principals should be shared by all stake holders. Simply by addressing who needs what and who could contribute positively, whether it’s a leader, teacher, parent or a student. Comes next, is providing a mechanism to achieve this role. In student learning communities: students could share and exchange knowledge, per grade level or among the whole school. This could be done by group of students conducting workshops, engaged in study groups or even sharing information in bulletin boards and online forums.

Same could be conducted among teachers through, peer review, focus groups, mentoring and many other means of professional development where “knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied”. A mixture of teacher-student learning community is reflected in class and outdoors when teachers meet their students in clubs and extracurricular activities. Any spot in the school is a learning spot that is broader than classroom boundaries. Outreach community is another mixed up learning community of parents and teachers.

One worth mentioning point is that learning community does not only mean sharing knowledge, it’s sharing planning and decisions to satisfy the needs. Good example would be the school improvement committee that needs to have representatives not only of teachers and administrative staff but parents and students as well.This could evolve by having first all parties involved in providing feedback on the practices in use then progress to being highly involved in the decision making process.Actually each and every decision making committee whether school based or district based should have representatives from all stakeholders.

Feeling ownership is the most important stimulant for any positivism .It’s how you urge individuals to be part of a whole and encourage them to maintain what they have been part of. Learning communities are a must in such a globalized world, where the vast flow of change and knowledge could be faced with the power of the group not by isolated individuals.

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Exponential Growth Through Learning Communities by Bashaer Kilani is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://elearningtec.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/exponentional-growth-through-learning-communities/.

The Joy of Knowledge Unleashing

ID-10073330Accelerated by the information age, knowledge is becoming more dominant of the world’s economy. While a huge gap resides between developing countries and developed ones, bridging the breach seems more conceivable than it ever was. Education systems are at the core of building knowledge, it’s where human capital competences are developed. With holistic change around us and an immense knowledge evolving, students need to become active learners.
Student centered learning has a wide prospective, while some perceive it as an approach where students learn by doing, others debate that it happens when students have control over what to learn. However, regardless of the framework used to put students at the heart of learning process, the literature highlights it as a constructive approach, where power shifts from the teacher to the student.
Despite spreading out as an innovative learning strategy, student centered learning is not always utilized up to its ultimate potential. This approach of learning needs to be supported with critical pavement by educational leaders.
Active learning should be part of the vision and the strategic plan of the educational system. Decision makers and educational boards have to pursue on providing resources to support the approach. Moreover, curriculum need to be refined to become skill-based rather than content-based. Project-based learning, problem solving, empirical and critical thinking should be embedded in the curriculum, in addition it should be used as the methodology to deliver it. When you speak about student centered learning, you can never exclude the word “technology” as an information tube and as a research tool. Furthermore technology is the loader of e-learning which is student centered at heart.
Having this said, leaders should realize that technology tools availability should be supported by comprehensive training on how to efficiently integrate them in learning. Apparently Professional development comes first and comes last when change is introduced in education. Its crucial to discuss and showcase benefits behind this strategy. Once teachers believe in student centered learning they gain the magic wand to innovate a new era of learning.
Student-centered learning yields in lifelong learners who are independent, confident and ready to learn anytime, anywhere any pace anyhow. Learners would jump over the barriers to carry on with the race. A leader or a teacher should be confident enough to believe in student’s capabilities, this is how the latter thrives. Learning is not about absorbing knowledge, it’s about the power of human mind to explore and to live “the joy of knowledge unleashing”.

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Copyright 2015 Bashaer M. Al Kilani

What is Flipped Learning ?

21st century digital native learners are defining new standards for their potential and desire in learning. They are pining to learn with technology that is contained in a self-directed learning approaches. One of the up-to-the-minute tendencies in education is the flipped classroom: Computer-savvy students turn to online videos for the content normally taught in class and use class time to collaborate in discussion with peers and instructors. Originally developed in 2000 by Wes Baker at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. (Hennessy M., 2012).The flipped classroom is a relatively new model that is increasingly attracting educators to study its potential on enhancing students’ achievement. In a flipped approach, the instructional model is redesigned to more tailored and personalized learning experience. This is expected to lead to a more effective career readiness. This new educational paradigm, requires developing interactive content, add resources to enrich the students’ learning process resulting in incredibly engaging students in their learning process. Flipped Learning is defined as a “pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.” (Yarbro J., Arfstrom K., McKnight K. McKnight 2014). Flipped Learning Network has identified four pillars for the flipped learning model. These four pillars are the backbone of the practice and need to be incorporated by the teachers;
 Flexible Environment
 Learning Culture
 Intentional Content
 Professional Educator
With flipping, the strategy used to reach learners is important. The instructor carefully selects and utilizes flexible features of learning environments to design instruction that meets diverse learner needs. He or she distinguishes lower-level and higher-level cognitive skills and makes decisions about what to deliver, and how to deliver it in a way that maximizes class time and leads to deep, meaningful learning. (Estes M., Ingram R., James J. 2014). The approach is promising and potential, however it require more academic research as there is shortage in the field as such.

Estes M., Ingram R., Liu J. (2012). A review of flipped classroom research, practice, and technologies. Retrieved from https://www.hetl.org/feature-articles/a-review-of-flipped-classroom-research-practice-and-technologies/

Flipped Learning Network. (2014). the four pillars of F-L-I-P. Flipped Learning Network. Retrieved from http://flippedlearning.org/cms/lib07/VA01923112/Centricity/Domain/46/FLIP_handout_FNL_Web.pdf.

Hennessy M. (2012). New study on the flipped classroom by Concordia Portland’s Dr. Jeremy Renner shows mixed results. Retrieved from http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/students-faculty-alumni/new-study-on-the-flipped-classroom-by-concordias-dr-jeremy-renner-shows-mixed-results/

Yarbro J., Arfstrom K., McKnight K. McKnight P. (2014). Extension of a review of flipped learning. Retrieved from http://www.flippedlearning.org/cms/lib07/VA01923112/Centricity/Domain/41/Extension%20of%20FLipped%20Learning%20LIt%20Review%20June%202014.pdf

Copyright 2015 Bashaer M. Al Kilani