Leadership magazine Nov/Dec 2015 V45 No 2 - Page 30

Steps to a learner-centered environment • Define what “learner-centered” will look like in your school/district. • Create opportunities for educators to observe new environments and redefine instructional models. • Provide professional learning opportunities to foster a new learner-centered culture. • Take risks to play with furniture, lighting, and paint ideas to see what resonates with students and staff in your school/district. • Integrate technology and digital resources. • Empower administrators to design similar collaborative working environments for teachers and support staff • Celebrate and share accomplishments with parents, school boards, community. 30 Leadership active simulations. In 2012, the Alliance for Excellent Education developed “The Digital Learning Imperative: How Technology and Teaching Meet Today’s Education Challenges.” The report points out that digital learning has many complicated facets, including professional development, learning management platforms, tools and devices, digital content, and data and assessment. What it also points out is the way digital learning can better meet student needs than traditional lectures, research and note taking. Technology and digital access can better support diverse learners, reduce dropout rates, improve attendance, and reduce the achievement gap (Alliance, 2009). For example, in rural areas, digital content can help students access courses where offerings might not be as plentiful. In rural Northern California’s East Nicolaus High School, digital content and access has provided opportunities to support underrepresented students. The digital content has made a significant impact on learning, particularly in the area of STEM. Supported by Project Lead the Way, students are exposed to engineering principles, robotics and technology resources to support their interest to pursue careers in the STEM field they would not otherwise have had without access to digital tools. Superintendent Karen Villalobos said, “Feedback from the first year of implementation was that students enjoyed the handson approach to teaching and the cohort had no attrition as the students move on to year two. In addition, ENHS now has ownership of the curriculum from year one and is able to provide STEM courses to future students. We are pleased to provide students with these future forward skills to move them into the 21st century.” At Oxnard USD’s Rancho Campana High School, all students have their own devices and access to wifi the moment they step on campus. Classes are designed not only for students to have daily face-to-face time with teachers, but also to interact with teachers and classmates in a learning management system. “When students are out, they have immediate access from home or any other place in the world to the lessons taught each day,” Principal Roger Adams said. Developing first-hand experiences and allowing students to create products is another strength of digital resources in 21st century learning environments. When we buy things on Amazon or make a family web page on Facebook, it’s not an act of being “techie,” it’s the norm. “Our students teach themselves how to cook and do gymnastics with YouTube,” said Jon Corippo, academic innovation director at CUE. “Our students are makers and coders at home, and FaceTime with their parents. It’s now time for schools to take the lead in developing our students to their fullest potential. Technology, fully embedded into teaching and learning, can move students far away from the constrained learning potential of a worksheet dependent classroom.” Becoming learner centered Learning environments are in the midst of significant change in order to engage students in collaborative activities and innovative practices. Yet they are not just about the design, the furniture or the spac K