Monday, 16 December 2013

235 Years Old and Still Innovating

Throughout the past several months, a number of our classroom teachers have used this personalized learning blog to share examples of Greenwood’s progressive approach to teaching and learning. There are several common threads within these examples of personalized learning:
  1. Teachers use student readiness and interests to develop learning activities.
  2. Technology is used as a tool to facilitate and enhance learning.
  3. As much as possible, learning is linked with real-life applications.
I was pleased to read recently that the oldest and one of the most prestigious prep schools in the US—Phillips Academy Andover—has adopted a similar approach to educational innovation. Throughout its long history, Andover has spearheaded the implementation of initiatives such as Outward Bound, Advanced Placement Testing, and community outreach. More recently they have introduced Connected Learning as a way of engaging teachers in the development of new pedagogy.

As described on the Andover website, Connected Learning is a research-based model of learning that maintains successful traditional standards and introduces new ways of doing things that tap into the potential created by globalization and technology.” As in Greenwood’s introduction of blended learning, Andover also faced concerns about technology replacing teachers in the classroom and that all teaching would be done using technology.

However, John Palfrey, Head of School at Andover, believes that programs like Connected Learning will help teachers shift from the traditional role of dispensing information, to guiding students to turn information into knowledge and apply it to real-life situations. In a manner similar to that being used at Greenwood, Andover is using its year-long professional development program to have teachers work together to develop examples of Connected Learning. Andover is also exploring the online approach to learning used by the Khan Academy to see how it may influence their approach to Connected Learning.

Palfrey’s hope is that Andover will be a centre of excellence that serves as model for other educational institutions and leads the way in the transformation of education. We have similar aspirations at Greenwood and look forward to sharing more examples of personalized learning with readers in the months ahead.

Allan Hardy

Many postsecondary institutions, such as Queen's University and U of T, have also recognized the value of personalized learning - and specifically, blended learning - for enhancing student learning and engagement. An increasing number are making this approach a part of their postsecondary program. On February 4, Greenwood will host a panel discussion, featuring blended learning experts, on what this approach looks like at the postsecondary level. Click here to learn more and to RSVP.

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