What’s Next in Next Generation Learning?

Five emerging strategies and associated implementation tips.

GUEST COLUMN | by Amy Moynihan

CREDIT Hanover Research solutions for K-12Next-generation learning encompasses much more than simply introducing technology into the classroom – it supports student-centered, 21st-century instructional strategies intended to extend learning beyond the classroom into all aspects of students’ lives. A growing body of research suggests that overall student achievement is likely to increase when students are able to learn at their own pace with a variety of teaching styles and formats available to them. Next generation learning tools apply this understanding of student achievement by providing technologically-based opportunities that promote student learning.

In order to use next-gen learning techniques to ensure student success, schools need evidence-based strategies to incorporate new technologies and teaching approaches into district policy. 

In the coming years, K-12 educators will continue to employ strategies and tools, like those outlined below, which personalize learning. These efforts will place the student at the center of his or her educational experience and on the path to post-secondary success.  

1. Learning anywhere – Transforming the action of learning into a 24/7 activity through the widespread adoption of education resources available via smart phones, tablets, adaptive learning tools, virtual reality platforms, and video games.

Implementation Tip: Plan ahead to implement bring your own device (BYOD) policies effectively by developing a strong IT infrastructure. For example, districts should prepare data systems to support the influx of mobile devices on school networks, learn and address emerging security concerns, and provide professional development to help teachers treat mobile learning as a holistic educational plan. 

2. E-portfolios – Creating an electronic continuum of work designed to allow an alternate form of assessment that combines formative with summative assessments, and reflects students’ selves as learners.

Implementation Tip: Use E‐portfolios in conjunction with other forms of assessment so that they are highly individualized and student‐centered. This platform allows students to take ownership of their own learning to create a longitudinal portrait of their strengths, weaknesses, achievements, and ideas over time. As such, student reflection should be an integral aspect of any effective E-portfolio format.

3. Gaming to learn – Integrating play-based learning concepts to benefit cognitive development, increase students’ attention spans, and improve overall engagement.

Implementation Tip: Think beyond digital platforms to use classroom gamification – offline learning can be just as beneficial for your students. Play‐based learning, whether occurring digitally or offline, benefits cognitive development and increases students’ attention spans. Classroom gamification and the benefits derived from it may also be extended to include game creation.

4. Research-based technology investments – Prioritizing data-driven evaluations of past and future technology investments.

Implementation Tips:

  • Develop front- and back-end data capture mechanisms to gather information on the impact of technologies on teacher effectiveness and student achievement;
  • Use data to rigorously evaluate technology investments; and
  • Hold vendors accountable for the teaching and learning outcomes they promote.    

5. Personalized learning evaluation systems – Developing a rigorous feedback loop to capture and analyze student outcomes data. Sample measures of the effectiveness of personalized learning include: test scores, students’ independence and self-confidence ratings, student engagement metrics, evidence of critical thinking and applied learning skills, and feedback from teachers and other stakeholders.

Implementation Tip: Engage your administrators, as effective improvement planning hinges upon their ability to use data to set goals and evaluate progress against these goals. This data worksheet outlines important research questions and common data points to consider collecting to guide program- or school-level initiatives.

In order to use next-generation learning techniques to ensure student success, schools and districts need evidence-based strategies to incorporate new technologies and teaching approaches into district policy. 

How will the K-12 sector continue the Next Generation movement to ensure success for every learner? Learn more in Hanover’s 2014 K-12 Education Market Leadership Report, or let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Amy Moynihan, a Content Manager at Hanover Research, is a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education at The University of Virginia, Curry School of Education. She also holds a M.Ed. in Social Foundations, and a B.A. in American History from Columbia University. Write to: amoynihan@hanoverresearch.com


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