Principles for the Paradigm Shift

Learning looks so different now that it’s almost unimaginable to predict what the education / classroom instruction will look like in ten to twenty years time. Christiaan Henny from eLearning Industry attempted to have a stab at it here and below is a snippet. He states,  “Students will be learning outside, equipped with different devices, listening to a teacher of choice. Skills will not be assessed on paper but based on their performance in the field.”  Its certainly not 2001 Space Odyssey futuristic as some of these changes have already become changes that have already become common in the classroom but it is an overall shift from the current industrial approach. 

The Future is Now

In another article, titled,  The Classroom is Obsolete, It’s Time for Something New writer Prakash Nair proclaims that “The classroom is a relic, left over from the Industrial Revolution, which required a large workforce with very basic skills”  Prakash then goes on to make mention of a “universal list of education design principles for tomorrow’s schools.”  After poring over them and finding myself in agreement with the compilation, I couldn’t help but wonder how #FutureReady I was regarding my own teaching.  Therefore I used these dozen design principals as an archetype for my own self assessment by looking for connections between each principle and what’s occurred in my Kindergarten classroom. They are as followed :

1) Personalized;  I believe that this not  only to the learning but also the student’s learning spaces. It’s important for us as educators to allow our students to have a voice and input in set up and design of the classroom. When you do this you develop student ownership and allow them to see that the classroom as an evolving organism that can be changed to best suit our learning needs. 

In addition, iTime offers my students with a chance to create and work on projects that they are personally passionate about.

(2) Safe and Secure;  Establishing class essential agreements and a communication charter has helped my students develop a culture of speaking freely and openly without judgement. 

(3) Inquiry-Based;  Packing an inquiry cycle (like Kath Murdoc’s for example) and discussing big ideas from the PYP patiences and persistence but once children become familiarized with the language through hands on experiences overtime they begin to use the language and make stronger connections. 

(4) Student-directed; The removal of the teachers desk in our classroom was a massive symbolic move that helped my students understand that learning just doesn’t only have to come from the teacher. By stressing that there is no center-point of the classroom, it wanted to make it clear that every spot in the room and every person in the room offers a unique and equal chance to learn something.

In addition, whenever I can I like to encourage and empower  students to teach other students by sharing their discovers or prior knowledge with their peers. 

(5) Collaborative;  When students from different grade levels come together to work on a common task it allows both parties involved to develop their interpersonal, organizational, and communication skills.  Allowing older students to come and work with younger students, like depicted in the tweet below, also promotes empathy and the concept of perspective. 

(6) Interdisciplinary;  Fluid learning Spaces, big ideas and open-ended questions with a conceptual based focus. Looking for learning in all aspect of our daily life. Transdisciplinary

(7) rigorous and hands-on;   To me this is about taking learning beyond the traditional four walls, making it multi-sensory, and authentic. At UWCT we’re fortunate to life amongst a lush outdoor learning environment,  that we try to utilize as much as possible. In addition, I think it’s also about challenging students to step out of their comfort zone. This year, I’ve made a conscious effort to extend the learning beyond the classroom wall and through a variety of of kinesthetic learning opportunities.

(8) Embodying a culture of excellence and high expectations;  To me this is all about growth mindset. To help my students learn about perseverance and the beginning stages of adopting such a mindset, we started by watching and discussing this video about Austin’s Butterfly. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out.  It’s great!

This year, I’ve also begin giving my students more opportunities for them to self-reflect on their own learning.  Allowing the students to set their own goals and celebrate their individual learning accomplishments is an effective way to promote metacognition while maintaining high expectations.

(9) Environmentally conscious;   This is a large part of our UWCT Mission Statement.  Doing our part in the promotion sustainable development this year we’ve have created and installed a garden, a compost, and invited the Phuket Farmer’s Club to come in for a two work shop to teach us more about sustainable farming and development. 

(10) offering strong connections to the local community and business;

 I’m a big advocate for service learning. This year the Kindergarten students at UWCT have developed a pretty unique friendship with the elderly residents of the Phuket Nursing Home. It’s been a rewarding, authentic, and meaningful experience for everyone involved. 

In addition, as mentioned above this year we’ve reached out to the Phuket Farmer’s Club to help them teach us how to transform our outdoor learning space into a place for sustainable farming. 

(11) Globally networked;  Clearly this has been my biggest blindspot  out of all the principles. I’ve thought it over many times but never got any Global Connections off the ground as from the participation in a few Padlets, a Global Read Aloud.

I do, however, think that my recent infatuation with Flipgrid will lead some to some big ideas centered around global connections. My students might be too young for the first ever #Flipgrid marathon but for anyone else interested have a look below!

For those like me, who are still working out how to get started connecting your classroom,  Kim Cofino has written a great piece titled “A step-by step Guide to Global Collaboration.” Have a look!

and (12) setting the stage for lifelong learning – It seems clear that the promotion of an interest in lifelong learning starts with the teacher tapping into the student’s passions then combining that with the above principles and allocating the right resources.  Having said that, however, in this ever advancing age of information, how do you prepare students to become life long learners when we’re not sure how we will be teaching and learning in 5, 10, 15 years time?   

Future Ready??

So, back to what and how teaching might look like in ten to twenty  years time?

Noticeably absent from both  Christiaan Henny  and Prakash Nair lists is any mention of virtual reality. VR and also, AR (augmented reality) is quickly making it’s way into classrooms world wide.   I’ve dabbled with some AR  apps myself namely Augment and AR Flashcards.  Last year, through the use of  Google Cardboard and Google Expeditions, I introduced VR to some of my Early Years students so we could do some exploring  under the sea, for our unit of inquiry, Sharing the Planet.  What difference a year makes now  the Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive are completly changing the game and taking VR to a whole new level.  The VR arms race between Google and Apple is execrating a warp speed, both companies are primed to position themselves as the major players in the VR education.

The optimist in me thinks that virtual reality in the classroom will be blending together the best of the real world, the best of the internet and online applications.  How we find and stratal that balance may be our biggest challenge yet.

The Great Beyond: 

There’s no doubt we’re approaching the tipping point of the paradigm shift. Technology has advanced so rapidly that we as a society cannot keep up with it. The fusion of tech and our daily lives will grow more prevalent with each coming year. Personalized learning pods with the help of MOOCs and cloud computing will continue transcend traditional classrooms.  Digital badges will also help further personalize and enhance the individual learning amongst students. Taken from the article  Badges in Learning: Threading the Needle Between Skepticism and Evangelism  David Theo Goldberg weighs the pros on cons of badges and states that Badges in short are a means to enable and extend learning. They need not be behavioral lures so much as symbols of achievement, expressions of recognized capacity otherwise overlooked.

The overarching concept here is that as we continue to equip ourselves and our students with the best resources and tools, the reality is, we cannot forget about our human connection.  In order to best prepare for the future we must remain open-minded, adaptable, kind, caring, and curious so that we can embrace the imminent change of education together. 

Final Wonderings?

As the hardware and the software continue to develop  VR bundles become more mainstream and more affordable, I could help but wonder:

How soon do these headsets become as common as a class set of ipads?


How will this immersive technology disrupt and already changing landscape? 

In regards to Digital Badges, I want to explore more but I’m wondering how to make them relevant for Kindergarten students?   Any ideas??



3 Replies to “Principles for the Paradigm Shift”

  1. Hi Nick,

    I love how much space you’ve provided for student voice and choice in your classroom! How wonderful that they have full input on their own learning environment, and had the chance to also visualize their plans in multiple ways (drawing and Legos) to really draw upon transmediated thinking and learning! I also think that the use of the educational design principles as a tool for reflection was an excellent exercise that we should be asking teachers and schools to do more often.

    When it comes to creating a global network for your students, especially at such a young age, I think that it’s important to make sure that you don’t limit the idea of “globally connecting”. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE global projects and connecting my students to other students or with experts. What I mean is that when you’re 5, sometimes the best possible networks are closer than we think. For instance, I know you are using Seesaw, do your students know they can communicate with those they love through Seesaw? My hunch is they do. So then, do they choose not just to share learning through this platform, but to send a message, or ask questions of their family members? Do they create conversations within Seesaw between classes in their own school? One of the best results our first graders have gotten from connecting globally using Padlet was when we asked family and friends directly connected to students in each class, to contribute to a Padlet. The students had the chance to introduce who the responses were from, and it made it very special for them. I guess what I’m saying is, I know you feel this was one of your “blindspots”, but perhaps you are already connecting your class more than you realize and can expand it from there 🙂

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflections! I enjoyed your post 🙂


  2. Hi Nick,

    What a great article. I loved reading all about the awesomeness you have been working on with your students this year. It looks like you have a very rigorous curriculum that incorporates all kinds of neat adventures and activities for your students!

    Your 12 core values are thoughtful and well laid out. Your school has these values well thought out, connected to the school and the community and even globally and the culture seems contagious through the teachers and the students. I loved seeing all the posts on Twitter you have been making. What an experience your students are having.

    I also really enjoyed the way you laid out your blog, it’s so easy to read and engaging with your thoughts, the school’s philosophy and all the wonderful activities you do with the students. So key to building students who will be future collaborators within the world! I would love to come and see your school. It sounds like a very similar philosophy to ours, except that we are more urban and you seem to have beautiful grounds for the students to explore and discover!

    Creating a global network is hard, we have developed ours over years of working with different schools. It makes it easier when you find a good school with a similar philosophy and the students can interact on a similar level. We always struggle to make connections with good middle school students. For example, sometimes we will have a skype with students across the globe and their middle school students start making faces on the screen and don’t ask very good questions. Our students get frustrated as they are engaged and ready to interact and they are often met with immature students who aren’t engaging. Does your school go to middle school? Maybe we could connect? We are K-8th and often skype as a whole school, or we could break into grade bands as well.

    It’s so fun to think about teaching in the future and where it will be. I love your ideas on the headset in the classroom. That will open up so many possibilities! Our technology changes so quickly, that it hard to imagine what the possibilities even are. When a new gadget or idea comes out, sometimes I think WOW, I would have never thought of that, I would never have thought that possible. I read a few articles when thinking about these concepts, one being just how quickly computer technology changes and just how the future might not be about code anymore, even though its really hot right now…

    Let me know if you guys would be interested in doing a skype, or even a global project together next year. Our focus for this year and likely next year is marine debris and its effects on our ocean and ultimately us!

  3. Hey Nick!

    I loved reading your post and seeing your personal reflection through the 12 core values. I’m also very impressed with how well you’ve documented it all on Twitter throughout the year! I need to do better at documenting learning like that.

    From what I’ve read and seen in your photos, I think you’re doing a fantastic job with your students. The enthusiasm you have for what you do is so evident in your writing as well. I’m truly amazed to think that you are able to do so much with such young students! I think you are a great example to so many who think that because they are so young they are not capable of doing some of the things you are doing.

    The globally networked step is a harder one for sure, especially with such young students. I think your FlipGrid idea could be great for that, I wish I could use it where I am but Internet issues make it too difficult. Another thing you’re already doing that could work would be introducing your students to the concept and possibilities of global connections through having them post questions through your Twitter account and seeing how many responses they get could be a small step in that direction. At least that would help them understand the idea of connecting with people globally. Putting myself in their shoes, I think it would be awesome to post a question and see people around the world responding to it. Similar to those crazy Facebook posts I see every now and then of students experimenting to see how many likes they can get on a post. It doesn’t get the full networking going of them actually making direct connections, but it would get the idea across for seeing how easy it is and how far reaching the network can be online.

    It’s great that you brought up VR and AR. I learned more about them both at some conferences last year. The Google Cardboard and various apps available for my iPhone got me super excited! I had our college counselor giving students campus tours of universities all over the U.S. from her office here in Congo. That is still so amazing to me that they don’t even have to travel to be able to “visit” the schools they’re interested in!

    One cool and easy to use app is the Google Cardboard App ( that you could use with your students has them take “3D” pictures of a place or scene where you live (could be your school, your classroom, a busy street, anywhere!). This is done using your phone and it connects the images together to make a 3D scene that is dropped on the Google Cardboard world map for others to click on and view. They can also use the app to look at other points on it to see what life is like around the world from other’s perspectives using the viewer.

    Thanks for another great post!

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