Preparing Teachers for the Connected Learning Ecology Through Playful Practice Spaces

9:30 – 5:00 | University of California, Irvine. Pacific Ballroom A | Wednesday, October 4, 2017
6 hours | 20 Participant Maximum
Cost: $100

*Space is limited, passes remain available until the workshop is full.

Torrey Trust | University of Massachusetts Amherst | Email: | Twitter: @torreytrust
Dan Roy | MIT Teaching Systems Lab | Email: | Twitter:@danroy

Context of Problem
Teacher education programs primarily focus on preparing teachers to be successful in their own classroom. In the era of Connected Learning, however, teachers’ efforts to support students’ interest-driven and academically oriented learning across different learning spaces, blurring the boundaries among these spaces, is critical. While the DML community has been successful with understanding connected learning principles for youth, we don’t know much about how we support learning of teachers.

The common pedagogical approaches of today’s teacher education programs are mismatched with how students are engaging in connected learning. That is, teacher candidates primarily learn in two spaces: the graduate school of education socratic seminar room and the practicum classroom. They often do not have low-stakes and playful practice spaces for themselves where they can try different tools and approaches. Also, we only know little about what productive and successful teachers look like for connected learning and what their competencies and practices are.

Let’s take teachers’ digital literacy as an example. Even though many of today’s college students have grown up in a world with widespread access to technology and the Internet, this does not necessarily mean that these individuals know how to use technology for educational purposes. Considering that most teacher preparation programs consist of a single educational technology course, it is not surprising that new teachers tend to use technology in their classrooms for grading, professional communication, and delivering academic content (e.g., Powerpoints), while asking students to use technology for drills and review. According to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology (2016), “Across the board, teacher preparation and professional development programs fail to prepare teachers to use technology in effective ways” (p. 5).”

So how can we prepare future teachers to support students’ interest-driven and academically oriented learning in the digitally rich connected learning ecology?

Practice Spaces: Why and What
Every great teacher knows that skill development requires deliberate practice (Ball & Forzani, 2009); ironically, teachers themselves have severely limited opportunities to practice important teaching moves in low-stakes settings. In a comparative study of teachers, social workers and therapists, Grossman and colleagues (2009) conclude that “prospective teachers have fewer opportunities to engage in approximations that focus on contingent, interactive practice than do novices in the other two professions [studied].” The former affords discussion and the latter affords immersion into the challenges of teaching, but a third space–a practice space–is needed that combines the authenticity of the practicum classroom with the control and scaffolding of the GSE seminar room.

Participants Engagement
In this workshop, we invite educators and practitioners, from both formal and informal learning spaces, to re-envision teacher training for connected learning. During the workshop, we will first collectively identify/brainstorm practices/competencies (e.g., new digital literacy, interest-driven personalized learning) that are critical to support connected learning. And then, we will explore ways to redesign teacher preparation programs. Specifically, we will collaboratively design playful practice spaces (e.g., in-person games, hands-on activities) that will prepare pre-service teachers to develop connected learning lessons that blend formal and informal learning experiences and improve educational outcomes for all students. Participants will leave with both prototypes for teacher practices spaces for connected learning and a deeper understanding of the design process.

This workshop is open to everyone (not just teacher preparation faculty). Join us for a fun, interactive, design-based session in which you will help create an educational tool that will shape the future of teacher education!

Download workshop flyer here.