Leveraging Engagement…

As I read more and more my belief in the need for assessing quality learning is increasing. I truly believe that no matter what governments propose, no matter what tools are “imposed” in schools, no matter what kind of support is given, or training (pre- and inservice) the problems emergent from the schooling systems will still persist.

I also believe that what we need is engagement – a global kind of engagement – engagement at all levels, manifested in pretty much the same way as a tornado that would suck in everything it passes through. So students are literally pulled in, inside this engagement net, but it doesn’t really stop there. It sucks in teachers, professionals, administrators and parents – all working towards one common goal – to learn and to have fun in the process.

That is the level of engagement that I really believe in – or maybe I dream about. I do think that educational technologies help of course, but I mean technology helps me throughout life – can’t live without today’s technologies (as most of the other people inhabiting the planet I would say). I am not really saying that educational technologies are THE panacea, because in reality technology applications are those that make up today’s society.

So what I am saying is that we need to find ways and means of assessing quality of schools, by assessing the level of engagement of the people who make up the school. This level of engagement is given in terms of the interactions that can be established through a number of methods and methodologies. One example is this article, which I came across recently. Project Based Learning – can it work? Who knows…possibly and one has to remember to specify that Education is a complex system. There is no simple solution; there are just parameters and different variables so if one method works in one context it might fail in another. However the insights for engagement in this article are quite good I believe.

Emotional learning? Well, how many people can honestly say that they studied a subject because they loved their teacher, and possibly years on, they would still think about that particular teacher with affection? Well I certainly am one of those teachers, and I sure hope that as a teacher, I was one that influenced my students in the same way. So does this kind of engagement work? Possibly… though as with the above scenario I think it would depend on the context, which brings us back to the complexity of the Educational setting.

So where do we start from? Gall’s Law states very clearly that: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. We have to start from simple systems that target engagement, and from then on build outwards to “suck” people in the tornado effect. Mixed realities? virtual realities? transmedia? multimodality? game-based learning? Sure – possibly; all are extremely fascinating – but we first need something to help shift mindsets towards their right use for more effectiveness.

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