Where Does Elementary Fit In?

Imagine a traditional classroom where students are sitting in rows. Did you imagine something like this? This is the first image hit for searching “rows of students” on Google.

Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451, 1911

Now Education has moved on beyond this. Students sit in groups now. Imagine that image. Here’s what Google came up with after searching “group work.”

Some Rights reserved by Drodriguez505

Now, looking ahead to where education is heading, imagine MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The first image with a person in it is this.

Some rights reserved by Mr_Stein

What I Noticed

The image shifts from elementary students to a much older student when I searched for “massive open online courses.”

So What?

The focus of education in the past and in the future seemed to be more for elementary school. With the introduction of MOOCs, there is a shift in focus of the grade level of the student. But, for a student to find MOOCs to be successful, they must have certain skills / attributes:

  • Self motivated – No one is there to make you do the readings and work
  • Independent with their time – You need to find your own time to do it
  • Computer Literate – You have be able to navigate a computer
  • Resources – You need access to the internet, additional materials, etc.
  • Communication – The ability to communicate effectively with others in the course or the instructor

This made me think about how MOOCs are developmentally inappropriate for elementary students… At least the way they are designed now. So I got to thinking about what can I do as an elementary classroom teacher so that they can possess these attributes to be successful in a MOOC (No, bigger than that because these are necessary skills in life) anywhere?

Some rights reserved by woodleywonderworks
No, this isn’t the goal.
Some rights reserved by woodleywonderworks

I came to realize that much of what I do now will hopefully lead them to developing these attributes. Encouraging group work, allowing students to pursue topics and ideas of interest, giving the students the freedom to explore and use technologies, building a positive digital footprint, connecting them to others through the use of various technological tools. All these elements should lead the students to be successful anywhere as they internalize how and why we do all this in school.

I also think about how schools designed like the one Prakash Nair describes in “The Classroom is Obsolete: It’s Time for Something New” would be an amazing direction to go.

So, at the moment, it doesn’t feel like Elementary Schools will fit into learning through MOOCs. But, perhaps with the use of new technologies like the Oculus Rift where students can have a whole different way to experience courses, things would be different. That would be quite interesting to think about too. A virtual classroom where you can almost be there.

Students of the future? Some rights reserved by Sergey Galyonkin
Students of the future?
Some rights reserved by Sergey Galyonkin
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2 thoughts on “Where Does Elementary Fit In?

  1. I agree that most Moocs aren’t designed with an elementary student in mind. I don’t think Moocs for elementary students are so far in the future though, especially for upper elementary students. When I think about how self-guided their learning is in Minecraft, I think that there must be some kids out there ready to “geek out” and learn from an expert that is willing to create appropriate, fun learning materials for them to use. Thanks for a interesting post!

  2. Great points! I love the idea that we can build the skills necessary for success in MOOCs (as in life) in a developmentally appropriate way while we wait until the technology is just right for the age group.

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