The 7 Principles of Learning are discussed in, The nature of learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice (OECD). This discussion focuses on number 7, Building horizontal connections.
Building horizontal connections is about making connections between subjects and knowledge as well as wider into society, the community and across the globe.
The Delta Learns, Toolkit for Innovative Teaching and Learner Success states the following:
The learning environment strongly promotes “horizontal connectedness” across areas of knowledge and subjects as well as to the community and the wider world.
A key feature of learning is that complex knowledge structures are built up by organizing more basic pieces of knowledge in a hierarchical way. If well-constructed, such structures provide understanding that can transfer to new situations – a critical competency in the 21st century.
They list the following areas that teachers should consider when designing learning to build horizontal connections:
Join the discussion:
I am Tony Cairns
i teach science technology Biology an Life skills at Wellington High School - an inner city coed uniform free college and community center in the heart of our capital city - we are in the National Memorial, Dominion Museum, Massey University, Polyhigh island of learning, innovation and creativity and our flow of students to and from these great institutions that have grown up with us on this site over the last 127 years is fluid and tidal.
My first job was in the basement 'spirit room' of the National Museum next door, speciating, describing and cleaning fish ina cloud of formalin, isopropyl alcohol and ethanol - heady stuff for a new graduate in the 70s, Later in the 80s and (0s i cam back to create museum exhibitions and liaise with collection mangers and curators in Art, Natural History, Maori Taonga and History - s pretty horizontal career and a step and floor up from the spirits in the basement.
Later having curated Art shows, and created and toured museum exhibitions and visitor experiences for the Nation, UK, Asia and the Americas I turned my hand to writing, editing and researching books - on nuclear war, new zealand biographies and teh ancient and more modern history of iwi, hapu and whanau here and abroad
How, now i hear you cry, does this relate.to horizontal collaborations, future problem solving and integrated educational experiences? Well closely weekly and mightily as it happens because Te Papa is looking to redesign all of its Museum Exhibitions on all curricula areas for teh next decade and generation, link to a behemoth movie museum and convention center being built across teh way and maybe head north and make a Te Papa Manukau.
My students are involved with these projects - planning teh new learning laboratory with education and former MindLab Leaders, principals, designers, educators and other students. Thy are planning Innovation and design workshops with Mahuki - the digital innovation arm of te papa and attending hackathons and startups collaboration cafes with museum, gallery and research experts. These senior students are part of the Wellington High GATE (Gifted Talented and Extension team) as well as being leaders in school, study and social issues - they are our Future problem Solving team
We are mighty proud of our students and expect hope and pray they will excel in all they do, in life and careers - we help them by giving them the opportunities, forum and projects to shine in and through - then we get out of their sunshine and let them flourish grow and learn in their own ways in their own time doing what they do best because that is who they are- life long learners committed to excellence, equity and education
gotta teach and learn so till next time t
Thank you for sharing Tony, if you hadn't have shared, I would have known about the amazing connections your students are having and the influence they'll have because of the authentic opportunities to collaborate within their wider community.
I am totally intrigued by the hacking movement and the potential for young to use social networking tools to connect and make a difference in their world. Quinn Norton was one of the keynote speakers in Ulearn14 that talked about,
...social movements and developments as a result of user-generated, needs-driven socialisation on the Internet. She also talked about the tension where, 'our way of teaching kids isn’t going to help, when they have to teach themselves once we’re gone'. Ulearn 2014, Quinn Norton Keynote presentation.
I'd love to know more...
If we helicopter up, we understand learning must have meaningful connections where students (who come with their own culture, identity, experiences) can engage in real world problems and authentic learning experiences to motivate and apply new learning. We're running a similar forum at the moment on, Wicked problems and real world issues and some wonderful examples of students engaging in cultural contexts can be seen in Enabling e-Learning's Media Gallery. As Brown, Duguid, and Collins state, Activity, concept, and culture are interdependent. No one can be totally understood without the other two.
Examples of authentic innovation are also emerging in our forum on, What does innovation look like in your school?
Interesting to read how the term authenticity has evolved over time, where philosophers (Descartes, Rousseau) have developed a collective understanding to mean that as humans we follow a moral inner voice to think and act responsibly where our identity is based on experiences and how we interpret those experiences (Herder). Building on these ideas, Grimmett summarises authenticity to draw on a 'body' of knowledge and to speak and act from those moral spaces with a confidence that is rooted in a conscious, collective understanding.(History of authenticity) Sounds deep, but the main ideas here being;
authenticity is linked to identity, experience, morality, creativity and originality.
The challenge being, teachers should be innovative orchestrators of learning that provide realistic, authentic experiences that mirror what happens in real life and extends a student's ability to learn and develop cognitive ability, morality, creativity. This isn’t new, it’s in our curriculum.
"Individual schools have scope, flexibility and authority to design and shape their curriculum so that teaching and learning is meaningful and beneficial to their particular communities of students." (P 37) New Zealand curriculum.
So my question Tony is, how did you (and your colleagues) orchestrate these authentic opportunities and pathways for your students (Te Papa etc)? What were some of the catalysts for connectivity and collaboration? How can other teachers leverage horizontal connections like this for their students as well do you think?
Kia ora Tony
Thanks for sharing! Like Tessa, I've just learnt so much about you.
I would love to hear (and see) more about what your students are doing in regards to Mahuki. I wonder if their learning is being documented in a way that could be shared?
Tēnā koutou katoa,
I'm Philippa and I work with the Connected Learning Advisory and am based in wonderful Wellington, like Tony. I'm 18 months out of the classroom, where I have a background as a secondary school English teacher, Head of Department, and eLearning Leader.
A driving educational passion of mine is design thinking. I've explored various contexts in which design thinking can be used, including in a Year 8 English classroom, as a basis for professional learning and professional learning facilitation, and with school leaders. (If you'd like to know more about design thinking, or explore some resources, this bucket in Pond should help.)
There are so many aspects to design thinking that excite me, and I could do a full-on rant, but in the interests of time and, well, possibly other people's interests, I'll condense it to two things: developing empathy, and its ability to offer authentic, trans-disciplinary learning. Hence my mentioning it here. This blogpost is one of a series I wrote earlier in the year, and talks more about the "why" of design thinking.
I look forward to connecting with others on this topic and to hear your thoughts.
Tēnā koutou katoa, Hi everyone
I am Stuart Kelly, a deputy principal from Aorere College in Papatoetoe, Auckland. One of my key responsibilities is the digital ecosystem and pedagogy for our school population.
Our school has gone from zero to hero regarding a digital transformation. We now have an extraordinary Wi-Fi network, significant student access to devices and over half the staff part of Digital Learning PLG. All students at Aorere College are expected to have their own device(s) for educational purposes, and from 2017 Chromebooks will be on all year level stationery lists. At of today, there has been over around 3,000 downloads of our Aorere College smartphone app.
Furthermore New Era notes "In the past 18 months, Aorere College has undergone a remarkable digital transformation. With an intelligent wireless network that provides internet access to every corner of their school grounds, a senior leadership group that places emphasis on student achievement and growth, and robust firewalling ensuring cyber safety is of paramount concern, the school is leading the way in providing a world-class platform for teaching and learning for its students, its staff and the community that it serves."
ERO have further commented on Aorere Digital noting "A well considered digital learning plan is guiding improvements in developing digital competencies for both staff and students. Its key focus on raising student achievement and enabling equitable access for students to learning is continually reviewed and refined."
But what on earth you may ask has anything of this got to do with "horizontal connections"? My answer- everything.
For secondary schools to better leverage learning opportunities that demonstrate horizontal connectedness for/with/between students, schools must ensure that the platform provided is an explicit and efficient enabler of this ambition over being a disabler. For our teachers and students to have both virtual & global connections, it is critical that the technology effectiveness does not come into question. Once the tech provision is no longer an issue, teachers and their teachers can take risks and grow both as learners, leaders and connectors.
An example of growing horizontal connections in my Year 11 English class is the fact with students being 1:1 Chromebook-enabled, I work with my students rather than to them. They can connect with students and content from anywhere in New Zealand, anywhere in the world and instantly. They can also increasingly work at their own pace and with strong freedom of choice and empowered agency. Within the class, the use of Google Classroom. Docs, Slides, etc. enable legitimate real-time collaboration that via digital means, can be safely and effectively accessed in the future. The horizontal connections in our GAFE-accredited school are further enhanced through students being able to work anywhere, anytime on their school work. With so many of our students having Android phones, they can access their schoolwork, even without a laptop or Chromebook.
A fundamental benefit of horizontal connections for me is the way digital technologies enable all student voices to be heard. Students on Padlet for example, are all in being heard equally and simultaneously while the vast array of devices available today enable absent students to still submit work or in many cases, NCEA assessments whether physically present or otherwise. Lastly, digital devices in my experience enable students to co-construct work, assessments and deadlines with their teacher and as a result, have not only greater ownership of their learning but also arguably of the outcomes.
For me, horizontal connections are about people over devices. Having said this, digital technology enables these connections to exist stronger, faster and more sustainable than what was possible in the past.
I look forward to connections pertaining to any of the above.
I agree with the connection you have made around digital technologies enabling horizontal connections. They open up so many possibilities to connect with others nearby and around the world (and even into space if I think about the connections students had with Commander Chris Hadfield while on the International Space Station a few years ago) to learn together. Digital technologies have helped break down barriers between school and the global community.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
I wonder if you have any tips for teachers who are still in the early stages of using digital technologies (or about to be) around developing horizontal connections?
You are so right about how digital technologies can open up and expand not only connections but learning opportunities at the same time.
In answer to your tips questions, there are a few ideas from our professional experience that immediately spring to mind:
1. Think big, then smaller and if need be then small. Teachers don't mind tech change but prefer in my experience, not perpetual big change. I suggest if a school becomes GAFE-accredited, they go to Gmail for example at the same time. Most of the transformation is done in one hit.
2. We are made sure that our network was present and most importantly capable of handling the inevitable increase in teacher and student usage. If a school's network isn't strongly consistently, teachers will be less trusting and default to safer non-tech teaching over innovative learning.
3. Lastly give the students appropriate free reign, adults are often the last to become aware of the newest tech evolutions. When students see that teachers are learners and prepared to be followers too, the progress takes off!
In closing, often too much thinking, in my opinion, goes into planning horizontal connections and not enough time is actually spent doing the connecting. As the Nike slogan goes "Just do it!"
Your third point has really resonated with me. Giving students opportunity to use tech and in ways we might not have considered opens up possibilities for learning. Sometimes us adults like to be in control and always know what's happening, but we can learn so much from our students.
And yes! Just do it!
Kia ora Stuart, thanks for sharing your exciting developments at Aorere College and 'hear hear' to sound technological infrastructure - you've obviously put some time and money into ensuring this can work across a large school. How long has this taken you to get to this point and who was involved?
The last thing anyone wants is for the technology to be barrier to access. I found this retweet image of Steven Wheeler's very relatable for today's learners. I wonder if this is true for some of our teachers too?
I can see how horizontal connections for your students mirror learning access 24/7 - why stop at the school gate? I've personally witnessed how powerful learning can be at home...when your child opens up the digital device and shares their learning with the rest of the family. Makes Flipping the Classroom a reality too. I'd love to hear more about how students are using their android phones in learning tasks too...
I love the Steven Wheeler image- hilarious yet so true. In many ways, teachers would reduce stress by following the point of view of students with respect to technology. Accept it as it is and don't over-think.
We're quite proud of how far we've come in such a short time. We basically started our edtech overhaul just over two years ago (mid-2014). We were literally "zero" and arguably now quite close to "hero". Because we had major network weaknesses, once we got this sorted everything exploded from this point on. Students and teachers began using their devices because the internet and Wi-Fi was solid and fast. The challenge now is keep moving forward. The reality is that to do edtech right is very, very expensive and ongoing.
I'm one of those educators that can't understand blanket bans on phones in the classroom. They're just another tool, an excellent edtech tool when used "fit-for-purpose". I've seen the following use of phones in my Year 11 classroom alone:
Google Slides completed
Stop Go Animation
the list goes on.....
I've found that the more digital citizenship done alongside phone use reduces off-task behaviour massively. I've also found listening students listen to music in the classroom reduces off-task chatter and increases academic engagement.
I'd be interested in your response.
Wow Stuart, it's your bravery to 'undo' anything you might have thought about students, technology and student & technology put together! Sounds bold to let them have more control and 'freedom', this clearly models a high trust relationship between students and teachers. By the looks of things, the lessons are relevant and intriguing enough to keep them on-task too.
I think facilitating Digital Citizenship is must-have in our curriculum. I presented a DC workshop with a group of teenagers last week and 90% of their parents have put no restrictions, guidelines or boundaries on their device use, hence even more important to have these conversations at school.
Kia ora Tessa,
I think you raise a really good point here about digital citizenship. And I think this is an useful adjunct to our conversations here about building horizontal connections.
Over the weekend, I read this blogpost from Common Sense Education - linked from Twitter by Karen Spencer of NetSafe - about how an assembly and a zero-tolerance policy just isn't enough. Admittedly, the post is about cybersafety rather than digital citizenship per se, but I wonder if some schools don't have a similar attitude to the one described by the writer. Namely, that students sign an acceptable or responsible user agreement, the teacher delivers some one-off lessons, and so that's digital citizenship "done" for the year.
I wonder how we might see digital citizenship as an ongoing conversation. I wonder how this conversation might support or even amplify horizontal connections. For example, I wonder if an inquiry into what it means to be a participating and active citizen could be quite powerful and authentic. And I wonder how we might also develop these conversations about digital citizenship and horizontal learning by folding digital fluency into the discussion.
Some great wonderings Philippa!
I always remind the teachers I work with that digital citizenship isn't a one-off lesson or unit, and it's definitely not just something the computer teacher or e-learning leader has to do and be aware of. DC is an ongoing conversation involving all staff and students as well as the wider community.
So if we're looking at connecting with the content taught, the curriculum, the students, staff, parents and wider community, surely there are some great opportunities for horizontal connections.
I currently teach at St Andrew's College in Christchurch and will soon be joining the team at Rolleston College. Two years ago, I was given the responsibility and opportunity to implement change in one of our Year 11 Science courses, Practical Science. A lot of the details can be found in the 2015 print version of New Zealand Science Teacher magazine. This was also kindly published on their website here.
I would like to focus on how some aspects of the course in its current guise build upon horizontal connections. I am happy to explore any of these in more detail via this Forum for anyone who is interested and asks.
The original "C Band Science" course was 100% internally-assessed. While this catered for the students invited into the course, not all of the contexts and assessments held a lot of relevance to ākonga. This (along with a change of name) was the first fundamental change. While we have persisted with some prescribed topics which are, at times, questionably-genuinely relevant to students, over half the course allows for contexts and assessments that are student-selected.
After units designed to develop key elements of the Nature of Science strand of Science Learning Area of the New Zealand Curriculum, we offer a unit called "Conspiracy!!". In this unit, students select a Conspiracy Theory to research. It is actually assessed by an English Learning Area Achievement Standard. Students do not need to select a scientific context as the skills being developed are key for rigorous Science. Students are taught to find and critique sources of information and come to their own conclusions. We have templates and "tests", such as the beautifully-named CRAAP Test, to scaffold and organise the learning and process. Students are explicitly encouraged to come up with their own conclusions, rather than just accepting the "accepted" explanations or conspiracies.
This year, students are being encouraged to present their findings as narrated slide and/or video presentations. We are spending time on how to make these (huge thanks to our IT leadership for their help!), with the hope that the students might agree to post their work via YouTube for critique by an authentic audience and future classes.
At the conclusion of this unit, students begin their "Personal Inquiries". Akonga select any topic that they are interested in and we co-construct their individual assignment. I find a suitable Achievement Standard to measure the learning against, and we con-construct the key learning objectives to be assessed against. There are limitations here:
Throughout "Conspiracy!!" and the Personal Inquiries, the teacher's role is primarily as collaborator and checking in at key times to ensure progress is being made in a timely fashion. Advice and guidance are the key things required to support learning and achievement. These units also create explicit links between Science and other aspects of students' lives - hobbies, sports, interests and other subjects.
I believe that St Andrew's College offers a Year 11 Science course that is a good example of how horizontal connections can foster student engagement and achievement. I am now looking forward to seeing what possibilities lie ahead at Rolleston to explore such horizontal connections even further.
Wow Matt, I'm loving how your story (and blog post) is empowering your students to be active, rather than passive learners. You and Stuart should have been presenters at the conference in the video below (Friends of Europe), where influential thought leaders ask, How can we make creativity part of the curriculum?
You've done this through Science and interdisciplinary domains Matt, where students can become critical, creative discerning decision makers engaging real-world concepts, problems and issues. How provocative and thought provoking is a conspiracy? Delicious! I'd love to hear your views in our forum on FORUM: Wicked problems and real world issues about this too.
I have also enjoyed reading the debate in Twitter on Integrated curriculum vs subject silos debate - who won @suburban_ennui or @gmacmanus? at a secondary level. Matt, you've helped to provide a strategy for horizontal connections between subjects in a secondary setting. Thanks again for sharing.
Kia ora Matt,
Thank you for sharing this story of your Year 11 Science class. I think it provides an excellent example of what is possible when we look for genuine connections between our learning areas. Increasingly, in my personal opinion, senior secondary courses should be looking for these opportunities. After all, outside of school, we don't knowingly switch from our 'Maths brain' to our 'English brain' at predetermined, scheduled points in the day, our skills and knowledge are integrated and brought to bear on the task at hand, as required.
I suspect good teachers have their own ways to build horizontal connections which include activities like field trips or class excursions or visiting speakers. As a member of the LEARNZ team, I would like you to consider a LEARNZ virtual field trip as well. LEARNZ has been around for over 20 years, offering over a dozen field trips every year where a lot of heavy-lifting has been done for teachers.
Let's have a look at how the design of LEARNZ helps build horizontal connections:
1. Have real-world relevance. All LEARNZ field trips have real-world relevance because they go to real places and work with real people. Two recent examples embody this. The first was Love Your Rubbish - lollipop to landfill? which followed the journey of rubbish and how some was diverted by recycling while the rest went to a modern landfill. Science, social science, future focus, sustainability, community, careers, and taking action were some of the ideas woven through the experience. The second was Kererū Count - kaitiakitanga in action which looked at an iconic New Zealand bird, its importance to Māori and to our overall New Zealand identity. There was a school showing its predator trapping programme as a way of attracting native species - talking about taking action in your community! There was a visit to Zealandia which has recreated New Zealand's flora and fauna the way it used to be. There were expert explanations of two Māori cloaks at Te Papa - watch one at https://vimeo.com/180718571. And this field trip is linked in to The Great Kererū Count at http://kererudiscovery.org.nz/great-kereru-count-2016/ which is a citizen science project in mid-September.
2. Provide authentic activities and tasks. Teachers tell us that LEARNZ field trips are authentic - and they are! Being in the field making a video about a ranger baiting a predator trap, a dozer driver working at a landfill, or a researcher gathering and recording data are all authentic real-life experiences. Watch a video with an expert about The Alpine Fault at https://vimeo.com/178165461
3. Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes. LEARNZ field trips gain access to a myriad of experts: scientists, opera singers, engineers, environmentalists, technologists, mathematicians and programmers. All of these people feature in videos where they demonstrate their abilities and communicate their art and craft. For example have a look videos with experts on the LEARNZ Technology Channel at https://vimeo.com/channels/technologyonlearnz/
4. Provide multiple roles and perspectives. Each expert in the field gives his or her own perspective or the perspective of the organisation they work for, or the community organisation they belong to. This happens daily in live audioconferences and in videos. Meet a professional singer - https://vimeo.com/168505702
5. Provide the opportunity to collaborate. Teachers tell us that LEARNZ field trips stimulate discussion and students often collaborate to create questions. When they join the three web conferences for each trip, they are part of a collaborative experience. Watch a recorded web conference about Kererū at http://connect.vln.school.nz/p8zmqow1qlj/
6. Provide the opportunity to reflect. The LEARNZ field trip teachers are experienced facilitators who continually drive the Inquiry process through the background material, their diaries, the web conferences and videos so students can't help but reflect and also think forward. Watch how Andrew the LEARNZ Teacher finishes up this video with students at Normandale School - https://vimeo.com/180850697
7. Promote articulation to encourage students to verbalize their knowledge and thinking. Students put their own questions orally to experts in live audioconferences. Often their questions are difficult for experts to answer, as it reflects the depth of their thinking based on what they have learned from the LEARNZ material they have accessed so far. A Year 6 student asks: "Does New Zealand have laws that protect the toxicity that producers can include in new products and packaging to protect the environment? What about imports?" Listen the recording of this web conference and hear how much the expert has to know to answer such questions - http://connect.vln.school.nz/p72icxcxv22/
8. Tasks are seamlessly integrated with assessment. LEARNZ provides informal online interactive assessments as part of very field trip. Students can repeat them and teachers tell us that students will often persist with them until they get 100%. Teachers often say they are surprised at how much studnets know by the end of a field trip. Have a go yourself at this interactive activity now - it's fun! http://activities.learnz.org.nz/gb162/a02-identifying-common-birds-of-nz/quiz.html
9. Create polished products. We believe each self-contained field trip web site is a polished product, with multiple ways of accessing material by text, by sound, by photos and diagrams, by activities, and by videos. We are particularly proud of the videos we shoot, edit and upload each day of a field trip. Here is one about the importance of lashing on a Waka and how it relates to hauora - https://vimeo.com/161671182
10. Provide coaching and scaffolding at critical times. Teachers tell us that because a lot of heavy lifting is done for them, they are able to work more coaching individual students and helping them with their next step. The field trip web site material also has built-in scaffolding, such as for reading - more at http://www.learnz.org.nz/support/learnz-reading-resource
More comments from teachers about LEARNZ at http://www.learnz.org.nz/field-trip/testimonials
Regards to all
Barrie from the LEARNZ Team
Kia ora Barrie and LEARNZ
I agree that authentic context is absolutely key to building horizontal connections - particularly when these spring out of learners' own questions, wonderings and curiosity. LEARNZ is a fantastic resource to bring the outside world in, and to showcase what is possible when we are connected.
I wonder what other schools are doing to foster authentic contexts for learner inquiries?
Kia ora koutou,
I've been continuing to think and reflect over the past few weeks as these posts have been added (thank you), and I can't help but think this notion of making horizontal connections is of particular relevance, and even challenge, to secondary schools. How might we break down the subject silos to encourage authentic, genuine connections between subject areas, and then to take this beyond the borders of school and into the community, wider society, and the world?
It seems to be that innovations afforded by inquiry-based learning could be harnessed. I'm thinking here about one of my obsessions, design thinking, as well as passion or impact projects. I've written here about why I think design thinking is powerful to use in an education context. And I've also enjoyed this clip from Albany Senior High School about their impact projects.
I can't help but think that when we empower students to inquire into an area of particular interest to them, with the intention of creating something meaningful and authentic, then we will support learning that is underpinned by the 7 principles.