Where Are You on the Education Continuum?


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One of the biggest problems in education is trying to place every educator into the same box. When that’s done, it most often leads to ten-year plans that end dreadfully. We won’t mention any here, but every educator can name a few, and has most likely forgotten a few. Many education plans begin with wonderful intentions to increase student achievement in some way. To do that, though, the education development stages need to be considered. Not all educators are in the same teaching place, not all students are exactly alike, and not all schools and district exactly the same.

If we simplify the education development stages into just three, knowing full well that there are all sorts of in-betweens, teaching can fall into these stages: Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Sharing, and Knowledge Communities. There is nothing wrong about being in any of these stages, or in-between or beyond, but most educators can easily find where they fit in the continuum. And that’s the key—these stages are alive, active, and flowing. There isn’t a trap keeping educators or learners still.

Do you know where you are, or where you’re headed?

1. Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge Transfer is where most educators begin. It’s more of the direct teaching style, where the teacher leads the class during lessons. There may not be much technology in this very traditional teaching style, other than an interactive board, usually at the front of the classroom. Again, there is nothing wrong with this teaching approach, and there may be reasons other than teacher personal preference.

2. Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge Sharing is where the educator and students begin to collaborate more in project-based activities. While the teacher may spend time directing, he/she is more involved in promoting students in more of a workplace environment. Many educators do some of these things already. A Knowledge Sharing classroom may have an interactive board or flat panel, as well as laptops, tablets, mobile devices, and even interactive touch tables used alongside more traditional project materials, pens, pencils and paper. More tools are needed in this kind of environment. It is an experiential environment.

3. Knowledge Communities

In Knowledge Communities, educators are working toward completely changing the learning environment by having students develop and lead their own learning. There may be the same instructional learning tools as in the Knowledge Sharing classroom, but in Knowledge Communities, the educator may be seen more as a consultant. Mobile devices certainly play a bigger role here. This may be a flipped or inverted classroom style of teaching, where learning can happen anywhere, and not just in one designated space.

Sometimes, we think that education can be packaged up in the same box with identical wrapping. We should remember that wherever an educator begins on the continuum is fine, but positive incentives should motivate him/her to move from a starting place—and to the next step in his/her level of teaching development. The latter takes patience, mentoring, and professional development. It also takes leadership that understands educators, learning styles, and how to lead followers, who then become leaders.

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Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
2 Comments on this post.
  • Machele Stefhon
    13 August 2013 at 2:03 pm -

    I agree there is no nicely wrapped box for leading change in education. Yes, focussing on the success of today and then setting clear, realistic plans to move forward are key but, leaders cannot stop with just moving forward. I believe the strength of change and movement comes when leaders look back at past successes and weave these experiences together with future objectives. Ultimately, we will strengthen the threads used to build a web, which supports meeting the majority of needs for students, educators, parents and the community.