Using a Futures Approach in K-12 Organizational and Instructional Development

James L. Morrison, Facilitator

College and university admissions officers are expressing increasing dissatisfaction with the ability of secondary school graduates to access, evaluate, and communicate information; to use information technology (IT) tools effectively; and to work well within groups across cultural lines. A change of instructional paradigms--from passive to active (authentic) learning strategies, such as project-based learning, problem-based learning, or inquiry-based learning--is clearly needed in secondary education in order to prepare students for college or for the contemporary work force and in elementary education in order to more effectively prepare students for secondary schools.

However, changing instructional paradigms is difficult. Teachers are busy, many are not comfortable with using information technology (IT) tools, and most cling to the traditional model of the teacher as subject matter expert/authority.

Current approaches to broaden the instructional repertoires of teachers include faculty workshops, summer leave, and individual consultations, but these approaches work only for those relatively few early adopter teachers who seek out opportunities to broaden their instructional methods. The major problem is how to affect organizational culture as a whole so that most teachers will be receptive to adopting active learning methods and using IT tools to enhance these methods in their classes.

I have found in working with school administrators in educational planning, that the process of interacting with their peers on the implications of the future for schools and students encourages participants to become more open to new ideas. Therefore, the rationale for this workshop is to engage teachers in thinking about the future and its implications for their school, their students, and their careers followed by intensive interaction concerning the efficacy of authentic pedagogical methods in preparing students to enter college or the workforce, the barriers to using these methods, and strategies to overcoming these barriers.


The purpose of this workshop is to demonstrate how school leaders can use futures tools to increase faculty receptivity to expanding their repertoire of instructional strategies to meet the future needs of their students, themselves, and their institution. Specifically, this workshop will (1) demonstrate a procedure that encourages teachers to be open to new ideas and (2) allow school leaders to experience a set of exercises that they can use to engage faculty members in planning for their and their students' future. In addition, participants will explore what is meant by technology-enabled active learning strategies, how these strategies relate to student success, what the barriers are to implementing these strategies, and what approaches can be used to facilitate teachers in implementing authentic instructional strategies to prepare their students to be more successful in school and when they enter college or the workforce. The ultimate objective is that participants be able to replicate this workshop's design in aiding their faculty colleagues to use technology-enabled active learning strategies in their instruction.


Please review the following publications prior to the workshop:

1. Edutopia Staff (nd). Why Teach With Project-Based Learning? Edutopia (also view the video; give it time to load)
2. Edutopia Staff (nd). PBL Research Summary: Studies Validate Project-Based Learning
3. Nelson, R. (nd). Pixar University's Randy Nelson on Living and Working in the Collaborative Age. (video)
4. Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (nd), Research Highlights (descriptions of implementing technology-enabled active learning strategies.
5. The Alice Project (nd. Innovate way "Mr. Long" used technology to enable 10th grade students to truly discover what lies inside a literature classic)
6. intel (nd). Designing Effective K-12 Projects.

Part I Agenda 

0800 - 0915 Anticipating the future
0915 - 0930 Break
0930 – 1015 Identifying trends and events that will affect the future of our students
1015 – 1030 Selecting the most critical trends and events
1030 – 1045 Break
1045 - 1130 Implications of the most critical trend or event affecting student success
1130 - 1200 Group reports

Part II Agenda 

1300 - 1400 What do we mean by technology-enabled active learning strategies (TEALS)?
1400 - 1500 Are these strategies important in improving instructional effectiveness?
1500 – 1520 Break
1520 – 1600 What are the barriers to faculty members adopting these strategies?
1600 – 1700 How can we encourage faculty members to adopt these strategies?

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