To have all of our students learn at a deeper level, where information is retained and reproduced, educators need to actively change the system. Indeed, we cannot rely on a few good teachers who are willing to adopt innovative strategies or a few leaders who can tap into deep learning resources. What we need is a whole transformation in the learning culture – ranging from the school-by-school change to the entire system.
The key question is: How do systems transform?
According to Thomas Kuhn (1962), fundamental changes in systems can only occur under two simultaneous conditions.
First, the existing system must be palpably failing to accommodate the majority.
Second, there must be an alternative model that is proven to be superior to the status quo.
In "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Kuhn concluded that both conditions must happen for system transformation to occur.
As our world is spinning crazily from the consequences of the pandemic, we certainly saw a deterioration of our education systems. Riddled with inequity and ineffectiveness, traditional schooling showed its fragility when the pandemic hit. In-person instruction was replaced by remote instruction in many parts of the world, leaving behind many students who did not have access to technological devices and stable Internet connection. Therefore, we have already checked the first box. On the other hand, we know that deep learning programs benefit children's' intellectual development since many schools have implemented this pedagogy for the last five years.
Given those two conditions are satisfied, now is the perfect time to shift from traditional didactic methods to two-way deep learning pedagogies.
To ensure the diffusion of deep learning programs on all front, schools, districts and systems need to satisfy these 05 conditions.
Every organization, every working entity needs a clear vision to march forward. As leaders established clear goals and strategies to achieve those goals, people would be motivated to follow the same path. They need to develop a mutual understanding of why what and how deep learning manifests in their work environment.
Involving your employees in creating this whole school vision can raise people's morale and give them the incentive to execute the school mission.
Good leadership is always a make-or-break factor for innovative ideas: in this case, in-depth learning programs and relevant techniques. School and district leaders need to continuously build and improve their capacity to troubleshoot when problems arise.
When we talk about leadership, we want to emphasize the learners’ role also. Students must also take the lead in their learning process, starting from teachers giving them autonomy and more power.
Every innovation requires trial and error. Teachers must feel comfortable sharing their mistakes or areas of improvement without being judged. Therefore, schools and districts should cultivate mutual learning and growing culture to ensure teachers can collaborate. School leaders should also contribute to the collaborative conversation as they might have the personal perspectives that are valuable input for the new integration.
After securing the elements above, teachers and educators should move from a few bright spots of innovation to a pervasive shift in thinking and practices that impact all learners. New pedagogies must be regularly assessed and improved to ensure precision.
Schools that implement deep learning experiments should seek feedback from students, parents, educators, and other experts.
New Measures and Assessment
We want our students to think, do, and work actively. Throwing them a bunch of practice tests and standardized assessments would not cut it. Unless teachers want to transform students into test-taking machines, void of purposes and emotions, we need to do better in measurements. Indeed, we cannot wholly scratch out learning assessment since we still want to approximate how much knowledge students have retained.
Instead of traditional tests, you can apply the project-based learning method (an exemplary deep learning model) and assess their final products and reflections. Through this type of learning assessment, you understand how much information they have retained and how much they can reproduce and recycle.