Coding GAFE Maker Space

Forget 2016…A Forecast for 2020

“An increasing number of school leaders are making the case that coding needs to be integrated into curriculum at the K-12 level as a means of promoting complex thinking at a young age.” – 2015 Horizon Report

Each year, the New Media Consortium releases an updated version of its Horizon Report. The purpose of this report is to identify the trends, challenges, and developments in technology, as well as the impact these technologies will have on pedagogy within the next few years.

Makey Makey

Recently, I got a glimpse into how these emerging technologies and pedagogical shifts are about to shape learning in Ontario schools.

On several occasions, Brain Aspinall, a grade 7/8 teacher at Indian Creek Road Public School, has extended an invitation to visit his school, located in Chatham, Ontario. Fortunately, along with several colleagues, we were recently able to connect. During our visit, we observed this pedagogical transformation firsthand, but what really resonated with us, was that this transformation wasn’t an isolated, single-classroom event, it was happening at the school-level.

Immediately after signing in at the main office, and receiving a warm welcome from principal Chris Moore, we were directed to a group of intermediate students in the foyer using Makey Makey to code the lights and decorations on a Christmas tree.

“MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touch pads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.” – Madelyn, Indian Creek Road Student

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The Horizon Report identifies the use of maker technology, like the Makey Makey, as an emerging technology indicative of a trend toward a shift from students as consumers, to students as creators. Also noted in the Horizon Report, and witnessed at Indian Creek Road, is an increase in the use of collaborative learning approaches. The students featured in the pictures above had to overcome several challenges to meet their shared goal, but they did it together, and learned through trial and error.

Adjustment to pedagogical practices will be necessary in order to confront the challenges inherent in the trends driving this paradigm shift. The Horizon Report identifies these challenges as Solvable (creating authentic learning experiences), Difficult (personalized learning and rethinking the role of teachers), and even verging on Wicked (teaching complex thinking). At Indian Creek Road, it is clear that these challenges are embraced, and as a result, are deeply embedded into how students are learning throughout the school. Authentic learning experiences, inquiry-based and personalized learning, as well as complex thinking are abound at Indian Creek Road.


Graphic from the Horizon Report

IMG_0622As we ventured down Little Leader Lane, Proactive Path, Future Plan Foyer, and Understanding Alley (aptly named after the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), we witnessed students in all divisions also joining in on STEAM activities (Science / Technology / Engineering / Art / Mathematics). They were throughly engaged with coding through the ScratchPyonkee, or Tickle interface. They were using geometric concepts to code an aerial drone and a robotic ball called Sphero, while others created simple animations linked to expectations outlined in the Ontario math curriculum. Brian has published a blog post, Exploring Geometry by Coding With @gosphero & @tickleapp, that further highlights the connections between coding and the curriculum.

Like the Makey Makey, using coding to teach curriculum expectations is another example that speaks to the trajectory of where Ontario schools are heading in the near future, and the pedagogical adjustments that these changes will mandate.

As we moved through a number of classrooms at Indian Creek Road, I also noted a common theme woven into what teachers had to say about the transformation happening at their school. Teachers alluded to growth, and a shift in mindset that they have undergone in the past couple of years. Indian Creek Road seems to have cemented the growth mindset at its core. In order to usher in change of this caliber, it has to. These teachers weren’t afraid to try something new as they have the full support of administration, and as most teachers are on the same learning curve, a large safety net encompasses the school. The Horizon Report identifies Rethinking the Role of the Teacher as a difficult challenge to overcome, but Indian Creek Road is making it happen.

Does Indian Creek Road represent where all schools will be in the next 3-5 years? For a number of reasons, probably not, but combined with the forecast from the Horizon Report, and what I observed at Indian Creek Road, a dramatic shift is firmly established and underway in Ontario schools.


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