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rethink your use of time especially when it hinders your progress towards achieving your vision for digital learning
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Digital Learning Framework: Use of Time

In recent years, use of time has been a challenge to schools across the globe. Time has seemed to become the enemy in schools, lack of it anyway. We all know, whenever we hear the intercom click or the fire drill scream, how precious those learning minutes can be. Adding time to the school day can be accomplished through a variety of methods, such as lengthening the day, decreasing interruptions, or by using the time we have more efficiently and effectively.

Use of Time: Carnegie, Shmarnegie

Some schools are changing the way they view time and learning. The Carnegie Unit, which was created over a century ago, was originally intended to standardized students’ exposure to content by standardizing the amount of instructional time. Obviously, the same number of minutes don’t equal the same amount of learning—it would be much easier if it worked that way! When learning the content is the focus rather than the amount of time the student spends in a chair, educators need to look at more flexible learning models.

Use of Time: Breaking it Down

With respect to our digital learning framework, Use of Time is broken down into four elements:

  • Flexible learning: Anytime, anywhere
  • Pedagogy, schedules, and learning environment for personalized learning
  • Competency-based learning
  • Strategies for providing extended time for projects and collaboration 

Use of Time: Learning Not Minutes

In effective digital learning environments, rather than the clock driving the instructional time, learning takes the lead and time is flexible. Schools personalize learning such that students are able to focus on meeting their own goals rather than goals aimed at the group as a whole. Competency-based models can help schools to ensure learning is taking place and that instruction is meeting each student’s individual needs. Rather than a series of short periods dedicated to individual subjects, this requires time being organized into longer, more flexible blocks to encourage long-term projects, collaboration, and pursuit of individual learning goals.

Use of Time: Getting Started

If your school still has 45 minute periods all day long, this might seem like a huge change. It is, but there are small steps that can be taken to move toward this vision. Get started by checking out a district that’s been “using time differently” for the past decade – modular scheduling at District 66 in Omaha, Nebraska. This is a great example of a district taking the steps to improve their use of instructional time and continuing to refine their practice. Then, check in here next week when we’ll introduce some strategies to get you started. In the meantime, take a look at our overall digital learning framework and our TRAx tools for schools that help you measure digital learning in a logical, informative way by collecting feedback and evidence from a variety of stakeholders.