Advancing STEAM Education in Your School
Stage 2: Change
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What is Change?
In the Change stage of Lewin’s 3-Stage Model of Change, the main focus is to engage in the movement or actions through implementing the change initiatives. To increase the success of change, researchers have found that these elements have to be present:
Supportive Leadership: an environment where leaders help people embrace change and empower them to initiate the changes needed
Supporting Systems and Structure: an environment where self-development opportunities, searching for new knowledge and experimentation of new ideas are encouraged
Effective Knowledge Management: the process of generating, organizing and distributing knowledge in the change process is done effectively and efficiently
Embracing Workforce Diversity: an environment where people from different background and with different perspectives, value, and resources has a safe environment to interact, collaborate and get their voices heard
Ideas that facilitate the Change stage
Stemming from our learnings about MIT’s STEAM philosophy, we summarized the quick-wins and food for thoughts for K-12 educators. (Do refer to the previous “Learning from MIT” section to understand about the work of various STEAM-related MIT entities). We hope these will stimulate educators’ new ideas and thoughts on what needs rethinking in their schools:
1. Summary of Quick-wins and Food for Thought for Educators
An important step to enable unfreezing is to assess the school’s current situation in implementing STEAM education. Our team has created this tool so that educators can reflect on their schools’ readiness and on STEAM-related action steps moving forward. We recommend stakeholders within each school to fill out the assessment individually, come together to compare the differences in perspectives, and identify major areas for improvement:
2. Two Key Levers of Change
Beyond the summary above, our team would like to highlight two particular levers of change that educators should be rethinking about. Ideas of what changes are needed are also offered to stimulate further thinking:
A) Learning Opportunities
What are the STEAM-related learning opportunities that exist in your school? Do they enable active learning within a subject discipline and/or enable cross-disciplinary learning?
Led by David Birnbach (faculty advisor for this independent study) and other MIT faculty and staff, the non-profit STEAM Studio team proposes that there are three key components that should exist in the school for an all-rounded STEAM education:
1. Core Courses (knowledge & theory)
Core Courses refer to academic studies where students understand the knowledge and theory of a particular discipline or cross-disciplines in an authentic and active manner. Such learning opportunities should enable students to see relevance and connection with future industry and career pathways. A course example would be “Physics & Engineering: Motion By Design”.
To gain more inspiration on how to improve the design of the core courses, refer to the previous section about how MIT Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) and Edgerton Center think about enabling active learning within each discipline.
2. Crash Courses (skills & tools)
Crash Courses refers to short courses where students are given the skills and tools to explore exciting fields. They are created to give students the knowledge and skills needed to explore new STEM fields. Course examples include computational thinking, bioengineering, internet of things, design thinking, coding Amazon Echo & Google Home, electronics, creative writing, making wearables, architecture, bio-inspired robotics etc. One can consider Crash Courses as the bridge between Core Courses and Action Learning Labs.
To access a list of crash courses (5 hours to 30 hours in length) that the STEAM Studio team has developed or compiled that is suitable for the K-12 space, click HERE. These fields span from Communications and Design, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Fabrication Technology, Engineering, Biotechnology and others.
You can also access the detailed Crash Course design on "Scratch and Express Coding" and “Physics Computing with MicroBit”, which are both designed by STEAM Studio as 2-hour weekly sessions for 7 weeks, followed by relevant Action Learning projects.
3. Action Learning Labs (projects & applications)
Action Learning Labs refer to learning opportunities where students apply classroom learnings and engage in real-life projects in their communities and around their world. Example of Labs may include:
- Engineering Lab: "maker space" where students leverage science and technology to develop solutions that lead to better lives for our citizens and society
- Life Sciences Lab: students tackle exciting projects at the forefront of science, including biological engineering, new media medicine, wireless health, genetics, bio-design, brain and cognitive sciences, and computational biology
- Computing / New Technologies Lab: students get immersed in the exciting world of computing – and explore how new technologies will shape our world (e.g. cloud computing, internet of things, data science, virtual/augmented reality, machine learning, cybersecurity)
To gain more inspiration on how to improve the design of the core courses, refer to the previous section in this website about how MIT Sloan Action Learning Office thinks about designing action learning labs. You can also access examples of Action Learning Labs developed by STEAM Studio HERE.
B) Time/ Scheduling
To enable cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, time needs to be set aside from regular classes. It takes time for students to work on creative projects, especially to contantly tinker, experiment and explore new ideas. Sqeezing projects into constraints of a standard class period may risk undermining the who idea of working on projects. Thus, It is important that the schools engage in serious discussion on how to rethink school time rescheduling to make this happen. Here are some possible options:
We encourage different stakeholders within the school to come together and review on the school’s existing schedule and discuss whether changes are needed. When choosing amongst different options, it is important to take these criteria into consideration:
How does it enable the learning goals?
How does it facilitate meaningful, substantive learning (e.g. agency, time for failure, problem-solving, re-planning, literacy, reflection time)?
Is it manageable and practical to be implemented in the next year? How can the transition be done?