Crafting a Teaching Matrix
By LeiLani Cauthen
A Teaching Matrix for an educational institution is a collection of discrete digital resources (files), courseware, courses and systems newly organized into a logical and cooperative whole. It’s the idea of getting organized digitally as an institution rather than operating from a piecemeal application of practices and resources that varies by classroom and teacher.
While teachers should have avenues to personalize, when every teacher uses widely different materials and systems, schools lose the ability to collect data meaningfully to monitor student learning and indicate needed
actions. They are also open to security infractions from data and identity stealing apps and actors when protocols, workflow and sourcing are not extremely well defined.
The case for constructing a Teaching Matrix is principally for greater administrative efficiency, but also for equity of experience across a system, as well as teacher time efficiencies. Efficiency is needed for a host of reasons right now including the aforementioned student attrition, teacher shortage, accelerating achievement, and using data to aid students expeditiously.
An antecedent of a Teaching Matrix is to have a guaranteed and viable curriculum map (GVC). A GVC stems from a routine of many districts creating pacing guides which is an alignment of standards to the annual master calendar. A GVC goes further than a simple pacing guide by organizing content or resources and providing guidance on methodology.
Some pacing guides and some GVC’s offer “playlists,” which are recommendations of sources of learning content. They do not usually get down to the specifics of the lesson sequence itself. That is left to each individual teacher who plans which content will be used, estimates how long it should take to deliver or be ingested by students if its reading or video, determines which students get which pieces for lessons daily, distributes those, teaches and creates activities around it all, and must keep track of progress against the pacing expected. Another teacher of the same subject in the very next classroom may use wholly different materials from suggestions by central planners or create their own.
The “guarantee” and “viability” of the disaggregated decision making within the lessons across students is arguable because it is so imprecisely manifested across multiple teachers. Which exact source of knowledge and how discrete or holistic it is, for how long, delivered with what sort of teaching or activity around it, and what sort of personalization could be had are all moving parts in the execution.
It’s important to note that an entrance to inequity lies in the fallibility of human selection, learning design, distribution and practice. Inattentiveness, bias, and even just a lack of skill as pertains to student learning needs
are all possible points of deviance from equity. The difference in human teachers all too often causes a marked difference in learning outcomes, something everyone can see. Where these human variables can be minimized without marginalization of the caring, expertise and enthusiasm students do need, the curriculum more easily reaches the “guaranteed-and viable” goal.
More simply stated, the guaranteed-and-viable curriculum map is a normalization of resource and practice, with narrow, if any, alterations of the resource or the practice. The creativity should be a matter of additional
resources and applied subject expertise to individualize. A Teaching Matrix goes even further, taking the pacing guides and the GVC and creating particular lesson sequences with all content and with reference to time-on-task medians expected of students. Release of these can be done by a teacher or an administration with teachers assigned on-the-fly or as teams. Teachers still manage the human relationships and the act of teaching where discussions and lectures or other activity is designated. The key point is the distribution of the pieces of digital knowledge to be processed, a courseware module to complete, or assessments are done automatically.
Teachers still provide individualization with method and additional materials already within repositories, or they suggest the system recalibrates around an individual student’s learning level.
The stage after attainment of a Teaching Matrix can be a Learning Matrix to provide greater personalization through alternative pathways and access to digital learning objects, connected knowledge, and adaptive resources. The demarcation between the two is that the Teaching Matrix focuses on administrative and teacher efficiency,
and the Learning Matrix introduces a flexibility in time and space for students and disaggregates the whole group model. The two matrices, one focused on organizing teaching, the other entirely on the learner experience in digital with human teaching intersection, are part of the model evolution for schools in digital transition. The simplest description of the Matrix Digital Model is that it reorganizes so that learning is fixed, and time is the variable.
The Parts of a Teaching Matrix
Your school and district’s web portal will need to take on additional dimensions of access for both teaching and learning. A main difference will be a master schedule that is accessed by all and used dynamically.
Mobile Communications App
There are many new school mobile apps which concern themselves with everything from security to managing drop-offs and pick-ups. Mobility should be a given for the entire matrix, preferably with one app.
A Matrix Digital Model will have profound impacts on networks, especially as the model progresses into more flexible time and space use such as with a Hybrid Logistics Platform. It’s imperative that a readiness review be done against the inventory of digital resources, numbers of students, and workflow patterns.
Computing, Classroom and Other Hardware
Besides computing devices, schools will need to consider all their display technologies, robots, drones, and USB-port science equipment collection as mutually held inventory when creating the matrix model.
Servers, Security, Middleware
The bane of a Matrix Model is the rogue server, rogue security protocol, and lack of middleware to manage the matrix and shuttle information back and forth between major destinations. It’s important to consider centralized control and policies here.
Single Sign-On and Sovereign Identity
Most schools have single-sign-on for their numerous apps. They may not have considered accommodating a sovereign identity schema in order to provide the next level of access being readied by the tech community to give students discovery-based learning in large repositories. Self-sovereign identity (SSI) is a term used to describe the
digital movement that recognizes an individual should own and control their identity without the intervening administrative authorities. SSI allows people to interact in the digital world with the same freedom and capacity for trust as they do in the offline world. Tamper-free blockchain technology will soon allow role-based student identities to join schools and districts through a new sort of identity infrastructure.
Learning Object Repository
Schools and districts need independent storage for all sorts of content, and not just their own creations, but purchases in sometimes enormous file formats. Having a Learning Object Repository (LOR) allows this freedom while also providing advanced tagging and license management schema just not found in basic office suites.
Hybrid logistics formulates master schedules in an entirely new way such that large scale environments have managed time in highly flexible ways. Conversely, study schedules all the way down to the individual student can be issued that use time increments differently than any other student. A Hybrid Logistics Platform is a schedule navigator that auto-cohorts for live teaching intersection based on pace. Meetings “float,” accruing invited members until the preset cohort is met, and then setting a firm time on the calendar. Meetings retrigger until
all invited student members have accrued into successive cohorts and met with the teacher. Where students are studying until a meet comes up can be rearranged.
Modern framework systems are of numerous varieties for schools. They can be Student Information Systems (SIS), Facilities Management Systems, Financial and Human Resources Systems, Testing and Assessment Systems, and much more. Major office suites would be included in framework systems. The software and tech model architecture created by Learning Counsel Research for a Teaching Matrix does not emphasize a Learning Management System (LMS) as the central figure of the architecture because all known LMS’s are built towards being more teaching management systems and not necessarily learning management systems. Though they are named LMS’s and are common in today’s learning in many places, they are not expressly built for learning but for organizing teachers to then distribute learning objects. They are framework systems usually devoid of content
until filled up, the same as office suites which themselves are nearly full LMS’s today.
It could be said this is a distinction without a difference, but in contrast to professional courseware with animation, stylized age- and subject-specific interactions and so much more navigationally for the student, LMS’s are missing much of the research-based elements of digital instructional design that courseware and other apps now have.
They are, in that way, old-fashioned orchestration of analog teaching method. The specific enhancements of digital for instructional design are a major point to consider with regards to a GVC as well, potentially enormously complicating the act of creating anything truly viable when administrators do not understand what is going on in
professional-grade courseware or the mindset of students attuned to modern digital gaming. LMS’s like most other apps are becoming a point within many points of something larger. A newer function of logic-amongst-functions discretely done by disparate apps is now coming into focus as a vast necessity. The Edtech industry now has integration standards with their development mirrored in application interfaces (APIs) in tens of thousands of apps. The entirety, if you step back to view it, is attempting to merge and globalize while maintaining app nation-states. There will never be a single one-ringto-rule-them-all app for learning. The changing sea of human knowledge and evolving tech will see to that. There will be, however, new logistics. Logistics and integration is the most missing thing.
Note that teaching-aid apps are considered within the Teaching box with LMS’s as an area of framework systems. These include things like interactive whiteboard apps, quiz apps, story-telling apps, etc.
Student apps are distinguished from teaching apps in that they engage the student in learning creation. These could be things like choosing characters from a library of animations to create a story as proof of learning something. They could also be surfing around in a repository to figure out a challenge and then present a proof.
Most courseware for many different subjects is considered on the learning app side because, even while it many times is assigned modularly by teachers, it is entirely created for student navigation along best-practice digital instructional design.
About the author
LeiLani Cauthen is the CEO and Publisher of The Learning Counsel. She is well versed in the digital content universe, software development, the adoption process, school coverage models, and helping define this century’s real change to teaching and learning. She is an author and media personality with twenty years of research, news media publishing and market leadership in the high tech, education and government industries.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.