i²Flex: The Meeting Point Of Web-Based Education And Innovative Leadership In A K-12 International School Setting

by: Dr. Maria D. Avgerinou, Dr. Stefanos Gialamas, and Leda Tsoukia

www.i2flex.gr

Abstract:
In response to the global educational reform while also reflecting the needs of society, the American Community School of Athens (ACS Athens) Greece has developed and established its own education paradigm, named Morfosis which is defined within the 21st century framework, as a holistic, meaningful, and harmonious educational experience, guided by ethos. The vehicle to implement Morfosis, is the i2Flex (isquareFlex), a non-traditional learning methodology, organically developed by the ACS Athens community of learners. It integrates internet-based delivery of content and instruction with faculty-guided, student independent learning, in combination with face-to-face classroom instruction aiming at developing higher order cognitive skills within a learning design framework that is flexible in terms of time, pace, place, and/or mode. This learner-centered type of learning draws on the research and practice of blended learning, and the concept of “flipped classroom” in K-12 across the US and beyond. Ultimately, i2Flex aims at developing students’ 21st century skills, while also helping them successfully prepare for their higher education studies and their future careers. In this chapter, we present and discuss the theoretical underpinnings, followed by manifestations in praxis of the i2Flex methodology, and also offer a set of recommendations as to its effective implementation in diverse K-12 settings.

1. Introduction

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.
John Dewey

As Bob Pearlman, one of the key leaders in U.S. educational reform points out (2010), a casual walk into any new brick-and-mortar schools across the US, reveals that despite the elaborate architectural designs and the wiring for educational technology integration, classrooms remain designed for teachers to stand in front of the students, thus still reflecting schooling as invented in the 19th century. Since those bygone and long past times however, the world has developed in such diverse directions and created new and particularly complex demands for citizenship, college and careers that it is no longer possible for old learning environments associated with old learning paradigms to accommodate them. Indeed, “we are on the threshold of a tipping point in public education (Kay, 2010, xiii).

The recognition of the new reality has led to the development of a new vision for 21st century learning. In 2010, Dede reported that current conceptual frameworks for 21st century skills included the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2006), the North Central Regional Education Laboratory (NCREL) and the Metiri Group (2003), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2005), and the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP, 2007). The Partnership for the 21st Century Skills framework (2006; 2009) is the most detailed and widely adopted of all aforementioned. It emphasizes that in addition to core subject knowledge, such skills as information and communication, inter-personal and self-directional, as well as being well versed with the technologies of this millennium, both from the consumer and the creator’s standpoints, are critical in order to prepare students as life-long learners to deal successfully with the demands of the ever changing world of the post-industrial era of information revolution.

To successfully overcome the complexity of connecting the digital dots of today’s world which “are multidimensional of varying sizes and colors, continuously changing, and linked to other, as yet unimagined dots.” (Jones-Kavalier & Flannigan, 2008, p. 14); to assimilate information’s new set of characteristics (Jakes & Brennan, 2006), namely, digital, networked, overwhelming, immediate, manipulatable, participatory, and visual; to implement the change of learning brought about by the participatory media, from the Cartesian view (where knowledge was perceived as some type of ‘substance’ that pedagogy would transmit) to the social view of learning (‘we participate therefore we are’) (Brown & Adler, 2008); and, to redefine the overcrowded curriculum of the past century in alignment with the demands of the new era, the Business and Higher Education Forum (2005) has proposed that workers of the 21st Century must be educated toward developing science and mathematics skills, creativity, information and communication technologies (ICT) skills, as well as the ability to solve complex problems. Jenkins (2007) expanded the definition of the 21st Century skills to include:

  • Play: The capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem solving.
  • Performance: The ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery.
  • Simulation: The ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes.
  • Appropriation: The ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content.
  • Multitasking: The ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
  • Distributed Cognition: The ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities.
  • Collective Intelligence: The ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal.
  • Judgment: The ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources.
  • Trans-media Navigation: The ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities.
  • Networking: The ability to search, synthesize, and disseminate information.
  • Negotiation: The ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

These learning outcomes not only necessitate schools to seriously invest in, and systematically capitalize on the affordances of new technologies, but also to utilize more learner-centric pedagogies with specific focus on the newly emerged, idiosyncratic profile of the digital learner- a term coined by Prensky (2001) to describe today’s students who have (Corrin, Bennett & Lockyer, 2011; Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; Dede, 2005; Prensky, 2001):

  • a high digital aptitude
  • a preference for multitasking
  • literacy across multiple media
  • a culture for sharing information
  • a need for speed of information delivery, and,
  • a desire to be constantly connected

The various questions, challenges, and opportunities resulting from the educational reform and its many facets as described above, have been addressed via ground-breaking research experiments such as Sugata Mitra’s ‘a hole in the wall’ (Mitra, 2005) and ensuing first school in the cloud (Newcastle University, 2013); entire nations’ movements toward innovative teaching and learning programs such as Singapore’s initiative “Teach Less, Learn More” (Fogarty & Pete, 2010); pressing demands for major policy changes (Darling-Hammond, 2010); and, a continuous dialogue among leading educational thinkers about the significant role of creativity in today’s education (Robinson, 2001) and the forthcoming sovereignty of the right brain (Pink, 2006) or of the five minds, per Gardner’s (2010) suggestion.

At the same time, an unprecedented growth and firm establishment of online and blended learning at all levels of education, including various forms of Virtual Schooling in the K-12 sector (Davis & Niederhauser, 2007; Rice, 2012; Watson, Murin, et al., 2010) has been witnessed. Indeed, online (and blended) learning has been saluted as the disruptive force that can transform the factory-like structure of today’s educational institutions. Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor who coined the term of art Disrupting Innovation (Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2011), argues that by 2019 50% of all high school courses will be delivered online.

This projection may seem less bizarre upon close inspection of current facts and figures pertaining to online and blended learning in the US:

  • The number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6.7 million (sloanconsortium.org, 2013)
  • By 2013 that number will increase to 18.65 Million
  • Half of the 4500 brick-and-mortar colleges in the US offer their degree programs online
  • 96% of traditional universities offer at least one class in an online-only format
  • Open Course Ware offers 4200 complete courses online for free
  • 1689 of which are classes from MIT (source Classes And Careers.com, 2013)
  • According to a 2009 study from the Department of Education: “Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.” Students who mix online learning with traditional coursework (i.e. blended learning) do even better (Internet Time Group Report, 2013).

It thus comes as no surprise that a new framework has been developed to accommodate, determine, and reflect the critical role of technology into the teaching and learning process with the view to holistically addressing the curricular and pedagogical needs of any learning experience. Presented by Mishra and Koehler (2006; 2008), the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a framework that identifies the types of knowledge that are necessary for teachers to teach effectively with technology (Figure 1). The TPACK framework builds upon and extends Shulman’s idea (1986; 1987) of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK).

According to the authors, the TPACK framework is grounded on “the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). The TPACK approach goes beyond seeing these three knowledge bases in isolation. TPACK also emphasizes the new kinds of knowledge that lie at the intersections between them, representing four more knowledge bases applicable to teaching with technology: Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and the intersection of all three circles, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).” (http://www.tpack.org)

i2Flex_table1

The TPACK Image. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.o

In fact, the authors go on to posit that the aforementioned components:

“exist in a state of dynamic equilibrium or, as the philosopher Kuhn (1977) said in a different context, in a state of “essential tension”… Viewing any of these components in isolation from the others represents a real disservice to good teaching. Teaching and learning with technology exist in a dynamic transactional relationship (Bruce, 1997; Dewey & Bentley, 1949; Rosenblatt, 1978) between the three components in our framework: a change in any one of the factors has to be “compensated” by changes in the other two”. (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 1029)

 

2. The educational paradigm of Morfosis

As has been noted earlier, educating learners for their lives as 21st century leaders requires us to create a new education paradigm. The American Community School of Athens (ACS Athens) Greece, a K-12 international school, is cognizant of the fact that traditional schooling is not the only avenue for learning. How could it be, since the reality is that students learn in different ways, via different modalities and styles, at a different pace in environments immersed in new technologies? The school is also a strong supporter of the notion of complete alignment among school learning outcomes, university and market needs. As a result, the school has generated its own education paradigm, named Morfosis (Gialamas & Pelonis, 2009)– a central tenet of Classical Greek experience– and defined within the 21st century framework, as a holistic, meaningful, and harmonious educational experience, guided by ethos.

Holistic means understanding and successfully combining the academic, emotional, physical, intellectual and ethical components to ensure a healthy, balanced individual. An individual who will successfully cope with the changes involved when entering higher education as well as the changes that life brings.

Meaningful refers to being in line with ones principles and values, with ones personal and professional goals. The educational experience must be meaningful for the learner. The learner should see it as part of his/her life and not in isolation of knowledge. In addition it must be meaningful in relation to his/her dreams, strengths, desires and talents. Discovering the feeling of being “in love with life and learning” gives life meaning and thus there is a personal interest in making “living” desirable.

Harmonious refers to the idea that all human dimensions must be in harmony. In other words emotions, intelligence and intellect must be harmonically integrated. Similar to an orchestra, working in harmony with the conductor is essential. The learner takes is as the conductor, the one who helps all parts stay in harmony. He in turn is the decision maker and the decision maker is the analytical thinker, reflector, mentor, teacher and servant.

Ethos meansDoing the right thing when no one is watching you” (definition by a 5th grade ACS Athens student).

3. the Aristeia Leadership

To successfully implement Morfosis, ACS Athens has strived to operate on Innovative Leadership (Gialamas, 2012; Pelonis & Gialamas, 2010). Innovative Leadership is the continuous act of effectively engaging all members of the institution, as well as utilizing their differences, their authentic energies, creative ideas and diverse qualities primary for the benefit of the students and also for every other constituency of the institution. This type of leadership has three dimensions:

  • interpersonal
  • setting standards
  • serving humanity

It also includes the following stages:

  • Establishing a partnership based on common principles, values, and complementary personal and professional skills
  • Distributing authority and decision making
  • Outlining clearly the type, magnitude and areas of authority
  • Supporting and encouraging team members in using their authority
  • Reflecting continuously on the partnership in order to adjust the distribution accountabilities and authority

Aristeia Leadership is the evolution of “Innovative Leadership” and it is defined as the Authentic Leadership Identity (ALI) shaped by life experiences and the individual characteristics of the leader.

The process of understanding where one comes from and how different experiences in life have affected and influenced their personalities and shaped their character, is important in developing and defining a leadership identity. Therefore, knowing oneself is the necessary first step in creating the leadership vision and defining its underlying philosophy of education.

Within this personality framework, one must then clearly identify their principles and values, knowing very well which are absolutely non-negotiable. The next step consists of articulating a well-defined set of personal and professional goals through a similar process of self-reflection and revision.

Finally, working on establishing a leadership identity, the leader must adopt a holistic approach to life by ensuring that personal and professional goals align and do not conflict with, or undermine one another.

Within the aforementioned leadership framework, the Morfosis Educational Structure is defined as the individually and collectively inseparable, inter-depending and intra-depending trifold entity as depicted in the Trefoil Knot figure below (Figure 2):

  1. the Morfosis educational paradigm
  2. i2 Flex Delivery Methodology
  3. the Aristeia Leadership
i2Flex_table2

Figure 2. ACS Athens Educational Structure: Morfosis and its dimensions

4. i2Flex: delivering and shaping Morfosis

The vehicle to implement Morfosis, is the i2Flex (isquareFlex), a non-traditional learning methodology, organically developed by the ACS Athens community of learners. The i2Flex methodology integrates internet-based delivery of content and instruction with faculty-guided, student independent learning, in combination with face-to-face classroom instruction aiming at developing higher order cognitive skills within a learning design framework that is flexible in terms of time, pace, place, and/or mode. This learner-centered type of learning draws on the research and practice of blended learning, and the concept of “flipped classroom” in K-12 across the US and beyond. Ultimately, i2Flex aims at developing students’ 21st century skills, while also helping them successfully prepare for their higher education studies –where a good deal of them is already offered online–, and their future careers.

More specifically, the i2Flex methodology consists of a blend of face-to-face and web-based teaching and learning experiences. The web-based component may include both online synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning experiences, structured for individual and collaborative interaction and guided by the teacher, as well as independent experiential and web-based learning, initiated and implemented by the student.

From a theoretical perspective, i2Flex is a form of blended learning which so far tends to gravitate toward six models, namely, face-to-face driver, rotation, flex, online lab, self-blend, and online driver (Hopper & Seaman, 2011). Each of these models comes with its own set of characteristics, but they all fall under the following umbrella definition for blended learning in the K-12: “Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick- and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace” (Clayton Christensen Institute, 2011, p. 5).

Where i2Flex significantly diverts from blended learning and the aforementioned six models, is at the component of independent inquiry, and the flexibility of continuously shaping the relationship between the components of time, pace, place, and mode. According to the i2Flex, independent inquiry, albeit scaffolded and guided by faculty, is a required component of the learning experience. Another major point of this methodology, refers to the outstanding learning opportunities for the development of Bloom’s revised Taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001) highest cognitive skills (analysis, evaluation, and creation), that can be created by the integration of web-based activities where the student in preparation of face-to-face class meetings can interact with the content, the technology, her peers, and the teacher toward advancing the less demanding cognitive skills of knowledge acquisition, comprehension, and application.

Beginning from Fall 2013, many i2Flex classes have being piloted at the ACS Athens Middle School and Academy (High School), representing a rich variety of course subjects, authentic settings, and age groups, while at the same time reflecting different degrees of complexity regarding instructional design and technology integration. ACS Athens is deeply conscious that this form of teaching and learning that faculty have been striving to implement, requires substantial change in the school’s culture while at the same time generating shifts in teachers’, administrators’, and students’ roles. As a result, faculty currently implementing the i2Flex methodology, participate in a series of individual consultations with the Director for Educational Technology and eLearning. Their courses are been continuously reviewed according to standards developed by the Quality Matters® (2011-2013) research-based, US benchmarks for online course design. In addition, faculty examine a variety of models and discuss issues of instructional design as those specifically apply to their courses, and how these can be transformed into a successful technology enhanced and/or web-supported learning community.

In turn, faculty educate hands-on their students about the uses and benefits of technology for learning- as opposed to using technology for information, communication or entertainment per the digital natives’ daily routine outside the classroom. ACS Athens administrators also have the opportunity to participate in formal and informal professional development sessions regarding the design, and implementation of i2Flex, while receiving frequent reports on the progress of the pilot classes.

To reflect the i2Flex approach in teaching and learning, a new schedule has been implemented this school year for our Middle School and the Academy. The goal of this schedule is not only to allow for more quality contact time in the classroom, but also for the inclusion of modules that allow self-directed learning, a vital component of meaningful and multi-dimensional learning.

Moving from the pilot to the next phase of this initiative, the vision of ACS Athens is to have all of Middle and High School courses i2Flexed to some degree. Indeed, the school thrives on the tremendous possibilities this new education methodology can offer to its learning community. Davis et al. (2007) illustrate among others, the development of new distribution methods to enable equity and access for all students; the provision of high quality content for all students; and, the fact that management structures can begin to shift to support performance-based approaches through data-driven decision-making. Therefore, when applied in a systematic, pedagogically sound way, i2Flex can:

  • help promote and sustain the dynamic equilibrium of all TPACK elements,
  • serve as the vehicle for disruptive education in the school,
  • become the bridge between the four-walled, brick-and-mortar classroom and 21st century education, and, last but not least,
  • empower ACS Athens students to transform the world as architects of their own learning (per the ACS newly established vision), by linking high quality teaching and high quality courses with the collaborative, networked, information-rich environments that are a hallmark of the information age (Davis, et al., 2007 in Avgerinou, 2013).

5. i2Flex case studies

In this section, three i2Flex case studies are briefly presented. Each of them is a manifestation of the i2Flex approach in praxis in the Elementary, Middle, and High school (Academy). At the same time, we share an early report on benefits for both students and teachers as a result of their engagement with this innovative methodology.

5.1 Fifth grade architects

When the new i2Flex methodology was presented to the faculty, twenty-five years of teaching technology was encapsulated both in it, and in a project that fifth grade students participated.

This project encompassed the different aspects of i2Flex, namely, face-to-face, flexible, online, and independent learning. The students were first introduced to Google SketchUp. Google SketchUp is a 3D modeling program for architects and many other professions. To address the face-to-face learning component, the program was introduced in the computer lab with an initial explanation of the tools available in Google SketchUp and the modeling window or “canvas” that they would be using. In the next phase, students were shown a YouTube video with step-by-step instructions on how to make a simple house. The children were asked to open two tabs to work simultaneously with their “canvas” and with the online tutorial. This helped them to use the tools that were initially explained in the face-to-face session, to actually draw a simple house online. The final phase of using Google SketchUp was to draw their own building and this is where imagination, conceptualization, and finally creation, occurred. This task was accomplished via independent learning.

Before embarking on this journey, students were given a little tip. They were asked to reflect on the initial online tutorial and to question whether there were more online tutorials to help with other skills needed to use Google SketchUp.

The teacher reports that “my students returned to class with such enthusiasm as they explained to me how they figured out ‘how to’ draw the building that they had envisioned.” (Sarantes, 2013, p. 14). Some students wanted to draw the interior of their building so they used an online tutorial to help them with that. Other students labeled their buildings with letters that they constructed themselves. Finally, one student said with excitement and a sense of accomplishment, “I downloaded the program and made the most beautiful house. I wanted to put furniture inside the rooms but I didn’t like the ones that were available so I drew them myself!!” (Sarantes, 2013, p. 14).

5.2 i2Flex and the virtual science fair in the middle school

The Near East South Asia (NESA) Virtual Science Fair (NVSF) is an international virtual project that allows middle school students to learn experientially while using the Moodle learning management system as a platform. Its goal is to expand students’ knowledge of science, and to transform their habits of mind by developing their skills to learn as scientists. Students become committed to their project idea as it is their own research-generated project, and through collaboration with their team members, their teacher-facilitator and their e-mentors, work through the steps of the projects. Students are required to construct meaning for themselves through interaction and collaboration with others. The NVSF eventually holds a hybrid science fair with the inclusion of virtual modes and e-learning tools such as wikis and e-diaries.

The science fair is an embodiment of the i2Flex paradigm and philosophy (Bakoyiannis & Rontogiannis, 2013). During the science fair process, students use the Internet acting as independent learners in a flexible collaborative environment. With their teacher and e-mentors as their guides and coaches, students take part in learning that involves creation, evaluation and analysis: the top tiers of Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001). Through the Moodle platform, students receive information, but also independently build on their projects creating an archive of their science research while at the same time supporting collaboration and communication with their e-mentor. Communication via the platform is asynchronous allowing students to work with their partners and their e-mentors in a flexible environment. Students learn to use a variety of technological resources to present and complete their projects within Moodle.

5.3 What makes us human?

Focusing on the essential question what makes us human?, the Honors Humanities course encourages students to exercise their critical thinking skills as they tackle complex ideas through an interdisciplinary approach while considering such aspects from creativity, and intelligence, through to our ability to directly influence and shape our future. Emphasis is placed on independent learning tasks, innovative assignments and creative use of 21st century technology. As this instructional methodology has much in common with the innovative web-facilitated i2Flex design, it comes as no surprise that Honors Humanities was one of the first i2Flex courses to be piloted at ACS.

A modern classic, the Honors Humanities program was created 40 years ago as an innovative, interdisciplinary, team-taught course that examines essential questions through literature, visual and performing arts, philosophy and history. From the beginning, Humanities field study trips in Greece and Europe have encouraged students to become independent learners, while also developing their critical thinking skills and cultural awareness. Visiting the museums and monuments, experiencing the artifacts up close and exploring the masterpieces studied in class, these experiences have provided students with opportunities to think, imagine, conceptualize, and create. Humanities students are guided by their teachers to develop the skills and tools to envisage the future through the study of human civilization: that is, to build the future as “Architects of their own Learning” (ACS Athens, School Vision).

From its inception, the Honors Humanities program has developed and adapted without sacrificing the four attributes which made the prototype unique. Above all, it offers a student-centered, authentic, interdisciplinary and flexible educational experience to ACS students. These attributes have contributed to a smooth transition in the journey from the traditional face-to-face to the i2Flex course. The table (Table 1) below shows how the integrity of the core attributes has been enhanced by the i2Flex methodology.

Table 1. The Humanities course transformation from face-to-face to i2Flex

Traditional Face to Face Humanities course The i2Flex methodology
Student Centered – Students find their own way into the course. Assessment is diverse to address a variety of individual learning styles and each student brings a unique approach to the field study component. Independent investigation in flex-time gives students some control over time, place, pace and mode of learning.

 

Authentic –The Honors Humanities course is an original ACS Athens course, which was designed specifically for our international student body. i2Flex is another authentic ACS innovation geared towards improving teaching and learning.
Interdisciplinary –The team-taught and completely integrated interdisciplinary approach develops high-order critical thinking skills. The i2 Flex model opens up a wider range of multimedia resources across the disciplines and develops high-order critical thinking in the online environment.
Flexible – The Humanities program has not only evolved to meet the needs of 21st century learners, but also offers opportunities for greater personalization of the learning experiences.

 

The i2 Flex model provides a framework for continuous improvement of teaching and learning which includes an ongoing process of reflection and revision of the web-based flextime modules.

Significant benchmarks on the instructional design and development (IDD) process toward the i2Flex model were the development of two on-line courses with field study components in Europe: “Classical Humanism in the Italian Renaissance” and “Classicism and Romanticism in French Art and Thought”. Another milestone is the forthcoming inauguration of a newly designed on-line course, “Reason and Faith: Classical Humanism and Byzantine Spirituality”. This course aims to bring students from Greece and abroad together, first digitally through online activities, discussion forums and independent research, then in person through an extensive field-study trip within Greece, where students will visit sites of cultural and historical importance.

At each stage of the IDD process, the goal has been to create and enhance courses that challenge students academically while utilizing the best existing resources and taking advantage of new technologies for learning. According to the faculty in charge of designing and teaching these courses, “The i2Flex approach provides students with the flexibility, skills and tools to tailor their future according to their needs, interests and skills. In the new i2Flex paradigm, Honors Humanities is becoming a “modern digital classic” (Jasonides, Karvouniaris & Zavacopoulou, 2013, p. 22).

Returning to the earlier question as to what makes us human, perhaps we can assert that it is our ability to imagine the possibilities of a better future and gain knowledge and skills to adapt to the unknown. Educational methodologies like i2Flex enable teachers and students at ACS Athens to do just that.

6. Recommendations

Despite the fact that the i2Flex methodology is still in the pilot phase, recommendations may already be attempted with regard to (a) the process that needs to be in place, but also (b) the factors that need to be considered so that such a methodology can be successfully adopted.

6.1 Process

How can such a methodology be adopted with or without modification or customization?

According to Pelonis and Gialamas (2010), “It is easy to change policies, structures, curriculum, and management approach, but it is difficult to change how the members of the institution think and behave” (p. 76). Thus, the presence of an innovative institution leader is essential. The leader must begin with the understanding of the existing culture of the institution which is typically defined by its history, policies, management style, and, most importantly, the thinking and behavior of its constituents.

Toward that end, the following general steps are needed. The leader should:

  1. understand very well the internal (institution) and external environment (the community and the country which host the institution) in particular in relation to the infrastructure and technology capabilities of the institution and the external environment
  2. internalize, embrace, and commit to the new approach
  3. develop appropriate vision for the institution embracing and including the i2 Flex methodology
  4. establish a leadership team by utilizing existing human resources and if it is necessary recruit new personnel
  5. communicate the vision continuously to all constituencies
  6. establish clear, and well-defined implementation strategies
  7. set up measurable goals and outcomes
  8. regularly asses, reflect, and modify the implementation plan
  9. evaluate the success of accomplishing the vision
  10. celebrate the success by giving generous credit (according to their contribution) to members of the leadership team and to constituencies involved.

6.2 Factors

What institutional culture, human and financial resources, infrastructure (knowledge, facilities, and technology), and what type of leadership approach are necessary for such a methodology to be successfully adopted?

  1. The institutional culture should be a culture embracing change and innovation; be willing to depart from the education of yesterday and let technology enhance critical thinking, creativity, and provocative ways of addressing challenges. Besides, “education without purpose and clear vision is similar to a beautiful picture frame without a picture” (Gialamas, 2014).
  2. A commitment to technology, and, most important, a commitment to thinking differently must be present. In particular, technology should be viewed as being not only a tool, but also inspiration to improve the teaching and learning, as well as the leadership approach.
  3. A commitment to continuously educating faculty, students, parents, and administrators to internalize the adaptive reasoning as the thinking process of improving teaching and learning. That means, thinking logically about relationships among concepts and situations, considering alternatives, and reason, and providing justification for their conclusions.

7. Conclusion

If our goal is to successfully prepare our students for the future, we cannot continue educating them in ways that were developed for the society of the past. The world has changed exponentially in ways that are not always easy to understand so as to predict the future needs, and prepare students for them. Unfortunately, the majority of the world’s education systems are still educating students in the same way as that of the 19th century’s with at best cosmetic, yet not drastic, adaptive conceptual, policy, and structural changes.

We should approach technology not as a convenient tool for educational, entertainment, or popular activities to the digital omnivores, but rather as an integral part of shifting to a different level and trajectory of thinking and learning. In particular, our focus should be how teaching and learning could be meaningful to, and transformational for the learner; how this thinking will utilize all the benefits of world wide innovations for developing critical thinking, for promoting creativity and most important for cultivating wisdom and ethos.

In the end, academic institutions must prepare young people to navigate skillfully and confidently in the ocean of future uncertainties always guided by ethos, and the love of learning.

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Acknowledgements

This work would not have been accomplished without the commitment to, and enthusiasm for the i2Flex approach of ACS Athens pioneer teachers Christina Bakoyiannis, Kathy Jasonides, Janet Karvouniaris, Labrini Rontogiannis, Helen Sarantes, and Amalia Zavacopoulou, and their students. We are deeply indebted to all of you!

 

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