A Learning Matrix is the most advanced design idea in the educational landscape. It’s an orchestration of time, space, teachers and resources that establishes learners as independents operating in the system. Students as independents create need-based demands on time, spaces, teachers, resources and systems. Student learning needs to dictate things like scheduling, student movement, teacher assignment, location in or outside the school building, and the matrix of resources available in the school system or accessible across the globe.
Learning Matrix Defined
A Learning Matrix is a well-orchestrated messaging transport schema like an independent digital agent between disparate systems, learning resources, teachers, spaces, and time, that manages task routing and human intersections locally and globally with automated workflow for the student and an institution or institutions. A Learning Matrix does not require the whole group model or fixed time and
space for courses.
Workflow is a central concept of the Learning Matrix definition. Since most schools have an organizational structure that is grade- and classroom-oriented, they are pyramidical in nature and process groups of students in batches. The workflow has been largely one-to-many with simple instructions meted out by teachers. Moving to digital allows this construct to be put into question. The work of teachers can be dissected into direct-to-student distributions of study materials, thus reducing the burden on teachers. The trick has been how to do that while still retaining certain human teaching moments?
Digitally-designed logistics, though, have never really been applied in defiance of the old construct. Logistics is essentially the details of workflow. Merriam-Webster defines Workflow as the sequence of steps involved in moving from the beginning to the end of a working process. ProjectManager.com defines Workflow as the definition, execution and automation of business processes: where tasks, information and documents are passed from one person to another for action according to a set of procedural rules. It involves work by one or more people, and transforms materials, information or services.
Knowing these definitions of workflow puts any educator into the mindset that many leading thinkers were in during the pandemic: how to manage time and space more efficiently to facilitate teaching and learning for any member from anywhere and not sacrifice the important human togetherness even if it has to be virtual. Schools’ brand is human, after all. The precision use of those expert human teachers is what is most needed by leaders — and most wanted by the public. Not wasting that human resource in
unnecessary burdens that cost time and morale is top of mind globally for educators.
Workflow & Lesson Sequencing
Digital learning workflow is different in a Matrix Digital Model because all the digital systems and Apps used in one course may be in different places. There may be workflow for a student inside an LMS or inside a piece of courseware, but not between those things when they are used in conjunction with each other, and also alongside other discrete digital resources like a document and video. Learning workflow has to do with directing attention between the resources and steps within a learning experience. A preponderance of this attention directing today is done by teachers with a lot of messaging back-and-forth and posting in systems. That traffic can be dramatically minimized with preset lesson sequencing and workflow.
The tiered-structure of an ideal workflow has these levels which can be embedded in a
Hybrid Logistics Platform:
These are lists of courses a student is required to take plus electives. A school or district with a GVC will already have created their courses for grade levels. A student’s own checksheet will give them their particular mix. Where age does not have to equal grade level, and courses can be paced independently, a student could be pre-assessed and put into the right courses for their level.
A coursesheet is the steps, in sequence, of all instructions for study materials and live teaching intersections required in a course. A coursesheet can be broken into sub-parts as modules
that fit daily, weekly or monthly time frames, or any sub-set of time in the course. A course could have more than one coursesheet to prohibit students from moving ahead without approval, numbered
successively and released based on the school’s practices administratively or through teachers.
A coursesheet’s steps tell students what to study and provide links directly to that resource or the actual files needed. This includes directions to which courseware if that is a resource being used. A coursesheet best practice is to include a median of time expected for the student to spend on the step, but not indicate that time to the student. In this way, time-on-task can be considered by overseeing teachers. Instructions and goals are indicated. Assessment questions can be put into each step or at the
summation, either within a digital coursesheet or through a linked testing system.
When a digital coursesheet has embedded questions after a student completes the study indicated, any assessment question should also have the answers indicated for teachers. If students are self-pacing and at different points, answer keys fed alongside student responses, allows the teacher to grade on-the-fly, but also monitor misconceptions. This also solves most problems with absent teachers where the questions and answers are multiple choice or true/false and do not require subject expertise to assess such as essay-type responses.
Workflow-oriented notifications about students completing a step and being ready for a teacher meeting, small or whole group class, are the wildcard automation built in by specifically
marking which points in a coursesheet will be those type of teaching moments. When schools evolve to a Hybrid Logistics Platform, the automatic calendaring of cohorts of students as they arrive at study points coordinates both teachers and spaces based on the activity required.
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.