Cut the curriculum — from willrichardson.com by Will Richardson

Excerpt:

Here’s an idea: A Minimal Viable Curriculum (MVC). That’s what Christian Talbot over at Basecamp is proposing, and I have to say, I love the idea.

He writes: “What if we were to design MVCs: Minimum Viable Curricula centered on just enough content to empower learners to examine questions or pursue challenges with rigor? Then, as learners go deeper into a question or challenge, they update their MVC…which is pretty much how learning happens in the real world.”

The key there to me is that THEY update their MVC. That resonates so deeply; it feels like that’s what I’m doing with my learning each day as I read about and work with school leaders who are thinking deeply about change.

 

When we pursue questions that matter to us, rigor is baked in.

 

From DSC:
I love the idea of giving students — as they can handle it — more choice, more control. So anytime around 8th-12th grade, I say we turn much more control over to the students, and let them make more choices on what they want to learn about. We should at least try some experiments along these lines.

 

 

As everyone in the workforce is now required to be a lifelong learner, our quality of life goes much higher if we actually enjoy learning. As I think about it, I have often heard an adult (especially middle age and older) say something like, “I hated school, but now, I love to learn.”

Plus, I can easily imagine greater engagement with the materials that students choose for themselves, as well as increased attention spans and higher motivation levels.

Also, here’s a major shout out to Will Richardson, Bruce Dixon, Missy Emler and Lyn Hilt for the work they are doing at ModernLearners.com.

 

Check out the work over at Modern Learners dot com

 

 

How to teach a good first day of class — from chronicle.com by James Lang
Four Key Principles | Before the First Day | The First Day of Class | After the First Day | Resources

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Do not begin the first day of the semester by immediately handing out the syllabus. Instead, spark their curiosity about the content first, and then demonstrate — with a review of the syllabus — how the course content can help satisfy that curiosity.

 

From DSC:
I think what’s also implied here is putting one’s case forward about how the content is ***relevant*** today.

 

Also this is a good practice to do as well, but for the end of the term/semester/quarter/whatever:

 

 

How faculty can ‘click’ their way to a more inclusive classroom — from edsurge.com by Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy

Excerpt:

What do you think is important for an instructor to do when using classroom response systems (polling software or clickers)? Select all that apply.

A) Choose questions that most students will be able to answer correctly.

B) Vary the types of poll questions beyond multiple choice.

C) Ask students “Please discuss your answer with a neighbor.”

D) Stress that students answer questions independent of their peers.

Classroom response systems (CRS) have a mixed reputation. Studies have suggested that these tools, which allow students to respond in real time to questions provided by an instructor, can improve student learning. But other reports show that is not always the case.

Like many education tools, it depends. And in the case of clickers and other classroom polling software, it largely depends on how instructors are using them. If used thoughtfully, we’ve seen that CRSs can help facilitate active learning in a classroom. What’s more, these tools can be used to also facilitate an inclusive classroom.

What do we mean by an inclusive classroom? Faculty risk excluding certain students and impeding their ability to succeed when they aren’t intentional about design and facilitation. Inclusive course design involves more than choosing content; it also requires considering the number of assessments, opportunities for practice, the chances for students to assess their understanding of material, among other attributes.

 

 

 

100 voices of AR/VR in education — from virtualiteach.com

 

 

Ambitious VR experience restores 7,000 Roman buildings, monuments to their former glory  — from smithsonianmag.com by Meilan Solly
You can take an aerial tour of the city circa 320 A.D. or stop by specific sites for in-depth exploration

Excerpt:

Ever wish you could step into a hot air balloon, travel back in time to 320 A.D., and soar over the streets of Ancient Rome? Well, that oddly specific fantasy is achievable in a new virtual reality experience called “Rome Reborn.”

The ambitious undertaking, painstakingly built by a team of 50 academics and computer experts over a 22-year period, recreates 7,000 buildings and monuments scattered across a 5.5 square mile stretch of the famed Italian city. The project, according to Tom Kington of the Times, is being marketed as the largest digital reconstruction of Rome to date.


A snapshot from Rome Reborn

 

VR Isn’t a Novelty: Here’s How to Integrate it Into the Curriculum — from edsurge.com by Jan Sikorsky

Excerpt:

While the application of VR to core academics remains nascent, early returns are promising: research now suggests students retain more information and can better synthesize and apply what they have learned after participating in virtual reality exercises.

And the technology is moving within the reach of classroom teachers. While once considered high-end and cost-prohibitive, virtual reality is becoming more affordable. Discovery VR and Google Expeditions offer several virtual reality experiences for free. Simple VR viewers now come in relatively low-cost DIY cardboard view boxes, like Google Cardboard, that fit a range of VR-capable smartphones.

Still, teachers may remain unsure of how they might implement such cutting-edge technology in their classrooms. Their concerns are well founded. Virtual reality takes careful planning and implementation for success. It’s not simply plug-and-play technology. It also takes a lot of work to develop.


From DSC:

Reduced costs & greater development efficiencies needed here:

“In our case, to create just 10 minutes of simulation, a team of six developers logged almost 1,000 hours of development time.”

 

 

Unveiling RLab: the First-City Funded VR/AR Center in the Country Opens Doors at Brooklyn Navy Yard — from prnewswire.com
New York City’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Center Will Fuel Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Education, While Creating Hundreds of Well-Paying Jobs

Excerpt:

BROOKLYN, N.Y.Oct. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the Brooklyn Navy Yard today announced the launch of RLab – the first City-funded virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) lab in the country. Administered by NYU Tandon with a participating consortium of New York City universities, including Columbia UniversityCUNY and The New School, RLab will operate out of Building 22 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and will cement New York City’s status as a global leader in VR/AR, creating over 750 jobs in the industry.

 

 

New virtual reality lab at UNMC — from wowt.com

 

 

 

 

This VR-live actor mashup is like your best absinthe-fueled nightmare — from cnet.com by Joan Solsman
Chained, an immersive reimagining of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, weds virtual reality with a motion-capture live actor. Could it be the gateway that makes VR a hit?

 

 

Also see:

 

…and this as well:

 

See the results of a months-long effort to create a HoloLens experience that pays homage to Mont-Saint-Michel, in Normandy, France, in all its forms – as a physical relief map and work of art; as a real place visited by millions of people over the centuries; and as a remarkable digital story of resilience. In this three-part Today in Technology series, they examine how AI and mixed reality can open a new window into French culture by using technology like HoloLens.

 

 

 

From DSC:
I have often reflected on differentiation or what some call personalized learning and/or customized learning. How does a busy teacher, instructor, professor, or trainer achieve this, realistically?

It’s very difficult and time-consuming to do for sure. But it also requires a team of specialists to achieve such a holy grail of learning — as one person can’t know it all. That is, one educator doesn’t have the necessary time, skills, or knowledge to address so many different learning needs and levels!

  • Think of different cognitive capabilities — from students that have special learning needs and challenges to gifted students
  • Or learners that have different physical capabilities or restrictions
  • Or learners that have different backgrounds and/or levels of prior knowledge
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Educators  and trainers have so many things on their plates that it’s very difficult to come up with _X_ lesson plans/agendas/personalized approaches, etc.  On the other side of the table, how do students from a vast array of backgrounds and cognitive skill levels get the main points of a chapter or piece of text? How can they self-select the level of difficulty and/or start at a “basics” level and work one’s way up to harder/more detailed levels if they can cognitively handle that level of detail/complexity? Conversely, how do I as a learner get the boiled down version of a piece of text?

Well… just as with the flipped classroom approach, I’d like to suggest that we flip things a bit and enlist teams of specialists at the publishers to fulfill this need. Move things to the content creation end — not so much at the delivery end of things. Publishers’ teams could play a significant, hugely helpful role in providing customized learning to learners.

Some of the ways that this could happen:

Use an HTML like language when writing a textbook, such as:

<MainPoint> The text for the main point here. </MainPoint>

<SubPoint1>The text for the subpoint 1 here.</SubPoint1>

<DetailsSubPoint1>More detailed information for subpoint 1 here.</DetailsSubPoint1>

<SubPoint2>The text for the subpoint 2 here.</SubPoint2>

<DetailsSubPoint2>More detailed information for subpoint 2 here.</DetailsSubPoint2>

<SubPoint3>The text for the subpoint 3 here.</SubPoint3>

<DetailsSubPoint3>More detailed information for subpoint 3 here.</DetailsSubPoint1>

<SummaryOfMainPoints>A list of the main points that a learner should walk away with.</SummaryOfMainPoints>

<BasicsOfMainPoints>Here is a listing of the main points, but put in alternative words and more basic ways of expressing those main points. </BasicsOfMainPoints>

<Conclusion> The text for the concluding comments here.</Conclusion>

 

<BasicsOfMainPoints> could be called <AlternativeExplanations>
Bottom line: This tag would be to put things forth using very straightforward terms.

Another tag would be to address how this topic/chapter is relevant:
<RealWorldApplication>This short paragraph should illustrate real world examples

of this particular topic. Why does this topic matter? How is it relevant?</RealWorldApplication>

 

On the students’ end, they could use an app that works with such tags to allow a learner to quickly see/review the different layers. That is:

  • Show me just the main points
  • Then add on the sub points
  • Then fill in the details
    OR
  • Just give me the basics via an alternative ways of expressing these things. I won’t remember all the details. Put things using easy-to-understand wording/ideas.

 

It’s like the layers of a Microsoft HoloLens app of the human anatomy:

 

Or it’s like different layers of a chapter of a “textbook” — so a learner could quickly collapse/expand the text as needed:

 

This approach could be helpful at all kinds of learning levels. For example, it could be very helpful for law school students to obtain outlines for cases or for chapters of information. Similarly, it could be helpful for dental or medical school students to get the main points as well as detailed information.

Also, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) grows, the system could check a learner’s cloud-based learner profile to see their reading level or prior knowledge, any IEP’s on file, their learning preferences (audio, video, animations, etc.), etc. to further provide a personalized/customized learning experience. 

To recap:

  • “Textbooks” continue to be created by teams of specialists, but add specialists with knowledge of students with special needs as well as for gifted students. For example, a team could have experts within the field of Special Education to help create one of the overlays/or filters/lenses — i.e., to reword things. If the text was talking about how to hit a backhand or a forehand, the alternative text layer could be summed up to say that tennis is a sport…and that a sport is something people play. On the other end of the spectrum, the text could dive deeply into the various grips a person could use to hit a forehand or backhand.
  • This puts the power of offering differentiation at the point of content creation/development (differentiation could also be provided for at the delivery end, but again, time and expertise are likely not going to be there)
  • Publishers create “overlays” or various layers that can be turned on or off by the learners
  • Can see whole chapters or can see main ideas, topic sentences, and/or details. Like HTML tags for web pages.
  • Can instantly collapse chapters to main ideas/outlines.

 

 

Top Trends in Active and Collaborative Learning — from thesextantgroup.com by Joe Hammett

Excerpts:

My daughter is a maker. She spends hours tinkering with sewing machines and slime recipes, building salamander habitats and the like. She hangs out with her school friends inside apps that teach math and problem solving through multi-player games. All the while, they are learning to communicate and collaborate in ways that are completely foreign to their grandparent’s generation. She is 10 years old and represents a shift in human cognitive processing brought about by the mastery of technology from a very young age. Her generation and those that come after have never known a time without technology. Personal devices have changed the shared human experience and there is no turning back.

The spaces in which this new human chooses to occupy must cater to their style of existence. They see every display as interactive and are growing up knowing that the entirety of human knowledge is available to them by simply asking Alexa. The 3D printer is a familiar concept and space travel for pleasure will be the norm when they have children of their own.

Current trends in active and collaborative learning are evolving alongside these young minds and when appropriately implemented, enable experiential learning and creative encounters that are changing the very nature of the learning process. Attention to the spaces that will support the educators is also paramount to this success. Lesson plans and teaching style must flip with the classroom. The learning space is just a room without the educator and their content.

 


8. Flexible and Reconfigurable
With floor space at a premium, classrooms need to be able to adapt to a multitude of uses and pedagogies. Flexible furniture will allow the individual instructor freedom to set up the space as needed for their intended activities without impacting the next person to use the room. Construction material choices are key to achieving an easily reconfigurable space. Raised floors and individually controllable lighting fixtures allow a room to go from lecture to group work with ease. Whiteboard paints and rail mounting systems make walls reconfigurable too!.

Active Learning, Flipped Classroom, SCALE-UP, TEAL Classroom, whatever label you choose to place before it, the classroom, learning spaces of all sorts, are changing. The occupants of these spaces demand that they are able to effectively, and comfortably, share ideas and collaborate on projects with their counterparts both in person and in the ether. A global shift is happening in the way humans share ideas. Disruptive technology, on a level not seen since the assembly line, is driving a change in the way humans interact with other humans. The future is collaborative.

 

 

 

A Space for Learning: A review of research on active learning spaces — from by Robert Talbert and Anat Mor-Avi

Abstract:
Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) are learning spaces specially designed to optimize the practice of active learning and amplify its positive effects in learners from young children through university-level learners. As interest in and adoption of ALCs has increased rapidly over the last decade, the need for grounded research in their effects on learners and schools has grown proportionately. In this paper, we review the peer-reviewed published research on ALCs, dating back to the introduction of “studio” classrooms and the SCALE-UP program up to the present day. We investigate the literature and summarize findings on the effects of ALCs on learning outcomes, student engagement, and the behaviors and practices of instructors as well as the specific elements of ALC design that seem to contribute the most to these effects. We also look at the emerging cultural impact of ALCs on institutions of learning, and we examine the drawbacks of the published research as well as avenues for potential future research in this area.

 

1: Introduction
1.1: What is active learning, and what is an active learning classroom?
Active learning is defined broadly to include any pedagogical method that involves students actively working on learning tasks and reflecting on their work, apart from watching, listening, and taking notes (Bonwell & Eison, 1991). Active learning has taken hold as a normative instructional practice in K12 and higher education institutions worldwide. Recent studies, such as the 2014 meta-analysis linking active learning pedagogies with dramatically reduced failure rates in university-level STEM courses (Freeman et al., 2014) have established that active learning drives increased student learning and engagement across disciplines, grade levels, and demographics.

As schools, colleges, and universities increasingly seek to implement active learning, concerns about the learning spaces used for active learning have naturally arisen. Attempts to implement active learning pedagogies in spaces that are not attuned to the particular needs of active learning — for example, large lecture halls with fixed seating — have resulted in suboptimal results and often frustration among instructors and students alike. In an effort to link architectural design to best practices in active learning pedagogy, numerous instructors, school leaders, and architects have explored how learning spaces can be differently designed to support active learning and amplify its positive effects on student learning. The result is a category of learning spaces known as Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs).

While there is no universally accepted definition of an ALC, the spaces often described by this term have several common characteristics:

  • ALCs are classrooms, that is, formal spaces in which learners convene for educational activities. We do not include less-formal learning spaces such as faculty offices, library study spaces, or “in-between” spaces located in hallways or foyers.
  • ALCs include deliberate architectural and design attributes that are specifically intended to promote active learning. These typically include moveable furniture that can be reconfigured into a variety of different setups with ease, seating that places students in small groups, plentiful horizontal and/or vertical writing surfaces such as whiteboards, and easy access to learning
    technologies (including technological infrastructure such as power outlets).
  • In particular, most ALCs have a “polycentric” or “acentric” design in which there is no clearly-defined front of the room by default. Rather, the instructor has a station which is either
    movable or located in an inconspicuous location so as not to attract attention; or perhaps there is no specific location for the instructor.
  • Finally, ALCs typically provide easy access to digital and analog tools for learning , such as multiple digital projectors, tablet or laptop computers, wall-mounted and personal whiteboards, or classroom response systems.

2.1: Research questions
The main question that this study intends to investigate is: What are the effects of the use of ALCs on student learning, faculty teaching, and institutional cultures? Within this broad overall question, we will focus on four research questions:

  1. What effects do ALCs have on measurable metrics of student academic achievement? Included in such metrics are measures such as exam scores, course grades, and learning gains on pre/post-test measures, along with data on the acquisition of “21st Century Skills”, which we will define using a framework (OCDE, 2009) which groups “21st Century Skills” into skills pertaining to information, communication, and ethical/social impact.
  2. What effects do ALCs have on student engagement? Specifically, we examine results pertaining to affective, behavioral, and cognitive elements of the idea of “engagement” as well as results that cut across these categories.
  3. What effect do ALCs have on the pedagogical practices and behaviors of instructors? In addition to their effects on students, we are also interested the effects of ALCs on the instructors who use them. Specifically, we are interested in how ALCs affect instructor attitudes toward and implementations of active learning, how ALCs influence faculty adoption of active learning pedagogies, and how the use of ALCs affects instructors’ general and environmental behavior.
  4. What specific design elements of ALCs contribute significantly to the above effects? Finally, we seek to identify the critical elements of ALCs that contribute the most to their effects on student learning and instructor performance, including affordances and elements of design, architecture, and technology integration.

 

Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs)

 

 

The common denominator in the larger cultural effects of ALCs and active learning on students and instructors is the notion of connectedness, a concept we have already introduced in discussions of specific ALC design elements. By being freer to move and have physical and visual contact with each other in a class meeting, students feel more connected to each other and more connected to their instructor. By having an architectural design that facilitates not only movement but choice and agency — for example, through the use of polycentric layouts and reconfigurable furniture — the line between instructor and students is erased, turning the ALC into a vessel in which an authentic community of learners can take form.

 

 

 

 

Reflections on “Are ‘smart’ classrooms the future?” [Johnston]

Are ‘smart’ classrooms the future? — from campustechnology.com by Julie Johnston
Indiana University explores that question by bringing together tech partners and university leaders to share ideas on how to design classrooms that make better use of faculty and student time.

Excerpt:

To achieve these goals, we are investigating smart solutions that will:

  • Untether instructors from the room’s podium, allowing them control from anywhere in the room;
  • Streamline the start of class, including biometric login to the room’s technology, behind-the-scenes routing of course content to room displays, control of lights and automatic attendance taking;
  • Offer whiteboards that can be captured, routed to different displays in the room and saved for future viewing and editing;
  • Provide small-group collaboration displays and the ability to easily route content to and from these displays; and
  • Deliver these features through a simple, user-friendly and reliable room/technology interface.

Activities included collaborative brainstorming focusing on these questions:

  • What else can we do to create the classroom of the future?
  • What current technology exists to solve these problems?
  • What could be developed that doesn’t yet exist?
  • What’s next?

 

 

 

From DSC:
Though many peoples’ — including faculty members’ — eyes gloss over when we start talking about learning spaces and smart classrooms, it’s still an important topic. Personally, I’d rather be learning in an engaging, exciting learning environment that’s outfitted with a variety of tools (physically as well as digitally and virtually-based) that make sense for that community of learners. Also, faculty members have very limited time to get across campus and into the classroom and get things setup…the more things that can be automated in those setup situations the better!

I’ve long posted items re: machine-to-machine communications, voice recognition/voice-enabled interfaces, artificial intelligence, bots, algorithms, a variety of vendors and their products including Amazon’s Alexa / Apple’s Siri / Microsoft’s Cortana / and Google’s Home or Google Assistant, learning spaces, and smart classrooms, as I do think those things are components of our future learning ecosystems.

 

 

 

From DSC:
Ever notice how effective Ted Talks begin? They seek to instantly grab your attention with a zinger question, a somewhat shocking statement, an interesting story, a joke, an important problem or an issue, a personal anecdote or experience, a powerful image/photo/graphic, a brief demonstration, and the like.

Grabbing someone’s attention is a key first step in getting a piece of information into someone’s short-term memory — what I call getting through “the gate.” If we can’t get through the gate into someone’s short-term memory, we have zero (0) chance of having them actually process that information and to think about and engage with that piece of content. If we can’t make it into someone’s short-term memory, we can’t get that piece of information into their long-term memory for later retrieval/recall. There won’t be any return on investment (ROI) in that case.

 

 

So why not try starting up one of your classes this week with a zinger question, a powerful image/photo/video, or a story from your own work experience? I’ll bet you’ll grab your students’ attentions instantly! Then you can move on into the material for a greater ROI. From there, offering frequent, low-stakes quizzes will hopefully help your students slow down their forgetting curves and help them practice recalling/retrieving that information. By the way, that’s why stories are quite powerful. We often remember them better. So if you can weave an illustrative story into your next class, your students might really benefit from it come final test time!

Also relevant/see:

Ready, set, speak: 5 strong ways to start your next presentation — from abovethelaw.com by Olga Mack, with thanks to Mr. Otto Stockmeyer for this resource
No matter which of these five ways you decide to launch your presentation, ensure that you make it count, and make it memorable.

Excerpts:

  1. Tell a captivating story
  2. Ask thought-provoking questions to the audience
  3. State a shocking headline or statistic
  4. Use a powerful quote
  5. Use silence
    When delivering a speech, a pause of about three or even as many as 10 seconds will allow your audience to sit and quiet down. Because most people always expect the speaker to start immediately, this silence will thus catch the attention of the audience. They will be instinctively more interested in what you had to say, and why you took your time to say it. This time will also help you gather your nerves and prepare to speak.

 

 

 

Production Values for Audio Podcasts, Part I — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Jeff D’Anza

Excerpts:

There are a number of production values that narrative podcasters find effective for grabbing listener attention and keeping their audiences engaged in the story; you could think of these as technical elements of professional audio quality. They range from techniques for improving content when applied to script writing to methods applied to audio recording and editing. The most successful professional podcasters use these elements to create immersion in the audio environment and to eliminate audio distraction. The result is the creation of a kind of audio theater. Here are four basic practices to embrace while creating your narrative podcasts.

  1. Set the scene first
  2. Hook the audience
  3. Vary character voices
  4. Talk like real people

 

Production Values for Audio Podcasts, Part II — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Jeff D’Anza

Excerpts:

In this article, I will continue with more production tricks that can substantially increase the quality of your narrative podcasts.

Use music to reset scenes
It’s not revolutionary to suggest that learners tend to have short attention spans, and the case is no different when it comes to narrative podcasts. Every so often you need to reset your learners’ brains in order to keep their attention level high.

One excellent way to accomplish this is through the use of musical breaks. Music breaks can function as a type of auditory palate cleanser, allowing the brain a few moments to stop focusing on information that is being presented and prepare the learner to be ready for the next section of content.

Also:

  • Host/producer structure
  • Get out of the studio
  • Don’t fear insignificant details

 


From DSC:

Seems to me there’s some wisdom here for instructional designers as well as professors, teachers, and trainers who are creating learning/training related content and/or who are flipping their classrooms.

 

 

 

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