Many students complain that online-based learning doesn’t engage them. Well, check this idea out! [Christian]


From DSC…by the way, another title for this blog could have been:

WIN-WIN situations all around! The Theatre Departments out there could collaborate with other depts/disciplines to develop highly engaging, digitally-based learning experiences! 


The future of drama and the theatre — as well as opera, symphonies, and more — will likely include a significant virtual/digital component to them. While it’s too early to say that theatre needs to completely reinvent itself and move “the stage” completely online, below is an idea that creates a variety of WIN-WIN situations for actors, actresses, stage designers, digital audio/video editors, fine artists, graphic designers, programmers, writers, journalists, web designers, and many others as well — including the relevant faculty members!

A new world of creative, engaging, active learning could open up if those involved with the Theatre Department could work collaboratively with students/faculty members from other disciplines. And in the end, the learning experiences and content developed would be highly engaging — and perhaps even profitable for the institutions themselves!

A WIN-WIN situation all around! The Theatre Department could collaborate with other depts/disciplines to develop highly engaging learning experiences!

[DC: I only slightly edited the above image from the Theatre Department at WMU]

 

Though the integration of acting with online-based learning materials is not a new idea, this post encourages a far more significant interdisciplinary collaboration between the Theatre Department and other departments/disciplines.

Consider a “Dealing with Bias in Journalism” type of topic, per a class in the Digital Media and Journalism Major.

  • Students from the Theatre Department work collaboratively with the students from the most appropriate class(es?) from the Communications Department to write the script, as per the faculty members’ 30,000-foot instructions (not 1000-foot level/detailed instructions)
  • Writing the script would entail skills involved with research, collaboration, persuasion, creativity, communication, writing, and more
  • The Theatre students would ultimately act out the script — backed up by those learning about sound design, stage design, lighting design, costume design, etc.
  • Example scene: A woman is sitting around the kitchen table, eating breakfast and reading a posting — aloud — from a website that includes some serious bias in it that offends the reader. She threatens to cancel her subscription, contact the editor, and more. She calls out to her partner why she’s so mad about the article. 
  • Perhaps there could be two or more before/after scenes, given some changes in the way the article was written.
  • Once the scenes were shot, the digital video editors, programmers, web designers, and more could take that material and work with the faculty members to integrate those materials into an engaging, interactive, branching type of learning experience. 
  • From there, the finished product would be deployed by the relevant faculty members.

Scenes from WMU's Theatre Department

[DC: Above images from the Theatre Department at WMU]

 

Colleges and universities could share content with each other and/or charge others for their products/content/learning experiences. In the future, I could easily see a marketplace for buying and selling such engaging content. This could create a needed new source of revenue — especially given that those large auditoriums and theaters are likely not bringing in as much revenue as they typically do. 

Colleges and universities could also try to reach out to local acting groups to get them involved and continue to create feeders into the world of work.

Other tags/categories could include:

  • MOOCs
  • Learning from the Living[Class]Room
  • Multimedia / digital literacy — tools from Adobe, Apple, and others.
  • Passions, participation, engagement, attention.
  • XR: Creating immersive, Virtual Reality (VR)-based experiences
  • Learning Experience Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Interface Design
  • …and more

Also see:

What improv taught me about failure: As a teacher and academic — from scholarlyteacher.com by Katharine Hubbard

what improv taught me about failure -as a teacher and academic

In improv, the only way to “fail” is to overthink and not have fun, which reframed what failure was on a grand scale and made me start looking at academia through the same lens. What I learned about failure through improv comes back to those same two core concepts: have fun and stop overthinking.

Students are more engaged when the professor is having fun with the materials (Keller, Hoy, Goetz, & Frenzel, 2016), and teaching is more enjoyable when we are having fun ourselves.

 

Academia needs a reality check: Life is not back to normal — from sciencemag.org by June Gruber, Jay J. Van Bavel , William A. Cunningham, Leah H. Somerville, Neil A. Lewis, Jr.; with special thanks to Dr. Kate Byerwalter for this resource

Excerpts:

The problems don’t end there. Many academics are also grappling with ongoing racial injustices and associated protests, wildfires, and hurricanes. We continue to see widespread effects on mental health, with roughly one-third of Americans reporting symptoms of clinical depression or anxiety. June and her colleague recently described the escalating mental health crisis as the next biggest coronavirus challenge.

We have struggled with our own mental and physical well-being—as well as challenges associated with canceled vacations, lack of child care, the illnesses and death of people close to us, and the mental weight of difficult conversations about racial injustices. We’ve also been worrying about our trainees and the undergraduate students in our classes. The academic and non-academic job markets have cratered, and some of our colleagues and students have lost internships and job offers as organizations have been forced to cut expenses.

Expecting the same output as in previous years, even though many people have less time and more stress than ever, is not a sustainable or humane solution. The world is not normal—so the way we do science cannot be normal either.

 
 

Google achieves first quantum simulation of a chemical reaction — from interestingengineering.com by Loukia Papadopoulos

Excerpt:

Now, researchers at Google have taken a step forward in quantum computing practicality by using one such computer to simulate a chemical reaction, albeit a simple one, reported New Scientist. The company used its Sycamore computer to achieve this lofty task.

Also see:

This Taiwanese Lecturer Draws Stunning Anatomical Drawings on the Chalkboard — from interestingengineering.com by Utku Kucukduner
His paintings are temporary, just like the mortal flesh we bear.

This Taiwanese Lecturer Draws Stunning Anatomical Drawings on the Chalkboard

 

Information re: virtual labs from the Online Learning Consortium


 7 Things You Should Know About Virtual Labs — from library.educause.edu

Excerpt:

Virtual labs are interactive, digital simulations of activities that typically take place in physical laboratory settings. Virtual labs simulate the tools, equipment, tests, and procedures used in chemistry, biochemistry, physics, biology, and other disciplines. Virtual labs allow students to participate in lab-based learning exercises without the costs and limitations of a physical lab. Virtual labs can be an important element in institutional efforts to expand access to lab-based courses to more and different groups of students, as well as efforts to establish contingency plans for natural disasters or other interruptions of campus activities.

 


Addendum on 8/27/20:

 

The novel coronavirus is not a statistic. It’s not an agenda. It’s not a debate. COVID-19 is real enough to rise up and beat me senseless. We need to stop giving it license to do the same to others.

[Bill Plaschke]

 

This HoloLens 2 app is helping doctors learn how to ID coronavirus — from venturebeat.com by Jamie Feltham

Excerpt:

The app, meanwhile, takes users through four stages of COVID-19 illness, providing a safe means for doctors and nurses to recognize symptoms seen in a typical case.

Also see:

How a DNA Test Machine Mutated to Find Covid in 90 Minutes — from bloomberg.com by John Lauerman

Excerpt:

Now his lab-in-a-box will be used to see whether patients arriving at hospitals for surgery, cancer treatment and other procedures harbor Covid-19 — an unexpected detour in his contribution to the consumer genetics revolution.

 

From DSC:
My dad is hard of hearing and the issue continues to get worse, though his hearing aids do help some. I’ve been looking for an app that could take what’s being spoken — in real-time — and write it out for him on a device (iPad, iPhone, other). But the WiFi network is not available at the retirement home where he’s at. So this needs to work off of a cellular connection. If you know of some solid apps in this regard, please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!

Items mentioned in a video I saw the other day, but may have different applications:

 

 

Handheld retinal camera as an eye for innovation – D-EYE review — from medicalfuturist.com

The future of opthamology

Excerpt:

Sure, if something’s portable, easy to use and helps patients and doctors alike, it definitely ticks all our boxes. Does that mean we are going to test it though? Who are we kidding, of course it does! Join us on our journey to learn about the present and future of ophthalmology – and to get to know D-EYE, a new handheld digital retinal camera.

Ophthalmology can really profit from telemedicine. Recognising its potential, tech companies started targeting this medical sector, producing more and more interesting apps and devices. So, naturally, we’ve kept our eyes on ophthalmology for the past couple of years.

 

 

How the research on learning can drive change — from gettingsmart.com by Chris Sturgis

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

#2 Learning results from the interplay of cognition, emotion, and motivation.
The brain does not clearly separate cognitive from emotional functioning so that optimal learning environments will engage both. It’s important that students feel safe if learning is to be optimized. When we are afraid, our amygdala becomes activated making it harder to learn. Do students feel valued? Relationships matter in creating a culture of inclusivity and belonging. Are schools designed so that teachers and professors have the opportunity to build strong relationships with students? Do students feel that the school and teachers want them to be successful? Do they have chances to receive feedback and revise or do grading practices simply judge them?

 

From DSC:
Two instances — plus a simmering question — instantly stand out in my mind when I read the above paragraph.

First instance:
It was years ago and I was working at a Fortune 500 company outside of Chicago. I was given the chance to learn how to program in one of the divisions of this company. I was in a conference room with my brand new boss. I had asked him a question about a piece of code, which clearly must have let him know I had some serious misunderstandings.

But instead of being patient, he grew increasingly frustrated at my lack of understanding. The madder he got, the worse my learning became. My focus shifted from processing the expected syntax of the code — and the content/instruction overall that he was trying to relay — to almost completely being concerned with his anger. My processing shut down and things deteriorated from there.

Second instance:
My mom was a classical piano teacher for decades. Though she was often loved by her students, she could be very tough, strong, and forceful. (This was true of several of my siblings’ music teachers as well.) Most of the time, she developed wonderful, strong relationships with the vast majority of her students, many of which came back to our house around Christmastime / New Year’s to visit with her (even long after “graduating”).

I mention that as background to a different context…when I observed my mom trying to teach one of my nieces how to do a math problem in the kitchen of our old house. Again, the teacher in this case kept getting increasingly frustrated, while the student kept shrinking back into their shell…trying to deflect the increasingly hot anger coming at them. The cognitive processing stopped. The amount of actual learning taking place quickly declined. I finally intervened to say that they should come back to this topic later on.

(The counselors/therapists out there would probably rightly connect these two scenarios for what was happening in my mind (i.e., not wanting to deal with the other person’s growing anger). But this applies to many more of us than just me, I’m afraid.)

A simmering question involving law schools and a common teaching method:
In law schools, one of the long-standing teaching methods is the Socratic Method.

Depending upon the professor and their teaching style, one student could be under intense pressure to address the facts, rules, the legal principles of a case, and much more. They often have to stand up in front of the class.

In those instances, I wonder how much capacity to actually process information gets instantly reduced within many of the students’ brains when they get the spotlight shown on them? Do the more introverted and/or less confident students start to sweat? Do their fear levels and heart rates increase? With the issue of having other students attempting to learn from this grilling aside, I wonder what happens to the amygdalas of the students that were called upon?

You can probably tell that I’m not a big fan of the Socratic Method IF it begins to involve too much emotion…too much anger or fear. Not good. The amount of learning taking place can be significantly impacted.

A professor, teacher, or trainer can’t know all of the underlying background, psychology, personality differences, emotional makeup, and experiences of each learner. But getting back to the article, I appreciate what the author was saying about the importance of establishing a SAFE learning environment. The more fear, anger, and a sense of being threatened or scared are involved, the less learning/processing can occur.

 

Healthy looks different on every body...and learning looks different with every mind.

 

From DSC:
On one hand:

Next-gen supercomputers are fast-tracking treatments for the coronavirus in a race against time  — from cnbc.com by Charlie Wood

Key points:

  • Scientists are using IBM’s Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to help find promising candidate drugs to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
  • Using the computer’s muscle, researchers digitally simulated how 8,000 different molecules would interact with the virus.
  • The project was able to identify 77 candidate molecules that other researchers can now test in trials.
  • Supercomputing is also being used to tackle other major global issues, such as climate change.

On the other hand:

AI could help with the next pandemic—but not with this one — from technologyreview.comby Will Douglas Heaven
Some things need to change if we want AI to be useful next time, and you might not like them.

“The hype outstrips the reality. In fact, the narrative that has appeared in many news reports & breathless press releases—that AI is a powerful new weapon against diseases—is only partly true & risks becoming counterproductive.”

 

 

Six quick— but very important— points about Coronavirus and poverty in the US –– from commondreams.org by Bill Quigley; with thanks to a colleague at WMU-Cooley Law School for her message on this.
The most vulnerable among us simply do not have the same options as the most privileged.

Excerpts:

In the United States, tens of millions of people are at a much greater risk of getting sick from the coronavirus than others.  The most vulnerable among us do not have the option to comply with suggestions to stay home from work or work remotely. Most low wage workers do not have any paid sick days and cannot do their work from home.  The over two million people in jails and prisons each night do not have these options nor do the half a million homeless people.

One.  Thirty-four million workers do not have a single day of paid sick leave. Even though most of the developed world gives its workers paid sick leave there is no federal law requiring it for workers.

Two.  Low wage workers and people without a paid sick day have to continue to work to survive.

Three.  About 30 million people in the US do not have health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Four.  Staying home is not an option for the homeless.

Five.  Nearly 2.2 million people are in jails and prisons every day, the highest rate in the world.

Six.  Solutions?  [The article lists several.]

 

Johns Hopkins dashboard maps global coronavirus cases — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University has developed an interactive, web-based dashboard that tracks the status of COVID-19 around the world. The resource provides a visualization of the “location and number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries for all affected countries,” according to a university blog post.

 

CDC issues COVID-19 guidance to higher ed — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued interim guidance for higher education administrators on how to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s intended to prevent “community spread” of the virus in two ways: by telling colleges and universities how to keep students, staff and faculty safe and by providing information to academic experts who may be called upon by local health departments for help. The guidance is also intended to assist administrators in planning “for the continuity of teaching, learning and research” if COVID-19 shows up locally and to reduce the stigma attached to the illness for those who have been affected.

 

COVID-19 resources as listed out on Educause

Excerpt:

COVID-19, or Coronavirus 19, is a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. This virus has been detected in the United States (CDC, COVID19 Summary). For further information concerning the source and spread of the disease, please see the WHO and CDC sites listed below.

 

How higher education can adapt to the future of work — from weforum.org by Farnam Jahanian, President, Carnegie Mellon University; with thanks to Evan Kirstel for sharing this here

Excerpts:

Embrace the T-shaped approach to knowledge
The broad set of skills needed by tomorrow’s workforce also affects our approach to educational structure. At Carnegie Mellon University—like many other institutions—we have been making disciplinary boundaries much more porous and have launched programmes at the edges and intersections of traditional fields, such as behavioral economics, computational biology, and the nexus of design, arts, and technology. We believe this approach prepares our students for a future where thinking and working across boundaries will be vital. The value of combining both breadth and depth in higher education has also led to many universities embracing “T-shaped” teaching and learning philosophies, in which vertical (deep disciplinary) expertise is combined with horizontal (cross-cutting) knowledge.

Invest in personalised, technology-enhanced learning
The demand for more highly skilled workers continues to grow. Recent analysis of U.S. data by The Wall Street Journal found that more than 40% of manufacturing workers now have a college degree. By 2022, manufacturers are projected to employ more college graduates than workers with a high-school education or less. Technology-enhanced learning can help us keep up with demand and offer pathways for the existing workforce to gain new skills. AI-based learning tools developed in the past decade have incredible potential to personalise education, enhance college readiness and access, and improve educational outcomes. And perhaps most importantly, technology-enhanced learning has the compelling potential to narrow socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps among students.

The rapid pace of today’s advances requires a more comprehensive workforce and education strategy across a spectrum of measures, including policy, access, programmes and outreach. The private sector, government, educators and policy-makers must work together to deliver multiple pathways to opportunity for young people looking for their first foothold in the job market, as well as to re-skill and up-skill workers striving to maintain their place in the workforce. 

 

Healthy looks different on every body...and learning looks different with every mind.

From DSC:
What I mean by this is this:

While I certainly agree that research has produced excellent, proven, effective pedagogies that work with many students (the majority even), the fact is, learning is messy. When a child walks into a classroom, there isn’t even one other child with the exact same neural situation.

Nor is there even one other student with the exact same experiences, background, passions, motivations, interests, etc. I’ve experienced this with our daughter who isn’t a part of the 80% that the typical education train addresses. Look out if you are part of the 10% of either side of the bell curve! As your learning experiences are too costly to address and likely won’t be addressed in many cases.

All that said, I still agree that the teaching and learning strategies are still highly relevant across the masses. My point is that there is still a lot of diversity out there. They say that learning is messy for a reason. If you doubt that, go sit in on an IEP sometime.

 

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