Are you telling stories in the classroom? — from teaching.berkeley.edu by Melanie Green

Excerpts:

Stories can make a subject accessible and even interesting… [Storytelling] can provide value, turn something abstract or obscure into something concrete.

Stories:

  • make a subject relatable and accessible to students
  • can pique interest, or demonstrate relevance, in a subject that students usually dislike, or worse, find mind-numbing
  • build meaning-making (there’s that word again), helping students to recall the information later
  • forge, or repave, paths to material that students already thought they knew, making way for new perspectives, connections, and experiences to develop through someone else’s story
  • make a subject approachable

 

From DSC:
The Master Teacher also used stories (parables) to teach people:

 

 

 

If our Creator/Designer did so, I think we should take a serious look at doing so as well.

 

 

 

 

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning— by Peter C. Brown, Henry L Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Some of the key points and learning strategies they mention in the preface:

  • The most effective learning strategies are not intuitive
  • Spaced repetition of key ideas and the interleaving of different but related topics are two excellent teaching/learning strategies

 

“This is a book about what people can do for themselves right now in order to learn better and remember longer. The responsibility for learning rests with every individual.”

 

 

Some the key points and learning strategies they mention in the first chapter:

  • When they talk about learning they mean acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities.
  • There are some immutable aspects of learning that we can probably all agree on:
    1. To be useful, learning requires memory, so what we’ve learned is till there later when we need it.
    2. We need to keep learning and remembering all our lives.
    3. Learning is an acquired skill and most effective strategies are counterintuitive
  • Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful
  • We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not
  • Rereading text and massed practice (i.e., cramming) of a skill or new knowledge are by far the preferred study strategies of learners of all stripes, but they”re also among the least productive. Rereading and cramming give rise to feeling of fluency that are taken to be signs of mastery, but for true mastery or durability these strategies are largely a waste of time.
  • Retrieval practice — recalling facts or concepts or events from memory — is a more effective learning strategy than reviewing by rereading
    • Flashcards are a simple example
    • Retrieval strengthens the memory and interrupts forgetting
    • A single simple quiz after reading a text or hearing a lecture produces better learning and remembering that rereading the text of reviewing lecture notes.
  • Periodic practice arrest forgetting, strengthens retrieval routes, and is essential for hanging onto the knowledge you want to gain.
  • Space out practice and interleave the practice of 2 or more subjects, retrieval is harder and feels less productive, but the effort produces longer lasting learning and enables more versatile application of it in later settings.
  • Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.
  • Learning styles are not supported by the empirical research.
  • When you’re adept at extracting the underlying principles or “rules” that differentiate types of problems, you’re more successful at picking the right solutions in unfamiliar situations. This skill is better acquired through interleaved and varied practice than massed practice.
  • In virtually all areas of learning, you build better mastery when you use testing as a tool to identify and bring up your areas of weakness.
  • All learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.

 

If you practice elaboration, there’s no known limit to how much you can learn. Elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know. The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to your prior knowledge, the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.***

 

“When learning is hard, you’re doing important work.”

 

“Making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning.”

 

Learning is stronger when it matters.^^^

 

  • One of the most striking research findings is the power of active retrieval — testing — to strengthen memory, and the more effortful the retrieval, the stronger the benefit.
  • The act of retrieving learning from memory has 2 profound benefits:
    1. It tells you what you know and don’t know, and therefore where to focus further study
    2. Recalling what you have learned causes your bring to reconsolidate the memory
  • To learn better and remember longer, [use]:
    • various forms of retrieval practice, such as low-stakes quizzing and self-testing
    • spacing out practice
    • interleaving the practice of different but related topics or skills
    • trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution
    • and distilling the underlying principles or rules that differentiate types of problems

 

One of the best habits a learner can instill in herself is regular self-quizzing to recalibrate her understanding of what she does and does not know. 

 

Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014).
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Make-Stick-Science-Successful-Learning/dp/0674729013

 

 

*** This quote reminds me of what turned Quin Schultze’ learning around. With Quin’s permission, the following excerpt is from Quentin Schultze’s solid book, Communicate like a True Leader (pages 35 & 36)

 

 

 

During the beginning of my sophomore year, I started reviewing each day’s class notes after classes were over. I soon realized how little I recalled even of that day’s lectures and discussions. It dawned on me that normal note-taking merely gave me the impression that I was learning. I implemented a strategy that revolutionized my learning, launched me successfully into graduate school, helped me become a solid teacher, equipped me to be a productive researcher-writer, and made it possible for me to be an engaging speaker.

I not only reviewed my notes daily. I rewrote them from scratch within a couple of hours of each class meeting. I used my actual course notes as prompts to recall more of the lecture and to help me organize my own reactions to the material. My notes expanded. My retention swelled.

My revised notes became a kind of journal of my dialogue with the instructor and the readings. I integrated into my revised course notes my daily reading notes, reworking them into language that was meaningful to me and preparing to ask the instructor at the next class anything that I was uncertain about. From then on I earned nearly straight A’s with far less cramming for exams.

Moreover, I had begun journaling about my learning — one of the most important communication skills. I became a real learner by discovering how to pay attention to others and myself.

In a broad sense, I learned how to listen.

 

^^^ This quote explains why it is so important to answer the first question a learner asks when approaching a new lesson/topic/lecture/etc.:

  • Why is this topic relevant?
    i.e., why is this topic important and worthy of my time to learn it?

 

 

Design Thinking: A Quick Overview — from interaction-design.org by Rikke Dam and Teo Siang

Excerpt:

To begin, let’s have a quick overview of the fundamental principles behind Design Thinking:

  • Design Thinking starts with empathy, a deep human focus, in order to gain insights which may reveal new and unexplored ways of seeing, and courses of action to follow in bringing about preferred situations for business and society.
  • It involves reframing the perceived problem or challenge at hand, and gaining perspectives, which allow a more holistic look at the path towards these preferred situations.
  • It encourages collaborative, multi-disciplinary teamwork to leverage the skills, personalities and thinking styles of many in order to solve multifaceted problems.
  • It initially employs divergent styles of thinking to explore as many possibilities, deferring judgment and creating an open ideations space to allow for the maximum number of ideas and points of view to surface.
  • It later employs convergent styles of thinking to isolate potential solution streams, combining and refining insights and more mature ideas, which pave a path forward.
  • It engages in early exploration of selected ideas, rapidly modelling potential solutions to encourage learning while doing, and allow for gaining additional insight into the viability of solutions before too much time or money has been spent
  • Tests the prototypes which survive the processes further to remove any potential issues.
  • Iterates through the various stages, revisiting empathetic frames of mind and then redefining the challenge as new knowledge and insight is gained along the way.
  • It starts off chaotic and cloudy steamrolling towards points of clarity until a desirable, feasible and viable solution emerges.

 

 

From DSC:
This post includes information about popular design thinking frameworks. I think it’s a helpful posting for those who have heard about design thinking but want to know more about it.

 

 

What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions we might have, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. As such, design thinking is most useful in tackling problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

Design thinking is extremely useful in tackling ill-defined or unknown problems—it reframes the problem in human-centric ways, allows the creation of many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and lets us adopt a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. Design thinking also involves on-going experimentation: sketching, prototyping, testing, and trying out concepts and ideas. It involves five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. The phases allow us to gain a deep understanding of users, critically examine the assumptions about the problem and define a concrete problem statement, generate ideas for tackling the problem, and then create prototypes for the ideas in order to test their effectiveness.

Design thinking is not about graphic design but rather about solving problems through the use of design. It is a critical skill for allprofessionals, not only designers. Understanding how to approach problems and apply design thinking enables everyone to maximize our contributions in the work environment and create incredible, memorable products for users.

 

 

 

 

The Case for Inclusive Teaching — from chronicle.com by Kevin Gannon

Excerpt:

Inclusive teaching is not condescending or fake. Rather, it’s a realization that traditional pedagogical methods — traditionally applied — have not served all of our students well. It’s a commitment to put actual substance behind our cheerful declarations that all students deserve access to higher education. Mumbling about “snowflakes” accomplishes nothing but further entrenching ineffective and unskillful practices. The beauty of inclusive pedagogy is that, rather than making special accommodations that would decrease equity, it actually benefits all students, not just those at whose needs it was originally aimed.

So what is inclusive pedagogy? It is a mind-set, a teaching-and-learning worldview, more than a discrete set of techniques. But that mind-set does value specific practices which, research suggests, are effective for a mix of students. More specifically:

It values course design. Inclusive teaching asks us to critically examine not just the way we teach on a day-to-day basis, but the prep work and organization we do before the course begins. Does our course design — including assigned readings, assessments, and daily activities — reflect a diverse array of identities and perspectives? Am I having my students read a bunch of monographs, all authored by white males, for example? And if I am, what am I telling students about how knowledge is produced in my field, and more important, about who is producing it?

Even such quotidian practices as in-class videos or case studies ought to be examined. What types of people do my students see when they watch a video featuring an expert in my discipline? Do the experts look like my students? In my teaching, am I mostly relying on one pedagogical method, where I might be able to connect with a wider array of students by differentiating the types of instruction I use? What assumptions am I making about my students’ prior experiences and educational opportunities when I ask questions in class or design my exams?

It values discernment.

It values a sense of belonging.

 

 

 

 

 

The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)

QM and Eduventures have teamed up to conduct a multi-year study to examine the changing landscape of online education, provide results to those who can use them and help those involved with online education place their institution within a broader context and possibly influence strategic decisions and organizational changes. Please complete the form on this page to gain access to the 2018 CHLOE 2 Report.

The third iteration of CHLOE is scheduled for April 2018 and focuses on in-depth coverage of issues such as governance of online programs, blended learning and the influence of subject matter on the design and delivery of online programs. If you are a Chief Online Officer and wish to participate in the next CHLOE Survey, or if you wish to nominate the COO at your institution, please contact QM’s Manager of Research & Development Barbra Burch.

Date Published:  Tue, 03/27/2018

 

Also see:

  • Online Learning’s Complex, Fractured Landscape — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman — references new report from Quality Matters & Eduventures Research entitled “The Changing Landscape of Online Education: A Deeper Dive”
    Survey of chief online officers shows enormous variation in how colleges define and structure digital education, in terms of pricing, program structure and use of instructional design.

Excerpt:

A new survey of those who oversee online learning programs at their institutions reveals significant diversity in the online education landscape, from differences in colleges’ strategic goals in going online to how they structure and price their programs and how much they require/encourage faculty members to work with professional designers to craft their courses.

The report, “The Changing Landscape of Online Education: A Deeper Dive,” is the second such report from Quality Matters and Eduventures Research, leading them to dub it CHLOE2. (Inside Higher Ed and “Inside Digital Learning” covered last year’s report here and here.) One hundred eighty-two senior officials responsible for online education at their institutions responded to the survey (up from 104 last year), drawn roughly equivalently from four-year private, four-year public and two-year public colleges.

The survey explores a wide range of topics and issues, related to the administrative structure of online offerings, the economics of their programs and the role of instructional designers. Among the most interesting findings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Implications of Learning Theories on Instructional Design — from elearningindustry.com by Jon-Erik Oleyar-Reynolds
Are you interested in becoming an Instructional Designer? Or are you just starting out in the world of learning theories? The focus of this article is to inform the reader of 3 unique learning theories while discussing the implications they have had in the field of Instructional Design (ID).

Excerpt:

Behaviorist Learning Theory
Behavioral learning theory can be summarized as learning that occurs through the behavioral response to environmentally sourced stimuli. The foundation of this theory is built upon assumptions that “have little regard for the cognitive processing of the learner involved in the task”.

The focus of behavioral learning theory resides in the use of reinforcement to drive behavior. Instructional Design can benefit from the use of reinforcement as a means to train learners to complete instructional objectives that are presented to them.

Cognitive Learning Theory
The primary focus of learning is on the development of knowledge by the creation of schemas. Schemas are like catalogs of information that can be used to identify concepts or experiences through a complex set of relationships that are connected to one another. In short, the catalogs act like a database of knowledge for the learner. 2 prominent theories that will be discussed are Gestalt theory and information processing theory; these 2 have paved the way for cognitivism and its impact on the field of Instructional Design.

Information processing theory further supports cognitive learning theory. Similar to Gestalt theory, the focus of learning is on the individual. The processing of information by the learner is similar to the way a computer processes information. The memory system is broken into 3 stages based on this approach:

  • Sensory memory
  • Working memory
  • Long-term memory

…the working memory may require more rehearsal to establish a clear connection to the concept and store it in long-term.

One of the most widely used strategies could arguably be a rehearsal. The expression “practice makes perfect” may seem cliché, but it does fit very well when discussing cognition and development. As one rehearses, the working memory is exercised.

While working memory has a limit of 7 (plus or minus 2), creating a chunk of information increases the amount that can be worked with.

Instructional Design shifted in the presence of cognitivism and includes a more system-like design approach with a focus on the learners.

 

Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory focuses on the impact of learning based on factors related to the social environment. In other words, learning occurs in the context of a social situation that the learner is placed in.

Self-Efficacy
Think of the expression “perhaps it rubbed off on me”. This has a direct relationship to social learning theory. Self-efficacy can be influenced by the design of lessons that allow for learners to view others of similar ability succeeding at instructional tasks. This could be achieved in a number of creative ways, but generally is most effective in collaborative activities where learners work in small groups. Overall, self-efficacy is the belief that one can be successful at particular tasks.

Collaborative learning groups and the use of peer review are widely used in many settings in which learning occurs.

 

 

From DSC:
I wanted to briefly relay an example that relates to the Cognitive Learning/Processing Theory — and more specifically to a concept known as Cognitive Load.  The other day I was sitting at the kitchen table, trying to read an interesting blog posting. But at the very same time, the radio was (loudly) relaying an item re: Virtual Reality (VR) — which also caught my ear and interest.

Which “channel” do I focus on? My visual channel or my auditory channel?

For me, I can’t do both well — perhaps some people can, but our visual and auditory channels can only handle so much at one time. Both channels request our attention and processing resources. I ended up getting up and shutting off the radio so that I could continue reading the blog posting. But for me, I think of it like a traffic jam. There are only so many cars that can simultaneously get through that busy highway that leads downtown.

So another application of this is that it’s helpful NOT to have a lot of auditory information going on at the same time as a lot of visual information. If you have PowerPoint slides, use graphics, photos, and/or graphs and use your audio voiceover to speak to them…but don’t list a long paragraph of text and then simply read that text and then also ask the learner to absorb other visual information at the same time. 

 

 

 

A Microlearning Framework — from jvsp.io and Pablo Navarro
This infographic is based on the experience of different clients from different industries in different training programs.

 

From DSC:
I thought this was a solid infographic and should prove to be useful for Instructional Designers, Faculty Members, and/or for Corporate Trainers as well. 

I might also consider adding a “Gotcha!” piece first — even before the welcome piece — in order to get the learner’s attention and to immediately answer the WHY question. WHY is this topic important and relevant to me? When topics are relevant to people, they care and engage a whole lot more with the content that’s about to be presented to them. Ideally, such a piece would stir some curiosity as well.

 

 

 

 

Why Professors Doubt Education Research — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpts:

You found that professors really care about their teaching, and yet they are skeptical of education research. It sounds like a lot of people ended up teaching the way that they had been taught, or the way that they felt good as a student in classes they had had.

That’s right. People sometimes ignore the research precisely because they care about teaching. Different faculty arrive at the point where they’re teaching college students from wildly different experiences of their own. Some have wanted since they were small children to be professors at a university, and some fell into it later in a career.

For faculty who think that research is a good way to learn how to teach, they will devour the literature on learning sciences. They’ll reach out to experts across a number of disciplines and within their own discipline to try and learn what the best way to teach is

For faculty who believe that teaching is an art, that it is just something that you develop with experience and time, that you can’t learn from a book, you need to learn by doing more or learn from your students, no amount of exposure to learning science research is going to disrupt their sense that this is something they learn by doing, or that they need to follow their gut on.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to change someone’s mind to either adopt or consider more of this evidence-based research?

People can always change their perspective. If you’re trying to communicate the value of a technology or an approach, or even of learning science or education research as a field, you have to start with the person you’re speaking to. They may come to that conversation with a sense of, “I know that people get PhDs in education. People get PhDs in curriculum design, and I’ve never even taken a class where we’ve talked about curriculum design. I would like to know what they know.”

Then there are people who will say, “I’ve been teaching since I was a graduate student. My students are very happy with the teaching. I feel pretty good about my teaching. I understand that you have a PhD in curriculum design, but I don’t really need that.”

You need to approach those two different faculty members differently, understanding that there are some people who are interested in hearing about evidence-based practices, and just pointing them towards the resources is great.

Excerpt from the question:
What about your own teaching? I’m curious. Are you someone that tries different techniques that are based on research?

There is so much literature, and there are so many right ways, and there are so many recommendations that incorporating all of them into your practice at the same time is literally impossible. Many of them are contradictory. You have to choose a suite that you’re adhering to, because you can’t do the others if you’re doing these. Trying to embody best practices while teaching is really complex. It’s a skillset that you develop. You develop with time, and instruction, and you can master, but you’re always going to have to continue to perfect it.

 

 

Also see:

Personalized Faculty Development: Engaging Networks, Empowering Individuals — from er.educause.edu by Jill Leafstedt

Excerpts:

During the meeting, I chose to spend my time focused solely on sessions in the Faculty Development and Engagement track. My goal: return to my home campus energized and ready to tackle the age-old problem of how to move faculty from being content experts into dynamic educators.

Luckily for me, I was not the only one looking for this inspiration. The faculty development sessions were packed with people trying to answer questions such as, “Why don’t faculty want help?” or “Why don’t faculty attend my workshops?” On the whole, the sessions reaffirmed my belief that faculty development does not happen in a workshop, nor does it happen through training. Improving teaching is a long, messy, reflective process that must be approached from multiple angles with many entry points.

Sound challenging? It is, but there is reason to be hopeful; our colleagues are working hard to find and share answers. Two themes came through loud and clear from the sessions I attended. First, meet faculty where they are. Don’t expect them to come to you ready to learn; go to them and start where they are. Second, build networks for ongoing learning.

 

From DSC:
Both of the above articles present a HUGE issue in terms of improving the level of teaching and learning. Both articles seem to be saying that anyone interested in really improving the teaching and learning that’s going on needs to meet with each individual faculty member in order to meet them where they are at. When you have hundreds of faculty members plus an over-flowing job plate that’s asking you to wear numerous hats, that’s a very tall order indeed.

 

 

 

 

Deeper Thinking about Active Learning — from facultyfocus.com by Maryellen Weimer

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

I keep worrying that we’re missing the boat with active learning. Here’s why. First, active learning isn’t about activity for the sake of activity. I fear we’ve gotten too fixated on the activity and aren’t as focused as we should be on the learning. We’re still obsessed with collecting teaching techniques—all those strategies, gimmicks, approaches, and things we can do to get students engaged. But what kind of engagement does the activity promote? Does it pique student interest, make them think, result in learning, and cultivate a desire to know more? Or is it more about keeping basically bored students busy?

Teaching techniques are an essential part of any active learning endeavor. But they aren’t the center or the most important part of student learning experiences. Techniques provide the framework, the structure, the context. What really matters is what we put in the structure—what students are thinking about and sharing when they’re pairing.

Larry recommends selecting things that confront students with their ignorance—so they see clearly what they don’t know, can’t understand, don’t see the reason for, or can’t make work. When you’ve got an artifact in front of you, there’s motivation to deal with it. 

 

Think for a moment of what happens when you give most any of those millennial students a new electronic device. Usually, without the instructions and no attention to technique, they start playing with it to see how it works. Do they mess up and make mistakes? Do they give up or worry about looking stupid? Does active learning in our courses look anything like this?

 

 

From DSC:
This article reminds me of a great conversation that I had with an elderly gentleman a few months ago. He’s still involved with instructional design, after several decades of related work experiences. He said to me that learners need to truly ***engage*** with the content to make it meaningful to them.

And then I read a quote from Robert Greenleaf’s book, On Becoming a Servant Leader (p. 304), that said:

Nothing is meaningful to me until it is related to my own experience.

 

 

 

 
 

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