The Journal 2020 Award Winners

THE Journal 2020 New Product Award Winners

For THE Journal’s first-ever New Product Award program, judges selected winners in 30 categories spanning all aspects of technology innovations in K–12 education, from the classroom to the server room and beyond. We are proud to honor these winners for their outstanding contributions to the institution of education, in particular at this time of upheaval in the way education is being delivered to the nation’s 50 million students.

 

Distracted Minds: The Role of Tempo in Good Teaching — from chronicle.com by James Lang
To help students stay attentive in class, think like a conductor, and recognize that students need you to change the pace and the action.

Excerpt:

In this third installment of a series on distraction and attention in education — based on my new bookDistracted: Why Students Can’t Focus and What You Can Do About It — I want to draw inspiration from creative artists who have long counted it as one of their tasks to keep audiences attentive to works that stretch over long periods of time. Directors and playwrights, conductors and composers, all recognize the limited attention span of an audience, which is why they structure the work itself and its performance in particular ways.

The classroom is one of the only places where we expect humans in seats to maintain their attention through an extended, uninterrupted performance of an hour or more. I suspect that’s the case because we (the teachers) are able to keep ourselves fully engaged during the class period: We’re managing our slides, thinking about the next discussion question, writing on the board, and more. It’s all very engaging — for us — but not necessarily for our students.

From DSC:
I appreciated reading this solid article by James Lang — in it, he offers up some excellent points and suggestions. I would guess that the top reasons why these things don’t occur most offer are:

  1. The design of a class takes time. Time is hard to come by. That’s why instructional design is very helpful but is sometimes put on a backburner…to the students’ detriment.
  2. There aren’t enough Instructional Designers to go around.
  3. Faculty don’t seek out Instructional Designers or, when an Instructional Designer is around, they may have a queue that’s way too long and they’ve become a bottleneck.
 

From DSC:
Our oldest daughter showed me a “Bitmoji Classroom” that her mentor teacher — Emily Clay — uses as her virtual classroom. Below are some snapshots of the Google Slides that Emily developed based on the work of:

  • Kayla Young (@bitmoji.kayla)
  • MaryBeth Thomas 
  • Ms. Smith 
  • Karen Koch
  • The First Grade Creative — by C. Verddugo

My hats off to all of these folks whose work laid the foundations for this creative, fun, engaging, easy-to-follow virtual classroom for a special education preschool classroom — complete with ties to videoconferencing functionalities from Zoom. Emily’s students could click on items all over the place — they could explore, pursue their interests/curiosities/passions. So the snapshots below don’t offer the great interactivity that the real deal does.

Nice work Emily & Company! I like how you provided more choice, more control to your students — while keeping them engaged! 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

From DSC:
I also like the idea of presenting this type of slide (immediately below, and students’ names have been blurred for privacy’s sake) prior to entering a videoconferencing session where you are going to break out the students into groups. Perhaps that didn’t happen in Emily’s class…I’m not sure, but in other settings, it would make sense to share one’s screen right before sending the students to those breakout rooms and show them that type of slide (to let them know who will be in their particular breakout group).

The students in the different breakout sessions could then collaboratively work on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides and you could watch their progress in real-time!

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

Also see:

 

Maths mastery through stop-motion animation — from innovatemyschool.com by Rachel Cully

Do you want your learners to be resilient, confident mathematicians with secure conceptual understanding and a love of Maths? Well, come with me to a land of stories and watch the magic unfold.

Maths mastery through stop-motion animation -- by Rachel Cully

Also see:

 

Saving — and Enhancing — Music Education With Online Learning — from edcircuit.com by D. Travis Washington

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

I teach Choir and lead the Young Vocal Scholars Program, and before COVID arrived, we were excited to move forward on the culmination of learning through live performances. With school closure, all that changed, and we were forced to adapt to virtual learning. Through the initial transition, we discovered that online learning options such as Soundtrap could not only extend projects we were currently working on but expand music learning to previously unimaginable heights.

When Covid hit and we couldn’t continue with the traditional choir program, my school looked for remote solutions. Soundtrap was exactly what we needed. We began conducting Young Vocal Scholars choir sessions remotely through Soundtrap and filled our extra Soundtrap seats with students from the District 8 Choir who weren’t being served music at all — doing similar projects that we had been creating previously in my classes. It was incredible to suddenly recognize that there were far more students interested in music who could connect via their laptops and tablets at home.

Also see:

Soundtrap for Education empowers students and teachers to explore creative sound recording in all subjects, for all ages and ability levels.

Soundtrap revolutionized my classroom in a virtual setting. Students became more engaged than ever before. My “4-star artists,” as I refer to my highly motivated students, kept making songs. I recall one of them saying to me, “Music class was cool because we sang together, but Soundtrap is cooler because it allows us to make projects together and they sound good.” 

 
 
 

Musical Mentors collaborative mobilizes and expands in response to pandemic — with thanks to Bristol Jones for this resource/information
Organization connects musicians in need of work with students lacking access to music instruction
(Emphasis below from DSC)

New York, NY — November 12, 2020 — Musical Mentors Collaborative (“MMC”), which provides free private music instruction and instruments to students who would not otherwise have access, announced today its Winter Gala to benefit the 1:1 Music Fund which will enable the organization to provide 10,000 more lessons in the years to come.

MMC was founded in 2009 as a partnership between Columbia University students and PS 145, a neighboring elementary school in Morningside Heights, and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in New York State in 2011. Since 2009, MMC’s university chapters have provided over 7,500 lessons to more than 450 students in the United States.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 caused dramatic and painful changes in the musical community. Many performing arts institutions were forced to close indefinitely, and many talented musicians found themselves out of work.

In response, MMC launched a teaching fellowship in early April to pay professional musicians to teach one-on-one virtual lessons to students without access to private instruction. Teachers include members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as collaborators of Herbie Hancock, Lauryn Hill, and others. The organization has since onboarded over 35 teaching artists and nearly 200 students. Since the onset of the pandemic, MMC has paid more than $150,000 to its Teaching Fellows and shipped over $30,000 worth of instruments to students, collectively in support of over 1,300 virtual lessons.

“We are inspired by the response from the musical community, and immensely grateful for the support musicians have shown MMC students. These students represent our musical future and would otherwise lack access to the instruction and mentorship they deserve,” said Zack Susel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of MMC. “We are excited to announce our Winter Gala in support of our 1:1 Music Fund, through which we aim to provide 10,000 more private lessons in the coming years.”

In support of its growth and response to the pandemic, MMC has recruited 12 Grandmentors to lead pedagogical development, including GRAMMY® award winning pianist Emmanuel Ax, and Tony® award winning composer Jeanine Tesori, social work experts, and faculty from The Juilliard School and Curtis Institute of Music.

About Musical Mentors Collaborative
Musical Mentors Collaborative connects musicians with underserved students around the country. Since launching in 2009, MMC has taught over 8,800 free private lessons across instruments and genres, furthering their goal to support young musicians through one-on-one instruction. MMC operates chapters at universities across the United States, and mobilizes professional musicians through their selective Teaching Fellowship.

For more information, visit www.musicalmentors.org. | Instagram | Twitter

Musical Mentors Collaborative connects musicians with underserved students around the country.

Also see:

 

Temperament-Inclusive Pedagogy: Helping Introverted and Extraverted Students Thrive in a Changing Educational Landscape — from onlinelearningconsortium.org by Mary R. Fry

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

So how do we take these different approaches to learning into account and foster a classroom environment that is more inclusive of the needs of both extraverts and introverts? Let’s first distinguish between how extraverts and introverts most prefer to learn, and then discuss ways to meet the needs of both. Extraverts tend to learn through active and social engagement with the material (group work, interactive learning experiences, performing and discussing). Verbalizing typically helps extraverts to think through their ideas and to foster new ones. They often think quickly on their feet and welcome working in large groups. It can be challenging for extraverts to generate ideas in isolation (talking through ideas is often needed) and thus working on solitary projects and writing can be challenging.

In contrast, introverts thrive with solitary/independent work and typically need this time to sort through what they are learning before they can formulate their thoughts and articulate their perspectives. Introverted learners often dislike group work (or at least the group sizes and structures that are often used in the classroom (more on this in a moment)) and find their voice drowned out in synchronous discussions as they don’t typically think as fast as their extroverted counterparts and don’t often speak until they feel they have something carefully thought out to share. Introverted learners are often quite content, and can remain attentive, through longer lectures and presentations and prefer engaging with the material in a more interactive way only after a pause or break.

From DSC:
Could/would a next-generation learning platform that has some Artificial Intelligence (AI) features baked into it — working in conjunction with a cloud-based learner profile — be of assistance here?

That is, maybe a learner could self-select the type of learning that they are: introverted or extroverted. Or perhaps they could use a sliding scaled to mix learning activities up to a certain degree. Or perhaps if one wasn’t sure of their preferences, they could ask the AI-backed system to scan for how much time they spent doing learning activities X, Y, and Z versus learning activities A, B, and C…then AI could offer up activities that meet a learner’s preferences.

(By the way, I love the idea of the “think-ink-pair-share” — to address both extroverted and introverted learners. This can be done digitally/virtually as well as in a face-to-face setting.)

All of this would further assist in helping build an enjoyment of learning. And wouldn’t that be nice? Now that we all need to learn for 40, 50, 60, 70, or even 80 years of our lives?

The 60-Year Curriculum: A Strategic Response to a Crisis

 

Lincoln Financial CIO: How to build a learning culture – even in a pandemic — from enterprisersproject.com by Ken Solon
Lincoln Financial CIO Ken Solon shares how he’s bringing a virtual perspective to his longtime commitment to prioritizing the people behind the technology

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In the spirit of test-and-learn, we created “Lean In and Learn IT,” an interactive digital program that provides a deep dive into one key IT strategy each month. Topics include digital and architecture, agile and DevOps, cloud, big data, and cybersecurity.

Based in our virtual collaboration platform, each topic features a kick-off video followed by a drip of content and interaction, including snackable articles, video clips, quizzes, and prizes to keep the team engaged. The month wraps up with a webcast focused on a key business application of the strategy, featuring subject matter experts both from within the IT organization and our business partners.

The involvement of partners is key, as our surveys tell us that few things motivate our teams as effectively as seeing the impact of their work.

From DSC:
Love their use of “streams of content.”

 

After the Pandemic, a Revolution in Education and Work Awaits — from nytimes.com by Thomas Friedman
Providing more Americans with portable health care, portable pensions and opportunities for lifelong learning is what politics needs to be about post-Nov. 3.

No job, no K-12 school, no university, no factory, no office will be spared. 

Excerpt:

Your children can expect to change jobs and professions multiple times in their lifetimes, which means their career path will no longer follow a simple “learn-to-work’’ trajectory, as Heather E. McGowan, co-author of “The Adaptation Advantage,” likes to say, but rather a path of “work-learn-work-learn-work-learn.”

“Learning is the new pension,” Ms. McGowan said. “It’s how you create your future value every day.”

The most critical role for K-12 educators, therefore, will be to equip young people with the curiosity and passion to be lifelong learners who feel ownership over their education.

 

From DSC:
Many people talk about engagement when they discuss learning, and with good reason. It seems to me that what they are really getting at is the topic of getting and maintaining someone’s *attention.* Attention is the gatekeeper to further learning. I wonder if some of the next generation learning platforms that employ some level of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled features, will look to a learner’s preferences (as stored in their cloud-based learner’s profile) in order to help gain/maintain such attention.

And this also helps explain why allowing more learner agency — i.e., more choice, more control — in pursuing their own interests and passions really helps: A motivated learner is paying closer attention to what’s going on.

 

Attention is the gatekeeper to further learning.

 

 

From DSC:
And along these lines, that’s one of the key reasons I’d like to see more involvement from the Theatre Departments, Computer Science Departments, and from those involved with creative writing across the land — in terms of helping develop content for remote and online-based education. Actors, actresses, set designers, costumer designers, audio/video editors, programmers/software developers, and more who could collaborate on these kinds of ideas.

Last comment on this. I don’t mean that we should present our classes like many advertisements do (i.e., running a thousand images by me within 30 seconds). But changing things up periodically — both visually and audibly —  can help regain/reset your students’ attentions.

 

Virtual Reality: Realizing the Power of Experience, Excursion and Immersion in the Classroom — from nytimes.com
A framework for teaching with New York Times 360 V.R. videos, plus eight lesson plans for STEM and the humanities.

A Guide for Using NYT VR With Students

  • Getting Started With V.R. in the Classroom
  • Lesson 1: A Mission to Pluto
  • Lesson 2: Meet Three Children Displaced by War and Persecution
  • Lesson 3: Four Antarctic Expeditions
  • Lesson 4: Time Travel Through Olympic History
  • Lesson 5: Decode the Secret Language of Dolphins and Whales
  • Lesson 6: Memorials and Justice
  • Lesson 7: The World’s Biggest Physics Experiment
  • Lesson 8: Journey to the Hottest Place on Earth

 

 

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.

 

Canvas Certified Educator program for higher education

Per “Instructure Launches Canvas Certified Educator Program” out at The Journal by Dian Schaffhauser:

Each course is expected to take about four weeks to finish. They include:

  • Core 1: Foundational frameworks, which explores the impact of technology on student learning and the classroom and how Canvas can be used to help educators boost student achievement, motivation and engagement;
  • Core 2: Engagement strategies, to examine how Canvas can help enrich teaching practices and maximize student achievement;
  • Core 3: Personalized learning, to dive into personalized learning and learn how to create opportunities for student voice and choice within the learning environment;
  • Core 4: Transformational practices, to help participants learn how to evaluate open standard digital learning tools that can enhance learning through Canvas; and
  • Electives, described as a series of optional courses that can be selected by educators based on interests and needs.
 

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