What should schools, colleges and Universities do in September? …7 actions — from donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com by Donald Clark

Excerpts:

Let me start with a tough question. Weighing your wish to return to schools or campuses, given the current surge of Covid cases, is the return to the classroom or chasing the cash worth a single dead student, teacher or parent? Or should we see the September return as an opportunity to change things for the better and by that I mean for teachers, lecturers, students and parents? We need a reset.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I hope that this human tragedy allows us to transform the learning landscape to be better and more inclusive through Blended Learning. We have an opportunity to use contemporary technology to reduce teacher workload and improve learning at the same time.

 

Microsoft Teams Rolls Out Virtual Rooms to Fight ‘Meeting Fatigue’ — from cheddar.com by Taylor Craig

Microsoft introduced Together Mode -- July 2020

 

A common background in meetings helps reduce extraneous cognitive load

 

A common background in meetings helps reduce extraneous cognitive load

 

From DSC:
Again, the longer the Coronavirus hangs around and we are learning and meeting like this, the more innovations like these will occur.

 


Addendums on 7/14/20:

Microsoft’s Together mode can help address executives’ concerns over remote work productivity — from businessinsider.com by Hirsh Chitkara

Excerpt:

Together mode offers an alternative to “grid view,” in which video call participants are displayed on-screen — instead, through AI segmentation, participants are placed in a single virtual environment such as an auditorium or coffee bar, creating the illusion that they are in the same space.

The future of work—the good, the challenging & the unknown — from microsofot.com by Jared Spataro

Excerpt:

Together mode is a new option in the Teams meeting experience that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background. The view makes it feel like you’re sitting in the same room, which reduces background distractions, makes it easier to pick up on non-verbal cues, and makes back and forth conversation feel more natural.

 

This unique free event is designed to give our learning community a chance to explore the most popular topics discussed at Learning Technologies.

The 2020 Learning Technologies Summer Forum (#LTSF20) takes place online, looking at some of the key topics we examined at February’s conference. Once again, the Summer event is an opportunity to interact, experiment and try some new things together.

 

Why everyone on your team must understand Instructional Design — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Megan MacDonald

Excerpts:

In my decade-long experience on projects of varying and increasing size, there are the key components I think you need to invest in helping your teams and management understand. And here they are:

  • Significance of learning objectives, and in particular the importance of action verbs and how they apply to your project.
  • Learning audience, including existing knowledge, background(s), and even personalities, can impact decisions such as instructor-led versus self-paced, where you need to start, the pace you need to set, and the specific information you need to provide on any given subject.
  • Concepts of cognitive load and scaffolding.
  • Instructional design is not always linear.
  • Finally, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to programs, courses, or even individual lessons.

 

 

From DSC:
Here’s an idea that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. It’s not necessarily a new idea, but the seed got planted in me by a former colleague, Quin Schultze (which I blogged about in January of 2018). I’m calling it, “My Learning Journal.The purpose of this device is to promote your metacognition  — helping you put things into your own words and helping you identify your knowledge gaps.

I realize that such a learning strategy/tool could take some time to complete. But it could pay off — big time! Give it a try for a few weeks and see what you think.

And, with a shout-out to Mr. James McGrath, the President of the WMU-Cooley Law School, the article listed below explains the benefits of taking the time for such reflection:

Reflective learning – reflection as a strategic study technique — from open.edu

Excerpts:

Rather than thinking of reflection as yet another task to be added to your ‘to do’ list or squeezed into a busy study schedule, view it as something to practice at any stage. The emphasis is on being a reflective learner rather than doing reflective learning. 

Developing a habit of reflective learning will help you to:

  • evaluate your own progress
  • monitor and manage your own performance
  • self-motivate
  • keep focus on your learning goals
  • think differently about how you can achieve your goals by evaluating your study techniques, learning strategies and whether these best fit your current needs, identifying your skills development needs or gaps in knowledge
  • think about and overcome what may be blocking your learning by using a different approach, or setting more pragmatic (realistic/achievable) goals
  • support and enrich your professional practice ensuring that you are better placed to respond to and manage new, unexpected and complex situations – a key requirement at Master’s level.

From DSC:
Pastors, trainers, K-12 educators, student teachers, coaches, musical teachers, and others: Perhaps a slightly modified version of this tool might be beneficial to those with whom you work as well…?

And for educators and trainers, perhaps we should use such a tool to think about our own teaching and training methods — and what we are (or aren’t) learning ourselves.

Addendum on 5/14/20:

Perhaps someone will build a bot for this type of thing, which prompts us to reflect upon these things. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about or something like Woebot, which Jeremy Caplan mentioned here.

 

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.

 

5 easy ways to infuse learning science into remote teaching — from campustechnology.com by Andrea Hendricks
These practices will help engage students and improve outcomes throughout the online learning process.

Excerpt:

Here again, good organization is essential. I organize my content by units that are aligned to tests, so my students always have a clear learning goal in mind. If I have six tests in a semester, I divide the content into six units. Each unit contains an overview for the module, a submodule for each section, a review of the key concepts from the unit, a set of review problems for the unit, and a test. Within section submodules, I give an overview of the objectives, activities for students to engage with and learn the content (reading assignments, videos, animations, homework problems), and a discussion question. I also include modules on getting started with the course, the technology we’ll be using as well as tutoring information and resources.

 

7 guiding principles for parents teaching from home — from edutopia.org by Laura Lee
Understanding the “why” behind teaching practices can help parents create meaningful and effective at-home learning opportunities during the pandemic. 

7 guiding principles for parents teaching from home -- by Laura Lee

Excerpts:

One misconception about teaching is that its primary function is to help students retain information, but retention is just the first step. Effective learning requires that students retrieve information frequently and then make new meaning of it. This process, called consolidation, is often reinforced in traditional classrooms through reviews and quizzes, or through multi-sensory practices like drawing, composing a song, or building a model about what has recently been learned.

At home, prioritize opportunities to engage in active learning through discussion, writing, or producing art, over more passive practices such as re-reading or rote note-taking. Learning requires repeated, active manipulation of the materials being learned.

Finally, many studies reveal that teaching what you’ve learned to someone else—to a parent or to another sibling—is also a highly effective way to consolidate learning and make it stick.

 

In many parts of the world, schooling at home will continue for at least several months. Help students move beyond a compliance mindset—”I’ve completed my work, can I go now?”— by building in time for passion projects and fun. 

 

From DSC:
A reminder to myself, and perhaps it will help someone else out there as well…

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) — from biblegateway.com

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

Not sure why, but Daniel Willingham’s words come to my mind:
“Memory is the residue of thought.”

Plus, I ran across this graphic as well:

 

From DSC:
For those of you who teach and/or give presentations, you might be interested in a new video that I put together regarding cognitive load. It addresses at least two main questions:

  1. What is cognitive load?
    and
  2. Why should I care about it?

 

What is cognitive load? And why should I care about it?

What is cognitive load? And why should I care about it?

Transcript here.

 

How do I put it into practice?

  • Simplify the explanations of what you’re presenting as much as possible and break down complex tasks into smaller parts
  • Don’t place a large amount of text on a slide and then talk about it at the same time — doing so requires much more processing than most people can deal with.
  • Consider creating two versions of your PowerPoint files:
    • A text-light version that can be used for presenting that content to students
    • A text-heavy version — which can be posted to your LMS for the learners to go through at their own pace — and without trying to process so much information (voice and text, for example) at one time.
  • Design-wise:
    • Don’t use decorative graphics — everything on a slide should be there for a reason
    • Don’t use too many fonts or colors — this can be distracting
    • Don’t use background music when you are trying to explain something
 

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.

 

Three thoughts on active learning and self-teaching — from rtalbert.org Robert Talbert
“The teacher isn’t teaching and I’m having to teach myself the material” has three embedded misconceptions that need to be addressed.

Excerpts:

First: Learning is a process, not an action that one person performs on another.

But in the end, an outside person cannot cause you to learn. This isn’t how learning works. Learning instead is a process that moves back and forth, sometimes focused on an instructor but other times focused on the learner or a group of learners together.

Second: Not being lectured to all the time is not the same thing as having to teach yourself.

Third: In any event, the skill of self-teaching is essential in college and needs to be developed.

But in general, we need to see — and we have work to do in communicating this to students — that self-teaching is a feature, not a bug.

 

An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience — from by Grigori Guitchounts
We’re mapping the brain in amazing detail—but our brain can’t understand the picture.

Excerpt:

Neuroscientists have made considerable progress toward understanding brain architecture and aspects of brain function. We can identify brain regions that respond to the environment, activate our senses, generate movements and emotions. But we don’t know how different parts of the brain interact with and depend on each other. We don’t understand how their interactions contribute to behavior, perception, or memory. Technology has made it easy for us to gather behemoth datasets, but I’m not sure understanding the brain has kept pace with the size of the datasets.

From DSC:
The word “mystery” comes to my mind when I read parts of this thought-provoking article — as does the phrase “Glory to God!. 

As I’ve watched my mom slowly leave us due to Alzheimer’s (as did my grandma on her side) and as I’ve watched my good friend prepare to leave us due to cancer, I’m also reminded to be grateful for the people in my life when they’re still there. Plus, I’m reminded to be thankful for good health when I have it. It may be cliche, but it’s true. And I’ll end this posting with another one:

“One doesn’t know the worth of water until the well’s run dry.”

 

The Secret to Student Success? Teach Them How to Learn. — from edsurge.com by Patrice Bain

Excerpt:

Abby’s story is hardly unique. I often teach students who react with surprise when they do well in my class. “But I’ve never done well in history,” they say. This is almost always followed by a common, heartbreaking confession. “I’m not smart.” Every time I hear this, I am faced with the gut-wrenching realization that the student has internalized failure by age eleven. Yet every year I see these same students soar and complete the class with high grades.

This raises two questions for me: How can we turn eleven-year-olds who have internalized failure into students like Abby who retain information for years? And how can we teach that poor grades don’t indicate failure, but rather that we haven’t found the correct learning strategy?

Enter research.

 

The Research is in: 2019 Education Research Highlights — edutopia.org by Youki Terada
Does doodling boost learning? Do attendance awards work? Do boys and girls process math the same way? Here’s a look at the big questions that researchers tackled this year.

Excerpt:

Every year brings new insights—and cautionary tales—about what works in education. 2019 is no different, as we learned that doodling may do more harm than good when it comes to remembering information. Attendance awards don’t work and can actually increase absences. And while we’ve known that school discipline tends to disproportionately harm students of color, a new study reveals a key reason why: Compared with their peers, black students tend to receive fewer warnings for misbehavior before being punished.

CUT THE ARTS AT YOUR OWN RISK, RESEARCHERS WARN
As arts programs continue to face the budget ax, a handful of new studies suggest that’s a grave mistake. The arts provide cognitive, academic, behavioral, and social benefits that go far beyond simply learning how to play music or perform scenes in a play.

In a major new study from Rice University involving 10,000 students in third through eighth grades, researchers determined that expanding a school’s arts programs improved writing scores, increased the students’ compassion for others, and reduced disciplinary infractions. The benefits of such programs may be especially pronounced for students who come from low-income families, according to a 10-year study of 30,000 students released in 2019.

Unexpectedly, another recent study found that artistic commitment—think of a budding violinist or passionate young thespian—can boost executive function skills like focus and working memory, linking the arts to a set of overlooked skills that are highly correlated to success in both academics and life.

Failing to identify and support students with learning disabilities early can have dire, long-term consequences. In a comprehensive 2019 analysis, researchers highlighted the need to provide interventions that align with critical phases of early brain development. In one startling example, reading interventions for children with learning disabilities were found to be twice as effective if delivered by the second grade instead of third grade.

 

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