6 Strategies for Taking High-Quality Notes — from edutopia.org by John Rich
Get your students thinking deeply while they’re taking notes—and show them how to make the most of those notes later.


In my practice as a professor, I’ve noticed an anecdotal difference between the notes that my A and C students take during lectures. According to one study, students who take notes in an interactive fashion are more likely than those who record what they hear verbatim to be engaged in metacognition (thinking and evaluating one’s thought processes and understanding) and self-regulation (managing one’s behaviors for optimal results). And these two processes are more likely to lead to deeper processing.

The good news is that teachers can show their students how to take better notes. Even better, good note-taking activities are themselves learning processes that can help students think metacognitively about their own studying, and can improve their retention of course material. A virtuous cycle!



From DSC:
The other day I had posted some ideas in regards to how artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality are coming together to offer some wonderful new possibilities for learning (see: “From DSC: Amazing possibilities coming together w/ augmented reality used in conjunction w/ machine learning! For example, consider these ideas.”) Here is one of the graphics from that posting:



These affordances are just now starting to be uncovered as machines are increasingly able to ascertain patterns, things, objects…even people (which calls for a separate posting at some point).

But mainly, for today, I wanted to highlight an excellent comment/reply from Nikos Andriotis @ Talent LMS who gave me permission to highlight his solid reflections and ideas:





From DSC:
Excellent reflection/idea Nikos — that would represent some serious personalized, customized learning!

Nikos’ innovative reflections also made me think about his ideas in light of their interaction or impact with web-based learner profiles, credentialing, badging, and lifelong learning.  What’s especially noteworthy here is that the innovations (that impact learning) continue to occur mainly in the online and blended learning spaces.

How might the ramifications of these innovations impact institutions who are pretty much doing face-to-face only (in terms of their course delivery mechanisms and pedagogies)?


  • That Microsoft purchased LinkedIn and can amass a database of skills and open jobs (playing a cloud-based matchmaker)
  • Everyday microlearning is key to staying relevant (RSS feeds and tapping into “streams of content” are important here, and so is the use of Twitter)
  • 65% of today’s students will be doing jobs that don’t even exist yet (per Microsoft & The Future Laboratory in 2016)



  • The exponential pace of technological change
  • The increasing level of experimentation with blockchain (credentialing)
  • …and more

…what do the futures look like for those colleges and universities that operate only in the face-to-face space and who are not innovating enough?




In Memory: Seymour Papert — from media.mit.edu; with thanks to Mr. Joe Byerwalter for this resource


Seymour Papert, whose ideas and inventions transformed how millions of children around the world create and learn, died Sunday, July 31, 2016 at his home in East Blue Hill, Maine. He was 88.

Papert’s career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. Based on his insights into children’s thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves. The central tenet of his Constructionist theory of learning is that people build knowledge most effectively when they are actively engaged in constructing things in the world. As early as 1968, Papert introduced the idea that computer programming and debugging can provide children a way to think about their own thinking and learn about their own learning.


Also see:

  • AI and Computer Learning Lion Seymour Papert Dies at 88 — from fortune.com by  Barb Darrow
    Seymour Papert, the MIT professor who helped blaze the trail for artificial intelligence and computer-aided education for children at a time when no one saw the potential for using these massive machines for such purposes, died Sunday at the age of 88 in East Blue Hill, Maine.


“In this particular art class they were all carving soap,” he continued, “but what each student carved came from wherever fancy is bred, and the project was not done and dropped but continued for many weeks. It allowed time to think, to dream, to gaze, to get a new idea and try it and drop it or persist, time to talk, to see other people’s work and their reaction to yours — not unlike mathematics as it is for the mathematician, but quite unlike math as it is in junior high school.”


  • Seymour Papert, 88, Dies; Saw Education’s Future in Computers — from nytimes.com by Glenn Rifkin
    Seymour Papert, a visionary educator and mathematician who well before the advent of the personal computer foresaw children using computers as instruments for learning and enhancing creativity, died on Sunday at his home in Blue Hill, Me. He was 88.



He added, “In the past, education adapted the mind to a very restricted set of available media; in the future, it will adapt media to serve the needs and tastes of each individual mind.”




From DSC:
Though the title of Ashley Coolman’s blog posting out at smartsparrow.com mentions technology in it, the article is largely not about technology at all — but rather about the benefits of active learning. That’s why I’m highlighting it here.


Enabling active learning through technology — from smartsparrow.com by Ashley Coolman


To many, it seems as though any learning can be considered active. Is a student taking notes not actively engaged in a class, especially when compared to their peers sleeping or playing on their phones in the back of the room?

The problem here is that while the note-taking student may be engaging with the class and professor, they are not engaging with the material. When furiously scribbling notes, students are more focused on getting every word down rather than evaluating, understanding, and analyzing what it is they are writing. They have engaged with the lecture, but not the material being relayed — which is the most important part.

In a study on active learning called “Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom”, the researchers stated:

“Surprisingly, educators’ use of the term “active learning” has relied more on intuitive understanding than a common definition. Consequently, many faculty assert that all learning is inherently active and that students are therefore actively involved while listening to formal presentations in the classroom. Analysis of the research literature (Chickering and Camson 1987), however, suggests that students must do more than just listen: They must read, write, discuss, or be engaged in solving problems. Most important, to be actively involved, students must engage in such higher-order thinking tasks as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.” (Bonwell and Eison 1991)

It is the degree and form by which students are actively engaging that matters. It is “learning by doing” that students really need.


Active learning is any learning activity in which the student INTERACTS or ENGAGES with the material, as opposed to passively taking in the information.


Furthermore, Cornell University found that research suggests learner attention starts to wane every 10–20 minutes during lectures. Incorporating active learning techniques a few times throughout class can encourage more engagement.*

*A side note from DSC:
A tool like
Socrative may come in useful here.


The blog posting from Smart Sparrow also linked to this resource:



The problem is that lecture-based learning is not like filling a jug — you just don’t catch it all. Learning from lectures is more like holding out your hands and trying to keep the imparted knowledge from spilling through the cracks in this tidal wave of new information. Ultimately, students will catch some of the water, but most of it will be lost.


A side note from DSC to Calvin College faculty members:
If you doubt the immediately preceding quote, see if you can *fully* recall exactly what last Sunday’s sermon was about — including all examples, details, and wisdom that the preacher was trying to relay.

Ultimately, it’s about impact. What strongly impacts students stays with students — and isn’t that true for all of us?



Ashley lists the following resources re: active learning at the end of her posting:

  1. Using Active Learning Instructional Strategies to Create Excitement and Enhance Learning
  2. Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom
  3. Where’s the evidence that active learning works?
  4. How Does Active Learning Support Student Success?
  5. How To Retain 90% Of Everything You Learn




Connecting the education community with research on learning — from digitalpromise.org


When designing a program or product, many education leaders and ed-tech developers want to start with the best knowledge available on how students learn. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

Although thousands of academic articles are published every year, busy education leaders and product developers often don’t know where to start, or don’t have time to sift through and find studies that are relevant to their work. As pressure mounts for “evidence-based” practices and “research-based” products, many in the education community are frustrated, and want an easier way to find information that will help them deliver stronger programs and products — and results. We need better tools to help make research more accessible for everyday work in education.

The Digital Promise Research Map meets this need by connecting education leaders and product developers with research from thousands of articles in education and the learning sciences, along with easy-to-understand summaries on some of the most relevant findings in key research topics.


Also see:











From DSC:
Many K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities have been implementing more collaborative learning spaces. Amongst other things, such spaces encourage communication and collaboration — which involve listening. So here are some resources re: listening — a skill that’s not only underrated, but one that we don’t often try to consciously develop and think about in school. Perhaps in our quest for designing more meta-cognitive approaches to learning, we should consider how each of us and our students are actually listening…or not.


Mackay: The power of listening — from startribune.com by Harvey Mackay


We are born with two ears, but only one mouth. Some people say that’s because we should spend twice as much time listening. Others claim it’s because listening is twice as difficult as talking.

Whatever the reason, developing good listening skills is critical to success. There is a difference between hearing and listening.

These statistics, gathered from sources including the International Listening Association* website, really drive the point home. They also demonstrate how difficult listening can be:

  • 85 percent of our learning is derived from listening.
  • Listeners are distracted, forgetful and preoccupied 75 percent of the time.
  • Most listeners recall only 50 percent of what they have heard immediately after hearing someone say it.
  • People spend 45 percent of their waking time ­listening.
  • Most people remember only about 20 percent of what they hear over time.
  • People listen up to 450 words per minute, but think at about 1,000 to 3,000 words per minute.
  • There have been at least 35 business studies indicating listening as a top skill needed for success.


From the International Listening Association*

  • Even though most of us spend the majority of our day listening, it is the communication activity that receives the least instruction in school (Coakley & Wolvin, 1997). Listening training is not required at most universities (Wacker & Hawkins, 1995). Students who are required to take a basic communication course spend less than 7% of class and text time on listening (Janusik, 2002; Janusik & Wolvin, 2002). If students aren’t trained in listening, how do we expect them to improve their listening?
  • Listening is critical to academic success. An entire freshman class of over 400 students was given a listening test at the beginning of their first semester. After their first year of studies, 49% of students scoring low on the listening test were on academic probation, while only 4.42% of those scoring high on the listening test were on academic probation. Conversely, 68.5% of those scoring high on the listening test were considered Honors Students after the first year, while only 4.17% of those scoring low attained the same success (Conaway, 1982).
  • Students do not have a clear concept of listening as an active process that they can control. Students find it easier to criticize the speaker as opposed to the speaker’s message (Imhof, 1998).
  • Effective listening is associated with school success, but not with any major personality dimensions (Bommelje, Houston, & Smither, 2003).
  • Students report greater listening comprehension when they use the metacognitive strategies of asking pre-questions, interest management, and elaboration strategies (Imhof, 2001).
  • Students self-report less listening competencies after listening training than before. This could be because students realize how much more there is to listening after training (Ford, Wolvin, & Chung, 2000).
  • Listening and nonverbal communication training significantly influences multicultural sensitivity (Timm & Schroeder, 2000).




* The International Listening Association promotes the study, development,
and teaching of listening and the practice of effective listening skills  and
techniques. ILA promotes effective listening by establishing a network of
professionals exchanging information including teaching methods, training
experiences and materials, and pursuing research as listening affects
humanity in business, education, and intercultural/international relations.



10 important skills for active listening — from educatorstechnology.com




Effective Listening — with Tatiana Kolovou and Brenda Bailey-Hughes — from lynda.com

Course description:
Listening is a critical competency, whether you are interviewing for your first job or leading a Fortune 500 company. Surprisingly, relatively few of us have ever had any formal training in how to listen effectively. In this course, communications experts Tatiana Kolovou and Brenda Bailey-Hughes show how to assess your current listening skills, understand the challenges to effective listening (such as distractions!), and develop behaviors that will allow you to become a better listener—and a better colleague, mentor, and friend.

Topics include:

  • Recalling details
  • Empathizing
  • Avoiding distractions and the feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Clarifying your role
  • Using attentive nonverbal cues
  • Paraphrasing what was said
  • Matching emotions and mirroring



How to stop talking and start listening to your employees — from inc.com by Will Yakowicz
As a leader, you’re bound to be talking a lot, but you can’t forget to give others a chance to speak their mind.





Addendum on 2/13/15:

  • Wake-up call: How to really listen — from irishtimes.com by Sarah Green
    Insights from the Harvard Business Review into the world of work

    “It can be stated, with practically no qualification,” Ralph Nichols and Leonard Stevens wrote in a 1957 article in Harvard Business Review, “that people in general do not know how to listen. They have ears that hear very well, but seldom have they acquired the necessary aural skills which would allow those ears to be used effectively for what is called listening. ”

    In a study of thousands of students and hundreds of business people, they found that most retained only half of what they heard – and this immediately after they had heard it. Six months later, most people only retained 25 per cent.

    It all starts with actually caring what other people have to say, argues Christine Riordan, provost and professor of management at the University of Kentucky.

    Listening with empathy consists of three specific sets of behaviours.



Engaging ideas for designing learning videos — from Karl Kapp


Here are some video techniques for creating a learning piece that caught my eye in terms of creativity and delivering a learning message. You may want to consider using some of these techniques for your own instructional design and delivery. It is always a good idea to mix up techniques to keep presentation styles fresh and engaging.




30 of the best apps for group project-based learning — from teachthought.com


Project-based learning is a matter of identifying needs and opportunities (using an app like flipboard), gathering potential resources (using an app like pinterest), collecting notes and artifacts (with an app like Evernote), concept-mapping potential scale or angles for the project (using an app like simplemind), assigning roles (with an appp like Trello), scheduling deadlines (with apps like Google Calendar), and sharing it all (with apps like OneDrive or Google Drive).

With that in mind, below are 30 of the best apps for getting this kind of work done in the classroom, with an emphasis on group project-based learning apps for both Android and iPad (and even a few for plain old browsers).


11 ways to create learning experiences that work — from dashe.com by Ben Nesvig


The list of recommendations for creating better learning experiences is by no means a complete list (if I’m missing any, please share them in the comments). Every recommendation might not be right for your specific situation, but as a general rule, they will help you create better learning experiences.


Incorporating Social — from clomedia.com by Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Once companies decide how social learning should take place, it’s important to fully integrate it into an organization’s overall learning strategy.


Collaboration on social platforms can be enhanced if employees also have the chance to interact in person. Puttaswamy said one of Saba’s global clients gathered hundreds of its employees in one location for an “idea jam.” “Then they followed up with informal interaction. The results were really amazing,” he said. “They shared a number of ideas that were implemented, and the informal content was used to enhance their formal content.”


John Seely Brown on motivating learners (Big Thinkers Series) — from edutopia.org; the video in this pieces was published on Mar 6, 2013
Innovative thinker John Seely Brown, known for his ideas for merging digital culture and education, shares lessons educators can learn from surfers, gamers, and artists on how passion and competitive hunger can drive intrinsic motivation.


Introducing Coursera Learning Hubs: Global Participation, Local Access and Support! (back from 10/31/13)

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

At Coursera, we envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We strive to create and deliver experiences that break down daily barriers that stand in the way of successful learning. Today, in support of our goals, we’re delighted to announce a new initiative- Coursera Learning Hubs – that will offer people around the world physical spaces where they can access the Internet to take a Coursera course, while learning alongside peers in an interactive, facilitated setting. All for free.


From DSC:
This idea of learning hubs — where some of the learning content is beamed in synchronously or asynchronously and where other parts of the learning experience is worked through via a group of people in the same physical location —  continues to pick up steam and seems to combine the best of both worlds:


Let's take the best of both worlds -- online learning and face-to-face learning


What’s your learning philosophy? — from facultyfocus.com by Maryellen Weimer


There are questions to ask before a learning experience, such as: How do you decide what you need to learn? And question to ask after: Was it worth learning? How do you know? If you were to learn it again, would you approach learning it in a different way? Why? In the process of learning this, did you discover anything about yourself as a learner? I agree with Haave. These are not questions most students have ever considered.

How to reap the most out of college (or any) education  — from blogs.kqed.org by Annie Murphy Paul


A growing body of evidence suggests that the most significant thing about college is not where you go, but what you do once you get there. Historian and educator Ken Bain has written a book on this subject, What The Best College Students Do, that draws a roadmap for how students can get the most out of college, no matter where they go.

As Bain details, there are three types of learners — surface, who do as little as possible to get by; strategic, who aim for top grades rather than true understanding, and finally, deep learners, who leave college with a real, rich education.

Bain then introduces us to a host of real-life deep learners: young and old, scientific and artistic, famous or still getting there. Although they each have their own insights, Bain identifies common patterns in their stories:



Smart strategies that help students learn how to learn — from Mind/Shift by Annie Murphy Paul


What’s the key to effective learning? One intriguing body of research suggests a rather riddle-like answer: It’s not just what you know. It’s what you know about what you know.

To put it in more straightforward terms, anytime a student learns, he or she has to bring in two kinds of prior knowledge: knowledge about the subject at hand (say, mathematics or history) and knowledge about how learning works. Parents and educators are pretty good at imparting the first kind of knowledge. We’re comfortable talking about concrete information: names, dates, numbers, facts. But the guidance we offer on the act of learning itself—the “metacognitive” aspects of learning—is more hit-or-miss, and it shows.


From DSC:
Thanks Annie for putting this posting out there along with some examples of how students might reflect upon their learning. 

As all of us are increasingly being called upon to be lifelong learners, it could easily be that the most important thing to learn is…how to learn.  That is, how do each of us best/most efficiently learn?   The 1/2 lives of content continue to shrink, so learning how we best learn represents a solid investment of our thought, time, and energies.




Metacognition and learning: Strategies for Instructional Design — from guestlessons.com; guest post by Connie Malamed

Excerpt from Metacognitive Strategies section

Metacognitive strategies facilitate learning how to learn. You can incorporate these, as appropriate, into eLearning courses, social learning experiences, pre- and post-training activities and other formal or informal learning experiences.

  1. Ask questions.
  2. Foster self-reflection.
  3. Encourage self-questioning.
  4. Teach strategies directly.
  5. Promote autonomous learning.
  6. Provide access to mentors.
  7. Solve problems with a team.
  8. Think aloud.
  9. Self-explanation.
  10. Provide opportunities for making errors.

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