Inspiring Leaders | Anthony G. Picciano — from virtuallyinspired.org
Co-founder of CUNY Online and founding member of the Online Learning Consortium, shares his insights on his new book, “Online Education: Foundations, Planning, and Pedagogy,” building a community in an online classroom, gaming and more.

 

Excerpts/items mentioned in this video:

  • Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Central Florida
  • Reports from the Babson Survey Research Group, Babson College
  • 2010 U.S. Dept of Education meta-analysis — older now, but still a pivotal study
  • Tap into what students already know; have students bring their own experiences into the topics/discussions; bring their own materials and interests
  • Have students own the course as much as possible
  • Limit the amount of lecturing — introduce humor where possible; tap into students’ interests
  • Chunk lecturing up into 6-8 minute pieces — then introduce some activity that forces the students to do something
  • The River City — Chris Dede (mainly for high school students)
  • MIT elude — how to deal w/ depression
  • Fortnite
  • Elegance in simplicity — clean format, where things are, streamlined –6-7 clearly-labeled buttons, I understand what I have to do here; make it simple, not complex; use techs where makes good pedagogical sense
  • Future: AI, nanotechnology will lead to more quantum computing, cloud computing

 

Quantum computing is a whole of the level of digital circuitry design.  That will allow much more power, much more speed, the likes of which we have not seen in digital technology.  When that comes, that opens up lots of other possibilities in applications like artificial intelligence, like robotics, like cloud computing.  All of these will be significantly enhanced as we move to a quantum computing type environment.  When that happens, we will see a whole other level of digital activity not just in teaching and learning but everything we do.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

From DSC:
From Mary Grush’s recent article re: Learning Engineering, I learned that back in the late 1960’s, Herbert Simon believed there would be value in providing college presidents with “learning engineers” (see his article entitled, “The Job of a College President”).

 

 

An excerpt:

What do we find in a university? Physicists well educated in physics, and trained for research in that discipline; English professors learned in their language and its literature (or at least some tiny corner of it); and so on down the list of the disciplines. But we find no one with a professional knowledge of the laws of learning, or of the techniques for applying them (unless it be a professor of educational psychology, who teaches these laws, but has no broader responsibility for their application in the college).

Notice, our topic is learning, not teaching. A college is a place where people come to learn. How much or how little teaching goes on there depends on whether teaching facilitates learning, and if so, under what circumstances. It is a measure of our naivete that we assume implicitly, in almost all our practices, that teaching is the way to produce learning, and that something called a “class” is the best environment for teaching.

But what do we really know about the learning process: about how people learn, about what they learn, and about what they can do with what they learn? We know a great deal today, if by “we” is meant a relatively small group of educational psychologists who have made this their major professional concern. We know much less, if by “we” is meant the rank and file of college teachers.

 

What is learned must be defined in terms of what the student should be able to do. If learning means change in the student, then that change should be visible in changed potentialities of behavior.

Herbert Simon, 1967

 

From DSC:
You will find a great deal of support for active learning in Simon’s article.

 

 

Executive Function Deficits Determine Student Achievement — from thejournal.com by Sara Friedman
A new report finds the achievement gap tends to widen with students having academic difficulties in math and science starting in kindergarten.

Excerpt:

Difficulties in math and science learning in the early grades can have lasting consequences for students who have impairments in executive functions, according to a new report from Penn State researchers published in the Early Childhood Quarterly journal. The research looks back at executive functions related to working memory, cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control to determine when problems begin in early STEM education.

The study analyzes data from 11,010 students who participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Early Childhood Education Study, which measures childhood development, school readiness and early childhood experiences. The report data comes from students who started kindergarten in the 2010-2011 school year through the spring of third grade.

 

From DSC:
One of our daughters has issues involving executive functioning…we’re told that she has to work twice as hard as the other students to process the information coming at her. Thus, mini breaks are really helpful for her. For example, if she can walk something to the office, that’s really beneficial for her.

 

 

Survey: Online, Blended Dominate Today’s Learning Environments — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly
In our latest Teaching with Technology Survey, the vast majority of faculty members said they teach in either a fully online or blended format.

 

Most faculty members either teach in a blended or fully online learning environment

 

However, that doesn’t mean those instructors blend every course. When we asked faculty how many of their classes are blended, 29 percent said they teach all blended classes, while 45 percent blend some of their classes. Six percent said they plan to use the blended model in the next year or are exploring the option.

 

 

‘Is it ever OK to lecture?’ — from chronicle.com by David Gooblar

Excerpts:

All of which leaves many newcomers to teaching — and some classroom veterans — wondering: Can’t instructors just lecture sometimes? Can’t we ever just tell students what we know?

Of course we can, but it’s important to know what telling is good for — and what it’s not. If we can better understand the problem with relying too much on lecturing — or “continuous exposition by the teacher,” as Derek Bruff, director of Vanderbilt University’s teaching center, called it — then we can better situate lectures within a mix of teaching practices.

When to “tell,” and when not to.

Telling is an excellent method of communicating specific information, and there are plenty of occasions when our students need specific information. To communicate important facts, to illustrate a concept with a story of its application, to explain the historical origins of a conflict, you can take the easiest route from A to B and just tell (i.e., lecture) your students.

What telling is not good for: teaching students complex ideas, conceptual knowledge, or difficult skills.

It’s also true that the best students — ones who have developed good note-taking skills — can learn quite a lot from a lecture. But to reach more than just the best students, we need to do more than just tell the class information and expect everyone to understand and put it to use.

 

A short lecture on those very topics will be that much more effective after students first try to solve the puzzle on their own. Naïve tasks work well because they reveal to students the gaps in their knowledge — gaps that your lecture can fill. 

 

Or take a page from the naïve-tasks concept and have students attempt the quiz before the lecture, thus revealing to them all that they don’t know. Then give students a chance to change their answers as they learn from your lecture.

 

From DSC:
The article below relays some interesting thoughts on what an alternative syllabus could look like. It kind of reminds me of a digital playlist…

Looking For Syllabus 2.0 — from usv.com by Dani Grant

Excerpt:

There have been several attempts already to curate online resources for learning new topics. Usually they take the form of a list of links. The problem with the list of links approach is that they are static and they are inefficient. You don’t need to read a whole link to get the main point, you want to curate little bits and pieces of open resources: 30 seconds of this podcast, a minute and a half from this youtube video, just these 4 paragraphs from this article.

The thing that is closest to a modern internet syllabi is Susan Fowler’s guide for learning physics (it’s really amazing, go check it out). What if you could have that type of curated guide for many topics that gets updated by the community over time, with inline discussion with other learners?

I think Syllabus 2.0 could look something like this:

We’ve created a sample syllabus for this last topic so you can see what we envision in action. It curates 8 hours of podcasts, talks and blog posts into a 30 minute guide.

 

 

Cut the curriculum — from willrichardson.com by Will Richardson

Excerpt:

Here’s an idea: A Minimal Viable Curriculum (MVC). That’s what Christian Talbot over at Basecamp is proposing, and I have to say, I love the idea.

He writes: “What if we were to design MVCs: Minimum Viable Curricula centered on just enough content to empower learners to examine questions or pursue challenges with rigor? Then, as learners go deeper into a question or challenge, they update their MVC…which is pretty much how learning happens in the real world.”

The key there to me is that THEY update their MVC. That resonates so deeply; it feels like that’s what I’m doing with my learning each day as I read about and work with school leaders who are thinking deeply about change.

 

When we pursue questions that matter to us, rigor is baked in.

 

From DSC:
I love the idea of giving students — as they can handle it — more choice, more control. So anytime around 8th-12th grade, I say we turn much more control over to the students, and let them make more choices on what they want to learn about. We should at least try some experiments along these lines.

 

 

As everyone in the workforce is now required to be a lifelong learner, our quality of life goes much higher if we actually enjoy learning. As I think about it, I have often heard an adult (especially middle age and older) say something like, “I hated school, but now, I love to learn.”

Plus, I can easily imagine greater engagement with the materials that students choose for themselves, as well as increased attention spans and higher motivation levels.

Also, here’s a major shout out to Will Richardson, Bruce Dixon, Missy Emler and Lyn Hilt for the work they are doing at ModernLearners.com.

 

Check out the work over at Modern Learners dot com

 

 

How to teach a good first day of class — from chronicle.com by James Lang
Four Key Principles | Before the First Day | The First Day of Class | After the First Day | Resources

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Do not begin the first day of the semester by immediately handing out the syllabus. Instead, spark their curiosity about the content first, and then demonstrate — with a review of the syllabus — how the course content can help satisfy that curiosity.

 

From DSC:
I think what’s also implied here is putting one’s case forward about how the content is ***relevant*** today.

 

Also this is a good practice to do as well, but for the end of the term/semester/quarter/whatever:

 

 

Assessment for Learning: It Just Makes Sense — from facultyfocus.com by Cathy Box

Excerpt:

Assessment for Learning (AfL), sometimes referred to as “formative assessment” has become part of the educational landscape in the U.S. and is heralded to significantly raise student achievement, yet we are often uncertain what it is and what it looks like in practice in higher education. To clarify, AfL includes the formal and informal processes that faculty and students use during instruction to gather evidence for the purpose of improving learning. The aim of AfL is to improve students’ mastery of the content and to equip and empower them as self-regulated, life-long learners.

There are many strategies that serve the purposes of AfL, commonly centered around three questions: 1) Where am I going? 2) Where am I now? and 3) How can I close the gap? (Chappuis, 2015; Sadler, 1989; Wiliam, 2011). This process represents a natural progression from the beginning of a lesson to closing the learning gaps at the end and provides a recursive loop when necessary. The following narrative describes two AfL strategies that I have found work extremely well in my courses, resulting in higher quality work, leaving me time to provide feedback on the more challenging aspects of the assignment. These strategies fall under the question “Where am I going?” and are true to the tenets of AfL, having a significant impact on learning and putting students squarely in the driver’s seat.

 

“Indeed as one of the most prolific writers on the topic, Alfie Kohn suggested, ‘assessment should be an unobtrusive servant of teaching and learning.’ (source)

 

 

EdTechs and Instructional Designers—What’s the Difference? — from er.educause.edu by Pat Reid

Excerpt:

Both edtechs and instructional designers (IDs) work with computer systems and programs, yet their actual duties differ from traditional IT tasks. The resulting confusion over what edtechs and IDs do—and how the two roles differ—is rampant, not least in the sector that needs them most: higher education.

 

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