VR Lab! — from thejournal.com by Joshua Bolkan

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

When Tampa Preparatory School launched decided to turn a closet into a virtual reality lab, they had no idea how far their students would run with the tools, but that’s exactly what they did, sitting down to build their own educational apps to help visualize concepts in astronomy, chemistry and physics. In addition to the educational apps, built by students on their own initiative, the VR lab is also used for art classes and more.

Chad Lewis, director of technology at Tampa Prep, recently sat down with THE Journal to talk about the school’s experience with VR as an educational tool.

Tell me a little about having students design their own VR apps. Are there any benefits to it that surprised you?

Chad Lewis: Some surprising benefits included branching out beyond computer science into areas like chemistry and physics. This is an example of the amazing things students can do if given the opportunity to pursue their passions. They need time, space and resources as well as support and encouragement. 

 

 

The main thing is that they’re learning coding, 3D modeling, game development, collaboration, design thinking, etc.

 

 

 

 

In the process, one of our computer science students came up to me and said, “Mr. Lewis do you mind if I try to create some virtual reality apps using Unity?” and it really took off from there. The lab was a student-driven initiative.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Blockchain: Is it Good for Education? — from virtuallyinspired.org

Excerpt:

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a public ledger type database made up of records called blocks that are linked together like a chain.  It is a shared unchallengeable ledger for recording the history of transactions. Here, the ledger records the history of academic accomplishments. An education ledger (blockchain) could store academic information such as degrees, diplomas, tests etc. It could be kind of digital transcript.

A Few Potential Applications of Blockchain

  • Learning Credentials Repository – A blockchain database of credentials and achievements can be a secure online repository. Digitized records/blocks replace paper copies for sharing proof of learning and can be easily accessible and tracked. Blockchain can make it easy to access all of your academic accomplishments in a digitized and ultra-secure way. Each record is a block. Your records would be chained together and new credentials will be added as you go throughout your lifetime of learning.
  • Lifelong Learning Building Blocks – Informal learning activities could be captured, validated and stored in addition to formal learning accomplishments. This can be as simple as noting a watched video or completed online lesson. We’re already seeing some universities using blockchain with badges, credits, and qualifications.
  • Authenticating Credentials – Institutions, recruiting firms or employers can easily access and verify credentials. No more gathering of papers or trying to digitize to share. Blocks are digital “learning” records and come in multilingual format eliminating the painstaking task of translation.

What’s more, with diploma mills and fake credentials causing havoc for institutions and employers, blockchain solves the issue by providing protection from fraud. It has two-step authentication and spreads blocks across numerous computer nodes. It would take hitting over 51% of computers to falsify a block.

Sony and IBM have partnered and filed patents to develop a blockchain educational platform that can house student data, their performance reports and other information related to their academic records. Some universities have created their own platforms.

 

 

Also see:

Blockchain in Education — from by Alexander Grech and Anthony F. Camilleri

Context
Blockchain technology is forecast to disrupt any field of activity that is founded on timestamped record-keeping of titles of ownership. Within education, activities likely to be disrupted by blockchain technology include the award of qualifications, licensing and accreditation, management of student records, intellectual property management and payments.

Key Advantages of Blockchain Technology
From a social perspective, blockchain technology offers significant possibilities beyond those currently available. In particular, moving records to the blockchain can allow for:

  • Self-sovereignty, i.e. for users to identify themselves while at the same time maintaining control over the storage and management of their personal data;
  • Trust, i.e. for a technical infrastructure that gives people enough confidence in its operations to carry through with transactions such as payments or the issue of certificates;
  • Transparency & Provenance, i.e. for users to conduct transactions in knowledge that each party has the capacity to enter into that transaction;
  • Immutability, i.e. for records to be written and stored permanently, without thepossibility of modification;
  • Disintermediation, i.e. the removal of the need for a central controlling authority to manage transactions or keep records;
  • Collaboration, i.e. the ability of parties to transact directly with each other without the need for mediating third parties.

 

 

Sony wants to digitize education records using the blockchain

 

 

 

 

The 9 best online collaboration tools for remote workers — from invisionapp.com by Jes Kirkwood

Excerpts:

With this in mind, we asked remote workers from companies like Treehouse, Help Scout, Zapier, Buffer, and Zest to share their favorite online collaboration tools. Here’s what they said.

  1. Slack: The best team communication app
  2. Zoom: The best video conferencing app
  3. InVision: The best design collaboration app
  4. GitHub: The best software development tool
  5. Trello: The best project management software
  6. Dashlane: The best password manager
  7. Google Drive: The best file management app
  8. Zapier: Workflow automation for business
  9. World Time Buddy: Time converter for distributed teams

 

 

From DSC:
While I haven’t gone through all of these videos/modules/practice problems, I find the idea of using music to teach math very intriguing. So I wanted to pass this information along in case it helps some students (and teachers) out there!

You might find some (or all) of this a bit corny, but some kids out there might find this style much more interesting and engaging. It might better help get and maintain their attentions. It might help them better remember some of these concepts.

I’m posting these resources/links on my blog here because of such students. If such an approach helps them connect with the material, I say, “Good deal!”  Such an approach might suit their preferences quite well.

In fact, perhaps teachers could have their students design and produce these sorts of videos themselves! Talk about active learning/project based learning! Such a cross-disciplinary, team-based approach would involve students with interests and developing skills involving:

  • Digital video editing
  • Digital audio editing
  • Music
  • Drama/acting
  • Script writing
  • Instructional design

 


 

Per Matt Wolf, Managing Director at Tylerbarnettpr.com:

Singing math tutor, Huzefa Kapedia, has launched a new musically-based SAT Math Video Course that is sure to bring a smile to faces.

From crooning about the quadratic formula to rapping about slope intercept form, Huzefa introduces the only math SAT course to teach difficult concepts through the power of song.

Additionally, he provides 700 practice problems (all frequency-based), each with its own video explanation.

And…it actually works. Huzefa is not only helping kids score big on their SATs; he is also making the whole math studying thing pretty darn enjoyable.

 


Problem Solved: Scalar Learning Proves Any Person Can Be a Math Person
Online and In-Person Tutoring Platform Introduces Modern Mathematics for Today’s Student

Scalar Learning introduces an innovative online and in-person tutoring platform that enables individuals of all ages and backgrounds with the skills and confidence needed to master mathematics. Founded by software engineer and former patent attorney Huzefa Kapadia, Scalar Learning offers a variety of online courses, private tutoring sessions with specialized educators, and entertaining (and effective) math music videos geared at breathing new life into the outdated tutoring model.

“With Scalar Learning, I wanted to reinvent the tutoring concept for the modern world,” said Kapadia. “Everything I have designed and built is a product of my experience tutoring over 2,500 hours and teaching classrooms of both sixth and second grade math students. By blending vibrant and engaging video tutorials, high quality music videos to convey difficult formulas and concepts, and highly personalized and energetic one-on-one environments, we are able to engage our students on multiple levels. Too many people label themselves as ‘not a math person;’ my goal is to prove to them and the world that there is no such thing. Any person can become a math whiz with the right encouragement and training.”

Scalar Learning offers students a multi-tiered approach to mathematics, designed to engage at every level:

  • Online video courses, in subjects ranging from multiplication mastery to SAT prep, impart vital math concepts in an easy-to-digest and entertaining format.
  • One-on-one tutoring sessions with passionate educators can be arranged in-person, via Skype, or as a combination of the two, offering a welcomed flexibility to the traditional tutoring model.
  • A library of fun and highly entertaining free math music videos help reinforce important mathematical concepts through song, making it easier for students to remember complex formulas and explanations.

“Mathematics has always been my passion, which is why after years as an attorney, I made the career shift to education,” says Kapadia. “Having worked as a teacher and tutor at both private and public schools, I soon noticed how many students had a mental block when it came to math. They would admit defeat far too early simply because they were intimidated. Scalar Learning was born as a means to dismantle that premature defeat. Our system is proof that there is no such thing as being ‘bad at math.’ With the proper tools, practice, and guidance, any person can not only ‘get it,’ but they can also enjoy it.”

For more information, please visit http://scalarlearning.com.

 


 

 


 

 

From DSC:
I sat down for a cup of coffee the other day with an experienced, wise, elderly learning expert. He was virtually a walking encyclopedia of knowledge around matters related to training, teaching, and learning. It was such a gift to learn from his numerous years’ worth of experience and his hard earned knowledge!!!  I rarely use the phrase learning expert because it’s very difficult to be an expert when it comes to how people learn. But in this case, that phrase works just fine for me.

This elderly gentleman had years’ worth of experiences involving instructional design, coaching, teaching, and training behind him. He mentioned several things that I want to record and relay here, such as:

  • In terms of higher education, we need to move from a content orientation to a process orientationi.e., helping our students learn how to learn (i.e., providing some effective methods/best practices such as this article and this study discuss for example).
    While
    I agree that this is a good call, I still think that we’ll need some level of content delivery though. As Daniel Willingham asserts in his book, Why don’t students like school?, students still need to have a base knowledge of a subject so that they can recall that information and integrate it into other situations. Per Willingham, we can’t expect learners to become experts and think like experts without that base level of knowledge in a subject. But if they never had that information in the first place, they couldn’t recall it or bring it up for application in another context. That said, I highly agree that students need to graduate from high school and college having a much better idea on how to learn. Such a skill will serve them very well over their lifetimes, especially in this new exponential pace of change that we’re now experiencing.

 

  • Speaking of contexts, this wise gentleman said that we need to move from being content driven to being concept driven and context driven.
    The trick here is how to implement this type of pedagogy within higher education. It’s hard to anticipate the myriad of potential contexts our students could find themselves in in the future. Perhaps we could provide 2-3 contexts as examples for them.

 

  • Students need to interact with the content. It won’t have any sort of lasting impact if it’s simply an information transmission model. This is why he practiced (what we today call) active learning based classrooms and project-based learning when he taught college students years ago. This is why he has attendees in his current training-related courses apply/practice what they’ve just been told. Along these lines, he also likes to use open-ended questions and allow for the process of discovery to occur.

 

  • The point of teaching is to make learning possible.

 

  • Learning is change. No change. No learning.
    An interesting, bold perspective that I appreciated hearing. What do you think of this assertion?

 

  • For each educational/training-related item, he asks 3 questions:
    • What does it mean?
    • Why is it important?
    • What am I going to do with it?

 

There was soooooo much knowledge in this wise man’s brain. I reflected on how much information and expertise we lose when instructional designers, teachers, professors, learning theorists (and many others) retire and leave their fields. I asked him if he was blogging to help pass this information along to the next generations, but he said no…there was too much on his plate (which I believe, as he was highly energetic, driven, and active). But I find that when one finally gets enough knowledge to even being close to being called an expert, then it’s time to retire. We often lose that knowledge and people end up reinventing the wheel all over again.

Again, it was such a pleasure to talk with an older gentleman with years of experience under his belt — one who had clearly put a great deal of time and effort into his learning about learning. In an age when America discards the elderly and worships youth, there is an important lesson here.

In an age when organizations are letting their older, more experienced employees go — only to hire much younger people at 1/2 the former wages — we should learn from some of the other nations and cultures who highly respect and lift up the more experienced employees — and the elderly — and who actively seek out their counsel and wisdom. Such people are often worth every penny of their wages.

—–

What do you think? Am I off base on some of my responses/reflections? How do these things strike you?

—–

 

As Pedagogy Changes, Learning Spaces Are Transforming Too — from thejournal.com by Dennis Pierce
The American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function,” and this is true of classrooms as well.

Excerpt:

In Johnson’s classroom at H.D. Isenberg Elementary School in Salisbury, NC, students can choose from a variety of seating options. There are tables for students to collaborate in groups of four, as well as bar-style seating on taller stools and even a few couches where they can sit comfortably while they work or read independently. The school provided the tables, and Johnson supplied the rest of the furniture himself.

To teach his students about citizenship, Johnson operates his classroom like a community. “I call it the Johnsonville Learning Community,” he said.

His fourth- and fifth-grade students can earn currency by coming to class each day and successfully completing assignments, and they also hold various classroom jobs. “The students who keep the classroom clean are part of our janitorial service,” he explained. “The student who brings things to the office is our delivery service.” Students use part of their currency to pay “rent” each month, and that entitles them to sit where they want.

Johnson’s school system is a 1-to-1 district, and every student is given an iPad to take home. Much of his instruction is project-based, with students working in small groups on tasks using curriculum from sources such as Defined STEM. In one recent project, his students used 3D modeling software on their iPads to create a multi-touch book about the human body systems.

 

 

Johnson’s classroom is an example of how changes in both the design of the learning space and the teaching that takes place there have combined to making learning much more engaging and effective for students.

A growing body of research suggests that the design of a learning space can have a significant effect on student success. For instance, a study by researchers at the University of Salford in England found that classroom design can have a 25 percent impact, either positive or negative, on student achievement over the course of an academic year — with factors such as color, complexity, flexibility, lighting and student choice having the most influence.

 

 

From DSC:
I saw the word CHOICE (or some variant of it) mentioned several times in this article. That’s a helpful step in developing the kind of mindset that our students will need in the future. Making choices, thinking on their feet, being able to adapt and pivot, NOT looking to be spoon fed by anyone — because that’s likely not going to happen once they graduate.

 

 

 

 

 

When redesigning learning spaces, let the type of learning experiences you want to foster be your guide, Jakes advised. “Focus on experiences, not things,” he said. “This is not about furniture; it’s about the learning. What experiences do I want to create for students? Then, what design would support that?”

David Jakes

 

 

 

Celebrating creativity in the classroom — from gettingsmart.com

Excerpt:

Additionally, we want to challenge you (and ourselves, too) to find time to be more creative. What do you want to learn more about? What art project have you been thinking about but haven’t made time to make a reality? Make it happen this month! Stay tuned, as throughout November we’ll be sharing:

  • Real-life examples of Design Thinking in the classroom
  • How creativity and critical thinking can go hand-in-hand
  • How makerspaces can become a core component of your work on creativity
  • A cool new city-wide effort to integrate art into different subject areas from a large urban district
  • How you can engage your classroom with music and games
  • How project-based learning can unleash student creativity
  • How one school encouraged creativity and project-based learning through a school-wide peace prize

 

 

 

Getting students ready for the gig economy — from gettingsmart.com by Emily Liebtag

Excerpt:

1) Finding a Passion and Making an Impact
Exploring passions, interests and causes that matter should be a part of every student’s education. Projects or several short-term gigs are a great way to help students reveal (or discover) their personal passions and to facilitate their interest explorations (all while still covering core content and standards). There are many students who already have opportunities to explore their passions during the regular school day through projects and are thriving as a result.

We’ve seen students at High Tech High create business plans and sell self-designed t-shirts, students at Thrive Public Schools engage in projects around kindness and empathy in their communities, and students at One Stone work with clients on advertising and marketing gigs, exploring their passions one project at a time.

Need ideas? Engage students in projects around the Sustainable Development Goals, snag an idea from the the PBL Q & A blog or simply ask students what they are curious about exploring in their community.

 

 

From DSC and Adobe — for faculty members and teachers out there:

Do your students an enormous favor by assigning them a digital communications project. Such a project could include images, infographics, illustrations, animations, videos, websites, blogs (with RSS feeds), podcasts, videocasts, mobile apps and more. Such outlets offer powerful means of communicating and demonstrating knowledge of a particular topic.

As Adobe mentions, when you teach your students how to create these types of media projects, you prepare them to be flexible and effective digital communicators.  I would also add that these new forms and tools can be highly engaging, while at the same time, they can foster students’ creativity. Building new media literacy skills will pay off big time for your students. It will land them jobs. It will help them communicate to a global audience. Students can build upon these skills to powerfully communicate numerous kinds of messages in the future. They can be their own radio station. They can be their own TV station.

For more information, see this page out at Adobe.com.

 

 

From DSC:
This is where we may need more team-based approaches…because one person may not be able to create and grade/assess such assignments.

 

 

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