From DSC:
As long-time readers of this Learning Ecosystems blog know, I have posted the following graphic several times, believing that the learning-related “channels” in the future will offer us:

 

 

But after seeing the article below, I realized that I needed to further refine this perspective. Because it turns out that too much choice is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, it can be paralyzing to us. Check out the following article to see what I mean.

 


The Psychology of choice: Why less is more — from keepitusable.com

Excerpt:

Which stall are you most likely to buy from?
Most people think they would be most likely to buy a jar of jam from the stall selling 24, however, research has proved that you are much more likely to buy from the stall selling just 6 types of jam. These findings are from a research study that was conducted by Psychologists Iyengar et al. They found that when it came to buying the jam, 30% of people bought a jar at the stall that sold 6 types, but only 3% of people bought a jar at the stall selling 24 types.

 

 

Better Brainstorming — from hbr.org by Hal Gregersen

Excerpt:

Brainstorming for questions, not answers, wasn’t something I’d tried before.

Underlying the approach is a broader recognition that fresh questions often beget novel—even transformative—insights. Consider this example from the field of psychology: Before 1998 virtually all well-trained psychologists focused on attacking the roots of mental disorders and deficits, on the assumption that well-being came down to the absence of those negative conditions. But then Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association, and he reframed things for his colleagues. What if, he asked in a speech at the APA’s annual meeting, well-being is just as driven by the presence of certain positive conditions—keys to flourishing that could be recognized, measured, and cultivated? With that question, the positive psychology movement was born.

Brainstorming for questions rather than answers makes it easier to push past cognitive biases and venture into uncharted territory.


The methodology I’ve developed is essentially a process for recasting problems in valuable new ways. It helps people adopt a more creative habit of thinking and, when they’re looking for breakthroughs, gives them a sense of control. There’s actually something they can do other than sit and wait for a bolt from the blue. Here, I’ll describe how and why this approach works. You can use it anytime you (in a group or individually) are feeling stuck or trying to imagine new possibilities. And if you make it a regular practice in your organization, it can foster a stronger culture of collective problem solving and truth seeking.

 

 

 

Record numbers of college students are seeking treatment for depression and anxiety — but schools can’t keep up — from impactlab.net by Thomas Frey

Excerpt:

Spigner is one of a rapidly growing number of college students seeking mental health treatment on campuses facing an unprecedented demand for counseling services. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of students visiting counseling centers increased by about 30% on average, while enrollment grew by less than 6%, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found in a 2015 report. Students seeking help are increasingly likely to have attempted suicide or engaged in self-harm, the center found. In spring 2017, nearly 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed in the prior year that it was difficult for them to function, and 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period, according to an American College Health Association survey of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools.)

But most counseling centers are working with limited resources. The average university has one professional counselor for every 1,737 students — fewer than the minimum of one therapist for every 1,000 to 1,500 students recommended by the International Association of Counseling Services. Some counselors say they are experiencing “battle fatigue” and are overwhelmed by the increase in students asking for help. “It’s a very different job than it was 10 years ago,” says Lisa Adams Somerlot, president of the American College Counseling Association and director of counseling at the University of West Georgia.

As colleges try to meet the growing demand, some students are slipping through the cracks due to long waits for treatment and a lasting stigma associated with mental health issues. Even if students ask for and receive help, not all cases can be treated on campus. Many private-sector treatment programs are stepping in to fill that gap, at least for families who can afford steep fees that may rise above $10,000 and may not be covered by health insurance. But especially in rural areas, where options for off-campus care are limited, universities are feeling pressure to do more.

 

 

 

SXSW 2018: Key trends — from jwtintelligence.com by Marie Stafford w/ contributions by Sarah Holbrook

Excerpt:

Ethics & the Big Tech Backlash
What a difference a week makes. As the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke last weekend, the curtain was already coming down on SXSW. Even without this latest bombshell, the discussion around ethics in technology was animated, with more than 10 panels devoted to the theme. From misinformation to surveillance, from algorithmic bias to the perils of artificial intelligence (hi Elon!) speakers grappled with the weighty issue of how to ensure technology works for the good of humanity.

The Human Connection
When technology provokes this much concern, it’s perhaps natural that people should seek respite in human qualities like empathy, understanding and emotional connection.

In a standout keynote, couples therapist Esther Perel gently berated the SXSW audience for neglecting to focus on human relationships. “The quality of your relationships,” she said, “is what determines the quality of your life.

 

 

 

 

Schools Should Be Cathedrals of Learning — from blogs.edweek.org by Sajan George

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

What may surprise us though is how the underlying elements of these beautiful designs can follow certain principles–what Goldhagen refers to as “embodied metaphors.”  These embodied metaphors suggest, reinforce, and captivate an action sequence from us that is both cognitive and non-cognitive in response.  Examples of these natural, unconscious design principles that evoke conscious responses include:

  • Natural landscapes settle a person’s elevated heart rate after just 20 seconds
  • Bright lights stimulate creativity and bright ideas
  • Closed spaces offer a sense of refuge
  • Expansive spaces invite exploration
  • Colors can heighten (red for anger) and dampen (pink for calm) emotions
  • Sharp edge surfaces suggest retreat
  • Curving surfaces suggest approach
  • Repeating patterns with respites from that same pattern can stimulate problem-solving capacity

This has profound implications for the built environments of school buildings.  Goldhagen cites one study of 34 different British schools where the six design parameters of color, choice, complexity, flexibility, light, and connectivity affected a student’s learning progress by 25 percent! The difference in learning between the best and worst designed classrooms was equal to the progress of an average student over an entire academic year.  

The difference in learning between the best and worst designed classrooms was equal to the progress of an average student over an entire academic year.  

 

 

 

Too often, children in poverty live in dwellings that are cognitively dulling environments, often limited in natural sunlight, creative use of color, changes in texture, or sightlines to landscaping, greenery, or vegetation. Low-income housing often wrings out the least costly, most expedient design. These children of poverty often leave such home dwellings and enter school buildings and classrooms each day that are equally devoid of cognitive inspiration. Where is the inspiration in uniform rows of wooden desks and plastic chairs?

 

 

How well does your school’s built environment contribute to human flourishing?

 

 

 

A Curiosity Guide — from byrdseed.com Ian Byrd


Excerpts:

Anticipation and Dopamine: In part one of this curiosity series, we explore the connection between curiosity, anticipation, and dopamine and discover why we remember things better when we are allowed to wonder.

So, to wrap up our first round of exploring curiosity:

  • When we become curious, we are anticipating learning information.
  • Our brain releases dopamine, a pleasurable chemical related to the anticipation of a reward (in this case information).
  • Simply being in this curious state activates the hippocampus, enhancing memory.
  • We remember things better when we are in this state, even things we weren’t actually curious about.

Closing Question:
How many times a day are your students in a curious state, eagerly anticipating information?

 

Confusion and Curiosity: So how do we make kids curious? We’ll cover two aspects: creating information gaps and (yes) purposefully confusing our students.

In the first article, we covered what happenings in our brains when we become curious. We also noted that just being in a state of curiosity can improve memory, even for things you’re not curious about.

Here’s one key: to become curious, you must already know something about the topic. Curiosity only fires up when we discover that some important information is missing or that it contradicts information we already had. George Loewenstein calls this the Information Gap theory of curiosity.

Simply put: we have to give students enough information for them to become curious about the missing information.

To wrap up part two:

  • Curiosity requires us to know something about the topic.
  • We become curious when information doesn’t fit an existing mental model.
  • Confusion is part of curiosity. We enjoy a certain amount of cognitive disequilibrium.
  • But! No one wants to be curious forever. It must be resolved.

 

Curiosity Is Social: When we’re curious, we can enhance that curiosity by discussing it with others. Our mutual confusion takes us deeper into the experience.

So, in classrooms, it’s worth purposefully (but gently) confusing students and then letting them talk to each other. It will build their interest and enhance their curiosity.

 

Creating Cultures of Curiosity: The biggest factor in our students’ curiosity at school is us! Teachers can create (or kill) cultures of curiosity. We’ll look at four qualities and a couple experiments run by Susan Engel.

Teachers have enormous power to encourage or discourage curiosity. Every word and action can either build a culture of curiosity or a culture of compliance.

 

 

 


From DSC:
From an early age, we need to help our students learn how to learn. What tips, advice, and/or questions can we help our students get into the habit of asking themselves? Along these lines, the article below,”How Metacognition Boosts Learning,” provides some excellent questions. 

Speaking of questions…I’ll add some more, but of a different sort:

  • How can all educators do a better job of helping their students learn how to learn?
  • How can Instructional Designers and Instructional Technologists help out here? Librarians? Provosts? Deans? Department Chairs? Teachers? Trainers (in the corporate L&D space)?
  • How might technologies come into play here in terms of building more effective web-based learner profiles that can be fed into various platforms and/or into teachers’ game plans?

I appreciate Bill Knapp and his perspectives very much (see here and here; Bill is GRCC’s Executive Director of Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies). The last we got together, we wondered out loud:

  • Why don’t teachers, professors, school systems, administrations within in K-20 address this need/topic more directly…? (i.e., how can we best help our students learn how to learn?)
  • Should we provide a list of potentially helpful techniques, questions, tools, courses, modules, streams of content, or other resources on how to learn?
  • Should we be weaving these sorts of things into our pedagogies?
  • Are there tools — such as smartphone related apps — that can be of great service here? For example, are there apps for sending out reminders and/or motivational messages?

As Bill asserted, we need to help our students build self-efficacy and a mindset of how to learn. Then learners can pivot into new areas with much more confidence. I agree. In an era that continues to emphasize freelancing and entrepreneurship — plus dealing with a rapidly-changing workforce — people now need to be able to learn quickly and effectively. They need to have the self confidence to be able to pivot. So how can we best prepare our students for their futures?

Also, on a relevant but slightly different note (and I suppose is of the flavor of a Universal Design for Learning approach)…I think that “tests” given to special needs children — for example that might have to do with executive functioning, and/or identifying issues, and/or providing feedback as to how a particular learner might best absorb information — would be helpful for ALL students to take. If I realize that the way my brain learns best is to have aural and visual materials presented on any given topic, that is very useful information for me to realize — and the sooner the better!

 



How Metacognition Boosts Learning — from edutopia.org by Youki Terada
Students often lack the metacognitive skills they need to succeed, but they can develop these skills by addressing some simple questions.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Strategies that target students’ metacognition—the ability to think about thinking—can close a gap that some students experience between how prepared they feel for a test and how prepared they actually are. In a new study, students in an introductory college statistics class who took a short online survey before each exam asking them to think about how they would prepare for it earned higher grades in the course than their peers—a third of a letter grade higher, on average. This low-cost intervention helped students gain insight into their study strategies, boosting their metacognitive skills and giving them tools to be more independent learners.

More recently, a team of psychologists and neuroscientists published a comprehensive analysis of 10 learning techniques commonly used by students. They discovered that one of the most popular techniques—rereading material and highlighting key points—is also one of the least effective because it leads students to develop a false sense of mastery. They review a passage and move on without realizing that they haven’t thoroughly understood and absorbed the material.

Metacognition helps students recognize the gap between being familiar with a topic and understanding it deeply. But weaker students often don’t have this metacognitive recognition—which leads to disappointment and can discourage them from trying harder the next time.

To promote students’ metacognition, middle and high school teachers can implement the following strategies. Elementary teachers can model or modify these strategies with their students to provide more scaffolding.

During class, students should ask themselves:

  • What are the main ideas of today’s lesson?
  • Was anything confusing or difficult?
  • If something isn’t making sense, what question should I ask the teacher?
  • Am I taking proper notes?
  • What can I do if I get stuck on a problem?

Before a test, students should ask themselves:

  • What will be on the test?
  • What areas do I struggle with or feel confused about?
  • How much time should I set aside to prepare for an upcoming test?
  • Do I have the necessary materials (books, school supplies, a computer and online access, etc.) and a quiet place to study, with no distractions?
  • What strategies will I use to study? Is it enough to simply read and review the material, or will I take practice tests, study with a friend, or write note cards?
  • What grade would I get if I were to take the test right now?

After a test, students should ask themselves:

  • What questions did I get wrong, and why did I get them wrong?
  • Were there any surprises during the test?
  • Was I well-prepared for the test?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • Am I receiving useful, specific feedback from my teacher to help me progress?

 



From DSC:
Below are a few resources more about metacognition and learning how to learn:

 

 

 

  • Students should be taught how to study. — from Daniel Willingham
    Excerpt:
    Rereading is a terribly ineffective strategy. The best strategy–by far–is to self-test–which is the 9th most popular strategy out of 11 in this study. Self-testing leads to better memory even compared to concept mapping (Karpicke & Blunt, 2011).

 

 

 

  • The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn! — from bigthink.com
    Excerpt:
    Have you ever wondered whether it is best to do your studying in large chunks or divide your studying over a period of time? Research has found that the optimal level of distribution of sessions for learning is 10-20% of the length of time that something needs to be remembered. So if you want to remember something for a year you should study at least every month, if you want to remember something for five years you should space your learning every six to twelve months. If you want to remember something for a week you should space your learning 12-24 hours apart. It does seem however that the distributed-practice effect may work best when processing information deeply – so for best results you might want to try a distributed practice and self-testing combo.There is however a major catch – do you ever find that the amount of studying you do massively increases before an exam? Most students fall in to the “procrastination scallop” – we are all guilty at one point of cramming all the knowledge in right before an exam, but the evidence is pretty conclusive that this is the worst way to study, certainly when it comes to remembering for the long term. What is unclear is whether cramming is so popular because students don’t understand the benefits of distributed practice or whether testing practices are to blame – probably a combination of both. One thing is for sure, if you take it upon yourself to space your learning over time you are pretty much guaranteed to see improvements.

 

 



Addendum on 1/22/18:

Using Metacognition to Promote Learning
IDEA Paper #63 | December 2016
By Barbara J. Millis

Excerpt:

Some Definitions of Metacognition
Metacognition, simplistically defined, can be described as “cognition about cognition” or “thinking about thinking” (Flavell, Miller & Miller, 2002, p. 175; Shamir, Metvarech, & Gida, 2009, p. 47; Veeman, Van Hout-Wolters, & Afflerbach, 2006, p. 5). However, because metacognition is multifaceted and multi-layered (Dunlosky & Metcalf, 2009, p. 1; Flavell, 1976; Hall, Danielewicz, & Ware , 2013, p. 149; Lovett, 2013, p. 20), more complex definitions are called for. Basically, metacognition must be viewed as an ongoing process that involves reflection and action. Metacognitive thinkers change both their understandings and their strategies. The clearest definitions of metacognition emphasize its nature as a process or cycle.

Several authors (Nilson, 2013, p. 9; Schraw, 2001; & Zimmerman, 1998; 2000; 2002) narrow this process down to three ongoing stages. The first stage, pre-planning, emphasizes the need for reflection on both one’s own thinking and the task at hand, including reflection on past strategies that might have succeeded or failed. Following this self-reflection, during planning, metacognitive thinkers develop and implement—put into action—a plan. In the third and final stage—post-planning adjustments/revisions—subsequent analysis following implementation leads to modifications, revised decisions, and new future plans. In an excellent summary, Wirth states that “metacognition requires students both to understand how they are learning and to develop the ability to make plans, to monitor progress and to make adjustments” (as cited in Jaschik, 2011, p. 2).

 

Conclusion: As we have seen, metacognition is a complex but valuable skill that can nurture students’ learning and their self-awareness of the learning process. It is best conceived as a three-step process that can occur through deliberately designed activities. Such activities can take place before, during, and after face-to-face lessons or through online learning. They can also be built around both multiple choice and essay examinations. Immersing students in these metacognitive activities—assuming there are opportunities for practice and feedback—can result in students who are reflective learners.

 

 

 

 

The Beatriz Lab - A Journey through Alzheimer's Disease

This three-part lab can be experienced all at once or separately. At the beginning of each part, Beatriz’s brain acts as an omniscient narrator, helping learners understand how changes to the brain affect daily life and interactions.

Pre and post assessments, along with a facilitation guide, allow learners and instructors to see progression towards outcomes that are addressed through the story and content in the three parts, including:

1) increased knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and the brain
2) enhanced confidence to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease
3) improvement in care practice

Why a lab about Alzheimer’s Disease?
The Beatriz Lab is very important to us at Embodied Labs. It is the experience that inspired the start of our company. We believe VR is more than a way to evoke feelings of empathy; rather, it is a powerful behavior change tool. By taking the perspective of Beatriz, healthcare professionals and trainees are empowered to better care for people with Alzheimer’s disease, leading to more effective care practices and better quality of life. Through embodying Beatriz, you will gain insight into life with Alzheimer’s and be able to better connect with and care for your loved ones, patients, clients, or others in this communities who live with the disease every day. In our embodied VR experience, we hope to portray both the difficult and joyful moments — the disease surely is a mix of both.

Watch our new promo video to learn more!

 

 

As part of the experience, you will take a 360 degree trip into Beatriz’s brain,
and visit a neuron “forest” that is being affected by amyloid beta plaques and tau proteins.

 

From DSC:
I love the work that Carrie Shaw and @embodiedLabs are doing! Thanks Carrie & Company!

 

 

 

Top 7 Business Collaboration Conference Apps in Virtual Reality (VR) — from vudream.com by Ved Pitre

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

As VR continues to grow and improve, the experiences will feel more real. But for now, here are the best business conference applications in virtual reality.

 

 

 

Final Cut Pro X Arrives With 360 VR Video Editing — from vrscount.com by Jonathan Nafarrete

Excerpt:

A sign of how Apple is supporting VR in parts of its ecosystem, Final Cut Pro X (along with Motion and Compressor), now has a complete toolset that lets you import, edit, and deliver 360° video in both monoscopic and stereoscopic formats.

Final Cut Pro X 10.4 comes with a handful of slick new features that we tested, such as advanced color grading and support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) workflows. All useful features for creators, not just VR editors, especially since Final Cut Pro is used so heavily in industries like video editing and production. But up until today, VR post-production options have been minimal, with no support from major VR headsets. We’ve had options with Adobe Premiere plus plugins, but not everyone wants to be pigeon-holed into a single software option. And Final Cut Pro X runs butter smooth on the new iMac, so there’s that.

Now with the ability to create immersive 360° films right in Final Cut Pro, an entirely new group of creators have the ability to dive into the world of 360 VR video. Its simple and intuitive, something we expect from an Apple product. The 360 VR toolset just works.

 

 

 

See Original, Exclusive Star Wars Artwork in VR — from vrscount.com by Alice Bonasio

 

Excerpt:

HWAM’s first exhibition is a unique collection of Star Wars production pieces, including the very first drawings made for the film franchise and never-before-seen production art from the original trilogy by Lucasfilm alum Joe Johnston, Ralph McQuarrie, Phil Tippett, Drew Struzan, Colin Cantwell, and more.

 

 

 

Learning a language in VR is less embarrassing than IRL — from qz.com by Alice Bonasio

Excerpt:

Will virtual reality help you learn a language more quickly? Or will it simply replace your memory?

VR is the ultimate medium for delivering what is known as “experiential learning.” This education theory is based on the idea that we learn and remember things much better when doing something ourselves than by merely watching someone else do it or being told about it.

The immersive nature of VR means users remember content they interact with in virtual scenarios much more vividly than with any other medium. (According to experiments carried out by professor Ann Schlosser at the University of Washington, VR even has the capacity to prompt the development of false memories.)

 

 

Since immersion is a key factor in helping students not only learn much faster but also retain what they learn for longer, these powers can be harnessed in teaching and training—and there is also research that indicates that VR is an ideal tool for learning a language.

 

 


Addendum on 12/20/17:

 


 

 

 

 

Innovating Pedagogy 2017 — from iet.open.ac.uk

Excerpt:

This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. This sixth report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education. To produce it, a group of academics at the Institute of Educational Technology in The Open University collaborated with researchers from the Learning In a NetworKed Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE). We proposed a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices. We then pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in secondary and tertiary education. Lastly, we drew on published and unpublished writings to compile the ten sketches of new pedagogies that might transform education. These are summarised below in an approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation.

 

 

 

From DSC:
I’m posting this in an effort to:

  • Help students learn how to learn
  • Help students achieve the greatest possible returns on their investments (both their $$ and their time) when they are trying to learn about new things

I’d like to thank Mr. William Knapp, Executive Director at GRCC for Distance Learning & Instructional Technology, for sharing this resource on Twitter.


A better way to study through self-testing and distributed practice — from kqed.org

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

As I prepared to write this column, I relied on some pretty typical study techniques. First, as I’ve done since my student days, I generously highlighted key information in my background reading. Along the way, I took notes, many of them verbatim, which is a snap with digital copying and pasting. (Gotta love that command-C, command-V.) Then I reread my notes and highlights. Sound familiar? Students everywhere embrace these techniques and yet, as it turns out, they are not particularly good ways to absorb new material. At least not if that’s all you do.

Researchers have devoted decades to studying how to study. The research literature is frankly overwhelming. Luckily for all of us, the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest published a review article a few years ago that remains the most comprehensive guide out there. Its 47 pages hold valuable lessons for learners of any age and any subject — especially now, with end-of-semester exams looming.

The authors examined ten different study techniques, including highlighting, rereading, taking practice tests, writing summaries, explaining the content to yourself or another person and using mnemonic devices. They drew on the results of nearly 400 prior studies. Then, in an act of boldness not often seen in academic research, they actually awarded ratings: high, low or moderate utility.

The study strategies that missed the top rating weren’t necessarily ineffective, explains the lead author John Dunlosky, a psychology professor at Kent State University, but they lacked sufficient evidence of efficacy, or were proven useful only in certain areas of study or with certain types of students. “We were trying to find strategies that have a broad impact across all domains for all students,” Dunlosky says, “so it was a pretty tough rating scale.”

 

In fact, only two techniques got the top rating: practice testing and “distributed practice,” which means scheduling study activities over a period of time — the opposite of cramming.

Practice testing can take many forms: flashcards, answering questions at the end of a textbook chapter, tackling review quizzes online. Research shows it works well for students from preschool through graduate and professional education.

Testing yourself works because you have to make the effort to pull information from your memory — something we don’t do when we merely review our notes or reread the textbook.


As for distributed practice vs. cramming, Dunlosky and his fellow authors write that “cramming is better than not studying at all,” but if you are going to devote four or five hours to studying for your biology mid-term, you would you be far better off spacing them out over a several days or weeks. “You get much more bang for your buck if you space,” Dunlosky told me.

 

 

Also see:

Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques — from journals.sagepub.com by John Dunlosky, Katherine A. Rawson, Elizabeth J. Marsh, Mitchell J. Nathan, and Daniel T. Willingham
Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology

Excerpt:

In this monograph, we discuss 10 learning techniques in detail and offer recommendations about their relative utility. We selected techniques that were expected to be relatively easy to use and hence could be adopted by many students. Also, some techniques (e.g., highlighting and rereading) were selected because students report relying heavily on them, which makes it especially important to examine how well they work. The techniques include elaborative interrogation, self-explanation, summarization, highlighting (or underlining), the keyword mnemonic, imagery use for text learning, rereading, practice testing, distributed practice, and interleaved practice.

 

 

 

In fact, only two techniques got the top rating: practice testing and “distributed practice,” which means scheduling study activities over a period of time — the opposite of cramming.

 

 

From DSC:
This is yet another reason that I like the approach of using streams of content to help people learn something new. Because you can implement distributed practice, encourage recall, etc. when you put the content out there at regular intervals.

 

 

 

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2018 | Daniel Christian