Google Teacher Academy London 2010 Video: Motivation and Learning

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The 19,100-student Grand Rapids school district in Michigan launched blended-learning classes this past fall. The district has started with high school social studies and math classes.

“There was some initial resistance from the public—concerned parents with the perception that kids are just going to be stuck in computer labs—but that’s absolutely contrary to what [this] is,” said John Helmholdt, the director of communications for the district. “When you say blended, people don’t understand what that means. It took months of really trying to educate and raise awareness of really what it was we were trying to do.”

Moving to a blended model actually made teacher-student ratios better, according to Mr. Helmholdt, by layering on support-staff members to circulate when the students were completing work online.

In Grand Rapids, the blended classes go through a three-day rotation of face-to-face and online instruction. During the first day, students receive a traditional lecture-based class in a regular classroom where a new concept is introduced. On the second day, the class starts by going over the concept again and then beginning to use some of the online software and support tools that reinforce the concept. On the third day, the students work solely with digital resources. [Rest of article here.]

From DSC:
I am very glad that the Grand Rapids school system is moving in this direction!  It is a huge step in the right direction and I congratulate the district’s leadership for their vision and patience while this plane gets off the runway. This endeavor will help the students begin to build digital/information literacy. It will open their minds up to numerous creative possibilities — as well as career opportunities and goals. They are beginning to have
the world as their school“.

Here are the innovative educator’s tips for differentiating instruction:

— from The Innovative Educator’s posting entitled, “Differentiating Instruction is NOT Hard if We Tap into Student’s Passions!

  • Determine your student’s talents, interests, passions, learning styles, and abilities
  • Allow students to own the learning
  • Allow students to demonstrate learning using the tools they choose
  • Allow students to follow their passions when demonstrating learning <– from DSC: I love this one.
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How games engage the brain — from NspireD2 by Chris Clark

In a TED video released today, Tom Chatfield presents seven ways in which games engage the brain. Chatfield is a game theorist and author of the new book, Fun, Inc., about the gaming industry and how it is altering our society.

Chatfield’s seven talking points are

  1. Experience bars measuring progress
  2. Multiple long and short-term aims
  3. Rewards for effort
  4. Rapid, frequent, clear feedback
  5. An element of uncertainty
  6. Windows of enhanced engagement
  7. Other people

Of course, that list doesn’t mean much unless you watch the video.

How can we generate a love for learning when there’s so much emphasis on points/grades? — from DSC

I look back to my past…and I look to the present systems…and I look to the courses that I’m taking at the graduate level…and I can’t help but wonder what we can do to in order to instill more of a love for learning…?

When we constantly emphasis rubrics, grades, points, bell curves, SATs/ACTS/MEAPs/standardarized tests — man, it’s no wonder that students don’t connect with school! We enforce what we feel is important based up on what we think they will need to be productive…but it may or may not connect or be important to them at all. And it may not be the skills that are really needed when these folks enter the workplace. We taught them based upon what we needed in our work lives.

I can’t help but wonder how bummed out students become as the downward spiral begins…something happens in life to sidetrack them or they don’t have strong support for their educations in the home in the first place. They receive some low scores for a variety of reasons. Being that competition is so stressed in our worlds, they naturally look around to see how other students are doing. They notice the other students did better. They begin to feel discouraged. This happens a few more times and now they are getting really discouraged…school becomes a major source of stress and discouragement in their lives.

In addition to the stress, they aren’t always allowed to pursue their own passions…their own gifts and abilities;  instead, they are told what to learn, when to learn it, how exactly to learn it, etc.

I’m not out to blame anyone; and, in fact, I have an enormous amount of respect for the million agendas being thrown at teachers and professors these days. Can anyone deliver on all of these expectations and asked-for-deliverables?

However, I do hope that we can turn around this drop out situation in the U.S. — 25-30% is waaaaayyyy too high.

What can we do to better address students’ passions? Increase their motivation? How can we better instill a love for learning vs. “how to best compete and win” in the classroom? Funny how the older I get, the more the love of learning sets in…and the competition fades away.

Ask the Expert | James Paul Gee on video games and learning — from the NY Times Learning Network by Katherine Schulten

In this week’s New York Times Magazine article about video games in the classroom, Sara Corbett asks:

What if teachers gave up the vestiges of their educational past, threw away the worksheets, burned the canon and reconfigured the foundation upon which a century of learning has been built? What if we blurred the lines between academic subjects and reimagined the typical American classroom so that, at least in theory, it came to resemble a typical American living room or a child’s bedroom or even a child’s pocket, circa 2010 — if, in other words, the slipstream of broadband and always-on technology that fuels our world became the source and organizing principle of our children’s learning? What if, instead of seeing school the way we’ve known it, we saw it for what our children dreamed it might be: a big, delicious video game?

We’ve invited James Paul Gee, an expert on how video games fit within an overall theory of learning and literacy (and how they can help us in thinking about school reform), to take readers’ questions this week.

From DSC:
Be sure to check out the comments as well.

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Rethinking Student Motivation

In Designing e-Learning Motivation Makes all the Difference — from Allen Interactions

What was deeply personal to one group was irrelevant and pointless to another.

This is exactly the problem we face so often as designers of e-learning.  Our subject matter experts or project owners live and breathe the content we are to teach. And they expect that the same values that have given significance to the content for them over many years can be directly transferred to the learners.  Unfortunately, that’s impossible.  To get learners engaged in understanding new content and performing new skills, we as designers need to tie the content to some motivation existing in the learner, or to manufacture an urgency (using game design, networking, or simulation aspects) that the learners buy into.  This is important in all learning, but particularly so in e-learning where learners are, for the most part, working entirely on their own.

So equal to the task of analyzing content and designing instruction is the challenge of understanding our learners and designing interactivity that will provide personal motivation.

Here are some ideas for designing for motivation:

  • Ensure learners are aware of meaningful consequences
  • Develop a sense of risk
  • Ensure the learner benefits from adaptive content and branching
  • Draw the learner in by expert storytelling and creation of suspense
  • Appreciate the aesthetic appeal of graphics and media
  • Engage in meta-thinking with questions whose importance is elevated through multiple-step tasks and delayed judgment
© 2022 | Daniel Christian