Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘learning

 
There is a question that sometimes irks me after I am done with workshops, talks, or demonstrations. That question is: Do you have something I can read on [topic]?

Depending on the context, my knowledge of that person, or my reading of mindsets, that person falls into one of at least two categories.

The first is a genuine interest to know more. I have no problems with that, which is why I normally pepper my presentations or materials with links.

The second is a harmful and theory-oriented mindset. If I take blended learning for example, then the question is: Can you provide more readings on blended learning?

If you want to find out more, then good for you. But if you think that there is an instruction manual for blended learning, then forget about it.

Most instructional strategies are not learnt by reading. They are learnt by doing over and over again, and by correcting mistakes along the way.

You might start with a very basic piece on blended learning or indulge in some Googling of blended learning. Then you must design and implement as quickly as possible. Letting it stew in the mind is not the same as serving it at the dinner table.

The harm of the over-cautious mindset has deeper roots. It is a disconnect with learning and the learner of today.

For example, consider how people learn to use mobile devices or play games. Most times they jump right in and do by trial and error or they get information just in time. They might consult the (very brief) manual, online forums, YouTube, or people around them for help.

They do not ask for a textbook. There are no textbook answers for practices that change all the time. There are no textbook answers for flexible mindsets.

Video source

This video might provide useful information to marketers or serve as an impetus to use videos in advertising. But I see a message for those of us in education.

There is at least one thing better than the power of video to show you something. It is the power to create your own videos to teach, to learn, and to learn by teaching.

I love this Teens React video by the Fine Bros.

Video source

I must remember to add it to my list of reflective resources for participants of my game-based learning workshops.

They might ponder on questions like:

  • What is the effect of failure in this game?
  • Why to the teens persist?
  • When and why do they stop?
  • How is the teaching and learning different from what happens in a traditional classroom?
  • How do you transfer these game-based principles to teaching (and even if you do not play games)?

When the NEA warned that the haze could make its return to Singapore earlier than usual, I took the opportunity to reorganize what CeL would have otherwise offered in April as workshops.

We offered the Beat the Haze series of workshops from 31 Mar to 4 Apr 2014. This is the link to the workshop Google Site and this is my Storified tweets of the week.

While the workshops were well-received, I was not content. I conducted a post-mortem on the last day to provide just-in-time instruction and feedback for my staff. There is nothing like recent memory, learning by doing, and critical reflection to create painful but meaningful learning.

 
You can deliver a pizza. You can deliver a lecture. You can also deliver a lecture like a pizza, hopefully hot, delicious, and ready to eat.

But you cannot deliver learning.

Talk is cheap (OK, the speaker may be expen$ive). Even the most inspiring lecture, talk, or storytelling session is just words.

The longstanding joke is that NATO is short for “no action, talk only”. Learning is a result of moving, not just being moved. There must be jolt or shift in values, mindsets, behaviours, etc.

Even this reflection is just words. Evidence of learning is in the actions that we take to change people, processes, and products.

What have you changed in the course of your work?

Today’s reflection has been brought to you by Captain Obvious. But since some folks are not aware of this alternative hero, I am providing a soapbox for him to stand on.

Sometimes I wonder if the conversations that my wife and I have over dinner and YouTube videos have any impact on my son.

Yes, we watch YouTube videos and not television programmes over dinner. We talk about them and we unconsciously model communication and thinking skills for our son. This was not obvious to me until a recent father-son chat.

Every weekday I ask my son about his school day and his homework. Practically every day the answers are the same: Meh, boring, and arrgh!

 
Except one day. My son asked me why he had to perform science experiments to answer questions they already knew the answers to.

How many teachers or research scientists ask themselves this question? It was a particularly good question because it critiqued the purpose of doing experiments and the strategy for teaching science.

The standard response to this question might revolve around learning or practising the scientific method. But the core issue is really about whether the focus is developing a discipline or being driven by curious discovery.

Any good teacher would want his/her students to have both. That said, I would wager that most teachers would err on the side of content delivery and disciplined thinking. But what if the teaching of science as a discipline takes out the joy of discovery?

This is one reason why we have the dichotomy of formal learning in school and informal learning elsewhere. There are rules, methods, and objectives in school, but they typically suck the life out of learning.

Outside of school the learning is looser and practically undisciplined in the sense that it does not start or end with subject silos, specific instructional objectives, or time-tested strategies.

The latter sort of learning is like how a child catches values, listening skills, and thinking skills at a daily setting like dinner conversation.

We need both formal and informal channels, of course. But I would err on the side of the informal if they are going to help my son develop the mindset he needs for his future.

 
One thing an educator can do with a flipped classroom is to differentiate for learning. After all, the point of flipping is to focus on the learner and learning.

Why differentiate? For the simple reason that no two learners are exactly alike. The ideal would be to individualize, but this can be difficult with large classes. The compromise is to cluster students into relatively homogenous groups based on abilities, preferences, or some other relevant trait. (There is also room for heterogenous groups, but that is another story.)

Another reason for differentiating is to provide choice. If flipped learning is to nurture self-directed and ultimately independent learners, then they must be given choices on how they learn. (With curricular constraints, it might not be realistic to provide indefinite choices on what they learn.)

What choices can educators provide learners?

There is the choice of content. By this I mean the medium the content is on (e.g., books, websites, videos, simulations, games, the teacher as source) as well as the selection of topic or level or topic (e.g., remedial, beginner, intermediate, advanced).

The task is also something that can be chosen. The deliverable might be done in class, online only, or both. It might be written, drawn, spoken, or otherwise performed. The learning strategies are just as rich: Collaborative projects, individual exploration, group inquiry, etc.

Depending on the content and task, the assessment would also vary but match the content and task. Something that is performance-based (e.g., a speech) should not be force fit and assessed only as a written assignment.

There is a variety of assessment options: rubrics, e-portfolios (evidence-based, focusing on processes and products), checklists, teacher observations, quizzes, peer feedback, and so on.

If flipping is compared to food preparation, then differentiating is a buffet that provides healthy choices for all patrons. Whatever the choices, there should be staples in the buffet that the patrons must partake. They should all have some individual work and group work. They should all learn to reflect critically and self-evaluate.

Ultimately, the learner should address these questions:

  • What did I learn?
  • How did I learn it?
  • Why is it important?
  • What evidence do I have for learning?

http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code

QRCode
Get a QR code reader to figure out what this means!

My tweets

Archives

Usage policy

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers

%d bloggers like this: