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Posts Tagged ‘learning

This tweet reveals a battle we rage in education. It is not the text or the link in the tweet; it is the image.

What is the battle about? Learning styles and the ignorance it perpetuates.

Why battle? Learning styles are very much alive and even celebrated. This despite research that has debunked it and the APA that recently made a statement against it.

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently posted an article about how many people still believe in learning styles even though these have been debunked.

A cognitive psychology educator posted five-tweet thread to see how commonly accepted learning styles were in the top ten schools of education in the US.

He followed up with a blog entry to show how he discovered that eight out of ten of them had information about learning styles on their website. This information was supportive of or neutral about learning styles. Only one, the
“Teachers College of Columbia University produced an article which portrayed learning styles as a myth or in a negative manner”.

I agree with him. We should stop beating dead horses. The learning styles horse is very much alive. Where is my stick? Ah, here it is.

I have grabbed every opportunity to run courses or workshop series like studio sessions.

If you need to know what studio teaching and studio-based learning are, I recommend these resources:

My most recent ventures with this approach were a series of academic writing workshops for teachers and a postgraduate course on educational technology.

Both groups enjoyed a small number of participants: Six teachers and seven Masters/Ph.D. students. In terms of content, both were roughly even on theory (knowledge), practice (skills), and praxis (theory informed and authentic practice).

One way to imagine studio-based learning is to picture novice painters. Learners armed with prior knowledge and previous experiences bring those to the studio to learn from a master and their peers. They learn in. They learn information and skills just-in-time and level up by working in groups and individually.

While in groups, they share (peer teach) and provide feedback to one another (critique). Their processes and products are made as open and available to others as much as possible.

A studio also affords individual alone time to be with their thoughts. This allows students to practice or reflect on their own, or to consult the facilitator.

Like a painter, a student in a studio must have choice in a project for evaluation of learning. The project must meet standards established early on and agreed upon. Like a painter, such a student needs to showcase their thinking (processes) and work (products) during studio sessions.

I have found it easy to conduct studio sessions when the circumstances align — class size, course coordinators who are hands-off or trusting, nature of topic, etc. I can do these even in the most traditional of institutions. However, it is the assessment that is challenging. I will reflect on one or two pragmatic issues next.

As I strive to be a lead learner, I have to be reminded and learn about learning. Real learning.

Real learning creates discomfort. Sometimes it can even be painful.

Real learning takes effort on the part of the learner — effort that is focused, concerted, and practiced.

Real learning results in changes to what we know, believe, and do.

Real learning rarely, if ever, results from tests. Yet tests are the standard on which alternatives are compared.

How did we get to test-based “learning”? Real learning is difficult to do and measure. Tests are easy by comparison. We take the easy way out. In the process we learn about who we are and what we value.

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If empathy cannot be sold or taught as something altruistic, then try selfish empathy. This was the conclusion of this article by Mindshift.

The read was a good one because it created cognitive dissonance. It might also be a more prudent approach given the changing culture.

This better approach is not always obvious. Another Mindshift article published at around the same time called the old approaches “cognitive set”. The dissonance might then be upsets.

One only really learns after being challenged or upset. If we hear or experience something we already know, that is called reinforcement. That is why I appreciate reading articles like the ones published by the aptly named Mindshift.

I had two reactions when I noticed this video in my YouTube feed and watched it.

Video source

The first was that it came a few days too late for a course I was facilitating. It would have been a useful resource.

My other response was that was just-in-time for personal edification or continuous professional development.

A student might be interested in the video if it helped them get a grade or qualification. A professional would be interested in how the video influenced their way of thinking and operating.

The two people are not separate, particularly when they are working adult learners. But these learners are also pragmatic and might focus on the former.

I focus on influencing the latter. Only time will tell if this value system expresses itself in the form of life wide learning.

Steve Wheeler illustrated his view on the difference between personalised and personal learning:

Personal learning, I explained, is walking across the road and doing an ad hoc tour of the buildings and artefacts to see what I could learn about the history and culture of Jerónimos. Hiring a personal guide who knows a lot more about the history and culture of the place, and touring it with him/her would be personalised learning.

Others have also contrasted the two (e.g., Will Richardson and George Couros) because they wished to push back on the type of “personalised” learning solutions from various vendors.

I, too, am skeptical of standardised approaches to truly personalised learning. But I also wonder about the false dichotomy that the debate creates.

What if someone (like a content provider or instructor) customises lessons for you? You did not initiate this, so it is neither personal nor personalised.

What if you curate your own YouTube videos, podcasts, and readings? The content is someone else’s like the guide in the story, but you made the effort to search, evaluate, and consume.

Educators seem to focus on — and have an intrinsic understanding of — personal or personalisation of learning. They often do this when they coach or tutor individual students.

But vendors claim they can personalise en masse, and this should be welcomed with a healthy dose of skepticism instead of open wallets.

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