From Courses to Communities

The long tail of open learning – free online courses of any type, cMOOCs, xMOOCs – is the community that forms around each one.  This has been my personal experience, and one we don’t usually hear discussed.  The course may not ever be completed, but the people we virtually bump into often share common interests and become a part of our PLNs.  In some cases we already know them from other virtual learning environments.  Interests intersect, and we bump into others – nodes in our networks.  This has been so valuable.  This article is from DML Central.

“When I started collaborating with Mitchel Resnick and Natalie Rusk at the MIT Media Lab we set out to design and offer a somewhat different online course. It would be easy to say now that creating an online learning community was our intention from the start, but the truth is, we were a little surprised ourselves, surprised and excited. Learning Creative Learning, the online course we created, became a springboard for learning with family, friends, and colleagues and turned into an ongoing community.”

via From Courses to Communities | DMLcentral.

Instructional Design Based on Cognitive Theory

 

There are a number of instructional design and cognitive theories, but Florida Institute of Technology is using Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multi-Media Learning for instructional design.

“This theory posits the following:

The brain processes auditory and visual information differently

There are limits to how much auditory and visual information people can process

People must be actively engaged in order to move knowledge from working memory to long-term memory”

While seemingly an expanded view of experiential or action learning, both theories were developed long before recorded audio and video were being used extensively for learning.  Processing of audio and video is very different, and the theory suggests that video images provides an extra layer of difficulty (or required filter) to process content that might inhibit learning.

Recommendations for efficacy are recommended:

“Short, focused lessons

Proper balance of text, image, and narration

Avoid distractions

Think like an instructional designer”

Full article at Faculty Focus, link below.

 

via Instructional Design Based on Cognitive Theory | Faculty Focus.

Our Education System Conflicts With the Science of Learning

 

Our brains are not designed to learn in what we consider a typical setting.  Classrooms and lectures are recent constructs, and in fact the brain is a “forager” well equipped to collect information informally, on the go.  Benedict Carey shares his theory on Big Think, where he explains there no one-size-fits all tactic for learning…

“He explains the importance of sleep, as it’s the brain’s method of consolidating a day’s lessons. He defends the act of forgetting, as it allows for stronger retention after re-learning like the building of a memory muscle. Daydreaming and distraction, in certain contexts, can actually boost your learning ability.”

via Our Education System Conflicts With the Science of Learning | Big Think | IdeaFeed.

Digital Media Plus Teaching Equals Support for Freedom

There is ongoing debate about technology in the classroom, erupting again in the past week when Clay Shirky (NYU) wrote an article about his classroom. He is no longer allowing laptops or devices.  This survey of 10,000 high school students asked if technology made them smarter, not as smart, or if they believed the tool was not important – it’s how we use it.  They chose the last view.  From MediaShift/PBS.

“A new survey of more than 10,000 high school students lends support to that last view. Amid an explosion in social and mobile media – their media – high school students are supporting freedom of expression in record numbers, and are even more likely to do so if they also have had a class in the First Amendment.”

via News for High Schools: Digital Media Plus Teaching Equals Support for Freedom | Mediashift | PBS.

Adapting student assessment to the needs of a digital age

In digital environments there is still not a clear answer about best practice or efficacy of assessments.  One thing we do know – digital environments require a different type of assessment and contextual lens through which to gauge meaning-making  .  But how do learning designers make decisions about effective and comprehensive assessments of understanding?  Every course is different – whether quantitative or qualitative.  In this article, Tony Bates shares his thoughts about assessment in the digital age.  “instructors should think about design through the lens of constructing a comprehensive learning environment in which teaching and learning will take place. I have been working through the various components of a learning environment, focusing particularly on how the digital age affects the way we need to look at some of these components.”

via Adapting student assessment to the needs of a digital age.

Digital Tools Can’t Magically Create Connections

 

There are a number of digital tools used to make social connections, all with different purposes.  danah boyd’s recent book, “It’s Complicated, The Social Lives of Networked Teens” shares her as-always profound understanding of how networked spaces work.  In this article from DML Central, Nicole Mirra shares a review of one of danah and Harold Jenkins’ recent book talks and suggests ways in which some of the points made in the discussion geared for parents can also be used as catalysts for meaningful conversations between educators and their students.

1. “Tools that can connect us don’t do so automatically — online spaces are often just as segregated as other social spaces.”boyd and Jenkins explained that while it may appear that digital tools automatically inspire connection across boundaries, the reality of how people use them often produces increased isolation socioeconomically and ideologically……”

via Digital Tools Can’t Magically Create Connections | DMLcentral.

2014 Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies

1/3 of faculty have taught an online class in the past year, and 62% of those faculty say that online learning will lead to pedagogical breakthroughs, according to a new study done by Educause.  Educause, a higher ed technology organization, is likely sharing information from its own member base who are all technology users – which is a subset of the total faculty population – but it is still very interesting.  Shared by Daniel Christian, here are some key findings.

 

“Faculty recognize that online learning opportunities can promote access to higher education but are more reserved in their expectations for online courses to improve outcomes.

Faculty interest in early-alert systems and intervention notifications is strong.

The majority of faculty are using basic features and functions of LMSs but recognize that these systems have much more potential to enhance teaching and learning.

Faculty think they could be more effective instructors if they were better skilled at integrating various kinds of technology into their courses.

Faculty recognize that mobile devices have the potential to enhance learning.”

via 2014 Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies [Educause/ECAR].

12 Steps for Creating a Digital Assignment or Hybrid Class

I’m often asked about new technology to offer faculty for use in their classes.  The first answer is number 3 below – best to use tools with which we are already familiar.   If the technology isn’t transparent, then it becomes the focus instead of the pedagogy or the content.  In this article from Jesse Stommel via Hybrid Pedagogy about Creating a Digital Assignment, he offers many great ideas (as always.)  But on a fundamental level, we often can’t get past the concept of anything minimally digital if the trepidation of a new tool gets in the way.

 

“Questions I ask myself when creating a digital assignment or hybrid course:

1. What is my primary goal for students with this course / assignment?

2. What is my digital pedagogy? How does my goal for this assignment intersect with my broader teaching philosophy?

3. What tools that I already use analog or digital could help me achieve these goals? It is often best to use the tools with which we are already familiar, rather than turning to the shiny and newfangled.

4. In order for this activity / class to work, what gaps do I need to fill with other tools / strategies?

5. Is my idea simple enough? What can I do to streamline the activity?

6. What is my goal beyond this assignment / course? How will the activity and my pedagogy evolve? In other words, don’t feel like you have to meet all your goals during the first attempt — think of the process, from the start, as iterative. Think also about how you can bring students their feedback and the fruits of their work during the first iteration into the continuing evolution of the activity / course.

7. Go back to step 1 and work through these steps and likely several times.”

via 12 Steps for Creating a Digital Assignment or Hybrid Class | Digital Pedagogy | Jesse Stommel  .