SmartBlog on Education this month is exploring the science of learning. Join us for original content in which experts explore trends in learning research and highlight teaching strategies that can help improve student performance.
“But why do you want students to blog?” This question, posed by one of the professors for an action research course in our school district, gave everyone pause. We had been discussing questions to investigate in our classrooms. The teacher who proposed the blogging idea thought for a moment, then replied, “I don’t know.”
Technology is tempting to embed in the classroom en masse. It piques kids’ interests and it is fun to explore. But does it lead to achievement and help students grow as learners? We need to ask ourselves these types of questions if we want to realize the impact that connected education can have on students. I offer three declarations supported by research to help assess the necessity of technology in classrooms.
In my new book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, one of the things that I discuss is understanding that we are not able to change others, but are able to create the conditions where change is more likely to happen. Instead of pointing fingers at others, it is important to recognize what we have the ability to do, and develop conditions where innovation is more likely to happen.
Below are five focuses I share in the book on how to “Unleash Talent”, with a quick synopsis and some questions.
1.Powerful Learning First, Technology Second
Although the words “innovation” and “technology” are not synonymous, we do have to understand that technology can be transformational in our learning. When we immerse ourselves in learning experiences with technology, it helps us to make better decisions on what type of learning can truly happen in our schools. For example, if a student wanted to play violin, and there was no one in your organization that knew how to play, where would they go? YouTube most likely, yet if it is blocked, what opportunities have we cut off from our students? When purchasing technology in our schools, these should be informed decisions on what is best for learning, not on what technology is cheapest or what people are most used to.
Join us this month for blog posts about blended and online learning.In this blog post, education leader Fred Ende explores why blended learning — instead of a 100% online option — may be the best fit for some learners.
I make it my mission to learn at least one new thing every day. Usually, the difficultly isn’t experiencing new ideas, but parsing them out so that I can truly say that I’ve learned something. Today, as I began to consider this blog post, I came to an important realization (though not necessarily an entirely novel one). I learned that I don’t do well in purely online-learning environments; I need the face-to-face contact that a blended format provides in order for me to truly learn at my best.This realization stems from my second foray into the world of MOOCs. A few years ago I joined one centered on the Next Generation Science Standards. This time, I’m in one that focuses on coaching digital learning. Both seemed like fabulous opportunities, both were facilitated by leaders and learners who I was interested in learning from, and both incorporated a variety of learning modalities — modalities that seemed to mesh with the way I think, process and reflect.
And yet, in both cases, I was less than the stellar student, ending my time in both after the first week. In both cases, I started strong, completing initial assignments, and truly meaning to continue, and then, well, I didn’t. For what it is worth, I believe I made it to the third week in the initial MOOC.
Join us this month for blog posts about blended and online learning.Adam Holden, head of the Department of Teacher Education at Fort Hays State University, kicks things off with strategies for building community in online learning.
For years we have extolled the benefits of developing learning communities within the courses we teach. Regardless of delivery method, students learn best when they are active members of the learning process, and this is even more critical when the learning takes place in a virtual setting.
Developing a sense of community in an online course is almost universally well-received, and often results in an increased comfort among students sharing their viewpoints and observations, and in developing a more positive attitude towards both classmates and the course as a whole.
Enhancing online learning communities is not complex, but does take time and planning to get it right. Consider the following:
Good announcements are critical. Good online instructors need to allow students to get to know them as people as well as instructors, and the easiest way to do this is to share real conversations as you would in class. The need to use class announcements to connect — simply to tell stories — is just as important as the need to give academic direction. Share the simple things about your life: a TV show, the weather, your dog, exercising — and you will soon have students giving you a line or two back at the end of their assignment submissions about why they don’t understand the cat person in their life.
In the film The Intern, a 70-year-old senior citizen named Ben Whittaker (Robert DeNiro), applies for a “senior” internship with a fashion tech start-up experiencing explosive growth. The interview process requires him to submit a video. Uncertain how to make a video, Ben enlists his nine-year-old grandson and wows the company with his warmth and personality. Ben gets the job.
He brings real-life experience to his new role, and his high EQ brings dividends to the company’s fast-moving, overcommitted CEO, who learns to appreciate and value Ben for his sincerity and integrity. His “old school” approach finds him in a suit and tie each day, while his younger colleagues wear t-shirts and don’t shave. Ben’s charm is that he is skilled at and values conversation.
In “Reclaiming Conversation,” a recent New York Times op-ed piece, Professor Sherry Turkle writes:
But it is in this type of conversation — where we learn to make eye contact, to become aware of another person’s posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another — that empathy and intimacy flourish. In these conversations, we learn who we are.