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.
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.
“The next generation of consumers, after a childhood of disruptive technology, will think about shopping, cooking, eating and fresh produce in ways very different from the rest of us,” he said. “Convergent technologies and connected lifestyles mean that everything, even food, is now a digital product.”
Technology and data will challenge our relationship to products and brands, and Walsh pointed to Instagram as one tool that has changed people’s perception of food.
“There’s a fine line between technology and anthropology,” Walsh said.