Engagement matters, but we have to think beyond engagement. — David Price
A group of colleagues who recently attended the ASB Unplugged conference assembled a thoughtful reflection document upon their return. Two connected statements stood out for me: “The debate is over” … “Technology is a given.” It may be overly-simplistic to think that these perspectives really are a given. No aspect of learning has more apologists than the field of educational technology. My colleagues are right, of course: most educators have moved beyond the debate. If this is the case, what comes next?
I subscribe to David Price’s conviction that learning should be about moving beyond engagement. There is obviously a more ambitious goal for our students than engagement alone. Ultimately, what are young people going to do with the things we engage them in? I would suggest that if the answer to this question is not something compelling, we should encourage our young people to stay home and surf the internet, travel, sleep or read a good book. As Price suggests, “This is why great educators want their students to think like scientists, engineers, artists — being engaged is just the first, though necessary, step in being ready for the world of work.”
A survey by online tutors YourTutor.com.au has revealed that in 1200 households with children aged 5 to 18, 84 per cent of children turn to Google or their parents when asking for help. This is despite expert opinion that parents helping with homework can hinder kids’ learning progress and development of autonomy, and questions about the reliability of the sources with which Google deluges children.
More than 90 per cent of high school students turn to help when they get stuck on a specific question or task, not when they are just researching. Jack Goodman, founder and chief executive of YourTutor, conceded that while Google is a great research tool, it often doesn’t provide the specific answers to what students are asking. Also, parents’ recollection of knowledge from their schooling days is more or less out of date, he said. And answers that Google provides are often unreliable.
“Most people don’t think about the fact that Google is the single largest advertising website in the world by a factor of [many, many] thousands,” Goodman told Education Review. “The vast majority of students when they look at Google are looking at thousands and thousands of ads every single day.
“Google is promoting all sorts of unreliable information on a regular basis and students click on those [links] unwittingly and are guided to services that aren’t necessarily reflective of the query that they have asked. It’s really important to understand the authority of a website, the reliability, to look at any independent reviews or testimonials and to consider every website with a critical eye.”
In contrast, Goodman explained that Wikipedia is a good tool for students to gain background knowledge of a subject. Students shouldn’t reference Wikipedia, Goodman said, but can use the references listed at the end of one its articles as a starting point for research.
Teacher Adam Schoenbart gives his students an hour a week to pursue a topic that interests them – and it has transformed their engagement
Half a century ago, a scientist called Art Fry added a little glue to the back of a piece of paper – and created the Post-it.
Fry made this stationary staple at the science and technology company 3M during “15% time” – a scheme that allowed employees to spend 15% of their time pursuing their own ideas rather than simply completing tasks set by managers.
It’s not the only occasion this approach has resulted in creative innovation. Richard Drew, again at 3M, created masking tape using the same approach and it was during Google’s famous “20% time” that Gmail was created. If it works for businesses, could it work for schools?
Year two of Case Western Reserve University's Active Learning Fellowshipprogram supported the first year's evidence of success in using active learning techniques in active learning classrooms.Unexpectedly, active learning techniques applied in large classes in regular classrooms proved unpopular with students, as expressed in surveys and focus groups at the end of the semester.The challenges teased out of the data indicated additional factors influencing active learning success and guided modifications to year three of the Active Learning Fellowship faculty selection process.
So, can educators help their students become more creative? Some teachers are moving in that direction, loosening the rules, giving students choice, celebrating ideas and behaviors that challenge the status quo, but without a drastic reimagining of the structures within which educators work, true creativity could be hard to find in school.
If you are working in a classroom where your students have internet connected devices, either through wifi or their mobile phone, using a backchannel can have a transformative impact on the way you can use technology with your students.
Explore ideas for PBL in your classroom Project based learning creates engagement in learning.
You know that real-world scenarios and project based learning will engage students, deepen learning and provide rich problem-solving opportunities. Many educators struggle with how to connect ideas from the curriculum to these learning opportunities. We created these resources to help get you going!
This Ideas eBook will provide proven top quality project based learning ideas that are easily customizable. These ideas will:
Create relevant, meaningful learning Cultivate problem-solving skills Connect curriculum to the real-world Foster creativity Enhance collaboration Develop an understanding of PBL Make learning fun!
Mary and Amanda wrote a great post yesterday about BCCampus’ upcoming plans around open pedagogy. It reminded me that I meant to post the notes I developed for my workshop on open pedagogy at the Maricopa Community Colleges last week. Here’s my outline for the conversation we had there. (Yes, I know it’s outline-y and not completely fleshed out, but hopefully there’s enough here to be valuable.) I’m thinking quite hard about this topic these days.
Education was becoming more about careers and "competencies" (a word Kuh himself used, although in a larger sense than others have) and less about inquiry, meaning-making, and a broadly humane view of human capacity. Kuh's essay implicitly recognized that one of the great costs of abandoning these more expansive views of the purpose of higher education was that students might become alienated from their own learning experiences. He was right. Even as "student-centered learning" became the mantra, the increased attention to outcomes and objectives served (and still serves) to enable a narrowing, behaviorist focus on easily measured, easily described outcomes linked to detailed prescriptions, policies, and penalties, all contained within the course contracts (i.e., course syllabi).
Integrated learning is the most rudimentary level of collaboration across disciplines. At the very least, it allows teachers and, more importantly, students to make connections across disciplines, creating an opportunity for greater depth and complexity.
However, one of the key competencies for the 21st century is to position students with the skills and habits of mind to be transdisciplinary thinkers. The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has identified transdisciplinarity as a key and essential skill for the future work force. In their report on future work skills (PDF), the IFTF writes:
Many of today's global problems are just too complex to be solved by one specialized discipline (think global warming or overpopulation). These multifaceted problems require transdisciplinary solutions.
Teachers who are interested in shifting their classrooms often don’t know where to start. It can be overwhelming, frightening, and even discouraging, especially when no one else around you seems to think the system is broken.
- Expressions of interest are now being sought for a workshop on assessing creativity with insights from neuroscience. The workshop is an initiative of the CSL@ACER and builds on research currently carried out by Dr Sacha DeVelle of ACER Perth.
Creativity is a core 21st-century skill and a general capability within the Australian Curriculum. More than 60 years of research has been dedicated to its definition, measurement and assessment. More recent neuroscientific approaches have shed light on where creative processes emerge within the brain. However, the field of creativity continues to be a complex phenomenon for researchers and educational practitioners. The aim of this workshop is to translate key issues and relevant findings from the creativity research to a classroom setting.
This workshop will provide the opportunity for participants to:
- understand the historical background to creativity and assessment; - recognise the neuromyths surrounding creativity and the brain; - learn about current findings from the creativity and neuroscientific literature; and - develop an understanding of how creativity can be assessed within the classroom.
“Learning is not a spectator sport,” D. Blocher once claimed. That’s so truthful when it comes to project-based learning. There’s more to it than giving our kids a goal and then letting them go. PBL goes hand in hand with the 21st Century Fluencies. At its best, PBL is students working together on projects that they care about, taking ownership of their education, and becoming lifelong learners.
HYDERABAD, JANUARY 20: “We cannot control or create motivation in classrooms, but we do have tremendous influence over it,” said Teresa Balser, Fulbright Distinguished Chair, Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Curtin University, Australia.
Delivering a lecture on ‘Motivation in the modern classroom’ at the ICFAI University Campus here in Hyderabad, Balser said, “ While the teachers expect students to attend classes, study, ask questions, participate and pay attention in the class, students, though highly motivated to learn, do not seem to be convinced that the classroom is the best place to learn.”
On the existing education system, Balser said that it was oriented towards the industrial age and is not aligned to the needs of the current era. Citing renowned educationist Ken Robinson, she said that education today seems to kill the ability of children to indulge in divergent thinking as the systems are oriented towards commoditisation and standardisation, with a factory-like approach and production in batches.
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