Pt 1: Project Based Learning … 5 Misconceptions: Plus… 5 Resources to Raise the PBL Bar
As I travel from state to state providing professional development in regards to Project Based Learning I see a confusion as to what Project Based Learning really is. Comments I constantly hear are phrases such as:
- I already do PBL by incorporating a project at the end of the unit for learning. - I tried PBL and I just did not have time to cover the standards. - The problem with PBL is that projects cannot teach the standards. - My students just cannot get engaged in PBL. - I don’t think I can replace traditional teaching with PBL
What are the characteristics of a school as learning organisation? This paper should be seen as an attempt to work towards a common understanding of the school as learning organisation concept that is both solidly founded in the literature and is recognisable to all parties involved, i.e. educators, policy makers, parents and others alike. The paper provides an in-depth analysis of the learning organisation literature in general, and within a school context. It identifies and operationalises the characteristics of the school as learning organisation in an integrated model that consists of seven overarching ‘action-oriented’ dimensions:
1) developing and sharing a vision centred on the learning of all students;
2) creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities for all staff;
3) promoting team learning and collaboration among staff;
4) establishing a culture of inquiry, innovation and exploration;
5) establishing embedded systems for collecting and exchanging knowledge and learning;
6) learning with and from the external environment and larger learning system; and
7) modelling and growing learning leadership.
The dimensions and underlying key characteristics are intended to provide practical guidance on how schools can transform themselves into a learning organisation and ultimately enhance student outcomes.
GRE scores and undergraduate GPA don’t predict students’ future graduate school productivity, but reference letters from previous research advisers may provide clues about whether they are going to publish well, according to two papers published today in PLOS ONE. These results add to the ongoing discussion about how graduate admissions decisions should be made, particularly in light of previous findings that the GRE is biased against students from underrepresented groups. The new studies emphasize that admissions committees should review applicants holistically and rely less on GRE scores in making decisions—a point that many acknowledge, but which requires significant time and energy to do well.
By tracking the research output of students who recently completed biological and biomedical doctorates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the researchers found that neither GRE scores nor GPA were associated with the number of first-author papers a student published. Moreover, these metrics did not predict other quantitative measures of productivity—the number of conference presentations and independent grants and fellowships received—or the student’s progress through the program, further analysis of the Vanderbilt cohort revealed. The UNC study also found that there was not a correlation between the extent of a student’s previous research experience and their publication record, although all the students had done some research prior to starting graduate school. But, among the UNC group, students with the strongest reference letters produced more first-author papers, while those with weaker letters tended to publish as middle authors or not at all.
A few months back -- in November of 2016, to be exact--, I wrote a piece for SmartBrief titled “learner-driven learning” that seemed to resound for a number of readers. In it, I shared three “intersections” of learning:“Question, Rather Than Answer”, “Keep It Interactive” and “Follow-Up”, and how we can move through them and exit on the “right” side of the road, with the “right” side being the side where learners are taking the wheel. Read that piece.
So when the opportunity to write more about learner-driven learning arose, I jumped at the opportunity --well, not literally jumped, but I did do a few fist-pumps. One of the aspects that I wished I would have expanded on in that original piece was laying the groundwork for learners to actually take the wheel. The three “intersections” shared are great for when the student is already ready to drive. But how do we build the capacity to actually get in the driver’s seat?
With that in mind, here are three strategies we can use, or frames we can adopt, to first help our learners get behind the wheel.
Kim Flintoff's insight:
Student-centred learning... the main challenges are getting out of the learners way and changing our habits as teachers.
The study concluded that only first-year students saw significant improvements in their problem-solving abilities.
“As problem-solving is becoming an increasingly sought-after skill, it is likely post-secondary institutions will need to adapt their teaching styles to ensure students are able to better participate in a skill-based economy,” says Hurren, who is the manager of academic development at UBC’s Centre for Teaching and Learning in Kelowna. “If they haven’t already, professors will need to move from traditional lectures and expectations of memorization to approaches that see small groups of students actively discover knowledge on their own.”
A series of studies across countries and disciplines in higher education confirm that student evaluations of teaching (SET) are significantly correlated with instructor gender, with students regularly rating female instructors lower than male peers. Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark argue the findings warrant serious attention in light of increasing pressure on universities to measure teaching effectiveness. Given the unreliability of the metric and the harmful impact these evaluations can have, universities should think carefully on the role of such evaluations in decision-making.
Many universities rely heavily or exclusively on student evaluations of teaching (SET) for hiring, promoting and firing instructors. After all, who experiences teaching more directly than students? But to what extent do SET measure what universities expect them to measure—teaching effectiveness?
The Innovating Pedagogy report clearly focuses on teaching over technology, which sets it apart from other tech trend summaries. Another characteristic is the mix of novel and long-standing concepts. As an example, the 2016 edition highlights social media, game-based learning and design thinking – ideas that have an established field of research and practice. While some readers may see this as a disadvantage, it makes the report a great starting point to delve into various research areas of educational technology and the learning sciences. Along those lines, the introductory chapter of the report offers an interesting discussion of insights into learning theory and practice that have a robust empirical basis. What I like most about Innovating Pedagogy is its concise format: Whereas the Horizon report in recent years tripled the trends discussed (from positioning 6 trends on a timeline to discussing 18 topics likely to impact planning and decision-making in the educational technology sector), Innovating Pedagogy focuses on 10 different trends each year, which make the report easier to digest. Overall, Innovating Pedagogy adds a unique voice to the landscape of current EdTech trend reviews, and therefore is a must-read for practitioners and researchers alike.
Most educators in our schools and district offices have gone through their own education without the access and opportunities that exist today. To meet the needs of the learners in our classrooms today and align school with the world we live in, there is a need to embrace new mindsets about learning, along with new tools and resources available to make these shifts across diverse classrooms. As I visit schools I see the extremes that exist from classroom to classroom.
In an effort to “transform learning and teaching”, I often hear people question if teachers are willing to embrace technology, but I think the better question is are we willing to change our expectations for how and what students learn? If we only focus on integrating technology rather than creating powerful learning experiences that align with the type of students we want to develop, we will continue to perpetuate the same norms in education with more expensive tools.
Innovation: Multiple Dimensions in Teaching and Learning The Teaching and Learning Forum (TLF) is an annual conference, held in Perth, Western Australia. The inaugural Teaching and Learning Forum was held in 1992 and included the five Western Australian universities. Each year since then, the Forum has continued the tradition of bringing together educators from across the higher education sector to share, challenge and develop their ideas about teaching and learning. This event provides an inclusive space for people to explore and disseminate their Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). The TLF committee warmly welcomes everyone involved in higher education, from early career academics who may have recently started teaching to experienced researchers.
Explore critical thinking games and activities for making learning a blast!
The Critical Thinking Workbook helps you and your students develop mindful communication and problem-solving skills with exciting games and activities. It has over 20 activities that are adaptable to any grade level you want.
The activity pages in the Critical Thinking Workbook are designed to be shared and explored. You can use the guide as an electronic document you can edit right on your computer, or as printable worksheets.
With the Critical Thinking Workbook you can:
Cultivate critical thinking skills Challenge students with fun games and activities Build confidence in communication Stretch students' imaginations
Education buzzwords come and go, just as the fads they sometimes represent. But some endure and come back, much as in the Gartner Hype Cycle—or perhaps as in a metaphorical Ferris wheel, in which concepts take their seats and then rise and fall, over and over. For a variety of reasons, the buzz
Learners do not just receive information only at the time it is given; they absorb information in many different ways, often after the fact, through reflection. The most powerful learning often happens when students self-monitor, or reflect.
Students may not always be aware of what they are learning and experiencing. Teachers must raise students’ consciousness about underlying concepts and about their own reactions to these concepts. ETE Team
Reflection in the classroom can begin at a young age. Reflection during instructional time can be facilitated through:
Structuring lesson plans to support reflective thinking. Providing lesson components that prompt inquiry and curiosity. Providing resources and hand-on activities to prompt exploration. Providing reflective thinking activities that prompt students to think about what they have done, what they learned, and what they still need to do. Providing reflection activity worksheets for each lesson plan to prompt students to think about what they know, what they learned, and what they need to know as they progress through their exploration. ETE Team
At “Taking Our Seat at the Table: How Academic Librarians Can Help Shape the Future of Higher Education,” sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries University Libraries Section (ACRL ULS), library administrators spoke up about how their institutions are looking ahead—both within and outside of the library.
George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University, says he was being satirical when on December 24 he posted on Twitter: "All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide."
A scholar of revolutionary movements and a self-described social activist, Mr. Ciccariello-Maher is no stranger to Twitter furors. But he says the internet maelstrom that quickly engulfed him, his friends and family, and his university reflects "a new offensive against academia" by far-right and neo-Nazi groups.
"Your university is not broke: The root causes of IT decisions are ideological and political, not economic."
“The digital revolution in higher education has happened,” wrote the author and technology commentator Clay Shirky late last year. Did you miss it? That’s not surprising because, as Shirky points out, that revolution hasn’t happened everywhere yet. The many students who are making the most use of online education are mostly nontraditional, and they tend to be taking such courses at colleges and universities where those students form the greatest segment of the student body. As online classes have become more popular, they have become increasingly available at universities where you might not expect to find them. Our sister institution, Colorado State University - Fort Collins has many of them. Another arm of our state system, CSU-Global, is an entirely online institution.
Kim Flintoff's insight:
"Your university is not broke: The root causes of IT decisions are ideological and political, not economic."
What we have witnessed in our own time is the death of universities as centres of critique.
When they first emerged in their present shape around the turn of the 18th century, the so-called humane disciplines had a crucial social role. It was to foster and protect the kind of values for which a philistine social order had precious little time. The modern humanities and industrial capitalism were more or less twinned at birth. To preserve a set of values and ideas under siege, you needed among other things institutions known as universities set somewhat apart from everyday social life. This remoteness meant that humane study could be lamentably ineffectual. But it also allowed the humanities to launch a critique of conventional wisdom.
But could 42's model of teacherless learning work in mainstream universities?
Britanny Bir admits 42's methods do not suit all students. During the month-long selection period, some applicants fell out because of the stresses of working closely together. It is easy to imagine reacting badly to a poor mark if it was given by the student in the desk next to you.
"It suits individuals who are very disciplined and self-motivated, and who are not scared by having the freedom to work at their own pace," she says.
Nicolas Sadirac, director of 42 in Paris, says the model works particularly well for students who have been frustrated and left behind by mainstream education.
Competency-based education offers the opportunity to accelerate learning and thus time-to-credential; alternative pricing structures such as all-you-can-take subscription models; and credit for prior learning.
The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, a competency-based BAAS in Organizational Leadership at Texas A&M University–Commerce, illustrates how these time and cost savings can benefit students.
The TAMU-C Institute for Competency-Based Education will assist additional higher education institutions across Texas in developing their own TAB programs.
When students go back to school in January 2017 there will be some significant changes to their timetables. As well as learning areas like English, maths and science, there will be some new things to grapple with called “capabilities”.
The Australian curriculum will be focusing not just on the 3Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic – but also on the kinds of “soft” skills young people will need if they are to be successful throughout their lives.
The new capabilities are:
Information and communication technology - using technology to access information, create products and solve problems Critical and creative thinking - learning how to think and find ways to approach problems Personal and social - recognising others’ emotions, supporting diversity and working together Ethical - understanding values and concepts that underpin views Intercultural - learning about your own and others’ cultures and beliefs. From 2017 teachers will be expected to teach and assess these capabilities, although state and territory education authorities can determine whether the capabilities will be assessed.
Until recently, we thought of learning, working, and living as separate parts of our lives. In our younger years we went to school. We spent our adult years working, and wove in personal events into the time that remained. Now imagine a world where all of this has changed. In the not so distant future, working, learning, and living will become increasingly inseparable, not by choice, but in order to thrive in a rapidly evolving learning economy.
Today, working learners are all around us. They are individuals who work for pay and are simultaneously going to school to earn a credential. Working learners are 21 million strong with 14 million in postsecondary education and training programs and another 7 million in high schools .
Low-income working learners suffer the most disadvantages by working and learning at the same time; however, intentionally linking working and learning through high school provides more opportunities than simply working full-time after high school graduation.
While this trend is propelled by working learners who are 30 and older, we need to also remove barriers for younger generations so they don’t get left behind.
The rise of the working learner signifies a dramatic shift in how we think about working and learning and what that means for overall life satisfaction: a new learning economy, so to speak. Just like any other economy, the new learning economy operates at many different levels: global, state, regional, and local.
Historically, research on working and learning has been analyzed and reported as parallel and separate paradigms with little or no intersection. These reports typically cover working or learning but not how they coincide and interact. With funding support from ACT Foundation and other partnering foundations, researchers have begun examining the intersection between working and learning and the implications for education and employment programs at all economic levels.
That’s why we have developed our new Working Learner Antholology of Recent Evidence, which provides a summary of the latest research findings and introduces possibilities that support the vision of a new learning economy where everyone is valued for their ability to perform, and where everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve greater life satisfaction for themselves and their families.
Research on working and learning is a new and emerging field and only recently have attempts been made to pull the two fields together. ACT Foundation, seeing the possibilities and necessity for examination of this area, provided significant investments to bring together these two fields and to shed light on the complicated interactions that working learners face now. As a result of these efforts, we have a better understanding of the trends, dynamics, barriers, and promising models to support the rise of the working learner. This work has only just begun and will continue to evolve as new technology and innovative solutions are created to support successful outcomes to learn and earn simultaneously.
The new learning economy will give working learners greater access to relevant learn-and-earn opportunities, better connections to work pathways, clearer and more attainable learning outcomes, and increased life satisfaction. The primary focus of ACT Foundation was to advance these trends in order to discover solutions to reduce the gap between the rich and poor and to increase the quality of life for underserved individuals.
That’s the thing—you can’t really teach it. One can certainly model it. One can certainly use guiding questions to spur imagination. However, it is the individual that controls it and harnesses it. We can teach others to take their imagination to fruition, but we cannot imagine for them. It is the one thing that individuals own.
Imagination’s enemy is fear. So a place to start would be creating a safe space for dissenting ideas to be spoken and discussed.
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