Posts Tagged 'Education'

Using cell phones creatively

SALT Presentation: More that Just Talk – An Experience Using Cell Phones for Education

Presenter: Lin Muilenburg/ St. Mary’s College of Maryland

My Mind Map for the Presentation:

http://www.simpleapps.eu/mindmaps/ASraRQJ1tj2oqxc5eDJ9rD84wwJN/mindmap.pdf

I really enjoyed this presentation. The presenter kept us all engaged despite the fact that it was the last show of the day.

If you have a cellphone with a camera, then you can develop learning activity that engages your students.

These activities can take the form of polls, scavenger hunts, photo logs, fone conferences, etc. The applications are almost limitless. I’m thinking of creating a scavenger hunt using QR codes, various clues, and web games, maybe even geo cache to have a treasure hunt teambuilding at work.

A few days later…..

Back at a ‘real computer,’  I’m still obsessed with QR Codes. In the United States, the codes can be read mainly by cell phones. In Asia, most of the phones are outfitted with a QR Code reader. I was able to visit the QR Code Generator site and create one for my blog.

There are endless possibilities for using QR Codes to empower mobile learning with smart phones. For example, students could create their own “Museum Exhibitions” complete with an interactive media tour. They create their exhibits with labels that include QR codes that provide links to web pages, videos, mp3 files, etc. FUN STUFF!!!!  Students could even design their own ‘educational’ treasure or scavenger hunts for their teachers, parents, and fellow schoolmates.

Here’s a really well put together presentation on using QR Codes for Teaching I found on slideshare. The design process is meant for creating learning experiences for students on the University level, but I can see many of the principles being adapted for younger students as well.

http://www.slideshare.net/andyramsden/qr-codes-mlearn08-presentation

SALT keynote – Think Future

SALT – Speaker- Massood Zarrabian – OutStart

My main takeaways:

  1. DON’T SLOG ALONG OR FOLLOW –>CREATE FOR THE FUTURE. Develop a future concept. Ahead of the curve. Don’t get stuck developing only for older generations. Also it pays to be ahead because you may be rewarded with simply having the reputation for being a visionary or a leader in your field.  I would add that this is more than doubly true for any companies that develop content, media or tools for education/educators.  I’ve been working in education for sometime and it’s my observation that if any field is slow to adapt, it’s just education,schools, and universities. Just because the teachers in the schools aren’t using a tool or technology… doesn’t mean that you want to avoid it with a hot potato. Instead,  look for alternatives, tools or learning experiences that are ‘secure’ but on the cheap. Provide consultation services to school districts and schools that demonstrate or show them the best methods and practices. Engage the teacher and parent community and challenge them to come up with creative uses for the tools and technologies.  For those teachers who are trying to engage in using new methods and tools. I say,  Ignore those people who might chide you because of jealously or incurable skepticism – do in your heart what you feel is right. The results will speak for themselves.
  2. MODULAR IS IN. Develop modular content. Or content in modular fashion so that you can easily repurpose and or repackage it later.  This speaks to the power of integrating CMS’s with LMS’s. (Content management system = Drupal, LMS=Sakai or Moodle).  Don’t develop tools or systems that are hard to take apart or redesign. This can be difficult if you’re working with a vendor to develop your tools.

Think Future…

Mind Map for This Presentation

Big Question: What Should Learning Professionals Know Today?

Here’s the Learning Circuits Question for July:

In a Learning 2.0 world, where learning and performance solutions take on a wider variety of forms and where churn happens at a much more rapid pace, what new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?

Here’s my list of four things I think are most important:

  1. Valuing and working with company and organization leaders to build a “Culture of Learning” or “Learning Organization” via Peter Senge’s Model. Forget being able to launch the next best thing in social networking or Learning 2.0. If this is not a huge part of your company or organization’s mission and culture. You may find an uphill battle in introducing change. In my experience companies who work without a “Culture of Learning” often end up making reactionary moves  instead of ones built around a vision, achievable goals and a realistic plan. They hire reactionary managers and staff, and at the very worst the company devolves into an environment where ‘fires’ are contantly fought and nothing new is really developed.  How can any group or individual really inspire real change in learning let alone innovate in these types of environments?
  2. Understanding possible flows of learning using social media. The Internet has made us incredibly social and increasingly connected with each other. The problem with this is that there are so many avenues for learning and it may be difficult to assess learning that comes as a result of social learning.
  3. Applying constructivism & collaboration to learning online/offline as much as possible. I think developing both collaborative and constructivist activies is going to be necessary for higher-level educators, many of whom are still bent on the traditional methods of teaching via lecture, and for people who develop training for higher education.  The Internet, Web 2.0, Learning 2.0 foster constructivist (websearches, social tagging, forums) and collaborative learning activities (wikis, online discussion) through the media available online. These are the types of activities that not only engage learners, often they reinforce the knowledge and skills so that they’re more likely to be applied effectively in the future. Plus, I’m sorry folks. Learning doesn’t have to be boring and passive like it used to be in the past.
  4. Accepting that you can’t learn everything “2.0.” It’s too easy to be overwhelmed by the rapid rate of development of tools in Learning 2.0. I think being able to develop a strong set of learning goals and objectives for yourself, your company, or your group is a good place to start. Say you need to market your courses better online, then you probably should start looking at how to effectively use social networking sites like Twitter & Facebook. You probably should also read books like the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell as a primer.

Karl Kapp continues to bust myths on gaming

Having worked with Karl to design a course, I know first hand what insight he has to offer on the subject of learning with technology.  Plus he’s got a valid and thoughtful argument for every negative assumption about gaming and it’s true value. Recently on his blog, Karl shared that he was on a local radio program to talk about the future of gaming and how it applies to learning and the workplace. I can’t go over all the myth’s Karl articulately and skillfully debunked. You’ll just have to listen to the entire program.

Educating through video games

Myth: Video games are too violent and bad to teach anything worthwhile

I love Karl’s point on this.  Although people describe video games as bad and horrible… “It’s the content of the technology not the technology.” There are video games that teach or demonstrate positive behavior and values as well as ones that use violence excessively.

Myth: Kids only learn instant gratification from playing video games

Video games help teach players to make quick decisions when you don’t have too much information.  Also, many video games have objectives that require weeks or even months to solve… so, uh, where’s the instant gratification in that?

Myth: Cheating is bad even in video games

Using cheat codes to get around obstacles in a game is a common practice among gamers. As Karl points out, Remember Captain Kirk and Kobyashi Maru? (Sorry non-Trek fans). He cheated to make the simulation work to his advantage. This can be seen as a creative way of dealing with the situation by some.

Having worked as a teacher and in education for several years, I was sort of brainwashed to think that you always have to follow the rules and that “all cheating is BAD.” If you look at cheating in a game from a different perspective, it’s no different than finding a short cut or a more efficient way of doing something. One must always remember the context in which the cheating is happening. Also, if you want to stop the ‘bad’ cheating… I’m of the point of view that you have to “Be the buddha to kill the buddha.”  I don’t want to get into this extensive metaphysical argument here, but I do know looking at ‘cheating’ or ‘alternative solutions’ differently is one way to insure that you’re not always keeping to the traditional way of doing things.  And one can always use one’s own moral conscience as a guide to ask if their methods are wrong or harmful to others in the real world. As Karl pointed out… the executives of Enron cheated, but did they really ask themselves if it was right?

Myth: All video games desensitize kids to violence

While some (not all) video games have negative things… they also learn positive things:

  • Kids learn cooperation (multiplayer games)
  • Kids learn math and physics (Little Big Planet, &  just figuring out scores etc.)
  • Kids can build empathy by relating to other players on multi-player games
  • Kids can learn trade offs between variables from how to accomplish game objectives.

Little Big Planet is my favorite example of a game where you can learn cooperation and spark your creativity. I’ve even thought of building stories in the game that reflect plots of major works of literature: Can you see Kafka or Doestoevsky done as a Little Big Planet game? Awesome.

Little Big Planet

Little Big Planet

Using Podcasts to Teach Math

I was just trying to think of at least 10 ways to use podcasts to teach math. Can you think of any others. Please post your ideas to this post in the comments. Please note, timeliness is not an issue. I’ll be checking this post in the future.

10 ways to use podcasts (vodcasts) to teach Math?

  1. Post a monthly puzzler or a brain teaser as an audio recording. Students have to listen carefully to the words and vocabulary used to figure it out.
  2. Students share their own math stories and problems.
  3. Broadcast monthly updates to both parents and teachers on the types of math lessons and activities students will be focusing on.
  4. Create a podcast with your students on math related subjects. Your students act as researchers and reporters who broadcast the stories.
  5. Share any news or media stories related to math.
  6. Broadcast homework and major assignment reminders.
  7. For those who do not have video or multimedia capability. Create math puzzles, problems, and diagrams in PowerPoint then provide audio narration to go with it in the podcast.
  8. Find, listen to and share math podcasts that you find.
  9. Students create their own math riddles and share them.
  10. On a professional level, share your experiences teaching math with other teachers.

Additional notes:

I found two interesting sites with math related podcasts/vodcasts:

The Math Factor (brief math converation and puzzle):
http://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail?pid=18637

Math Train TV (math vodcasts created by middle school students): http://www.mathtrain.tv/

I love Probability with Ben & Jerry!

These students did a fairly good job demonstrating Probability. Click the image below to view the video:

Probability

Understanding the 21st Century Learner

I’ve seen a few of these presentations floating around the web, but I’m sharing this one because it’s a good discussion piece for people to share with others. I found this on the Always Learning blog.

We make this case all the time that the “Net Generation” learns differently than many of their predecessors. I’ve seen many adults view their children’s way of communicating and connecting with suspicion and fear.  It’s almost as if some of us adults are living in the movie Village of the Damned with all the Midwich Cuckoos. We’re really not quite sure how to handle the quirks of our progeny and we fear what they’re capable of because we don’t understand. Well, in the movie they really did have a reason to be afraid because the children were evil aliens.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MBresWP9MY]

You can actually view the entire movie on Youtube.

Of course, our children aren’t evil aliens. What a silly thought. I do still think that the young can benefit from experience and guidance, and this is something that we star-struck adults shouldn’t forget. Part of 21st century education should truly focus on teaching critical thinking because of all the information out there that young people must sift through to separate the wheat from the chaff. Critical thinking should be a behavior ingrained in young adults. They should be able to analyze the nature any subject including the advantages and disadvantages.  This type of thinking should be as natural as breathing.  I can think of an exercise that applies to the subject of electronic connectivity.

There are some advantages to being connected all the time, but there are always disadvantages.  I threw this image together in less than five minutes. I’m sure if I had the help of others the responses would be much richer. As I was listing the pros and cons it was clear that many arguments for had an opposite argument against. This is something that young people (and old ones too) should be able to perceive. They must also learn to use their best judgment to determine the path of action or reaction that is correct for them based on their list of pros/cons. Of course, this is no comfort for those who like to have clear plans of action or rules set down for them.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Connectivity

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Connectivity

The Open Sourceness of Everything

\Ancient Remixes\

This comic strip is a rather cheap and quick cartoon I created in ToonDo in less than 10 minutes.

I attended this thought-provoking talk yesterday by Michael Amick (Dean of Academic and Technology Services at Central Lakes College) titled “Remix Culture Appreciation (aka Art Appreciation).”

He emphasized the idea that “re-mixing” of art (and in a larger sense concepts, ideas, inventions, etc.) is essential to human creativity.
During the lecture I had to think. “How many things in this room would actually be possible if no one had copied someone else to create them?”

No, really?

I tend to think that the Internet has empowered us to be immensely powerful in our creativity. I’m a big fan of Jame’s Burke’s Connections series, and one thing I learned from watching these shows is that advances in human technology and cultures happen when individuals, peoples and cultures interact and share ideas. If you think of the potential creative productivity of hundreds of millions of people having access to the Internet, some of whom are intensely creative and innovative, the possibilities are mind-blowing.

Today in the breakfast lecture Brian Lamb shared the simple example of the Free Learning site. This site was originally a link resource list created by one individual in Malaysia. Other interested folks in England and Canada volunteered their time to create an active wiki/resource/search engine for free materials. Lamb notes that this project was developed without a budget, without a project planning team.

And we haven’t gotten to some of the larger possibilities. I wonder what would happen if many people contributed to solving some of the larger issues we face today: climate change, economic collapse. What if there were several or dozens of dedicated individuals, including experts, who orchestrated discussions and problem-solving attack groups? Of course, I wholly realize that what I’m suggesting here frightens more people that it excites and invigorates. As a species we are so ‘inside-ourselves’ that we often cannot appreciate or even trust these attempts at such broad collaboration, and yet, as Brian Lamb pointed out in his lecture, Wikipedia is a prime example of mass cooperation among human beings.

I’d like to spend more time blogging/writing about this topic, but time is short right now. I need to move on to the next lecture at this conference (ITC).

Speaking of re-mixes here’s a really good example of re-mixing from the movie Amadeus. It’s also a good example of how people can get pissed off when their work is re-mixed, but this just demonstrates how Mozart’s character probably wasn’t so diplomatic. Then again why did he have to be? He just saw a better way of doing it.

Schools, Please Don’t Kill Our Creativity

At a workshop I attended yesterday, Barry Dahl mentioned this unforgettable lecture by Ken Robinson at the TED conference. In his incredibly adroit and humorous talk, Robinson maintains that schools today thrash the creativity out of kids. I would argue that the final death knell takes place once they enter today’s corporate work world.

In another inspiring lecture, Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO champions the importance of play in productivity of design and innovation.

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

How can we, as educators promote creativity and play in our classrooms, while teaching important knowledge and skills? I feel that developing curriculum driven by “student created content” is key to developing the creative minds that will build our future. I don’t know about you, but as an old doddering woman, I would rather live in a world built by the next designer of earth shaking technologies and innovative policies that help promote progress and not in a world populated by people who are fettered by rules that squelch creativity and productivity.

“It’s in the making of things that kids actually do their learning”

(Exerpt below is from an article I wrote for our company blog.)

Creating content in schools extends past the traditional class-report or diorama making. I found this wonderful example of the King Middle School in Portland, Maine. I believe that this school is really putting the approaches to 21st Literacy Education in a Action. The video provides examples of how the school integrates subjects like science, English, math with technology education.


Click the photo to view the video. Note the video will open and play automatically in another browser window.

The kids participate in truly constructivist activities, by developing videos, artwork, and collaborating on the development of music and music scores. All of these activities and projects require formal knowledge in writing, math, science, research and history that used to be taught to students via textbooks in an isolated context. Here are a few quotes from the short film that really captured my attention:

“We don’t use textbooks, per se… we do a lot of research in class.”

“The approach is to bring out the best in every student.”

“It’s in the making of things, that kids do their learning.”

The school also partners with businesses like a local printing press to develop products. The students work together as teams to develop items such as books for the press. These students also have the opportunity to work with professionals like the professional documentary maker who help them improve the quality of their videos. They get real-life experience and are encouraged to stretch and deliver quality projects. They are not coddled or isolated from doing ‘real work’ because they are not ready to do it on a ‘professional level.’

As I finished watching the video, I realized that many teachers might have issues with the fact that some students contributed 7 pages of work to a final project while some contributed only three paragraphs. I like the attitude that these teachers at King have that “Everyone does what they can.” Plus everyone should contribute to the project using the skills and talents that they have. Perhaps a student who needs help with math but has kinesthetic talents can choreograph a dance, and teach the other students how to perform the dance to be included in a final project. A student who lags in writing but has design skills might lead the team that develops the costumes or set. Both students are exercising their communication and leadership skills in helping other get their tasks done. Students who are better at writing can help coach these students when they have to do the written component for the project.

I think the comment that sums up the value and power of this approach to education was made by the kids of King Middle School themselves, “No one feels stupid here anymore.”

Why wasn’t I born twenty years later? I would have loved to go to school in a place like this. Seeing examples like this really makes me excited about the work we do here at PLS because I believe that in what we do we strive to make learning experiences effective and powerful.

It still irks me… when women belittle their math skills

Warning: I’m on the soapbox kick. Sorry lately I’ve been in a mood of sorts.

Cute soapbox with kittens

Cute soapbox with kittens

It still bothers me that there are people out there who really thought that being a girl makes you less adept at math. I think I ran into (or had the oppportunity to listen to) at least three women, all above the age of 50, last month who expressed their own shortcomings in math. They all seemed resigned to the fact that they were terrible at math and that they could never be good at it.

HOGWASH!

I have two words for those women who still think that women of past generations weren’t  or couldn’t be stacked in the Mathematics department: Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr was not just a pretty face. She was a gifted inventor and engineer developed the idea for technology which has influenced the development of cell-phone and wireless tech.  “Any girl can be glamorous,” Hedy Lamarr once said. “All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.” She must have had brains and guts to cope with living in her times. I wasn’t able to find much about her formal education in mathematics or engineering, other than hints that she learned a great deal from work with one of her husbands, who developed guidance technology for weapons.

Hedy Lamarr - co-inventor of the Frequency-hopped spread spectrum invention

Hedy Lamarr - co-inventor of the Frequency-hopped spread spectrum invention

And about womens’ so called deficiencies in Math…. sure the circuits in your brain may not be as fresh as daisies*, but anyone can learn how to master functional mathematics. Most adults unless they have a severely debilitating brain disorder can figure out how to balance their checkbook. I’m sure most of those ladies who made these comments about their lack of Math skills understood how to do this and quite well. At least two of them are fairly good knitters so they unwittingly or not have mastered some math as knitters. Even as learned adults, if we’ve traveled through life and work experiences we have developed some basic “Math Sense.”  Many of us have “Math Muscles” that we just haven’t used for a while or on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that we’re “Math Stupid.”

One person I spoke to defended her comments saying that she was ‘taught this by her teachers’ (whom by the way I hope are roasting over some slow hot fire somewhere for making these statements in front of students).   I have to say it once and a million times.  One’s ability at math has nothing to do with their gender!  And even if you were taught this, don’t share it to younger people. PLEASE DON’T. It still can affect others self-perceptions of their abilities. Or if you do, preface or follow your self-deprecating comment with: “I’m not as strong at math, but this may be because my teachers were insensitive and ignorant, and they screwed up big time when they were teaching me.”

If I go back to that one teacher who told me that I didn’t need to learn math… because I was a girl. Even though I knew what she was saying was wrong, it still had an effect on me to some extent. Later, I remember opting not to take higher math courses or even statistics in College, because I really didn’t think it was that useful. I also knew that math wasn’t my strongest subject and I decided to skip it. I’m not that good at it, so I’ll let it pass. Later in graduate school, I really regretted not taking that statistics class.

I’m quite a fan of the following book: Math Doesn’t Suck, by Danica McKellar.  I wrote a brief book review here. The book was written for Middle School girls, and it’s purpose was to walk girls through some basic pre-algebra concepts and provide examples that demonstrate that girls can master and do quite well in math.  I also liked the stories included in the book that featured young women who discovered entered fields where they used their mathematical know-how in their careers. Plus, Ms. McKellar is a great role model for young women pursuing careers in Mathematics, besides having an active career in Hollywood,  she continues to be an advocate for Mathematics education and achievement for girls and women. It looks like she’s authored another book called Kiss My Math.  I love it when women have an ‘attitude’ about their smarts.

More about Hedy Lamarr:

http://www.inventions.org/culture/female/lamarr.html

More about Danical McKellar:

http://www.danicamckellar.com/

*My own daisies need re-watering every now and then.

It hurts to think… but it’s still rewarding

I’m just babbling… so you’ll have to excuse me. I haven’t been writing in my blog lately, because I’ve actually been finding journal writing (on paper) a little more satisfying. Maybe it’s because no one hears what I’m saying. No, I’m serious about that.  Sometimes it feels better to let oneself go on uncensored. Also, I find that sometimes it’s the best way for me to work things out before I’m ready to share them with others.

You may have noticed from my last post that I’m a bit obsessed with two subjects. Change and time (sub interest = resistance to change).  I wonder if I will start to develop a crusty or curmudgeonly gait as I grow older. Sometimes it feels like the world around me resists change… despite the growing impetus for change.  Sometimes it feels that it’s all too easy to confuse people because of their dependency on technology for information… and their immediate need for information. Media is simply a teat from which we feed our incessant hunger. Just change the filter or introduce a slightly different brew or concoction into the bottle and people will react accordingly. From the past century to the present, fear seems to be the most effective ingredient. If you want people to act or ‘not to act’ simply make them afraid of an enemy or impeding crisis. If you don’t want them to panic in the event of a crisis, such as economic one, simply downplay the seriousness of the problem… or even deny that it exists.

Is it only my perception, but does it seem that people just swallow these happy pills without question? I have to wonder too how easily people are swayed by what they hear even though many proclaim themselves to be cynical about the News. Sometimes I think that sharing of poll results can have an effect on the rest of the public who did not participate in these polls. They can either give us a false sense of security that our beliefs are shared by everyone, or they can dishearten us by convincing us that we are truly alone or so small in number that any hope of finding commonality with others is hopeless.

When people say that building a truly educated and enlightened society is impossible. I simply look at children and remember that most children have the ability (maybe not the opportunity) to be ‘smart.’  I listened to a Smart City podcast called Green Buildings and Smart Children not to long ago that featured Jeff Howard, head of the Efficacy Institute, which states as their goal that” The central objectives of our work are: to build belief that virtually all‘ children can ‘get smart;’ and to build the capacity of adults to set the terms to help them do so.” Some children need less help than others, but something tells me that it’s to our advantage to make sure that people ‘get smart.’ Hmmm… less problems with financial investments, better health that doesn’t tax the healthcare system, better living choices, better income … I think these arguments and many others have been made countless times in the past. I wonder what prevents us from moving forward?

I also believe that people can be taught good analytical and decision-making skills. I admit that I myself can be easily muddled by what I hear and am spoon-fed, so I rely on help to analyze what I’m seeing and hearing. I recently found a gem of a podcast called “LSAT Logic in Everyday Life.”  I loved how Andrew Brody picked apart the whole rice shortage ‘crisis,’ and reduced it to action based on faulty assumptions.  I may be a geek and a half, and that’s why this sort of thing excites me…. being able to pick apart a problem despite the assumption that it’s too difficult or impossible to solve.  Think about it, come up with a solution, and then do something about it.  To me that’s the original American ethic (good old Yankee know how) that I will be forever proud of.

Envious Thinker

Envious Thinker


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