Posted to Diigo 07/14/2012

    • Today’s standard lecture, as a knowledge delivery model, is a legacy of our pre-digital past. We already have decades of research behind us which says that, as far as learning goes, having one person stand up in front of lots of people and talking non-stop is about as ineffective as it gets.
    • There is no reason to believe the roller coaster ride for universities will be any less bumpy than it has been for the media, the music industry or book and magazine publishers.
    • the global demand for mass higher education is outstripping the capacity and infrastructure of traditional on-campus universities. In Australia, the federal government is actively pushing university enrolments towards new higher education attainment targets; potentially cramming more students into already crowded lecture halls
    • Universities could take the first step towards the future by shifting the classroom, with its human scale interaction, to the top of the on-campus education agenda. Much of the common “content” for particular disciplines can be effectively delivered online.
    • We could turn back to Confucius for a way forward. He said: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” Hearing and seeing is what we call “lean back learning”. But doing- via problem solving – is “lean forward learning”

      We should be using precious face time in classrooms for these lean forward types of teaching — to ask hard questions, to take part in interactive tasks, for guided problem solving, for working in groups and for engaging with directly and productively with teachers or tutors. Not for “talking at” students en masse.

    • universities could concentrate on higher level learning and inquiry and research in class? That is, the future of universities may lie in shifting away from dispensing knowledge on campus towards interpreting and applying knowledge, with consequent gains for innovation.

Posted to Diigo 06/29/2012

    • “What do you think Marshall McLuhan would have said about ebooks? How do they change the message of books?”
    •   McLuhan pointed out the initial content of a new medium is the old medium it replaces, and we seem to be in that phase with ebooks—the content of today’s ebooks is print books. What that also means is that we don’t yet know what an ebook really is, because it has yet to take its true shape. But there is an important hint: we can see in the web itself what a computerized, networked, screen medium looks like, and that’s likely to be a closer model for the ultimate form of an ebook than an old printed book is.

    • I concur with Nick’s suggestion that we don’t yet know the form of e-books, because they are still mainly containers for the textual residue once the pages of books have evaporated, and that reading will become (has become) a more confusing experience.

Posted to Diigo 06/25/2012

“When I look around at the risk/reward curve for higher education it’s grim. We’ve really gone past the point where raising tuition higher than inflation and then financializing the payment system has become abusive. I certainly never intended for myself an academic career and, were the academy to suffer, I’d just go do something else. I don’t have a commitment to it or to really, frankly, almost any institution that assumes that it has to be stable forever.

Plainly, universities are the kind of institutions that are ripe for pretty radical reconsideration. Probably because the founding story of many institutions and particularly the ones that we think of as the kind of original avatars of American higher education was “notable gentlemen X donated their library.” Right? So literally just access to written material became an important enough gesture that you would organize a university around it. And whatever [laughs] — whatever it is people need more of today, it ain’t access to written material.”

 

Posted to Diigo 06/21/2012

    • In an article in Creativity Research Journal, Jessica Dillon and Sandra Russ report that:

      “children’s use of imagination in play and their overall comfort and engagement with play activities actually increased over time. In addition, the results suggested that children today expressed less negative feelings in play. Finally, their capacity to express a wide range of positive emotions, to tell stories and to organize thoughts stayed consistent.”

      In addition, they find “that children who exhibit good play skills with imaginative and emotional play situations have shown better skills at coping, creativity and problem solving,” and “even with the lack of time to play, children, like some other forms of higher mammals, have a drive to play and always will find ways to do it.”

      The truth of these observations is one to which any parent of a pre-schooler can attest. Play is what children do, regardless of parental preferences. It is also a truth that is useful to remember whenever you find yourself amongst adults indulging in bemoaning sessions regarding the negative influence of videogames and other crimes of modernity on their children’s play.

Posted to Diigo 06/18/2012

    • “When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.“The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

      “I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”   — Steve Jobs

Posted to Diigo 06/15/2012

    • we have only begun to understand the ways that the “social life of information” and the social construction of knowledge can reshape the ways we create learning experiences in the formal college curriculum
    • we define social pedagogies as design approaches for teaching and learning that engage students with what we might call an “authentic audience” (other than the teacher), where the representation of knowledge for an audience is absolutely central to the construction of knowledge in a course
    • social pedagogies strive to build a sense of intellectual community within the classroom and frequently connect students to communities outside the classroom
    • social pedagogies are particularly effective at developing traits of  “adaptive expertise,” which include the ability of the learner to use knowledge flexibly and fluently, to evaluate, filter and distill knowledge for effect, to translate knowledge to new situations, and to understand the limits and assumptions of one’s knowledge.
    • Equally as important is the cultivation of certain attitudes or dispositions characteristic of adaptive experts, including the ability to work with uncertainty, adapt to ambiguity or even failure, and to feel increasingly comfortable working at the edges of one’s competence
    • These kinds of adaptive traits—however valued they may be in the academy in the abstract—are often invisible and elusive in the course design and assessment process.  Designing a course that promotes, supports, and perhaps even evaluates these kinds of traits students implies that they have to be ways to make these effects visible—through some form of communication
    • Acts of representation are not merely vehicles to convey knowledge; they shape the very act of knowing
    • One of the salient research areas for higher education (and indeed other settings, such as organizational learning) is how to harness the effectiveness of informal learning in the formal curriculum.
    • Our understanding of learning has expanded at a rate that has far outpaced our conceptions of teaching. A growing appreciation for the porous boundaries between the classroom and life experience, along with the power of social learning, authentic audiences, and integrative contexts, has created not only promising changes in learning but also disruptive moments in teaching.
    • Our understanding of learning has expanded at a rate that has far outpaced our conceptions of teaching.
    • Christensen coined the phrase disruptive innovation to refer to a process “by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market,’ eventually displacing established competitors.”
    • We might say that the formal curriculum is being pressured from two sides. On the one side is a growing body of data about the power of experiential learning in the co‑curriculum; and on the other side is the world of informal learning and the participatory culture of the Internet. Both of those pressures are reframing what we think of as the formal curriculum.
    • These pressures are disruptive because to this point we have funded and structured our institutions as if the formal curriculum were the center of learning
    • All of us in higher education need to ask ourselves: Can we continue to operate on the assumption that the formal curriculum is the center of the undergraduate experience?
    • higher education was in a powerful transition, moving from an instructional paradigm to a learning paradigm—from offering information to designing learning experiences, from thinking about inputs to focusing on outputs, from being an aggregation of separate activities to becoming an integrated design
    • our understanding of learning is expanding in ways that are at least partially incompatible with the structures of higher education institutions
    • these pressures for accountability are making us simultaneously more thoughtful and more limited in what we count as learning
    • The question that campus leaders need to address is how to reinvent a curriculum that lives in this new space
    • Technologies can play a key role here as new digital, learning, and analytics tools now make it possible to replicate some features of high‑impact activity inside classrooms, whether through the design of inquiry-based learning or through the ability to access and manipulate data, mount simulations, leverage “the crowd” for collaboration and social learning, or redesign when and how students can engage course content. Indeed, one of the most powerful aspects of today’s technologies is that many of the high‑impact features that used to be possible only in small classes can now be experienced not only at a larger scale but, in some cases, to better effect at larger scale.
    • A second response to the location problem of high-impact practices is to design for greater fluidity and connection between the formal curriculum and the experiential co-curriculum. An example is the use of e-portfolios, which allow students to organize learning around the learner rather than around courses or the curriculum.
    • “Drawing on the power of multimedia and personal narrative, recursive use of ePortfolio prompts students to expand their focus from individual courses to a broader educational process.”
    • The continued growth of e-portfolios across higher education reveals a restless search for ways to find coherence that transcends courses and the formal curriculum
    • A second pressure on the formal curriculum is the participatory culture of the web and the informal learning that it cultivates.
    • They looked at a range of web cultures, or participatory cultures, including Wikipedia, gaming environments, and grassroots organizations. They compiled a list of what they considered to be the shared and salient features of these powerful web-based communities:

      • Low barriers to entry
      • Strong support for sharing one’s contributions
      • Informal mentorship, from experienced to novice
      • A sense of connection to each other
      • A sense of ownership in what is being created
      • A strong collective sense that something is at stake
  • How many college classrooms or course experiences include this set of features? In how many courses do students feel a sense of community, a sense of mentorship, a sense of collective investment, a sense that what is being created matters?
  • Maybe that’s the intended role of the formal curriculum: to prepare students to have integrative experiences elsewhere
  • the typical school curriculum is built from content (“learning about”) leading to practice (“learning to be”), where the vast majority of useful knowledge is to be found. In a typical formal curriculum, students are first packed with knowledge, and if they stick with something long enough (i.e., major in a discipline), they eventually get to the point of engaging in practice. Brown argues that people instead learn best by “practicing the content.” That is, we start in practice, and practice drives us to content. Or, more likely, the optimal way to learn is reciprocally or spirally between practice and content.
  • Brown’s formulation echoes the growing body of inductive and inquiry-based learning research that has convincingly demonstrated increased learning gains, in certain well-designed conditions, when students are first “presented with a challenge and then learn what they need to know to address the challenge.”
  • how do we reverse the flow, or flip the curriculum, to ensure that practice is emphasized at least as early in the curriculum as content? How can students “learn to be,” through both the formal and the experiential curriculum?
  • In the learning paradigm, we are focusing not on the expert’s products but, rather, on the expert’s practice.
  • we help faculty analyze their teaching by slowing down and thinking about what it is that a student needs to do well in order to be successful with complex tasks
  • Which department is responsible for teaching students how to speak from a position of authority? Where do we find evidence of someone learning to speak from a position of authority? Which assessment rubric do we use for that? Critical thinking? Oral and written communication? Integrative learning? Lifelong learning? Of course, when faculty speak of “authority,” they mean not just volume, but the confidence that comes from critical thought and depth. Learning to “speak from a position of authority” is an idea rooted in expert practice. It is no more a “soft skill” than are the other dimensions of learning that we are coming to value explicitly and systematically as outcomes of higher education—dimensions such as making discerning judgments based on practical reasoning, acting reflectively, taking risks, engaging in civil if difficult discourse, and proceeding with confidence in the face of uncertainty.
  • Designing backward from those kinds of outcomes, we are compelled to imagine ways to ask students, early and often, to engage in the practice of thinking in a given domain, often in the context of messy problems.
  • What is the relationship between the intermediate activity and the stages of intellectual development or the constituent skills and dispositions of a discipline? What if the activities enabled by social media tools are key to helping students learn how to speak with authority?
  • If our concept of learning has outstripped our notion of teaching, how can we expand our notion of teaching—particularly from the perspective of instructional support and innovation?
  • In the traditional model of course design, a well-meaning instructor seeking to make a change in a course talks separately with the teaching center staff, with the technology staff, with the librarians, and with the writing center folks. Then, when the course is implemented, the instructor alone deals with the students in the course—except that the students are often going back for help with assignments to the technology staff, to the librarians, and to the writing center folks (although usually different people who know nothing of the instructor’s original intent). So they are completing the cycle, but in a completely disconnected way. Iannuzzi’s team‑based design thinks about all of these players from the beginning. One of the first changes in this model is that the instructor is no longer at the center. Instead, the course and student learning are at the center, surrounded by all of these other players at the table.
  • A key aspect of the team-based design is the move beyond individualistic approaches to course innovation. In higher education, we have long invested in the notion that the way to innovate is by converting faculty. This move represents a shift in strategy: instead of trying to change faculty so that they might change their courses, this model focuses on changing course structures so that faculty will be empowered and supported in an expanded approach to teaching as a result of teaching these courses.
  • we need to move beyond our old assumptions that it is primarily the students’ responsibility to integrate all the disparate parts of an undergraduate education. We must fully grasp that students will learn to integrate deeply and meaningfully only insofar as we design a curriculum that cultivates that; and designing such a curriculum requires that we similarly plan, strategize and execute integratively across the boundaries within our institutions.
  • we need to think more about how to move beyond the individualistic faculty change model. We need to get involved in team-design and implementation models on our campuses, and we need to consider that doing so could fundamentally change the ways that the burdens of innovation are often placed solely on the shoulders of faculty (whose lives are largely already overdetermined) as well as how certain academic support staff (e.g., IT organizations, student affairs, librarians) think of their professional identities and their engagement with the “curriculum.”
    • Thomson Reuters assigns most journals a yearly Impact Factor (IF), which is defined as the mean citation rate during that year of the papers published in that journal during the previous 2 years.
    • Jobs, grants, prestige, and career advancement are all partially based on an admittedly flawed concept
    • Impact factors were developed in the early 20th century to help American university libraries with their journal purchasing decisions. As intended, IFs deeply affected the journal circulation and availability
    • Until about 20 years ago, printed, physical journals were the main way in which scientific communication was disseminated
    • Now we conduct electronic literature searchers on specific subjects, using keywords, author names, and citation trees. As long as the papers are available digitally, they can be downloaded and read individually, regardless of the journal whence they came, or the journal’s IF.
    • This change in our reading patterns whereby papers are no longer bound to their respective journals led us to predict that in the past 20 years the relationship between IF and papers’ citation rates had to be weakening.
    • we found that until 1990, of all papers, the proportion of top (i.e., most cited) papers published in the top (i.e., highest IF) journals had been increasing. So, the top journals were becoming the exclusive depositories of the most cited research. However, since 1991 the pattern has been the exact opposite. Among top papers, the proportion NOT published in top journals was decreasing, but now it is increasing. Hence, the best (i.e., most cited) work now comes from increasingly diverse sources, irrespective of the journals’ IFs.
    • in their effort to attract high-quality papers, journals might have to shift their attention away from their IFs and instead focus on other issues, such as increasing online availability, decreasing publication costs while improving post-acceptance production assistance, and ensuring a fast, fair and professional review process.
    • As the relation between IF and paper quality continues to weaken, such simplistic cash-per-paper practices bases on journal IFs will likely be abandoned.
    • knowing that their papers will stand on their own might also encourage researchers to abandon their fixation on high IF journals. Journals with established reputations might remain preferable for a while, but in general, the incentive to publish exclusively in high IF journals will diminish. Science will become more democratic; a larger number of editors and reviewers will decide what gets published, and the scientific community at large will decide which papers get cited, independently of journal IFs.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted to Diigo 05/25/2012

    • In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists
    • How our children learn is critical today, not so much as a point of pedagogy, but for the development of a distinct and most important skill – learning
    • The job of education should be to wean children from the teaching, helping them to become, at graduation, independent, skilled, inspired, and responsible learners eager to adopt and adapt to changing conditions, turning uncertainty into opportunity
    • Being future ready will not happen because of the rigor of ramped up standards.  It will happen by scaling back the standards as the education years pass, focusing on passion, and providing students with the support, opportunity and facility to learn and to make themselves experts in their shifting fields of interest, fields that educators skillfully usher them through

Posted to Diigo 05/22/2012

    • Mark Elliott writes about stigmergic collaboration and the evolution of group work
    • Pierre-Paul Grasse first coined the term stigmergy in the 1950s in conjunction with his research on termites. Grasse showed that a particular configuration of a termite’s environment (as in the case of building and maintaining a nest) triggered a response in a termite to modify its environment, with the resulting modification in turn stimulating the response of the original or a second worker to further transform its environment. Thus the regulation and coordination of the building and maintaining of a nest was dependent upon stimulation provided by the nest, as opposed to an inherent knowledge of nest building on the individual termite’s part. A highly complex nest simply self-organises due to the collective input of large numbers of individual termites performing extraordinarily simple actions in response to their local environment.
    • So, we are talking about actors in a social environment (termites, in this case) configuring their environment in response to their environment, collectively building a nest not due to any inherent knowledge of how to build the thing, but rather from a modification to their environment at a granular, personalized level
      • Collaboration is dependent upon communication, and communication is a network phenomenon.
      • Collaboration is inherently composed of two primary components, without either of which collaboration cannot take place: social negotiation and creative output.
      • Collaboration in small groups (roughly 2-25) relies upon social negotiation to evolve and guide its process and creative output.
      • Collaboration in large groups (roughly 25-n) is enabled by stigmergy.
    • As stigmergy is a method of communication in which individuals communicate with one another by modifying their local environment, it is a logical extension to apply the term to many types (if not all) of Web-based communication, especially media such as the wiki.
    • The concept of stigmergy therefore provides an intuitive and easy-to-grasp theory for helping understand how disparate, distributed, ad hoc contributions could lead to the emergence of the largest collaborative enterprises the world has seen.

Posted to Diigo 04/12/2012

    • : It’s not just what you know. It’s what you know about what you kno
    • To put it in more straightforward terms, anytime a student learns, he or she has to bring in two kinds of prior knowledge: knowledge about the subject at hand (say, mathematics or history) and knowledge about how learning works
    • the guidance we offer on the act of learning itself—the “metacognitive” aspects of learning—is more hit-or-miss
    • Research has found that students vary widely in what they know about how to learn
    • low-achieving students show “substantial deficits” in their awareness of the cognitive and metacognitive strategies that lead to effective learning
    • Teaching students good learning strategies would ensure that they know how to acquire new knowledge, which leads to improved learning outcomes
    • Students can assess their own awareness by asking themselves which of the following learning strategies they regularly use (the response to each item is ideally “yes”):

      • I draw pictures or diagrams to help me understand this subject.
      • I make up questions that I try to answer about this subject.
      • When I am learning something new in this subject, I think back to what I already know about it.
      • I discuss what I am doing in this subject with others.
      • I practice things over and over until I know them well in this subject,
      • I think about my thinking, to check if I understand the ideas in this subject.
      • When I don’t understand something in this subject I go back over it again.
      • I make a note of things that I don’t understand very well in this subject, so that I can follow them up.
      • When I have finished an activity in this subject I look back to see how well I did.
      • I organize my time to manage my learning in this subject.
      • I make plans for how to do the activities in this subject.
  • students who used fewer of these strategies reported more difficulty coping with their schoolwork

Posted to Diigo 04/05/2012

  • Students working in small groups interact in a variety of ways and the teacher has an important role to play
  • Barriers, more often perceived than real, may impede the adoption of small group teaching
  • Small group learning is the learning that takes place when students work together usually in groups of 10 or less
  • What matters is that the group shows three characteristics.
  • Active participation: A key feature of small group work is that interaction should take place among all present.
  • A specific task: There should be a clearly defined task and objectives, and they should be understood by all members of the group.
  • Reflection: In small group learning, it is important to learn from an experience and to modify behaviour accordingly. Deep learning is a key feature of small group work: reflection is a key feature of deep learning.
  • It provides students with experience of working in a group, it helps them to acquire group skills. These include the ability to communicate effectively, the prioritising of tasks, the management of time and the exercise of interpersonal skills.
  • The introduction of small group work into a curriculum is frequently resisted. Various arguments are used
  • “Students do not like small group work”
  • Initial dissatisfaction with small group work may be expected and is natural. Barriers may be:
  • Perceptual
  • Cultural
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Environmental
  • “Staff do not know how to teach in small groups”
  • : Teachers may lack the skills necessary for running small group sessions. This may be seen as more of a problem by course or curriculum organisers than by teachers themselves. A staff development programme, however, is important.
  • : Staff shortage may be a real issue – or may be a misconception. The small group method adopted and the timetabling both have a significant impact. Identify all the staff who could be available for small group teaching.
  • “We do not have enough teachers for small group work”
  • “There are too few rooms”: Space is frequently a contentious issue. Creativity is usually the best solution. Do not be afraid to experiment – students are resilient.
  • “It is a waste of time – students do not learn anything”: It may take longer to cover a topic in small group work than in lectures. However, what really matters is if, and what, students learn and not just what is taught.
  • The following checklists have been generated for running small group work.
  • Consider the objectives of the session: Consider carefully the objectives of the session or course you are running and whether other teaching methods, eg lectures, independent learning, may be more appropriate
  • Determine your available physical resources: Accommodation availability may be a limiting factor. Small groups require suitable accommodation, which allows chairs to be set out in a circle to maximise interaction among the students, and space for appropriate audio-visual materials.
  • Determine the manpower availability: Small group teaching requires the participation of a larger number of teaching staff. Consider carefully how many teachers are available and their expertise as small group facilitators.
  • Does a facilitator have to be an expert? For small groups to function most effectively, the facilitator should have expertise in the content area and in small group facilitation.
  • Can different facilitators be used with the one group? Continuity of the facilitator is desirable. The facilitator can be considered as a member of the group and changing the composition of the group may disrupt the group dynamics.
  • Can a teacher facilitate several groups? A floating facilitator can be assigned responsibility for maintaining the task and function of more than one group. Success varies, frequently depending on the dynamics of the groups and the skill of the facilitator.
  • Can a student facilitate his or her own group? A student can successfully facilitate a peer group. This depends on the group’s dynamics, on the student’s ability and on the briefing given to the student.
  • Determine the group membership: Groups may be self selected, strategically determined, randomised, or selected alphabetically. It may be appropriate to change the membership of a group after a designated period of time, eg semester or year. Groups will work less productively if constantly changed, as they are less likely to reach a productive stage.
  • Ensure that the staff is prepared for the session: Staff must be given detailed briefings for the small group work. They should have prior opportunities to see small group work in action and to attend staff development sessions.
  • Select the most appropriate small group method: The educational objectives should determine the choice of small group method.
  • Develop stimulus material: Stimulus material might include problem-based scenarios, video clips, a set of questions, key articles for exploration, a real or simulated patient. The stimulus material required will be determined by the small group method adopted.
  • Inform students about the role of the small group work: Students should be informed why small group work is being adopted and how it relates to other activities and to the learning outcomes for the course.
  • During the Small Group Activity
  • Allow adequate introductions – use ice-breakers if necessary
  • Ensure that the students understand what to do, why they are doing it and how they should achieve it
  • Facilitate learning: The facilitator’s objective is to help the student become more self-reliant and independent by establishing a climate that is open, trustful and supportive. An educational facilitator’s role has two distinct areas: maintaining the functioning of the group and ensuring the task is completed. Facilitators must understand the changing dynamics of a group through four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing
  • Debrief the group on the activity: Debriefing summarises or clarifies what has been learnt and may take as long as the activity itself. During debriefing, constructive feedback may be given
  • After the Small Group Activity
  • Evaluate the success of the session: There are two aspects – achievement and quality. Have the objectives been achieved? Was the educational experience of a high standard? Students may be asked to complete an evaluation questionnaire. Alternatively, the session can be peer reviewed. Teachers should consciously self-evaluate the session.
  • Reflect on the experience: Evaluation, formal or informal, is pointless if no change in practice results.
  • Small group methods have a valuable role to play in undergraduate medical curricula. The student-centred focus and active participation enhance the likelihood of deep rather than surface learning. Decisions to be made are how much time to schedule for small group work, and what kind of small group work to adopt. If small groups are used, they must be valued and must not be seen as isolated from other aspects of the curriculum – or from the culture of the medical school.
  • Staff development is important. Success of small group learning depends on good planning, effective facilitation and a movement away from teacher-centred learning. For a real and sustained shift in medical education, students must be encouraged to learn rather than merely catching the output of teachers.