Posts tagged: Learning

Moving forward

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By , March 11, 2011 9:41 am

Well, as you may have noticed the posting here has fallen through the floor, though I’ve been sure to update my picture of the week. This has got me thinking about what the future of this blog might be. I was thinking about shuttering it, but then I thought about all that I’m learning now that I’m on the corporate side of learning. If I’ve noticed anything in my short exposure to this new world, it is that stories are even more important. It is also very much the case that technology is the essential agent through which those stories are stored and shared. I remember lamenting about technology adoption being slow in schools, but now in business, I’ve got sometimes the opposite problem. Every new tech is potentially a solution, the challenge is to filter all the solutions until they match a problem at hand. So based on that I think I’ll keep going. Posting, I hope at least once a month my reflections on corporate vs academic and the challenges that are faced to try to get organizations that need to teach their people/clients/stakeholders to adopt processes and cultures that will enable that transfer of knowledge to succeed.

Novelty is the best teacher

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By , October 5, 2010 11:32 am


I’d say this is proof that novelty teaches (yeah, I know I’m behind on this meme… but what can you do?). I guess the trick is – you have to make sure that even the novelty has novelty. You might have to do some really boring presentations now and again if all you ever do is dance. At the end of the day, you want people to pause for a second and pay attention to something that is a bit off of what they expected.

Infacebook Learning

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By , October 1, 2010 9:46 am

Fast Company posted an interesting article a few days ago on Facebook and informal learning which I finally got around to today. There aren’t many people out there who won’t agree that something can be learned out of the formal context of a school room or lecture hall, but many will argue that social networks, and Facebook (being the largest), isn’t such a place. Before I get to the nugget that I found in the article, I do have to ponder… with 500M+ people using the system, there is a good chance that a few of those are smart people who, even through what seem to them to be banal observations, can enlighten others to thinking just a little different. But now the nugget:

Facebook provides a compelling outlet for people who enjoy learning, and it helps those seeking something else to accidentally and informally learn along the way.

As we build relationships with other people, we tap into their networks of knowledge and sense, creating learning webs, making our compound knowledge more valuable than compound interest.

Accidental learning… that sounds to me like research, like exploration, like self motivation, curiosity and reflection. Take a moment to think about how many things we have today are the result of accidental events that were reflected on and then recreated before being systematized into a product, a process, or even an entire discipline.

It may very well be time that we need to stop thinking about where learning happens as being part of what gives it value; and start thinking, perhaps about who it happens with as being important as borders and walls continue to drop away and the number of informal and accidental interactions with passionate individuals from numerous disciplines begin to increase.

Student Perceptions – a report from Memorial

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By , February 5, 2010 2:27 pm

You can download the entire report here, but I’ll quickly put up the main findings.

To be an effective face to face instructor, students were looking for an instructor who is:

  1. Respectful
  2. Knowledgeable
  3. Approachable
  4. Engaging
  5. Communicative
  6. Organized
  7. Responsive
  8. Professional
  9. Humorous

For distance education streams students looked for instructors who are:

  1. Respectful
  2. Responsive
  3. Knowledgeable
  4. Approachable
  5. Communicative
  6. Organized
  7. Engaging
  8. Professional
  9. Humorous

The report concluded “the data clearly indicates that the characteristics of effective teaching transcend the mode of delivery.”

The report is lengthy at 69 pages plus the appendix, but it has some solid “common sensical” points that I think just about any instructor can take away.

Video Games impact studying… here’s the proof

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By , November 17, 2009 1:40 pm

This is odd, I’m posting something that shows that gaming has a dark side when it comes to education. But this is a dark side on the “back end” of the exercise, not the front. From a study by Ralph and Todd Stinebrickner (picked up through Guardian Ed):

Using real-world data, it would never be possible to rule out with certainty that there are differences in study efficiency between RGAMEi groups. For example, it would be hard to provide direct evidence that even small amounts of video game playing would not harm a student’s short-term thinking skills to some extent.    Nonetheless, given that our unique data allow us to rule out a seemingly close-to-exhaustive set of reasons that study efficiency may be different between the two groups and given that we find substantial differences in study quantity between the two groups, our findings seem to suggest rather strongly that study effort, as measured by the quantity that a student studies, plays a central role in determining grade performance. This suggests that simply increasing effort, even without refining study techniques, could make a substantial difference in academic outcomes. In the next section we attempt to quantify how much of a grade payoff there is to an extra hour of studying.

While not the primary focus of this paper, this paper also makes an important contribution to the peer effects literature in general and to the peer effects literature that achieves identification by using college roommates in particular. The goal of the empirical peer effects literature has been to look for empirical evidence that peer effects can matter. This paper provides depth to that literature by not only providing some of the strongest evidence that peer effects can matter, but also by providing perhaps the first direct evidence about an avenue (time-use) through which peer effects operate. This paper also makes a contribution to a substantial literature outside of economics by establishing that video games can have a large, causal effect on academic outcomes.

While parents and counselors everywhere are likely jumping for joy that they can now point to some thing that says distractions and your friends have an impact on academic performance. But wait… this also talks about increasing “effort”. I haven’t gone over the entire paper to fully grep “effort” but I’m thinking that this might be something that deserves some more investigation. Should there be efforts on the part of the instructor as well as the student to maximize study effort?

What about online and other alternative delivery methods? One might think of a typical online student as having one window open to a browser and another open to some manner of web game or other distraction. I wonder if this has as much of an impact when the distraction is self directed (WILB) or does this distraction require an external agent to have an impact on study effort?

I’m thinking WILB vs Peer Distraction might be an interesting followup study.

Changes with 2.8

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By , June 15, 2009 10:50 am

Last week, in addition to the noise around Facebook, there was also another vanity URL oriented geek event. WordPress 2.8 was released and it was the first time since 2.7 that a full .X upgrade was available to users over the new automated update system. In typical WordPress fashion, everything generally went smooth (one install kept wanting to log in again and again, having stuck itself in some kind of loop) until it came to looking at what plugins were working or not. For this blog, having quite a few plugins running in the back (lots of plugins will be tried here for other projects), this stage is getting longer all the time. Thankfully, there are resources (WordPress, et al) for plugins, but not for themes as of yet. So one of the things that you might have noticed if you visit the blog, is that the theme has changed again. Even though Fusion the theme that I was running is one of the featured themes, it seems to not want to work properly for me. So I’ve changed my theme again. I’ve also changed the tagline for this blog.

This tagline change was motivated by part of an epiphany – I’ve been blogging more about teaching in general without regard for prefix than anything else over the last four year. Previously I was blogging under the tagline that touched on technology, teaching, photography and my journey in addition to whatever else I wanted to write about. But now, after thinking about what I’ve really been writing about since the start, I’ve changed it to “Thoughts on the technologies that help us tell stories“. The majority of my posts have been thoughts and I’m very much a believer in the idea that teaching is all about telling a story and that humanity has, since inception, used any technology available to try to tell stories with more umph and record them in some fashion to pass it on to others. This passing of stories is arguably the best way to teach and learn. Hopefully this new tagline (business plan or mission or whatever you might want to formalize it to) guides me well for the next four years. I don’t think things are going to change that much, but, for me, it will certainly free the thoughts that I put down here.

Thanks to @zirkazirka and @numerix for pointing me to this interesting bookOn the Origin of Stories: Evolution, cognition and fiction that fits with this idea.

Citation Machine

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By , April 18, 2008 10:34 am

There are many libraries with online reference generators so you can be sure to use proper formatting for your citations, but what if you need a one off? Check out the Citation Machine

Last Lecture Pt 2

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By , April 9, 2008 9:19 am

Randy Pausch, the prof that I wrote about back in October is still around and tonight at 8pm MST (10EST) is going to be giving an interview on ABC and if you feel so inclined, you can even email in from that page and ask him a question that might be answered tonight. If you miss it, thankfully ABC will have it online here – there are five parts and the first part will play on it’s own.

Colors determined by language

By , March 3, 2008 4:19 pm

Well add this to the raft of “things” that get filtered through language – color seems to have some connection to language processing. Just like the Inuit and their words for snow, we all seem to have bias for color. I remember hearing something similar to this a while ago in reference to people who live on the beach as well.

So what does this have to do with general teaching and learning? Well, color is one of those basic features of design that we assume can be taken for granted – with exceptions for those who are physically color blind – but I guess we can’t do that any more. There is now proof for linguistic blindness.

But language can lead to all manner of “blindness”, so this may be one of those places where contructivism and connectivism collide. When connected, we might be able to get around some of these blind spots by collecting interpretations from our networks. But in the end, when it comes time to internalize, constructivism is needed.  If a student can not build on their own experiences to interpret what is being presented, it is a much greater challenge to learn from that presentation and the connected mind can only help so much… unless one flukes out and finds the one person out there that can fill the gap by one means or another.

Idea Sex – yeah the title got my attention too

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By , February 19, 2008 2:51 pm

Leave it to The Escapist for titles like this now eh? First from the article:

No.2 … Keep the classroom, but change it and everything around it. Make the money in education slosh a different way. Have schools, colleges, communities, businesses and all other parts of the education system talk to each other a little more. Look everywhere, starting with games, for new ways to operate.

No. 3: my big, mad slogan,: bring it all back to what learning’s for. Learning is about bettering and expanding lives in some way. If you cannot learn from the world around you, you are dead. And in this world we’re moving into so fast, the definition of basic skills is constantly evolving. We’re a long, long way from just food, shelter and thighbones.

It’s a bit of an odd article to read, but you can add Helen Anderson to the growing list of people who are looking at games in a different way when it comes to learning. Games are not something that are going to go away, and with the inability for the education system to adapt to technology in general is disconcerting, but the inability for education to change the way it thinks about something that has changed rolls in “the real” world is really quite disturbing. Games were seen as juvenile and education has yet to see that they are now “main stream”. I’ve mentioned this in the past as well – nothing in education is ever new… so this problem has been struggled with in the past already. How did things change in the past?

I’m not sure, but there was certainly something related to authority. Evolution entered schools because the academy picked it up as did many other ideas in Science and the Arts, but new ideas related to teaching don’t seem to have such a route. The only way that new ideas seem to come in is generationally. Unfortunately, a human generation will see many generations of technology and the volume of human knowledge will also grow exponentially. These two, in the past would not have been an issue, but we can now see that they are becoming a bigger and bigger issue all the time.

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