Archive for the ‘how people learn’ Category

Blackboard Keynote Ito: Food for Thought and Change

In critical thinking, Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching, Motivation, teaching, teaching with technology, technology on July 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm

My interpretation of Blackboard World keynote speaker Ito’s key points were these:

  • Education and learning are 2 different things; Education is foisted upon one, learning is what one chooses.
  • Silos stand in the way of education; he believes in antidisciplinary (so do I!)
  • Open source/free resources can provide assistance in software AND hardware development

Oh, and he has a wicked sense of humor! figure jumping with excitement

Mobile and Blackboard: Learning & Engaging Students

In assessment of learning, Education, how people learn, mobile devices, teaching with technology, technology, Uncategorized on July 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm

figure jumping with excitement I’m doing it again and I’m so excited!

I’m returning to Las Vegas for the Blackboard World conference. I enjoyed it so much last year!





Some take-aways included learning about the following:

  Journaling and its advantages Journaling in Blackboard




Listening to dynamic featured speakers Speaker-BbWorld 2013 2013-07-09 speaker-4




Attending a conference that included colleagues interested in promoting student learning and sharing with colleagues from throughout the world.

I’m looking forward to the information on mobile technology.

Students working around a cell phone

Truly working?

See you there!

Innovative Teaching and Technology’s Role

In Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching on September 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm

My thoughts about using technology in the classroom; as summarized by an interviewer: Innovative Teaching Enhances Learning

MOOCing around: Week 1 Ending

In assessment of learning, Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology, technology on September 10, 2012 at 9:32 am

Group of FishIt’s so interesting to take a class in a subject I haven’t taken in a looooooooong time (statistics).

I’m in a MOOC with 74,999 other students. I’ve used the Khan Academy videos on statistics to help me (and I’m just finishing week one!). I finished the video Koala Sleeping in Treelectures and the first quiz (no score yet) and I’m working on the first assignment due tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/11).  It’s taken me at least 4 hours so far.

Fun, yet daunting. I plan to finish, even if I have to pull a few all-nighters!

According to Kevin Carey, in the article Into the Future With MOOC’s in the Chronicle of Higher Education, MOOCs represent the future of education. He refers to his own experience in a mega-sized face to face economics course as evidence that mass-produced education is not new and that it can be more cost-efficient.

I agree, but only to a certain extent. MOOCs are useful, even for credit (although I’m not taking the stats course for credit). However, the structure of MOOCs must Teacher and classchange to incorporate critical thinking and higher order skills. I think MOOCs are great for those of us who want access to learning…period. I want MOOC creators to keep expanding their subjects and use. For those who need more hands on and for those subjects that require more analysis, MOOCs will not work. Not yet. Not without a mass infusion of ….. je ne sais quoiCalculator & Math Symbolss….a more in depth relationship among  learners, instructors and the critical thinking skills/content.

How will I know whether I’ve learned from this MOOC? There are tests, assignments and (my goal) my increased comfort with and ability to read articles that include statistical analyses. And isn’t that truly what learning is about?

And You Thought I Was Just Goofing Around

In how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching on May 17, 2012 at 12:10 am

sleeping puppy

I can’t count the number of times I have discovered a new way of teaching a concept or solved a problem while taking a walk, driving aimlessly or riding my bicycle. Those “aha” moments occur when I least expect them and when I’m not concentrating on the unsolved issue.

According to Jason Gots, who wrote Why Top Innovators Make Time to Waste Time, 3M, one of the most innovative companies in the U.S., has adopted “wasting time” as a core philosophy. According to Gots’ article, 3M has a 15% rule that encourages employees to spend 15% of their time “doing nothing.”  During this 15% time, employees are encouraged to do what helps them be creative: take a nap or play games. This was to encourage employees to solve problems in different ways and to think creatively.

And according to the article, science supports that philosophy. Quoting from the article:

Joydeep Bhattacharaya, a psychologist studying attention and creative problem-solving at Goldsmiths, University of London, has managed to pinpoint creative insight in the brain. Moments before subjects solve a tricky creative problem, a steady stream of alpha waves emanates from the right hemisphere of the brain – the half more closely associated with abstract thinking than with tightly focused logical reasoning.  What stimulates alpha waves? Laughter, a warm shower, a game of ping pong – activities that we find relaxing and pleasurable and that give the mind freedom to wander. Creative workers consistently report arriving at solutions to problems they’ve been struggling with for weeks while lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.

3M’s philosophy and the science of creativity are consistent with my own experience. I find that when I “work” or concentrate intensely for too long, I get work done, but I may feel incredibly rushed and unsettled. Occasionally I feel as though I’m missing something. During that time, I feel as though there’s another solution somewhere–a solution that’s elusive.

How can we use”time wasting” to promote learning? Should we provide “play” time during classes? I know that when I assign cases or scenarios for  small group discussions in class, some groups finish earlier than others. To keep those students busy, I plan an additional step for the students in that group. I might add a question or ask that group to complete an additional task. Cat looking into the camera

But maybe I should relax. Maybe I should permit the students who finish early to discuss other classes they’re taking and how well they’re completing work in another classes. Those off-task discussions seldom last more than 3-4 minutes during a 50 minute class [that’s only 8% of the time]. And maybe those discussions help students reflect on the information.

Are there other ways we can use this information to improve learning?

So, the next time you see me staring into space, don’t disturb me. I might just be creating new and innovative solutions.

Twearning + Motivation

In Education, faculty responsibilities, how people learn, institutional responsibilities, Motivation, teaching on April 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

JumpingMotivation to learn, to explore, to engage, seems to be less prevalent in my classes. I seem to have more questions about whether something will be on the test, than curiosity about what a theory means and its implications for individual or business conduct.

Yet according the article Can Colleges Manufacture Motivation, by Dan Barrett, posted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, it seems that motivation is a key factor for student success. According to the article, as students continue with their college careers, motivation declines.  And it seems to be faculty rather than institution-inspired. According to one of the studies cited in the article, there were wider disparities in motivation generated within universities rather than between universities. Recommended ways to motivate included multiple opportunities to review assignments and re-submit, permitting students to choose topics and permitting students options on formats. Institutions can motivate students by determining which faculty motivate students most and assigning them to teach the introductory courses. At the same time, different people are motivated by different things and what inspires one can sound a death knell for another.

Can motivation also explain the success of the Twearning exercises where I’ve combined Twitter with Learning? I’m going to add a few questions about motivation to the post-survey about Twitter use; I wish I’d thought to add them to the pre-survey. Perhaps motivation is part of the explanation for the success of Twearning to date. So far, no students have dropped the class, altho there have been varying degrees of participation. If all stay until the end of the course, that itself will be a first during the five years I’ve taught this particular course.

Twearning: And the Learning Goes On…..Exam 2

In assessment of learning, Education, how people learn, teaching with technology, technology, tests on April 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Good news. Look at the chart! Twitter in the classroom seems to work; even with the more complicated materials. This chart shows that the spring 2012 grades lean toward As and Bs.


The second exam is more difficult than the first because it requires more application of concepts to scenarios and less of the basics. You can see from the chart that in Spring 2012 there were more As (2, instead of none in Spring 2011).  There were an equal number of “Bs” in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012. There were more Cs in Spring 2012 then Spring 2011 (7, instead of 4 in Spring 2011) and fewer Ds and Fs. This result is consistent with the results of Exam 1.

So, what does this mean? Grades are one measure of determining whether learning has occurred. To the extent that exam scores improved over last year, I have evidence that using Twitter may have had an impact. As I noted in the earlier post, though, this result may not be terribly surprising in light of the fact that requiring Twitter required an extra review of the material (because students, in groups, had to summarize the weekly tweets and present those summaries to the class).

Then again, the fact that I permitted students to have their cell phones cell phoneavailable during class demonstrates that, at least at this level, and at least with a small class, that it did not hurt overall class performance on exams. It is equivalent too, in the old days (when I was a student), to students reading a newspaper reading_a_newspaperduring class (some faculty permitted it, some didn’t) or passing notes to other students. Students are distracted, at least for that time, but it didn’t hurt their overall performance.

Keep tuning in: students must turn in ePortfolios and final projects later….

Digital Information Everywhere: But it Doesn’t Change How We Educate Learners! Should it?!

In critical thinking, how people learn, information literacy, innovation in teaching on April 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm

directions_signInformation is everywhere and we should help students learn how to access and evaluate it. Education isn’t about going to school to get the information. Learning occurs with experiential activities, developing student activities and embracing failure as a way to learn.

I learned some concepts best when I answered them wrong on a test and got feedback quickly enough so that I could clearly follow where I went wrong. If we’re going to improve learning, as the video author states, we must refocus on how we encourage learning. Educators and institutions must re-evaluate the role of tests in promoting student learning and promoting cognition. Tests are not always the best way to foster improved learning. I believe tests are one tool, but there are many other tools to encourage authentic learning.

Because information is everywhere, we must also provide learners with the tools to evaluate information. The ALA defines information literacy as

“a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”

So students must know more than the textbook or teacher as the source of information, but instead must be able to read any source and conduct an target_and_arrow_missedanalysis of the credibility of the content. Institutions must develop methods to encourage the pedagogy of authenticity and of failure in order to learn. I’ve discussed the benefits of failure to improve learning in this post. I’ve discussed the need to teach information literacy in this post.

I’d love to implement and assess some version of this. That’s my next project, possibly, after I finish the Twitter and ePortfolio activities.

Twearning-First Exam Results Updated

In assessment of learning, critical thinking, Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology on March 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I’m using Twitter in my class this semester. This class is composed of 18 students taking a required course in the Ethical and Regulatory Environment of Sports Marketing. Students range from second semester juniors to graduating seniors. Students must use Twitter to post tweets during class, post two tweets about course content (textbook readings or current events) outside class and prepare group reports summarizing the weekly tweets and present those summaries in class. This means, that during the class, students have laptops, smart phones and other electronic devices open during class.

I haven’t analyzed the data on the number of tweets per week, but my estimate is an average of nearly 50 tweets total each week (some students forget). I’ve found that the weekly summaries are good reinforcements and these summarizes also give me the opportunity to correct any misconceptions that arise from the tweets.

In the earlier post, I briefly compared the exam results between the Spring 2011 and Spring 2012 courses.  I had only the results of the objective portion of the exam, so it was a preliminary comparison.

After completing the full exam, I’m now comparing the results this semester to the results last spring for this course. The following is the chart comparing the grade distribution.

Online Graphing

The results remain positive.

Grade distribution

There was a larger number of As and Bs in the Spring 2012 course (10/18 or 56%) compared to the Spring 2011 course (5/18 or 23%).  Interestingly, the number of Ds and Fs remained the same. The shift in grades was in the number of Cs: down from 33.3% in Spring 2011 to 16.5% in Spring 2012. There was a greater percentage of As in the Spring 2012 class (an increase of 400%).

Interpretation of results

These are small classes so although these results are promising, this doesn’t mean they can be translated to larger courses.

It appears that the use of Twitter in this way fostered student active engagement (I conducted a pre-survey and I’ll conduct a post-survey on engagement to determine whether that the students felt that Twitter use improved engagement with the course and the material.).  Twitter use apparently fostered  more focus on the course material-students were actually engaged in taking notes in class (at least to send the tweet during class and then the two tweets outside of class) and reviewing the material (at least when the groups submitted and presented the group summary). That fits with more traditional theories on learning that the more you engage with the material, the more you will remember.

A portion of the exam was answers to essay questions. I graded those answers anonymously, but I could have been biased toward students doing well.

One interesting conclusion from this small amount of data was that use of laptops & cell phones in class didn’t decrease performance. Even if Twitter use wasn’t the cause of the increase in As and Bs, it doesn’t appear that it had a negative impact on performance. Because this was a small class, and because I typically walk around when I teach, it may be that students were more careful about using the laptops and phones appropriately than in another, larger class.

There are undoubtedly other, better measures to assess impact-I’m using a a simple one. Behavior analysis through using observers who rate behavior, would probably be more accurate in addition to the exam results, but this is the beginning of this journey, not the end, so stay tuned!

Lecture Fail? Long Live the Lecture!

In how people learn, teaching, teaching with technology, using videos in teaching on March 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

I love a good lecture!

Lecturers can be humorous, thought-provoking, information-filled, interesting and inspirational ways to stimulate the mind. 

Haven’t you attended a lecture and left laughing? Or thinking that you’d love to learn more about that topic? Or been impressed with the presentation style of the lecturer? I have, many times.

Lectures have served valuable purposes in higher education. It’s how I learned much of what I now know. I still listen to lectures available on Ted Talks to gain different perspectives and to find presentations that I use to stimulate students’ reflection on and critical evaluation of a myriad of topics. Lectures can make you say “I knew that!” and thus confirm what you know or “I had no idea!” to wake you up to a different viewpoint.

[I also love reading good books. StudyI now read most of them electronically. I can become immersed in a good book. I find it quite exciting to purchase a book about which I’ve heard interesting things, or to purchase a book by my favorite author, then set aside time to read and think about the book. Some of the books are for work, some are for pure pleasure but either way, it’s an exciting journey to select and read a new book. My excitement is palpable…but I digress.]

So before we declare the death of the lecture, we should consider how it can be used:

  • To convey information (now available through Wikipedia or a Google search?)
  • To model a way of thinking (which now can be recorded for students to review; which may now be available through video resources created by others)
  • To integrate diverse perspectives and views into a relatively short presentation (Now available through mashups that can integrate vocal, photography, video, text and other delivery methods)
  • Others?

Although there are other ways to present information, lectures can and continue to be one valuable tool in the in an educator’s toolbox.

I have also attended boring, uninspired, lectures presented by some who seem to drone on forever, either making the same point in exactly the same way multiple times, who read from lecture notes only, who are not engaged with the audience [or even, it seems, aware of the audience!]. So students have a valuable point when they talk about boring lectures.

I’ve explained how I can enjoy (and learn from) a good lecture. I’ve also explained how some lectures can be boring.  But not everyone learns in exactly the same way. And I must admit, I learn better, sometimes, when I work with something. Haven’t you been working on a lesson and realized that you learned it much better now that you’re teaching it?

And I frequently learn better when I have to manipulate, say, objects on a map, or draw a diagram. So, although I enjoy (and I hope sometimes deliver) good lectures, I know that listening to lectures is not the only way to learn. It may not even be the best way to learn. And it is not the only way to teach. Look at my initial success using Twitter.

There has been a great deal of research on learning since educators first began using lectures extensively. I will refer to that research in this blog-I referred to some of that research in another post. That research should help drive instruction in higher education.

Teaching (and learning) are great challenges!