Project-based learning, problem-based learning – what’s what!

Is there a difference between problem-based learning and project-based learning?  I found this post from John Larmer, in the Edutopia blog, a good explanation of the similarities and differences between project-based learning and problem-based learning.  Here is his summary:

The author explains that in each, the essential elements of “gold standard” project-based learning are present.

How useful it would be to have a scaffold to help design the task!  You might like to explore the Global Digital Citizenship Foundation’s solution fluency which provides a step-by-step guide using the 6 Ds process – define, discover, dream, design, deliver, debrief.

Learning Styles – a Myth?

What is your learning style? Kinesthetic, auditory, visual?  This post from Quartz –  Kinesthetic no more: You may think you learn better in a certain way. You actually don’tdebunks the notion of learning styles.  Interesting!   What does this mean for the plethora of publications and training courses built around the concept?

A more recent Quartz blog post states that “the concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest neuroscience myths”.   Supported by evidence from several papers, the author suggests that we all fundamentally learn in a similar way and in spite of a “thriving industry devoted to such guidebooks”, there is little evidence to prove the hypothesis.  It’s not surprising – the theory always seemed a little simplistic to me.

The Modern Professional Learner’s Toolkit

I like the notion of a modern professional learner, a person who recognises that we learn, not only through courses but also through experiences, on-the-job, partnerships and collaborations,  and the internet.  The Centre for Modern Professional Learning’s infographic explains well the myriad of ways in which we learn and tools we could use.

Source: http://modernprofessionallearning.com/toolkit/

Under the image in this website are links to a guide for using each of these tools and sites with links to further information and tutorials. What a valuable resource this is!

Educational TED Talks Worth Watching

Of course, most TED talks are worth watching, but Lee Crockett and his team at the Global Digital Citizenship Foundation have selected “14 Amazing educational TED talks for all educators and parents” that live up to TED’s reputation to move, inspire, entertain and learn.

Of particular interest to me:

  • Sam Kass: Want students to learn well?  Feed them well – the title says it all.
  • Daphne Bavelier: Your brain on video games   – cognitive science highlights some surprises!

  • Sarah-Jayne Blakemore: The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain
  • Fawn Qiu: Easy DIY projects for kid engineers

Gen Z and Creativity

This week, Adobe released a report on the results of a global study, Gen Z in the classroom; creating the future.  Data were collected from over 2000 students, aged 11 – 18 and over 1000 or their educators.  Participants came from US, UK, Germany and Australia.

The late-2016 survey asked wide-ranging  questions on perceptions of the GenZ creativity, differences between this and older generations, the challenges, how GenZs learn best, and preparedness for life after school.

Insights show that students and educators believe:

  • technology and creativity are defining characteristics of GenZ
  • students are excited about but feel unprepared for their future in the real world
  • there should be more focus on hands-on creativity, the optimum means of learning. The curriculum needs to catch up
  • being creative will play an integral role in the workplace
  • increased access to digital tools will be an advantage in the future workplace

Alan November’s transformational six

Alan November’s 23 January 2017 post, Crafting a vision for empowered learning and teaching: beyond the $1000 pencil, in his blog November Learning reminded me of his invaluable and powerful six transformational questions.   What great learning could occur if every assessment was built on this foundation!  What wonderful critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills could be learned!

  1. Did the assignment build capacity for critical thinking on the web?
  2. Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?
  3. Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?
  4. Are there opportunities to broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?
  5. Is there an opportunity for students to create a contribution (purposeful work)?
  6. Does the assignment demo “best in the world” examples of content and skill?

Personalised professional learning

Today, there is a thought-provoking post from Edutopia: Why don’t we differentiate professional development?  Pauline Zdonek’s comments caught my attention:

As I prepare for another afternoon of district-provided professional development activities, I always make sure that I bring plenty of work to do (papers to grade, lesson planning, etc.)…the sad fact is that the majority of PDs I attend are repetitive, simplistic, or downright boring. I bring other work to do so that I don’t get irritated when I feel that my time is being so carelessly wasted.

“One-size-fits-all” professional learning does not work, and we have known that for many years through experience, anecdotal evidence and research.  This was a hot topic in the nineties and early two thousands!   In 1999, NCREL (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory) produced a toolkit Professional Development: learning from the best; in 2002, Dennis Sparks published Designing powerful professional development for teachers and principals for the National Staff Development Council, which produced a set of standards for meaningful professional learning.

What have we learnt?  How many colleagues have been “talked at”, in our beginning-of-the-year professional development sessions?

In 2014, AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) produced Designing professional learning, a report to…

…help readers design, revise and evaluate high-quality professional learning by clarifying the elements of learning design that significantly increase participants’ learning outcomes and their use of those learning outcomes in classroom practice.

This report provides an excellent basis for developing robust and meaningful learning experiences.

Snippets from holiday browsing

The summer break is over!  Reality returns!  So what snippets, bits and pieces crossed my path over this glorious break?

Edsurge asks  “Has your School reached an edtech plateau?” suggesting several ways to “move the needle” for administrators, teachers, parents.  There is nothing new here, but common sense for those wanting to lift the game.

Here comes yet another Top 10 list. Edsurge publishes its Top 10 S’Cool tools of 2016.  (Love the S’Cool name!) Most of them have not previously been on my radar.

Education HQ caught my attention today with Lesson idea: get students cracking with codes.  The Caesar cypher, Morse code and the Enigma Machine are explained as reasons to start discussing and playing with codes (not necessarily coding).

An ABC Splash email reminded  me of the wonderful classroom resources available to both primary and secondary teachers.

For those interested in perspectives from countries other than Australia, NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research, UK) has posted a list of the hot topics from 2016.  Of interest to me are the blog posts Research in schools: experience and tips from the frontline and The rise of Edu-Twitter: chat, collaboration and CPD.

I’m sure there is more. What have I missed?

Word Processing and the Loss of Simplicity

It makes no sense that the word processors are still designed for the printed page” – this is the title of an amusing piece from the Motherboard blog ,complete with links to 1960s and 1970s video clips promoting the paper explosion.

The author takes us through a short history of word processing since the 1970s, and asks “for all they’ve gained, what have modern word processors lost?”   He suggests the loss of simplicity. 

“Since I started writing as a career, I’ve always preferred my writing tools to have a certain style – I want them as little like Microsoft Word as possible”  – Ernie Smith.

Although the online world is capturing our attention with multi-modal texts, are we ready to forsake the printed word?  I’m not so sure.  However, I do wonder about the percentage of the features of word processing (I’m talking about Word, of course) I use – not many!