Sunday, August 21, 2016

Getting the Most Out of IT

What skills and competencies do our students need to be successful in college and their careers?
  • learn to learn
  • grit
  • be self-aware
  • problem solving
  • creativity
  • communication
  • attention to detail
  • community awareness

What are the characteristics of learning activities that will help students develop these skills?
  • open-ended
  • realistic situations / authentic
  • connect with peers 
  • collaborative
  • authentic speakers 
  • feedback

 ISTE's Ed Tech Coaches Network (Links to an external site.)

Chapter 6 of this volume proposes a framework to help guide the design and evaluation of environments that can optimize learning. Drawing heavily on the three principles discussed above, it posits four interrelated attributes of learning environments that need cultivation.

1. Schools and classrooms must be learner centered. 

Teachers must pay close attention to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that learners bring into the classroom. This incorporates the preconceptions regarding subject matter already discussed, but it also includes a broader understanding of the learner. For example:
  • Cultural differences can affect students’ comfort level in working collaboratively versus individually, and they are reflected in the background knowledge students bring to a new learning situation (Moll et al., 1993).
  • Students’ theories of what it means to be intelligent can affect their performance. Research shows that students who think that intelligence is a fixed entity are more likely to be performance oriented than learning oriented—they want to look good rather than risk making mistakes while learning. These students are especially likely to bail out when tasks become difficult. In contrast, students who think that intelligence is malleable are more willing to struggle with challenging tasks; they are more comfortable with risk (Dweck, 1989; Dweck and Legget, 1988).
Teachers in learner-centered classrooms also pay close attention to the individual progress of each student and devise tasks that are appropriate.
Page 24
Suggested Citation"1 Learning: From Speculation to Science." National Research Council. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. doi:10.17226/9853.
Learner-centered teachers present students with “just manageable difficulties” —that is, challenging enough to maintain engagement, but not so difficult as to lead to discouragement. They must, therefore, have an understanding of their students’ knowledge, skill levels, and interests (Duckworth, 1987).

2. To provide a knowledge-centered classroom environment, attention must be given to what is taught (information, subject matter), why it is taught (understanding), and what competence or mastery looks like. 

As mentioned above, research discussed in the following chapters shows clearly that expertise involves well-organized knowledge that supports understanding, and that learning with understanding is important for the development of expertise because it makes new learning easier (i.e., supports transfer). Is this right? Didn't I read that unorganized information helps students learn?
Learning with understanding is often harder to accomplish than simply memorizing, and it takes more time. Many curricula fail to support learning with understanding because they present too many disconnected facts in too short a time—the “mile wide, inch deep” problem. Tests often reinforce memorizing rather than understanding. The knowledge-centered environment provides the necessary depth of study, assessing student understanding rather than factual memory. It incorporates the teaching of meta-cognitive strategies that further facilitate future learning.
Knowledge-centered environments also look beyond engagement as the primary index of successful teaching (Prawaf et al., 1992). Students’ interest or engagement in a task is clearly important. Nevertheless, it does not guarantee that students will acquire the kinds of knowledge that will support new learning. There are important differences between tasks and projects that encourage hands-on doing and those that encourage doing with understanding; the knowledge-centered environment emphasizes the latter (Greeno, 1991).

3. Formative assessments—ongoing assessments designed to make students’ thinking visible to both teachers and students—are essential. They permit the teacher to grasp the students’ preconceptions, understand where the students are in the “developmental corridor” from informal to formal thinking, and design instruction accordingly. In the assessment-centered classroom environment, formative assessments help both teachers and students monitor progress.

An important feature of assessments in these classrooms is that they be learner-friendly: they are not the Friday quiz for which information is memorized the night before, and for which the student is given a grade that ranks him or her with respect to classmates. Rather, these assessments should
Page 25
Suggested Citation"1 Learning: From Speculation to Science." National Research Council. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. doi:10.17226/9853.
provide students with opportunities to revise and improve their thinking (Vye et al., 1998b), help students see their own progress over the course of weeks or months, and help teachers identify problems that need to be remedied (problems that may not be visible without the assessments). For example, a high school class studying the principles of democracy might be given a scenario in which a colony of people have just settled on the moon and must establish a government. Proposals from students of the defining features of such a government, as well as discussion of the problems they foresee in its establishment, can reveal to both teachers and students areas in which student thinking is more and less advanced. The exercise is less a test than an indicator of where inquiry and instruction should focus.

4. Learning is influenced in fundamental ways by the context in which it takes place. A community-centered approach requires the development of norms for the classroom and school, as well as connections to the outside world, that support core learning values.

The norms established in the classroom have strong effects on students’ achievement. In some schools, the norms could be expressed as “don’t get caught not knowing something.” Others encourage academic risk-taking and opportunities to make mistakes, obtain feedback, and revise. Clearly, if students are to reveal their preconceptions about a subject matter, their questions, and their progress toward understanding, the norms of the school must support their doing so.
Teachers must attend to designing classroom activities and help students organize their work in ways that promote the kind of intellectual camaraderie and the attitudes toward learning that build a sense of community. In such a community, students might help one another solve problems by building on each other’s knowledge, asking questions to clarify explanations, and suggesting avenues that would move the group toward its goal (Brown and Campione, 1994). Both cooperation in problem solving (Evans, 1989; Newstead and Evans, 1995) and argumentation (Goldman, 1994; Habermas, 1990; Kuhn, 1991; Moshman, 1995a, 1995b; Salmon and Zeitz, 1995; Youniss and Damon, 1992) among students in such an intellectual community enhance cognitive development.
Teachers must be enabled and encouraged to establish a community of learners among themselves (Lave and Wegner, 1991). These [teacher] communities can build a sense of comfort with questioning rather than knowing the answer and can develop a model of creating new ideas that build on the contributions of individual members. They can engender a sense of the excitement of learning that is then transferred to the classroom, conferring a sense of ownership of new ideas as they apply to theory and practice.
Page 26
Suggested Citation"1 Learning: From Speculation to Science." National Research Council. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. doi:10.17226/9853.
FIGURE 1.2 Students spend only 14 percent of their time in school.
Not least, schools need to develop ways to link classroom learning to other aspects of students’ lives. Engendering parent support for the core learning principles and parent involvement in the learning process is of utmost importance (Moll, 1990; 1986a, 1986b). Figure 1.2 shows the percentage of time, during a calendar year, that students in a large school district spent in school. If one-third of their time outside school (not counting sleeping) is spent watching television, then students apparently spend more hours per year watching television than attending school. A focus only on the hours that students currently spend in school overlooks the many opportunities for guided learning in other settings.

Technology to Support Learning

Attempts to use computer technologies to enhance learning began with the efforts of pioneers such as Atkinson and Suppes (e.g., Atkinson, 1968; Suppes and Morningstar, 1968). The presence of computer technology in schools has increased dramatically since that time, and predictions are that this trend will continue to accelerate (U.S. Department of Education, 1994). The romanticized view of technology is that its mere presence in schools will enhance student learning and achievement. In contrast is the view that money spent on technology, and time spent by students using technology, are money and time wasted (see Education Policy Network, 1997). Several groups have reviewed the literature on technology and learning and concluded that it has great potential to enhance student achievement and teacher learning, but only if it is used appropriately (e.g., Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1996; President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, 1997; Dede, 1998).
What is now known about learning provides important guidelines for uses of technology that can help students and teachers develop the competencies needed for the twenty-first century. The new technologies provide opportunities for creating learning environments that extend the possibilities of “old” —but still useful—technologies—books; blackboards; and linear, one-way communication media, such as radio and television shows—as well as offering new possibilities. Technologies do not guarantee effective learning, however. Inappropriate uses of technology can hinder learning— for example, if students spend most of their time picking fonts and colors for multimedia reports instead of planning, writing, and revising their ideas. And everyone knows how much time students can waste surfing the Internet. Yet many aspects of technology make it easier to create environments that fit the principles of learning discussed throughout this volume.
Because many new technologies are interactive (Greenfield and Cocking, 1996), it is now easier to create environments in which students can learn by doing, receive feedback, and continually refine their understanding and build new knowledge (Barron et al., 1998; Bereiter and Scardamalia,

Page 207
Suggested Citation"9 Technology to Support Learning." National Research Council. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. doi:10.17226/9853.
1993; Hmelo and Williams, 1998; Kafai, 1995; Schwartz et al., 1999). The new technologies can also help people visualize difficult-to-understand concepts, such as differentiating heat from temperature (Linn et al., 1996). Students can work with visualization and modeling software that is similar to the tools used in nonschool environments, increasing their understanding and the likelihood of transfer from school to nonschool settings (see Chapter 3). These technologies also provide access to a vast array of information, including digital libraries, data for analysis, and other people who provide information, feedback, and inspiration. They can enhance the learning of teachers and administrators, as well as that of students, and increase connections between schools and the communities, including homes.
In this chapter we explore how new technologies can be used in five ways:
  • bringing exciting curricula based on real-world problems into the classroom;
  • providing scaffolds and tools to enhance learning;
  • giving students and teachers more opportunities for feedback, reflection, and revision;
  • building local and global communities that include teachers, administrators, students, parents, practicing scientists, and other interested people; and
  • expanding opportunities for teacher learning.

Based on the key ideas in the research, and the Museum learning activity in the video, how will you coach other teachers to use technology to enhance learning?

I will try to look for ways to connect learning to students lives. If students have an interest, why not let them go for it? If an activity is meaningful to them, students will more likely be engaged in it. Along the same lines, look for ways in which the students can be more active in how they show their learning or use a specific process to achieve a task. (Evaluate the process or the product.)

I want to ask more questions in general, but one in particular; How can we build a better community of learners where students are not afraid to fail or ask peers for help? If students are able to get over the fear of being wrong, 

Students should be able to take action in their learning. We will look for authentic learning activities where students can see the results of their efforts. Hopefully, students will be able to demonstrate understanding and competence.

How can we incorporate other subjects?

No comments:

Post a Comment