Advantages of the Flipped Classroom

April 20, 2015  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

Flipped classrooms are an innovative approach to teaching, and they are starting to transform schooling and training around the country. The basic idea is simple: a flipped classroom reverses how teachers and students use their time. In a regular classroom, teachers lecture for hours each week as students take notes in class. Then, the students work on practice problems and homework alone. In a flipped classroom, the students learn the material at home with recorded lectures or readings, and then in class time, the teacher works with the students to solve problems and examples. Students perform better in flipped classrooms, especially in areas like math and the sciences where practice problems are an important part of the learning process. For one thing, teachers can spend more of their time working with students who need help. Students who get stuck on problems when they are working alone get frustrated quickly, because there is often nowhere to turn. In a flipped classroom, that won't happen, because the teacher can come over and provide help right away. Next, the environment of working on problems in class is also an ideal moment to allow students to take advantage of peer learning by dividing them into small groups. Students gain a lot from peer learning- both the student asking for help and the student teaching will find they have a much deeper understanding of the material than if they had never worked together. Furthermore, the flipped classroom works better than a study group, because the teacher is on hand to answer any questions that the students cannot resolve among themselves. That means that if there is something that both peer teachers and peer learners cannot understand, they will have a third party source to clarify things for both of them. The way flipped classrooms work promotes the use of technology in learning. The time that students spend on their own learning the material works best when technology enhances that time. For example, teachers can record the lectures in advance and place them on the course website. Then the students can log in and watch the recording at their leisure. Similarly, the teacher can upload course readings, supplemental material, and notes on the course website for students to read. Technology can also provide a means of communication. For example, the teacher can set up a forum for the class. That way, if any of the students has a...

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Components of a successful employee learning experience—

January 21, 2015  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share
Components of a successful employee learning Components of a successful employee learning experience

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collaborative learning theory

December 18, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

Collaborative learning theory is the framework of education that emphasizes learning as an effort between multiple people working together, rather than a preordained authority figure, like a teacher, who has power over a learner. The collaborative learning model is a "horizontal" method of learning that puts everyone on the same plane, rather than a "vertical" approach where there is a hierarchy of participants in the learning process. The origins of collaborative learning theory lie in psychology. The two primary researchers who laid the groundwork for collaborative learning are Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Those two men determined that learners need to be ready for the learning environment and that they do better when others around them are learning. Building on those ideas, later educators have found that encouraging students to collaborate and talk with each other was an effective way of improving learning. The next evolution of this idea was fully collaborative learning, where the teacher becomes more of a guide than an authority, and who is learning along with the students. The best ways to implement collaborative learning depend on the specific goals of the learning endeavor. For example, some teachers might be comfortable with creating group projects and other assignments that force students to work together. This is a basic level of implementation that maintains the teacher's authority, but also allows students to gain from collaborating. A more advanced form of collaborative learning is the flipped classroom. In a flipped classroom, students and teachers work out problems and exercises together in the class, and the students learn from recorded lectures outside of class. This reverses the traditional timing of lectures and practice problems. It can lead to improved student learning through the collaborative environment- teachers work right alongside students in class, so that everyone can learn from each other at the same time. Collaborative learning does not have to incorporate this kind of approach. Subjects like math and science that have a lot of scope for practice problems are well suited for flipped classrooms. Other subjects, like business, lend themselves well to group projects and other forms of student-to-student engagement. The context of the course determines how appropriate collaborate learning is. On top of that, there are different types of classroom. Traditional classrooms have straightforward choices when it comes to collaborate learning. Online classes, like massively open online courses, tend to be collaborate by their very nature. They can use Internet resources like...

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How We Should Be Teaching Math- By Barbara Oakley

December 3, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

How We Should Be Teaching Math Achieving 'conceptual' understanding doesn't mean true mastery. For that, you need practice. By Barbara Oakley One of my engineering students recently approached me with a mixture of anger and befuddlement, thrusting toward me a quiz sheet covered with red pen marks: "I just don't see how I could have done so poorly. I understood it when you taught it in class." I smiled encouragingly, but inside I sighed. The semester was just beginning. I hadn't had time to disabuse the student's naïveté. He still thought that because he "understood" the material, he was all set. I'm now a professor of engineering, but in my mid-20s I was an artsy language lover who had flunked her way through elementary-, middle- and high-school math and science. What I discovered when I started over at age 26—first tackling remedial middle-school math and then working my way toward a Ph.D. in systems engineering—is that a conceptual understanding only gets you so far. Conceptual understanding has become the mother lode of today's approach to education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—known as the STEM disciplines. However, an "understanding-centric approach" by educators can create problems. Today's Common Core approach to teaching STEM is at least superficially appealing. The goal of placing equal emphasis on conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application is laudable. But as with any new approach to teaching, the Common Core builds on the culture that's already there. And the culture that has long reigned in STEM education is that conceptual understanding trumps everything. So bewildered math teachers who are now struggling to teach the Common Core are leaning on the old thinking, which has it that if a student doesn't understand—in the "ah-ha," light-bulb sense of understanding—there's no way she or he can truly become expert in the material. True experts have a profound conceptual understanding of their field. But the expertise built the profound conceptual understanding, not the other way around. There's a big difference between the "ah-ha" light bulb, as understanding begins to glimmer, and real mastery. As research by Alessandro Guida, Fernand Gobet, K. Anders Ericsson and others has also shown, the development of true expertise involves extensive practice so that the fundamental neural architectures that underpin true expertise have time to grow and deepen. This involves plenty of repetition in a flexible variety of circumstances. In the hands of poor teachers, this repetition becomes rote—droning reiteration of easy material. With gifted...

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Big Data!

November 24, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

Big Data   Big Data is the phrase on everyone's lips, across any number of different industries and businesses. Big Data might well be the defining set of innovations of our time- depending on how well we take advantage of it. So what exactly is Big Data? The name appears self-explanatory- large collections of data. However, Big Data is really two things- a combination of new ways to collect a lot of information and new techniques for interpreting that information. These factors have become important due to the ever-increasing power of computers to hold and analyze large datasets, as well as improvements in connection speeds. Along with the technical innovations have come new uses for data: researchers and business leaders realized the potential benefits of more and more information and began to apply Big Data techniques to anything they could imagine. For example, Google uses information about about the people who use its services to deliver targeted ads that are more likely to earn attention than generic ads. This basic idea has created a business worth billions of dollars, and it is all based on Big Data- first, gathering as much information as possible about individual people, and then using that information to determine what kinds of product each person is likely to buy. Finally, Google grabs an ad from a big list of ads and places it on websites that person visits. Google tracks hundreds of millions of different attributes for each person using its services- and hundreds of millions of people do so. That is Big Data. There are all kinds of ways that innovators collect data. Some take it from the Internet. There is quite a lot of information locked away in documents and websites that were previously hard to access, but new tools called "scrapers" can pull usable information out of almost any webpage. Some collect it- Google simply records as much as it possibly can. Some people use more advanced tools, like sophisticated software that can interpret and codify the information in Google Maps, Google Earth, and other map software for use in data analysis. Part of the impact of Big Data is the way almost anything can be harvested for useful information. It takes two things- a way to collect data and a use for the data. Innovation in both areas has led to the increased presence of Big Data in every field. Training and education is no exception. For...

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Peer Learning: Enhancing Student Learning Outcomes, by Professor Matthew C.E. Gwee

November 20, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

Peer Learning: Enhancing Student Learning Outcomes Peer learning essentially refers to students learning with and from each other as fellow learners without any implied authority to any individual, based on the tenet that “Students learn a great deal by explaining their ideas to others and by participating in activities in which they can learn from their peers”

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Peeragogy Assessments

November 14, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

Part VIII of the Peeragogy Handbook consists of two chapters that engage with the topic of peer assessment. Assessment is an important but also freeform topic in learning contexts. Assessment functions as a feedback mechanism for both students and teachers in the traditional classroom. In a virtual, peer-driven classroom, the objectives of assessment in terms of feedback are the same, but the lack of teachers and the fact that peers are on the same level as one another makes the context of assessment different, and makes devising effective means of assessment more challenging. The authors of the first chapter of this section analyze the Peeragogy project itself using a short survey that was circulated among participants of the Peeragogy project. The responses to the survey constituted an internal assessment of the project's direction and how well the participants felt that the project had helped them grow and learn. The survey was anonymous, so the participants did not feel any pressure to alter their responses to look better. Responses offered an honest view of the Peeragogy Project, with some survey respondents expressing that they enjoyed working with the variety of top minds involved with the project and the opportunities for learning that they experienced. Others were less happy, worrying that the project lacked direction and structure. The Project in its first year seemed to have a large emphasis on theory and background that sometimes didn't translate into actual implementations of peeragogical principles in the real world. Four main ideas emerged from the survey that should be the focus of any peer learning project. The first is cooperation- a peer learning team needs to trust each other and work together freely. The next is convene- the project needs to ensure that while individuals are making progress on their own problems, they are also reporting back to the group and sharing both their progress and their frustrations. The third idea is organization, or the ability to welcome new members and integrate them into the project. A group of veterans may work well together, but they need the outside perspective of new members to ensure the project stays true to its original goals. The last is assessment. Assessment in peeragogy terms is broader than grades- it is ensuring that the project has relevance and applicability for people outside the project. Assessment means making sure the project is doing something that everyone finds worthwhile. The second chapter...

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Peeragogy Techniques: Doing Cooperative Work

November 6, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

  Part VII of the Peeragogy Handbook addresses cooperation. The first chapter of this part concerns co-facilitation. Having learners and workers facilitate one another's growth is an important part of group work, but it is not easy to strike the right balance between working with each other and working for each other. The same issues that threaten group progress in other areas appear in facilitation too- having too much or too little structure can be, respectively, stifling or demotivating. The authors suggest using Wikipedia's five pillars as the starting point for directing co-facilitation. Wikipedia has built a vast network of information using simple guidelines for work in a context that depends on cooperation and co-facilitation. The next chapter examines workscapes. Workscapes are loosely-defined working environments. They are more than just the four walls of an office- they include any context in which the worker is productive and learns, whether that be their office, an online community, private contemplation, or travel abroad. Everyone has their own workscape, and this chapter explains that allowing individuals to learn in their own workscape is the best way to help them. Workscapes are the natural habitat of the learning person. Providing some basic features to workers can enhance their workscapes and their productivity. These include profiles, an activity stream, wikis, virtual meetings, blogs, bookmarks, mobile access, and social networks. The advantage of a powerful, connective workspace is that the worker can make use of their connections to others to work faster and smarter. Few workers truly work alone- almost everyone consults with friends, families, or coworkers when they come across a difficult problem. Workscapes are a way to make those connections easier to leverage into work. The next chapter concerns participation. Participation of members is one of the hardest tasks of any group- it is difficult to get passive people to jump in, and prevent active personalities from dominating every conversation. The Peeragogy Handbook provides some strategies to guide participation. Some of these include being ready to accept that some people won't want to participate that much, that deadlines should be targets and not iron goals, engage everyone in regular meetings, and being open to new members. The key ingredient in all of these is flexibility- the organizers need to be flexible to accommodate the wide variety of working styles, learning styles, and participation levels that they will encounter during the course of a peer-driven endeavor. The last full...

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Peeragogy Techniques- Organizing a learning context

October 31, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

Peeragogy Techniques: Organizing a learning context   Part VI of the Peeragogy Handbook deals with organizing learning contexts. The authors begin by defining learning courses and learning spaces, differentiating the first by specifying that it entails a syllabus and timeline. Two main types of characteristics define learning platforms, which support learning spaces: development trajectories and platform features. These characteristics for a given learning space are both its weaknesses and its strengths. They describe obstacles like scarce resources that the group needs to overcome as well as strengths like connectivity or flexibility. The authors describe some case studies of peeragogical processes: the U.S. Army's After Action Report system for reviewing training exercises and the Peeragogy Project's surveys of participating students. Both case studies led to specific insights, but the authors downplay any possibility of a "grand narrative" of peer learning. Instead, the best takeaway might be those insights and how they can apply to a particular co-learning project. Some of the more important insights include the idea of forming participants into teams, developing a process to prioritize ideas, emphasizing sufficiently good ideas over perfect, but unachievable ones, and collecting the perspective of every participant, even the ones who leave. A survey of participants can address many of these issues, and developing and maintaining THE SURVEY can itself be a feedback cycle for learning about the group and the project. The authors next analyze the use of activities as a way to provide structure. Structure is a two-edged sword for learning. It can be a guide and a way to focus effort, but structure can also constrict learning, impose an external constraint on free and open interaction. The peeragogy context can take advantage of structure but also lends itself well to a lack of structure, in that its mass appeal and potentially unlimited audience are well-suited to peer discussion without boundaries as well as guided coursework. The Peeragogy Handbook details how to use activities as a source of structure that can inform as well as guide the group. One important consideration is that nobody should plan activities as if they were leading them like a teacher- they should plan activities as if they were a participant like any other. The essence of peer co-learning is that there are no overarching teachers, only peers working together. One strength of peer learning is that the lack of A COURSE structure means there is no reason for everyone to engage in the same...

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Peer Learning Techniques-Peeragogy and Convening a Strong Group

October 24, 2014  |  Online Education | E-Learning  |  No Comments  |  Share

The Peeragogy Project is dedicated to disseminating peer learning techniques in an open source and open access fashion. Their Peeragogy Handbook lays out several ways to ensure that a peer learning endeavor will succeed. One of the more important chapters concerns a stage of planning peer learning near the beginning of the process: convening a group. Because peer learning relies on assembling like-minded and dedicated peers, putting a group together requires insight and planning. Peer learning is powerful when all learners participate and build on one another's abilities, but it can also be a waste of time if the learners don't participate, spread incorrect information, or otherwise fail to contribute. Convening a strong group is a necessary part of setting the stage for optimal peer learning. The Handbook emphasizes the importance of direction and motivation when convening a peeragogy group. A useful device for keeping direction in mind is to review the six questions at the heart of journalism, and INDEED, of any directed project: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Each of these defines an important facet of group formation. "Who" helps members keep track of their roles and the roles they need to fill with new members, as well as the personalities of each participant. People are not interchangeable- everyone has their own skill set and their own areas that need improvement, and group formation should account for that. "What" concerns the goal of the peer project and its motivation. The group needs to have an explicit mission to stay focused and intact, not only to overcome obstacles but also to prevent apathy from overtaking members of the group. It's also important to have a defined goal in order to prevent "feature creep": the adding on of more and more new ideas and goals to a project until none of them are feasible. "When" is a practical concern. The group needs to ensure its members will be able to commit time and energy to the project. It also needs to recognize that everyone has different resources and commitments, so traditional group ideas like weekly meetings might need adjustment to fit the needs of the group. "Where" is a question about the process of the project. Work is not just about reaching the goal. The entire benefit of peer learning rests in the way peers educate themselves and each other at the same time, taking advantage of feedback cycles to boost...

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