Monthly Archives: August 2012

… education is, at its best, not about transmitting information but about inspiring thinking.

Source: The American Interest, Aug 2012

… as powerful as the internet is, and as useful as it is as a replacement for passive learning in large lectures, it is not yet a substitute for face-to-face learning that takes place at a college or university.

The learning that takes place in the hallways, offices, and dining halls when students live, eat, and breathe their coursework over four years is simply fundamentally different from taking a course online in one’s free time.

Learning More and Faster Using Video-Lectures (compared to in-person lectures)

Source: NYTimes, Aug 2012

In a 2008 survey of first- and second-year medical students at Harvard, those who used accelerated video lectures reported being more focused and learning more material faster than when they attended lectures in person.

Not everyone learns most effectively in the same way. And yet in the face of all evidence, we rely almost entirely on passive learning. Students listen to lectures or they read and then are evaluated on the basis of their ability to demonstrate content mastery. They aren’t asked to actively use the knowledge they are acquiring.

“Active learning classrooms” — which cluster students at tables, with furniture that can be rearranged and integrated technology — help professors interact with their students through the use of media and collaborative experiences. Still, with the capacity of modern information technology, there is much more that can be done to promote dynamic learning.

Free online content for 12+ undergraduate majors, with low prices for college credit

Source: Inside Higher Ed, Aug 2012

he Saylor Foundation has nearly finished creating a full suite of free, online courses in a dozen popular undergraduate majors. …
The foundation currently has more than 240 courses up on its website. They are self-paced and automated, and designed to cover all the requirements of an undergraduate major in disciplines ranging from chemistry and computer science to art history and English literature, as well as a general education major. The course material is roughly 95 percent complete, Saylor officials said, and should be finished this fall.

Students have already started taking the classes, and can earn non-credit bearing certificates. But thanks to newly-forged agreements with Excelsior and StraighterLine, the foundation now provides an indirect route to college credit.

Excelsior is a private, nonprofit college that offers relatively inexpensive, online degree programs. The regionally-accredited college is also one of the first to have competency-based programs, where students can take Excelsior-developed examinations in a fairly broad range of subjects – earning credits without having to take classes. *The exams are worth three to six credits, and typically cost *$95.*


The Joy of Learning Begins When The Lessons Focus Upon the Students

Source: The Creativity Post, Aug 2012

… lessons focused on the student, the authors report. The latter kind of learning involves active, engaged effort on the part of the child; joy arrives when the child surmounts a series of difficulties to achieve a goal.
… the joy of learning is more likely to make an appearance when teachers permit students to work at their own level and their own pace, avoiding making comparisons among students. The authors recommend that children be taught to evaluate and monitor their own learning so they can tell when they’re making progress.

Because joy is so often connected to finishing a task or solving a problem, they point out, allowing time for an activity to come to its natural conclusion is important. Granting students a measure of freedom in how they learn also engenders joy. Such freedom doesn’t mean allowing children to do whatever they want, but giving them choices within limits set by a teacher.

play was a major source of joy in the classroom …

“Play is the child’s way of seeking pleasure,” the authors write, and it is a learning activity in itself; it shouldn’t be viewed as “a Trojan horse” in which to smuggle in academic lessons.

Lastly, sharing and collaborating with other students is a great source of joy. One of the authors’ videotapes shows a student reacting with pleasure when a classmate, Paavo, says, “You are so good at making those dolls!” The researchers conclude: “Joy experienced together, and shared, adds up to even more joy.”

How to Turn Your Classroom into an Idea Factory

Source: Mindshift, Aug 2012

… innovators use a common problem-solving process. They frame problems carefully, looking at issues from all sides to find opportunity gaps. They may generate many possible solutions before focusing their efforts. They refine solutions through iterative cycles, learning from failure along with success. When they hit on worthy ideas, innovators network with others and share results widely.

In the classroom, this same process corresponds neatly with the stages of project-based learning. In PBL, students investigate intriguing questions that lead them to learn important academic content. They apply their learning to create something new, demonstrate their understanding, or teach others about the issue they have explored. By emphasizing key thinking skills throughout the PBL process, teachers can guide students to operate the same way that innovators do in all kinds of settings.

Free Online Course Will Rely on Multiple Sites

Source: NYTimes, Aug 2012

A group of online-learning ventures is collaborating on a new kind of free class to be offered this fall, known as a mechanical MOOC (for “massive open online course”), that will teach a computer-programming language by patching together existing resources from open-learning sites.



9 Hours of Sleep is Needed

Source: LA Times, Aug 2012

Several new studies are showing that the quantity and the quality of sleep are important for remembering new information and consolidating learning …

Students who get too little sleep don’t have enough time to process what they study, she added; even just one night of sleep deprivation can have a negative effect. Parents should do what they can to make sure their children have sufficient and consistent sleep, she said.