Tag Archives: adaptive learning

Entrepreneurial Thinking—Student-Centred Learning with a Grown-Up Twist

I’ve been thinking of another session I attended during the Cowordlennect 2015 conference: Think like an Entrepreneur by MARS, a member of Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs .

Entrepreneurial Thinking: The conference session was for K-12 teachers, but I found the strategies exciting and relevant for any learning environment. Why? Well, I thought about student buy-in, excitement, and engagement. Students sometimes resist student-centred learning: Can’t you just tell me what to do? This just seems like more work. What’s the answer, the formula? 

Fair statement and questions. Essentially, I think students just want to know WHY. . . an important question. Renaming student-centred learning as  Entrepreneurial Thinking gave me an answer to the question, “Why student-centred learning?”. . .  an answer that makes sense to university students because it has real-world application–inherent in its very name.

During the session, we participated in a Design Thinking activity.

Step 1: In groups, we explored a general problem (our “problem” was student engagement). We were given sticky notes, markers, and a large paper divided into three sections labelled classroom, administration, and national.

Step2: We explored the “problem” from the three  perspectives, writing our ideas on the sticky notes and placing them in the related sections.

Step 3: We clustered the sticky notes according to theme and their relatedness.

Step 4: We identified one underlying “problem” that we felt we could address, and then we explored potential solutions. To guide us, we watched a video of  Clay Christensen’s Milkshake Marketing strategy which frames products (or solutions) as doing a “job” for people. For example, as a teacher choosing an instructional strategy, I might ask myself, “What job am I hiring this Design Thinking activity to do for my students?”.

Download a copy of the activity template

Hopefully you’re getting ideas.  Personally, I thought of our programming for our at-risk students (i.e., students who are at risk of being on academic probation). Using this Design Thinking strategy, students could explore a problem (like social networking and  privacy) in a way that not only develops their research skills but also builds their confidence–confidence that they can  make a real difference in the world.

I also thought of our academic-zone.com online programming and asked myself, “What job did we hire academic-zone to do?” . . . for students, for teachers, and for administrators. To our clients: “What job did you hire academic-zone to do?”. To our future clients: “What job would you hire academic-zone to do for you and your students?”.

The question is direct and focuses on outcomes.

Please share your thoughts.

Cheers,
Margaret

3c94c98Margaret Groombridge
Coordinator Learning Skills Instruction
A-Z Learning Services, Brock University

Helping Students Think About and Engage in their Learning

By post-secondary, students often have a “fixed” idea of who they are as learners. Maryellen Weimer’s article in Faculty Focus, “Prompts to Help Students Reflect on How They Approach Learning” explores ways to “motivate students to consider their beliefs about learning”.  She provides a list of prompts to encourage students to reflect on their current strategies and beliefs.

I found Weimer’s prompts useful and use similar ones when working with students individually; however, many students….well, I just don’t see them. Why? Well, we know that struggling students–the ones who really need to see us– are less likely to seek help.

Do you find it even more challenging to engage male students to ask questions or seek support? Research out of Penn State University and University of Akron by Wimer and Levant (2011) explored the relationship between masculinity and help-seeking behaviour (1). They found that males with strong dominance and self-reliance characteristics were less likely to seek help.

Makes sense, but what can we do?

We created out Academic-Zone modules to provide a safe, risk-free way for students to develop their writing and numeracy skills. The online medium seems like a great fit for those self-reliant males. However, we still need to ENGAGE them in the skill development process.

I attended a conference a couple of weeks ago,  Conference on Peer Educators, Nov. 7-9, 2014 at University of South Carolina, by National Resource Center First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.  Ever since the conference, my mind has been spinning. We recruit male and female undergraduate students to deliver our on-campus skills programming, and we’ve been fortunate to always have a mix.

–but I know we can do more….

Please share your challenges, strategies, and thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.

Margaret Groombridge

Image me

Lead Designer, Academic-Zone and Coordinator Skills Instruction, A-Z Learning Services, Brock University

(1) Wimer, D. J., & Levant, R. F. (2011). The relation of masculinity and help-seeking style with the academic help-seeking behavior of college men. Journal Of Men’s Studies, 19 (3), 256-274.

Is it Time to Retire the Binder?

Has the time come to abandon binders and the whole concept of handwritten notes? In a recent post by the Canadian Education Association, one instructor gives his thoughts on this matter. “Let’s Ban the Binder” discusses why we need to move on from the traditional methods of having students copy out notes or keep copies of handouts towards the use of more collaborative learning practices. It touches on how exploring of modern tools and technology should be emphasized, rather than having students simply review notes in preparation for tests.

Do you think it’s time to abandon the traditional methods of teaching and learning? What role might technology play? In your opinion, are there  factors that stand in the way of change? Share your thoughts!

An intriguing quote:
“If we believe that creativity is more important than regurgitation, that inventiveness is of greater value than memorization, that learning is more experiential than observational, then we must engage students in thinking beyond pen, ruler and paper.”

Click here for the full article.

Visit the Canadian Education Association website for more.

Adaptive Learning: Knewton

Adaptive learning is a term that has been thrown around a lot in recent times in the world of education. Whether you are in the classroom, online, or at a conference, the topic of discussion seems to be adaptive learning.

So what exactly is adaptive learning?

Simply put, adaptive learning is a new way of learning that uses computers as interactive teaching devices. With the help of a little math and science, adaptive learning platforms manipulate and tailor educational content in real-time, to personalize learning for students and generate insights for instructors. In other words, students go through exercises and the computer platform adjusts the upcoming content to best meet the needs of the student.

Adaptive learning is looking to solve the issue of “everyone is unique, and everyone learns in a different way”. With adaptive learning the learning becomes individualized and focused; with the end goal being to provide the most effective and efficient way to learn. Technology also plays an important role in adaptive learning and in today’s education in general. Technology allows new ways to approach the learning environment and delivers new, innovative ways to educate. For example, technology enables content to be delivered in a variety of different forms, catering to the varying needs of unique students.

Adaptive learning is very complex and is truly changing the way we educate and learn. Although I have just skimmed the surface of what adaptive learning is, and what it can do, I wanted to take this opportunity to point out one organization that is leading the way with adaptive learning. The company is called Knewton, and they are the worlds leading adaptive learning technology platform. The company is breaking grounds with their outstanding platform. I first heard about Knewton at a Pearson Education conference. They recently partnered with Pearson to provide adaptive learning to their large line-up of MyLab and Mastering educational resources/LMS system. Knewton goes above and beyond with their adaptive learning platform, offering a truly individualized learning experience for every user. More importantly they have the efficacy to back it up. With proven results, the system offers a brand new and innovative way to learn.

For more information on adaptive learning check out  Knewton’s website. There is so much more to discover, so make sure you explore more!

Whats your experience with adaptive learning? Let me know by leaving a comment!