Igniting potential in families, learning, and creativity with technology

Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

Listen Conditions

My time with the cadre in Florida was structured but not contrived. I recognize the implicit trust placed in each individual as responsible for his or her own learning as evidenced by the more free form agenda and little if any imposed expectations. Conversation carried a majority of the learning. In conversation each had the opportunity and, potentially because of the relationships we have built, the mutual obligation to truly listen to one another. The environment was more relaxed and comfortable than the initial apprehensions and intensity of cadre camp.

I have always considered role playing a powerful way of learning. Reflection coupled with role playing was a very meaningful, engaging and fun experience.

I felt that I dialed in to one of the major desires of the program which is to facilitate caring relationships that foster trust, sharing and learning. One’s practice is something close to the heart and to allow others to examine and offer suggestions is a challenge. Values and identity are at the core of the MALT program for which I am grateful. A majority of the time was spent building bonds with one another. It is my opinion that people naturally are drawn to one another and desire a sense of connection and belonging and that there is no need to try and force that process to happen. The environment was ideal for the relationships to be strengthened and solidified. I did notice however that there are opportunities to intervene when people are comfortable where they are and are not inclined to stay curious enough to swallow a healthy amount of risk and make more connections.


The Role of Technology in Learning

The design of personal mobile technologies for lifelong learning

Mike Sharples

After establishing learning theories and extrapolating the criteria necessary to support lifelong learning, Sharples observes that technology innovation is rapidly converging on these requirements. The article proposes that conversation is the basis of learning and that technology could potentially either assume the role of one of the actors in the dialogue or it may merely facilitate the conversation. For example, technology may adapt to a learner’s unique style or context by filtering and curating all the available information on a given topic or problem or technology may simply provide a virtual space in which the conversation is conducted.

This article interested me for a variety of reasons the most compelling being the view held that learning happens in conversation. Our design project seeks to continue the conversation by way of pairing young readers with more seasoned adults around the synchronous reading of an online book via a video chat. The technology in this instance serves as a conversation facilitator with rich media and real-time personal nuances.



Optimal Capacity Building: Integrating Brain-Based Learning and Educational Research into Technology-Supported Learning

In searching for a way to facilitate optimal capacity building, this article synthesizes many learning theories. Two salient ideas combine to give focus to the research. The first is Block’s finding around the superior learning one to one human tutoring holds for individuals. The second is Vygotsky’s proposition that scaffolding can assist in approaching the zone of proximal development. The ubiquity of emerging technology is the impetus for many of the statements made in this article. With ubiquity comes the opportunity to use technology as a medium to enhance the entire learning process and not just a single aspect of learning. Technology will assess, augment, adjust, and optimise educational environments to achieve optimal capacity building which is a physical change in the brain.

The brain has always fascinated me and is a main reason for my selection of this article. I find the holistic approach to education and learning very appealing and intriguing. The possibilities of ubiquitous computing seem so limitless it is almost difficult to dream up what what will happen.


Eyes to See

With a more ample attitude toward seeing the needs of others, I have been intrigued by the circumstances surrounding the sharing of fairly personal sentiments.

I had a conversation with a colleague regarding his need for more honest and complete feedback from his boss in the design work he performs. Committed to understanding te situation more clearly I asked what he believed the difference was between this who shared openly their feedback with him and those that appeared to be more reserved. He noted trust or the lack thereof as a main component of that equation. We walked through additional scenarios and questions until he felt like he knew what actions might foster greater trust in the relationship that lacked the feedback he so very much needed.

In my search for the ideal conditions which lead to engagement and participation on Yammer, I have noticed that the more open and sincere sharing invites complimentary information and lively commentary. I have yet to grasp the reasons that motivate these reciprocal responses but believe that trust, safety, openness all lend momentum to our desires to share. Many have looked to me recently for leadership in gathering a group of likeminded individuals together for casual conversation over lunch on a weekly basis. I feel that they are very eager to be together and participate. The norm is to eat lunch alone at your desk. I have noticed though that the much needed meandering in conversation is quelled when one attempts to organize, structure and connect concepts.

Confusing Conversations

Confused chimpWondering why classmates get so bent out of shape when the experience teaches them exactly what is being illustrated. Pure text chat in Sakai was painful. Confusion ensued shortly after we began. The interface was difficult to interpret. Context was lost in one line of text. I thought the experience (intentional or otherwise) clearly demonstrated the critical role social presence plays in technology mediated interactions. The higher the fidelity the better.

[Aside] I was stuck on the bus home when class began. Luckily I had recently purchased an iSpot (mobile 4G hotspot) from http://clear.com. I was weaving my way through three cities while class was happening. Location really is a funny thing these days when we are constantly on the go. Tethering up with technology to be anywhere in the world is an impressive ability. I was also struck how seamless our design team collaborated across continents (North America and Eastern Europe) on our tools audition!

Feather Tread (not bed!)

Last night, as I was wrapping up a family birthday dinner I began my journey into a new semiotic domain!! (How’s that for a big confusing term? I am currently reading a fascinating book by James Paul Gee on what video games can teach us about learning. He uses this term often.)

A simple question sparked it all. My brother asked me what year my Camry was. I said it was a 2006 but also mentioned that the noise in the cabin had become so loud that it was almost unbearable to drive on the freeway. He immediately looked at the front passenger tire, rubbed his hand over it, and instantly told me what my problem was. My tires were slightly angled and were wearing unevenly. I wanted to understand what he knew and so I had him point out to me how he could identify the uneven wear on the tires.

He mentioned a term I was not familiar with (at least in this context), feathering. Rubbing the tire one way was smooth but reversing the direction produced a rough, segmented feel. It took a few tries and some specific pointers before I really clued in to what he labeled the feathering of the tread. I was grateful he took the time to answer my follow up questions.

There was a progression to the level of proficiency I gained. I started with the mainfestation of the problem, the feathering of the tread on the front tires, and moved to the conclusion that my alignment was off and causing the feathering. Had I learned this information outside of this context I doubt I would have paid much attention. I now had embodied, actionable experience and knowledge. I believe I reached the active learning level but had not breached the critical learning level.

Identity Transfer vs. Identity Growth

I’m not so sure that my tweet about gamers being able to make quicker decisions with the same accuracy as non-gamers will be true today after playing studying WoW until 1am. That silly level up experience bar somehow coaxes me to top it off before exiting the game.

David, Julie and I explored some additional features of the game together. One that I am still a little unclear on is the class training. I have noticed that I am becoming more familiar with the flow of the game (resting after engaging enemies, using items to recover health / mana, sitting). David pointed out to me that the location of the heath (sp?) stone can be moved depending on where a majority of your activity is.

With the thoughts of Dewey’s theories in mind, I recognize that to thrive in the game you have to become proficient in the lingo, symbols and principles that govern the community. Buffs, for example, are not called by that exact phrase in the game yet were understood readily among the community. Without the guidance from more seasoned players, the lessons and knowledge seem to come slowly through the school of hard knocks (if it comes at all!). After spending a little time with those who know their way around (in every sense of the phrase) you begin to see the objectives in the same light as the mature generation. It was also interesting to see that those who invest in bringing others up in levels are benefited by having more capable allies and the (small) insentive to party together for bonus experience. That’s interesting to see how Blizzard weaves this in to the gameplay.

My brother offered me his WoW account but I declined in order to get the full experience for myself. I would have looked pretty silly playing a level 80 character with no foundational grasp on the game itself. As well intentioned as my brother was, he did not see that his “experience” could not be conferred or transferred, only cultivated and curated for others.

I am so amazed by the complexity and sheer breadth and depth of this “world” in which lives and learning play out. What an interesting model to observe and investigate when pondering concepts of learning.

Circle of Learning Consultants

The thought that each person in my circle may act as a learning consultant framed my experience well last night. As I shared the challenges I was facing in cultivating the internal SmartBuilder community online, experiences and sincere questions emerged for me to consider from my four cadre mates.

Learning for me has almost always come after I have put myself out there, extending hooks for others to connect to. This is no different in the learning circle. Without volunteering pain points and fairly personal information the response I get is less than ideal. The more focused and specific I can be the better prepared and enabled I make my learning consultants.

Reflecting on the thoughts generated from our short time together, my “online” problem reverted back to solutions around face-to-face time spent together with the community. Will more frequent face-to-face interaction stimulate online activity?

I also see the learning circle as a time to truly concern yourself with the genuine problems and challenges of others. We lift burdens and overcome obstacles together. This morning I am pondering how my experience with religious endeavors online might benefit Sister Maria in her efforts to ensure that the communication and experience is spiritual.

I was also pleasantly surprised to hear that we, even this early on in the program, understood well the guiding principles of action research.

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