This is Real Learning!

Over the last few weeks I’ve observed a few examples of teaching which I was really impressed by. I wanted to share them to amplify their examples.

Me at Work. Photo Credit: Class 3 of St. Mary's, Horsforth.

Me at Work. Photo Credit: Class 3 of St. Mary’s, Horsforth.

The first one I saw while at work a few weeks back. Since finishing my undergraduate degree in June, I have been working behind the delicatessen counter of a local supermarket. A local man (a web developer by trade) came through the store with a group of young primary school students, all armed with cameras. He told me they were doing a project about the different people who work or shop on ‘Town Street’. They asked me if they could take a picture of me doing my job.

It turned out that they were making a website. Having been inspired by the work of Vivian Maier, (a Chicago street photographer whose portfolio was not discovered until after her death) they wanted to create a street portfolio of Horsforth.

This is a great learning opportunity. It is a chance for students to gain an appreciation for history, and walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before them. It is also an opportunity to have a go at disseminating digital photography via the web – the modern application of what we draw from the history books. It benefits from intrinsic motivation and empowers students to create, not duplicate.

Source: North Leeds Life

Source: North Leeds Life

The second one I read about today in a local magazine. Year 8 students (aged 12-13 years) were asked to bring their phones to school, which they used to measure the mobile phone reception around the school site. They used computers then to map out their findings and consider reasons that may have accounted for the differences they found.

This is a great way to apply classroom teaching to the real world. It answers the question students so often ask: ‘why are we learning this’? Instead of learning a lot of stuff (the what), or how something works, these students become empowered to find out why things are as they are. They have autonomy and purpose, and a sense of real world problem solving.

I am impressed with both of these examples, because they both create meaningful stimulating activities which motivate the students. One way brings history alive, and it presents students with a lot more than just a pile of information. The other empowers the students in a problem solving role, and links mathematical/scientific concepts to the real world. This is the type of learning that will remain planted in their memories. It is the type of learning that will motivate them to study, and take charge of their lives. This, is real learning.

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#Lecture2013

Die Powerpoint!

Die Powerpoint!

I just did a quick literature search on Google scholar for the word ‘twitter’. It seem that this medium is a relatively unexplored area in the realms of psychology. Tap in ‘twitter education’ and you get plenty about education, but nothing about twitter. One researcher has worked out that twitter gives foreign people an opportunity to practise genuine English conversation, but that was about as interesting as it got.

My project supervisor has mentioned once or twice the idea that an entire lecture slide could be fit into one tweet. The field of cognitive psychology teaches us that the semantic (meaning based) level of learning is by far the best way to learn something, if you actually want to remember it, and so the process of analysis and condensing that information down into such a small string will surely help somebody.

But we don’t merely learn from the type of rehearsal that is merely the robotic re-reading or repetition of someone else’s notes. In short, the person who should be tweeting, is YOU!

Picture a lecture where parallel to the slides (or better still, instead of the slides) is a tweet board. Student’s are invited to bring their iPads, Androids or Windowses and tweet back their semantic interpretation of what is being taught. Picture a lecture who examines the tweets during the break, and uses them to stimulate a discussion during the second half of the lecture.

Picture a class being given a hash tag on the morning of the exam, where they can tweet to each other their revision, so they are effectively teaching one another the content, and comparing their understanding with one another. Picture them asking their questions, and answering each others questions, literally quizzing each other.

The equipment is set up now, the costs for such a thing are nothing. I’m not a teacher yet, but I would be very excited to see this in motion one day.

Have a read of the link below too, I read this a few years back and thought nothing of it. But it is an example of it already having been done during a Latter-day Saint general conference a few years back.

http://tech.lds.org/blog/15-twitter-and-lds-general-conference

Was It Freud Wiki article detailing some of the evidence for these ideas