Saturday, February 20, 2016

What Makes Presentations Pop?



The interactive video above was created using Google On Air Hangout HaikuDeck and EdPuzzle. Sometimes achieving an end goal requires "mashing" a number of different technical resources together. This presentation is a continuation of a session which by year's end I will have conducted for my district, at IETC and at the ICE Conference entitled "Presentations That Pop". Feel free to follow the link and explore the full presentation. I thought the interactive video would be a good review for attendees of those sessions and would also provide me with authentic feedback regarding what participants had garnered from the session. While designed specifically for educators, the content in both the presentation and the video would be appropriate for middle and high school students
I mention a number of resources during the presentation including the mindmap tools popplet.commindmeister.com and bubbl.us. Additionally I reference paletton.com
which is a wonderful tool that helps create color schemes for presentations, graphic design and website development. This was my first experience creating interactive video and I believe it has a great deal of potential not only as a way to deliver content; but, also as an extremely effective method of formative assessment.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Constructivism and Multiple Intelligence Reflection

Howard Gardner’s work has been an integral part of numerous educational theories since Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences was published in 1983.  I remember my copy in college being full of annotations and highlights because the idea that human knowledge was more than rote memorization appealed to me.  The concept that we have varying levels of ability in each of Gardner’s intelligence classifications explains the need for differentiated instruction perfectly.  In a recent interview with the Huffington Post he stated that “two major educational implications” of Multiple Intelligences are Individuation and Pluralization.  The first suggests we need to address the needs of each specific learner and the second offers a method of accomplishing that goal by presenting the material in a variety of ways. (Lynch, 2012).


It is not surprising that a visionary like Sir Ken Robinson would address the importance of Multiple Intelligences and encourage educators to recognize the child as a whole instead of forcing  the student to conform to a system which typically values Verbal-Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical modalities that can be assessed through standardized testing.  As educators, it is imperative that we encourage, celebrate and accommodate a child’s strengths instead of labeling them as weaknesses when they do not fit the traditional model of learning.


While my current role as a district technology coordinator does not give me daily access to the classroom, the past decade has afforded me a number of opportunities to offer professional development to teachers throughout our district.  I always have music playing as participants arrive.  I have found this strategy can set the tone for a session, activate the senses and heighten linguistic acuity.  I have begun integrating essential questions and discussions into my presentations to provide opportunity for honing both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.  During a recent half day workshop I used a Google extension called Move It to interrupt the presentation at set intervals with a prompt to perform a certain exercise.   This hopefully triggered a response from the bodily-kinesthetic learner who needed to get up occasionally during a 4 hour workshop!  All of this is done in a subtle way to model different techniques they can use in their classrooms.


When I have the opportunity to work directly with students, I provide a number of resources and let them decide on how to express their knowledge.  One of my favorite projects was co-teaching a 10-week digital storytelling unit with at-risk learners.  As we discussed the various stages of creating a digital story, I shared a number of tools from which to choose, which gave them a great deal of autonomy.  Additionally, the students had to take on roles (e.g., production manager, script supervisor, director of photography, etc) which in retrospect allowed them to utilize, explore and expand on pre-existing intelligences.


While these techniques seem to be effective in a traditional environment, I am uncertain they would work in an online or distance learning scenario.   As the article The Influence of Multiple Intelligence Theory on Web-Based Learning states, “little has been done to study MI in the online classroom.” (Riha, 2009)  It would be feasible to tap a number of Gardner’s intelligences in this scenario; however, even with the advent of media, I imagine it would be challenging to incorporate Spatial-Visual, Bodily-Kinesthetic and Musical intelligences within these environments.  My personal experience with this cohort has made me more aware of my intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences.  I have become more adroit at self-reflection and collaboration thanks to the inspiring posts, discussions and projects.  


The concept of constructivism appears to be an extension of differentiated instruction.  I have always felt we need to return to the Socratic approach wherein the instructor asks questions aimed at inciting dialogue allowing “students to realize for themselves the weakness in their thinking” and construct new ideas based on this knowledge. ("Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning")  The 21st century educational design needs to focus more on sparking creative thought, rather than creating lock step curriculum designed for an Industrial Age.  As Socrates may have once said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” (“Quote Investigator”)


With this in mind, I have found the blog posts from Ewan McIntosh regarding constructivism to be completely engrossing.  The underlying theme seems roughly based on the concept of design thinking which is structured in a way that provides “enough flexibility with enough specificity to ground its ideas in the lives of their intended beneficiaries.” (McIntosh, 2012)  Throughout the posts we see that dialogue, autonomy and facilitation lead to quality innovative work.  I particularly enjoyed the video Designing the Unknown which focuses on C-K theory and demonstrates how an open and Socrative process can allow for pre-existing knowledge to add attributes within a conceptual space and generate many new and innovative ideas.  It seems that constructivism achieves the desired outcome of differentiated instruction without requiring the instructor to provide  a number of approaches to achieve a specific outcome. Instead, wide scale essential and existential questions are asked that help students “know what they didn’t know”. (McIntosh, 2015) allowing for new ideas to develop and evolve.


I believe the concept of constructivism could have major impact on the future of education, provided the institution can get out of it’s own way.  These open and innovative  environments allow the teacher to remove themselves as the “sage on the stage” and instead take on the role of “guide on the side”.  This insures that “collaborative learning is a process of peer interaction that is mediated and structured by the teacher” and generates thinkers as opposed to workers. (“Open Educational Resources of UCD Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin”)  Many of these environments are also often student driven by design.  The challenge then becomes how to evaluate and assess the success of these programs in a standards driven world?  I am hoping to find some of the answers to that question in a session I will be hosting at EdCamp: After Dark  that will explore the idea of a “reThink Thinking and Learning Symposium”.  This is a thought I envisioned while reading Ewan McIntosh’s posts and would be designed and promoted as a day that would bring educators, students, parents and community leaders together for a day of candid discussion about what works and what could be improved upon when it comes to learning.  I cannot wait to see what my colleagues think of this concept!

Lynch, Ed.D. Matthew. "Living Legends: An Interview With Howard Gardner, Part I." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 09 Jan. 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-lynch-edd/howard-gardner_b_1192229.html>.


Riha, Mark, and Rebecca A. Robles-PiƱa. "The Influence of Multiple Intelligence Theory on Web-Based Learning." Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 5.1 (2009). Web. 3 Feb. 2016. <http://jolt.merlot.org/vol5no1/robles-pina_0309.htm>.


"Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning." Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index_sub4.html>.


"Quote Investigator." Quote Investigator. Web. 07 Feb. 2016. <http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/28/mind-fire/>.


McIntosh, Ewan. "Design Thinking 2: Immersion - Don't Give Students a Problem to Solve.." Ewan McIntosh | Design Thinking, Education & Learning. 16 Jan. 2012. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2012/01/design-thinking-2-immersion-dont-give-students-a-problem-to-solve.html>.


McIntosh, Ewan. "Unknown Unknowns. #ungoogleable Thinking for #28daysofwriting." Ewan McIntosh | Design Thinking, Education & Learning. 8 Feb. 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. <http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2015/02/unknown-unknowns-ungoogleable-thinking-for-28daysofwriting.html>.


"Constructivism and Social Constructivism in the Classroom." Open Educational Resources of UCD Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <http://www.ucdoer.ie/index.php/Education_Theory/Constructivism_and_Social_Constructivism_in_the_Classroom>.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Clark / Kozma Media Debate: A Reflection

As I read Richard E. Clark’s original article “Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media”, I kept wondering what his thoughts would have been regarding the printing press which enabled the first mass produced media in the form of print, created greater access to knowledge “and has been implicated in the Reformation, the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.” (Dewar, 1998)  I couldn’t figure out if Clark was a luddite opposed to media itself or simply fearful that we would become reliant on media as a tool for content delivery without instructional design.  His contention that it is “not media but variables such as instructional methods that foster learning” (Clark, 1983) certainly suggest the latter.  
Quite honestly, in the late 20th century these were legitimate concerns.  Educators were attracted to the shiny new object in the room.  I witnessed it first hand as a college student during some of my earliest practical classroom experiences and watched students become attracted to the novelty of media delivered content.  I can certainly understand how Clark would state “media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition.”  (Clark, 1983) However, with 21st century learning, media allows students to effectively drive the truck and as content creators have more say in the intellectual payload that is delivered.  
This new reality changes the way knowledge can be acquired and promotes the dynamic and adaptive nature of medias three aspects which Robert Kozma outlines as technology, symbol systems and processing capabilities. (Kozma, 1994)  Although the article, “The Influence of Media on Learning: The Debate Continues” was written in 1994, it was obvious that Kozma had a vision of learning as “an active, constructive, cognitive, and social process by which the learner strategically manages available cognitive, physical, and social resources to create new knowledge by interacting with information in the environment and integrating it with information stored in memory.” (Kozma, 1994)  In essence, the concept of multimedia as an educational tool is much more than minor statistical correlations as Clark would have us believe.  Rather, through multimedia, “students are likely to find many ways to connect their new learning to their existing representations.” (Kozma, 1994)  Today’s students are not only able to manipulate the aspects of media, they are able to design the aspects of media which provides ownership of learning.
I believe there are two schools of thought in today’s educational landscape which have people convinced that media improves learning.  There is the political component that blanketly puts multimedia devices in the hands of students under the misperception that just by providing digital natives with the proper resources, will automatically improve student test scores.  This is the kind of logic thought that plays directly into Clark’s argument and is doomed to failure.  The divergent and likely more accurate theory is that by providing a student with the tools necessary to engage with and create knowledge changes the very structure of education and gives students ownership of their learning.  This requires establishing an environment fostered by forward thinking educators who are willing to facilitate learning through innovative and opportunistic instruction which encourages creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking.  
Innovation is often met with resistance and it is vital to employ strategies that shift the public mindset.  The best way to demonstrate the impact and success of using media in education is to promote and publicize what great educators are doing with it in the classroom by publishing student work and demonstrating cognitive success.   Media itself allows us to break down the four walls of our schools and interact in ways previously unimaginable with the world around us.  It is truly an amazing time in education and I hope media will continue to play an integral part of our journey through 21st century learning.  


Dewar, JA. "The Information Age and the Printing Press: Looking Backward to See Ahead." The Information Age and the Printing Press: Looking Backward to See Ahead. Rand, 1998. Web. 02 Feb. 2016. <http://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P8014/index2.html>.


Clark, R. E. "Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media." Review of Educational Research 53.4 (1983): 445-59. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.


Schneider, Daniel K. "The Media Debate." - EduTech Wiki. Web. 01 Feb. 2016. <http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/The_media_debate>.

Kozma, Robert B. "The Influence of Media on Learning: The Debate Continues."SLMQ 22.4 (Summer 1994). Web. 1 Feb. 2016. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/edchoice/SLMQ_InfluenceofMediaonLearning_InfoPower.pdf>.
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