Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Mindset, and Technology

17 Oct

This summer, I read Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave for a course assignment. If you’re not familiar with it, see this YouTube video of a professor’s lecture and animation:

Plato’s allegory reminded me of the chains we place on ourselves as adult learners.  Ever since I graduated from college, I have encountered adults who profess the age-old idiom: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  As an educator, I confronted this in the Peace Corps when working with artisans, in college when teaching languages, and even within my own family dealing with challenging tasks.

I exclude my mother and myself from this.  She never allowed anything to keep her from learning something new.  She instilled in me the gumption to apply myself to any task, no matter how difficult it may appear to be.  From experience, I can assert that I have been successful at learning various difficult things as an adult.  For example, I learned to speak Portuguese at age 30, Latin dance at age 40, and speed read at age 50.  Of course, this list is only cursory.  I share my successes with my students to let them know that learning can occur at any time in your life.

The fable is related to learning theory and technology in many ways.  First, as instructional designers, we must keep ourselves informed of the latest research on multimedia practices.  Otherwise, we’ll become slaves to our own (or others) beliefs.  I have a growth mindset.  I want to know what the research indicates as an effective practice and then immediately start to apply it.  Of course, I have my hunches or intuition about how things should be presented.  However, I’m open to learning new ways to bring about improved learning outcomes.

Second, we will face opposition and disbelief in our practices and informed knowledge when we enter the workforce as novice instructional designers with our advanced degrees.  Naysayers of scientific findings will state that a certain empirically based practice will not work at their institution.  They may even state that they’ve tried it before with no improvement.  We’ll need to build a good reputation and gain buy-in from others in regards to introducing new ideas.  Otherwise, we may fall prey to Groupthink.

Here’s a PDF of the play: http://classicalastrologer.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/plato-allegory-of-the-cave.pdf

15% TPT Sale on Halloween Themed Educational Products

11 Oct
Girl dressed for Halloween going trick-or-treating

Happy Halloween!

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my TPT store. This weekend and Columbus Day, I’m having a sale on all of my Halloween inspired educational products.  Check them out! When you purchase these you gain access to the download and can start using them right away.

Elementary Halloween Song in Spanish with images and lyrics on a PowerPoint;  complete song on my YouTube channel. See link for details.

K-3 Halloween Literacy Center Games with directions, rules, and printable game pieces. Won’t you be my first buyer?  This is an awesome product that hasn’t sold yet. Buyers rely on product feedback, so make sure you leave some.

Middle School (MS) poetry study: 3 sets of questions and answers for 3 spooky poems of Edgar Allan Poe, available in English and Spanish; aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Product provides links to poetry.

MS novelette study: questions and answers for R. L. Stevensons’ Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, aligned with CCSS and also available in English and Spanish. If you don’t have this novel, download a free eBook and podcast from The Gutenberg Project! See product info.

MS short story study: questions and answers for Henry Jame’s A Problem. This is aligned with CCSS and also available in English and Spanish.  A link to the story is provided with the product.

I also have Q&A for Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight in English and Spanish.

The MS literature products are also sold in a bundles in English and Spanish, which are on sale this weekend.  If you’re not a member of TPT, you can create an account for free.  This allows you to access the thousands of freebies available from millions of teachers on the site.

Sandra Rogers,

Teacherrogers Store

TeachersPayTeachers.com (TPT)

My Presentation Schedule at AACE World e-Learn Conference

3 Oct

I’m very excited to be going to the AACE conference for the first time. AACE stands for the Association for Advancement of Computing in Education.  They’re hosting the World e-Learn conference in New Orleans, LA at the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street!  Here’s my presentation schedule:

October 28th at 10:00-11:00: How to Make Your Online Course Accessible, a roundtable on how to meet ADA requirements will take place in the Gallery along with many other roundtable conversations in the same room.

October 28th at 11:55-12:15: Trace Effects Logic Model, a brief paper on an informal program theory evaluation in Salon 828. I’ll also be serving as the presider over the other sessions until 1:00 p.m. in this room.

October 28th at 1:30-1:50: Effective Online Communication in Higher Education, research findings and their practical applications in the Grand Ballroom E.

October 29th at 3:05-3:25: Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORGs) for Second Language Acquisition, a brief paper on my literature review findings in the Edgewood room.

I hope to see you there! I’ll be volunteering at the registration desk on Monday from 1-5 p.m. and Thursday from 7:30-11:30 a.m. Come by to say hello! I’ll be tweeting about the conference @teacherrogers with the hastag #elearn. Afterward, I’ll create a Padlet virtual wall with all of my presentations, photos, and tidbits I learn at the conference.

Sandra Rogers

P.S. This was my 100th blog post!

Photo of Sandra Annette Rogers

How to Make Your Online Course More Accessible

25 Sep

My Google Drive Blog Posts

20 Sep

This week, I was asked to share my knowledge on Google Drive with colleagues at work.  I figured it was time to resurrect a couple of useful blog posts! Here’s my collection on the various educational uses of Google Drive apps.

1. Basic Tech Tools: Google Drive,  Maps, Google+, and Translations (blog)

2. Create a Google Site from a Gmail Account (video)

3.  I Love Google Scholar Alerts! (blog)

4. What are Google Drawings? (infographic)

I’m currently checking out the beta version of Google Classroom. I’ll let you know what I think in a future blog post.

Sandra Rogers

Face-to-Face to Online Course Development Checklist

7 Sep

 

I created this list for instructional designers working with faculty in higher education who are moving their courses online for the first time.  This is not a comprehensive list but rather a checklist for talking points.  I hope you find it helpful!

  • Will the course shell be shared with others in your department?
  • What are the course learning goals and objectives (review syllabus, lecture notes, and assignments)? What are the objectives for each unit?
  • What do you want your students to achieve through online activities and interactions?  (Discuss reuse/redesign of existing activities like a pen-and-paper vocabulary log to an electronic glossary/flashcards.)
  • What is your ability to develop multimedia presentations? Discuss training and helpful resources.
  • How familiar are you with the online learning management system? Discuss training and helpful resources.
  • Share sources of support for pedagogical assistance for faculty.
  • Share sources of online technological and academic support for students (e.g., Smarthinking, TurnitIn, Orientation Course, LMS 24/7 Support Desk, Blog Tips, or job aids)
  • What are the departmental timelines, constraints, testing requirements, and online resources?
  • Share samples of monitoring tools: weekly activity checklists for students and teachers, tracking sheet for teacher’s response to students in forums, and LMS site statistics and test item analysis.
  • Share sample rubrics for collaborative projects, forums, and individual assignments, as well as resources for creating rubrics (e.g. Rubistar).
  • Share copy of Netiquette, sample rubric for forums, and effective set-up of threaded discussion to engender a community of inquiry.
  • Share your university’s  accessibility guidelines for e-learning.
  • Invite faculty to view your model course as a student (teacher-as-learner role).
  • Share sample semestrial course checklist for design/redesign.

 

Sandra Rogers,

Instructional Designer

My Personal Learning Theory

30 Aug

Learning is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, abilities, as well the acculturation of values, attitudes, and emotional reactions (mindset). Learning is determined from the following observations: completion of a new behavior/task, change in frequency/speed/intensity to said task, changing the complexity of a task, and responding differently to particular stimulus. Moreover, learning can be inferred from certain situations like avoidance of risky or unpleasant behaviors.

Learning is impacted by prior knowledge (and misunderstandings), a learners’ belief system, and environmental barriers. Environmental barriers include economic, physical, political, linguistic, ethno-cultural, and social ones. For example, societal barriers include gender bias.

According to Pinker’s debate at the Harvard Mind, Brain, Behavior series, there’s a great deal of parental discrimination in raising and reporting on sons versus daughters’ individual differences in math and science. She suggested that this produces a pattern of discrimination in favor of sons. For example, parents of children in the 6th or 8th grade thought that their sons were better at math and science than parents of daughters of the same age. Subsequently, females may lose interest or be discouraged due to lack of encouragement. Of note, male and female students at that age both reported liking math. Fortunately, teachers of that same age group reported no gender biases.

My personal learning theory is a myriad of best practices supported by human learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. (I actually place constructivism within the cognitivist umbrella term.) I adhere for the need to show measurable outcomes which is rooted in behaviorism; an example would be the utilization of measurable objectives. Moreover, I acknowledge the use of positive reinforcement to enhance learning. As for cognitive theory, I adhere to cognitivists’ self-regulated learning. For example, I’m a constant learner who reflects on my own understanding of a topic or methodology and seeks ongoing education.

From constructivism, I utilize Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory to address misconceptions. For instance, I coined a term called, “smart mistakes”. These types of errors are often based on preconceived rules, such as the application of false cognates to a second language. In this situation, the learning is drawing from their first language, which is part of their socio-cultural background.

Interrelated Processes: Problem-solving, Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking

23 Aug

 Do you think that problem solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking are synonymous?

In order to solve problems effectively and efficiently, you need to use creative thinking and critical thinking.  Jonassen (2000) created a typology of problem solving.  He identified 11 types of problems: logical problems, algorithms, story problems, rule using problems, decision-making, trouble-shooting, diagnoses solution, strategic performance, case analysis, designs, and dilemmas.  He described each type of problem’s resolution process.  For example, if a problem presents limited variables that can be controlled through manipulation, then an analyst would know that they have a logical problem by referring to Jonassen’s typology chart.  Logical problems are “discovered” in Jonassen’s description of its structuredness, where discovered refers to solutions drawn from logic.  Determining the logic model is a type of critical thinking process.  Problem solving depends on the type of problem and its structuredness, context, inputs, abstractness, and activities (Jonassen, 2004).  Therefore, critically analyze the type of problem and its structuredness.

The overarching strategy for problem analysis involves the steadfast engagement of critical thinking processes.  Using a systematic process assists you with adequately thinking though the complexity and multifarious components of problem solving.  Some instructional design approaches ask questions in a stepwise process to analyze problems.  For example, Harless’ (1974) first question in the process of front-end analysis asks: “Do we have a problem?”  Learners must use critical thinking to avoid making assumptions about a situation.  Is it a problem or an opportunity?  Dick, Carey, and Carey (2009) suggested that novice instructional designers develop their critical thinking skills to become effective performance analysts.  They urged analysts to be open-minded and view problems from multiple perspectives.  Critical thinking processes include synthesis of a problem statement, front-end analysis (FEA), triangulation of data collection, root cause analysis, active listening, system-wide checks and balances, and reflective thinking.  For example, thinking critically will help you avoid various FEA pitfalls such as Groupthink.

Addressing a problem strategically takes some creative thinking.  For example, there are timesaving strategies and models for problem analysis such as Jonassen’s idea of keeping a fault database.  When I read about this, I thought of how simple, yet, creative this strategy was.  Have you heard of Toyoda’s Why Tree? It’s a creative and simple technique for getting to the root cause of a problem.  He first used the method in the Toyota manufacturing process in 1958.  It consists of 5 why-questions that represent deeper levels of understanding the problem.  For each answer, you ask why until you uncover the true root cause.  Responses are mapped out according to different leads/reasons.  There are 3 benefits to using this process.  First, the different branches/reasons that stem from a problem statement can lead to more than one root cause and various interventions.  Second, it creates a mental map for synthesis of a presenting problem.  Third, it will aid novice analysts in digging deeper to uncover the real root causes and avoid superficial conclusions.  This creative process utilizes deductive reasoning, which is a type of critical thinking.  Therefore, critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving are interrelated processes but not interchangeable terms.

3 Tips for Educators Transitioning from F2F to Blended Format

16 Aug

 

In my opinion, the blended format offers the best learning situation. It’s like a web-enhanced course on steroids. You’ll get to meet with the students in person, share all types of great resources online, and continue discussions online instead of having the conversation end when the face-to-face class ends. The three most important things I’d tell faculty transitioning from regular face-to-face classes (F2F) to that of a blended format are as follows:
1. Establish a clear schedule that explicitly outlines the activities to be conducted according to your blended format.
2. Revisit each of your F2F lessons and assignments to decide which ones are compatible for the online format and adapt them accordingly.
3. Apply many of the same basic principles for engendering a community of inquiry in your F2F to that of the blended format.

Blended format schedule. It’s imperative to state which activities will happen in the F2f class and asynchronously online; otherwise, students will become confused and miss F2F class meetings other activities. Educators should provide students a paper schedule and also add the important dates to the online course calendar. Additionally, special reminders can be shared via the online course announcements tool. This schedule should also be appended to the course syllabus. I suggest placing the dates of the F2F class meetings in the heading of the syllabus instead of buried within the other information.

Adaptation of lessons. Review all of your lessons with a new lens for the blended format. Make a t-chart of which lessons are suitable for the F2F and online learning environments. Then build a new schedule. It will serve as a nice outline for the course. You may have to modify, add, or remove existing activities and lessons to adequately fit the blended format. For example, I like to conduct a mock and formal debate. In the past, I taught the reading course in a Web-enhanced format. In designing my project for the blended format, I realized that I could conduct the mock debate via the Sakai Meetings tool and keep the formal debate F2F. Lastly, make sure you edit all your existing assignments tied to lessons to reflect the updates.

Community of inquiry. A community of inquiry (COI) exists when you have social presence, cognitive presence, and teacher presence. Some educators believe that the COI can only occur in F2F formats. Actually, when teachers encourage students to share ideas and their work, this provides for social presence online and F2F. Second, try to bring the same great F2F conversations to the online forums for discussion. This requires a lot of forethought before you post your question and related articles. This can engender cognitive presence if it provides challenging questions and promotes student-student interactions. Lastly, teachers need to be actively engaged in the discussions online in the same way that they lead, moderated, or guided the F2F ones. This provides teacher presence. Just as you would give timely feedback on assignments as a F2F best practice, this also adds teacher presence. In summary, the three main things to keep in mind for transitioning content from a F2F course to a blended format is to be hyper-vigilant of the lesson scheduling, adaptation of activities, and maintenance of the COI.

Why I Think Non-violent Video Games Are a Valuable Learning Domain

14 Jul
Students wearing decorated boxes on their heads and hip to  look like characters from the Minecraft video game

Students in Minecraft Costumes at FIRST Robotics Competition

Gee’s (2007) description of semiotic domains reminds me of what my language peers refer to as multiple literacies; that’s the literacy required to perform a task beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Semiotic domain refers to the ability to detect the signs, symbols, merit, value, and language of a particular activity in order to function properly within it. For example, children who play video games are learning the semiotic domain of that particular game environment.  If they’re playing Minecraft, then they’ll learn to appreciate their physical surroundings, system alerts, personal alliances, and any help section embedded within the game.  In essence, the game’s affordances, and their role within it, become the semiotic domain that must be learned in order for the learner to be successful.

I don’t think that children should play violent video games for these same reasons.  Even though the Supreme Court declared no age-limit to graphically violent video games in 2011 (due to the lack of evidence in inciting violence among young players), I believe the semiotic domain of those violent actions become imprinted on the child.  Due to the potentially harmful activity, scientists cannot properly study this phenomenon.

Gee stated that video gaming offers important semiotic domains which include active problem-solving, critical thinking, and unique language functions (“design grammar”) in-world as an avatar and in real life as a gamer playing the game.  Additionally, the learner discovers how they would react in new situations; they can replay the situation to manipulate outcomes.  In this way, the learner is able to make corrective actions on their own or through resets by termination. We seldom get the opportunity to manipulate our outcomes in real life. These are a few of the reasons why I think that nonviolent gaming is a valuable learning domain.

When I taught preschool at the University of California’s laboratory elementary school, I encountered parents who disliked my use of the series called Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos. It’s a story about an undisciplined cat that always gets into trouble.  I thought the book would make a nice counter match with the popular Clifford the Big Red Dog series by Norman Bridwell. Clifford causes trouble not because he’s undisciplined but rather because of his large size.  Hence, he was not really ever in trouble for misbehaving.  I liked how Rotten Ralph showed that even if you act badly, your family will still love you and want you around. Children need to know that there’s room for error in their development of knowledge about the world around them.  In a sense, gaming can provide that error-safe environment—a world of resets.

Children should participate fully in semiotic domains to produce virtual objects, create alliances, and develop new meanings.  In Minecraft, they can create Lego-like structures for their alliances (guilds) and learn to survive various physical threats to self and environmental threats to their structure(s). This affords the child the feeling of accomplishment. Children still learn about life and death but not in a graphically violent way. Play is beneficial for humans’ assimilation and accommodation throughout life.  Piaget first posited this in his theory of cognitive development in the 1950s, which stated that play and imitation are essential human strategies.  Nowadays, there’s little time during the school day for play. There is, however,  an emphasis in computer literacy and developing critical thinking.  Perhaps gaming could meet that demand and allow for playtime, too.

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“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled.― Paulo Freire

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