Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cyberlearning Science Key Take Aways

I was at a conference two weeks ago  on science and cyberlearning. Both the science of learning and how best to learn science were the topics.  I was warned prior to attending that the conference was probable not for me.  It's "very cutting edge" and focused on "what really matters."

As a company that's very interested in meaningful products, I was a little insulted by those comments.  However, I now realize what it means. These discussions try to look beyond the reality of today's budgets, testing cycles, teacher and school capabilities and so on. Their target is the 5-15 years out and assumes away any real questions of commercial viability, teacher capability, training needs, or the other issues about taking anything to scale.

Cyberlearning Science Key Take Aways 

1.        There’s a lot out there in the 5-15 year range which could/should go mainstream in education. In terms of understanding our own positioning, we’re very much pushing todays world forward, not reinventing.  This means, the future is now. We don’t have years and years to establish ourselves. We need to win now and be ready to shift quickly in the future.

2.       Ipad Ipad Ipad. Key visual was two kids in strollers with ipads. After a minute, one kid is captioned as “this one can’t really talk yet.”   Then the other is captioned. “this one can’t talk, can’t walk, and is wearing diapers.”  Then their apps are shown: they’re both playing learning games!

3.       Games. Gamefy! Games so students explore how things work trying to achieve/survive.  Games also at the LMS level so that they’re motivated to progress through lessons.  Social games for involvement.  Games with rewards for motivation. Learning as a puzzle with trial and error made acceptable (unlike in social classroom situations). Games that make challenges stimulating.

4.       People learn through experiences. Very few learn well from textbooks and lectures.  There wasn’t much discussion about the segment that does learn well from textbooks and lectures. I learned a lot from lectures though the years. I doubt I'm the only one but we weren't the target of this group.

5.       Collaboration and social aspects. Constructivist learning.  Groups and people matter. Students discovering knowledge. This was not an explicit instruction crowd at all. 

6.       Diversity of learning. Different speeds etc are the rule. There is no average student.  On average, men wear size 9 shoes, how is going with size 9 shoes for everyone going to work out?  I’d like to reconcile this with the learning styles publicity where the initial conception of it was discredited as a concept.

7.       Kinesthetic learning and learning experiences are a holy grail. Many exotic technologies and clever approaches to experiences.  Create earthquakes with subwoofers and 4 computers recording the event from their spot. Do top down projections on the floor to create an amazing immersive environment.  To me, one striking simple truth that was cited but not pursued is that when kids explain something, they learn it.  BTW, applying this simple truth doesn’t require technology or investment, just classroom management and making kids responsible for their and others grades!

8.       Researchers, please collaborate! NSF is worried about islands of innovation and baffling array of unconnected lessons and approaches going to market instead of a unified progressive technology science curriculum. 

Lastly, I remain more committed than ever to the importance of Science4Us' capability to transform primary science education.  But that the vision and view must continue to expand to include a nice link to hands-on activities and to new technologies and techniques for community and involvement. In short, it'll take a lot of money. It's time for me to realize that this needs major foundation support and that my hope of self-funding this all the way is not the optimal plan.  Sigh.   

Thanks to Time4Learning science education (first grade science, second grade science) and VSC's science vocabulary (kindergarten science words, first grade science words, and second grade science vocabulary words) for helping me starting to look at this area. I'm thinking of signing up to take a science methods class as the local university. Of course, my professor would ironically also be one of my employees.  Does that sound like a good idea?