Digital Legos as Learning: Collaboratively Building Transparent Learning Experiences

Julia Romberger, jromberg@odu.edu 

Shelley Rodrigo, rrodrigo@odu.edu

http://bit.ly/LegosS14 

Activity: Warm Up

  1. Complete this survey: http://bit.ly/improveS14 
  2. Go to the survey results and help your colleagues out: http://bit.ly/resultsS14 

The Problem…

Activity: Visualize how people learn.

The Solution: http://bit.ly/engl894s14   

Course Outcomes:

1. Describe and analyze different elements of “networks” as defined in different theories; including (but not limited to): node, connection, agency, circumscription, etc.

2. Understand the value of visualizations for conceptualization processes.

3. To understand the major question “why theory?”

4. To articulate the value and limitations of the lenses particular theories provide.

5. To articulate a theoretical framework for describing a methodology.

All projects and assignments were designed to meet these outcomes.

Transparent Learning Experiences

Drawbacks

Technologies

Closing Activity: Pick one of the activities and/or technologies we did/shared, discuss how/why might work in one of your classes.


Session Proposal

Instructors want their classes to demonstrate the complex levels of learning that usually rank higher on Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Learning Domain (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956); faculty, especially professors working with graduate students, are explicitly interested in learning that demonstrates analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Faculty know that getting students to learn, and then demonstrate their learning, can at times be challenging.

Since the publishing of Barr and Tagg’s article in Change in the mid 1990s, there has been a shift in research away from how instructors teach to how students learn. This presentation shares pedagogical methods two faculty used to help doctoral students learn to understand the limits and possibilities of a given theory, apply said theory, and evaluate how/why the theory works and/or needs to be supplemented with other theories/explanations. The pedagogy draws from generative learning theories that emphasize knowledge generation, meaning making, and self-regulation (Lee, Lim, & Grabowski, 2007). Generative strategies (Wittrock, 1989) are an instructional strategy that requires learners to actively make connections with the content.

Instead of traditional graduate seminar Socratic Dialogues and Research Papers, we developed a course that asked students to “play” with the content from the time they started reading it (digital reading notes), before discussing it in class (various interactive activities), and by concluding each week with course wide summative connections (course mindmap). Specifically, we developed more lower-stakes opportunities for students to make personal connections with the complex content.  Lack of stress (Medina, 2008), coupled with positive, even fun (Zull, 2002), learning activities that engage all of the senses (Medina, 2008; & Zull, 2002) are more likely to facilitate learning.

We recognized in the graduate program a need to engage more fully with various theories applied in the field. We built a class complete with activities and outcomes that encouraged evaluation of theory and productive play, a form of polished invention activities, that both allowed students to build resources they could return to after the course ended in order to inform further scholarly work and gave them space to apply a variety of learning styles including visual, logical, physical, and linguistic. The outcomes of this course included developing the ability to:

  1. Describe and analyze different elements of “networks” as defined in different theories; including (but not limited to): node, connection, agency, circumscription, etc.
  2. Understand the value of visualizations for conceptualization processes.
  3. To understand the major question “why theory?”
  4. To articulate the value and limitations of the lenses particular theories provide.
  5. To articulate a theoretical framework for describing a methodology.
  6. All projects and assignments were designed to meet these outcomes.