Digital Legos as Learning: Collaboratively Building Transparent Learning Experiences
Julia Romberger, email@example.com
Shelley Rodrigo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Activity: Warm Up
- Complete this survey: http://bit.ly/improveS14
- Go to the survey results and help your colleagues out: http://bit.ly/resultsS14
Activity: Visualize how people learn.
The Solution: http://bit.ly/engl894s14
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
- Defining: low-/medium-stakes activity to learn content, shared/interacted with entire class
“Transparency. I found it humbling, but in humility I found strength and courage to be open and vulnerable. The results were powerful and meaningful.”
- flipped classroom (in various literature also called first-exposure learning in Walvoord and Anderson, 1998; inverted classroom in Lage, Platt, and Treglia 2000) - Functionally, any lecture or content driven material is encountered by the students prior to the classroom time. Classroom time itself is focused on application, activities, and discussion. This allows instructors to more effectively gauge student’s understanding and guide them through applying the content to various projects.
- generative learning - Based in cognitive psychology, generative learning focuses on encouraging students through various methods to make connections between concepts. Such activities emphasize relationships.
- neurological & cognitive processes - Distributed cognition understands that cognition does not only in the biological brain. Humans are capable of interacting with and manipulating the materials of their environment to extend out their cognitive processes and the capacity of their minds. This includes utilization of computers, writing, and responding to the feedback of environments such as that in sailing. Multisensory learning claims that there are four fundamental learning styles - auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile. A blended learning process allows students who favor one style over the other more opportunities to comprehend and apply content.
- “I really enjoyed the collaborative google docs where we applied the ecology and neurobiology theories and, as a group, identified and talked through gaps. These activities, to me, highlighted the affordances and constraints of the theories more explicitly and allowed us to talk through those.”
- “I struggled with the CHAT chronotypes, and the Lego activity at first as well, but it ended up being really helpful to see people's representations of that. I definitely came out of that activity with a stronger theoretical understanding.”
- “Social network analysis was invaluable to me because I felt proud of myself for understanding, and I also felt like I could finally demonstrate connectivity in concrete ways. Most important was collaborative work. Even when uncomfortable, collaborating always benefitted me and my understanding if the material. Collaboration feels like operationalizing what I'm learning about discourse and composing methods.”
- “Doing the Scott Network analysis was helpful. I also found the application of ecologies to a learning space helpful [week 10]. Scott was useful to see the process and really get head around how it works and what it is showing. Ecologies was useful to apply theory to an OOS and to think about composition and pedagogy.”
- post class: reflective mindmaps: “It forced connections, painful but useful and ultimately meaningful.”
- NOTES: The amount of time it takes to be thorough. With some weeks having over a hundred pages of reading, it is difficult to encompass all the important things in the notes without writing the equivalent of a four page paper every week. Sometimes the visual format options get added superfluously just to be "visual" for the sake of being visual. Maybe that is more about me finding more relevant visuals, but it feels sometimes like just grabbing whatever content to meet the requirement. Mostly the notes are just a major task each week above the task of actually reading. Sometimes it feels like notes have to be done twice - once in the margins and in my notebook (old habits are hard to break) while reading then again for the blog.
- MINDMAP: Lack of directionality among nodal connections. I often wanted to demonstrate nuanced connectivity, but Popplet limited connections as "on/off." Popplet was cool but frustrating; embedding via Flash is old school and buggy.
- TRANSPARENT: I have a hard time with peer review. I am cautious about giving constructive criticism. I have never met anyone in person, and sometimes the way things are written in text do not convey the right tone. I stress about how each word could potentially be interpreted and have to craft carefully worded responses. I don't want to offend anyone or anything like that, so I wish it was more in real time. Like if I had the opportunity to ask questions and get answers rather than leave typed feedback, I would have liked that.
- TRANSPARENT: It was hard for me to get used to the fact that the blog is public on the web. I did not want to have to think so hard about curating as I did homework.
- Creativity required foreknowledge of technologies (Blogs, Popplet, Google Drive-docs, spreadsheets, forms, folders, drawing, Build with Chrome, bit.ly, cameras/smartphones, etc.)
- Account for Learning Curve
- repeat activities
- backchannel (Facebook)
- Google Drive Activities/Examples
- public vs. select
- view, comment, edit
- sharing course materials (scanned readings)
- work submission
Closing Activity: Pick one of the activities and/or technologies we did/shared, discuss how/why might work in one of your classes.
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:
- Describe and analyze different elements of “networks” as defined in different theories; including (but not limited to): node, connection, agency, circumscription, etc.
- Understand the value of visualizations for conceptualization processes.
- To understand the major question “why theory?”
- To articulate the value and limitations of the lenses particular theories provide.
- To articulate a theoretical framework for describing a methodology.
- All projects and assignments were designed to meet these outcomes.