Merriam-Webster’s Ask the Editor video collection is a very useful resource to help you with your writing. Please watch these clips and teach them to your students as well.
Eric Mazur: “I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students’ performance significantly.” Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the largest research groups in the Physics Department at Harvard University.
After a HUGE reply to our post on Your Teaching Story - we’ve extended the deadline for YOUR story. Get in your story by March 3rd, 2013!
What would you write in your memoir about your teaching career? Can you sum up your teaching career in six words or less?
ThinkTechEd would like to…
The rave of the moment, new name for Online education. This is the Internet’s contribution to allow students learn from anywhere, at anytime without geographical boundaries. Listen to this broadcast from Canada’s CBC Radio on MOOCs.
As educators struggle to motivate more students to take up technology-related majors, breakout online education startup, Khan Academy, has a novel approach. ”Computer Science is an intensely creative field,” says Shantanu Sinha, President of Khan Academy, which gave TechCrunch an exclusive look at their brand new education portal that teaches Computer Science fundamentals through interactive drawing. “We really wanted to focus on creating something that could inspire young children, and get them excited and motivated to explore CS further.” The portal’s interactive design is a major evolutionary step for a website that has since been almost entirely based on YouTube lectures (with over 178 million views). I rarely get excited about online education, which often just recycles our antiquated education system into a digital format, but the new Khan Academy Computer Science project is beyond impressive.
The new Computer Science site focuses on the critical early adolescent years, where children broaden (or narrow) their interests and identity before high school. The lessons don’t get much more complicated than basic algebra, and how these intuitive mathematical concepts can create powerful artistic, video game, and website experiences. “We wanted to create something that could get anyone with minimal knowledge of Computer Science really excited by the field–no matter what their age or situation,” says Sinha. One of the most advanced lessons, for instance, is a replication of Pac-Man (i.e. a circle eating other smaller circles) and stops short of a university-level Computer Science course.
Design and Pedagogy
The heart of the design places a simplified, interactive text editor that sits adjacent to the code’s drawing output, which updates in real time as students explore how different variables and numbers change the size, shapes, and colors of their new creation. An optional video guides students through the lesson, step-by-step, and, most importantly, can be paused at any point so that they can tinker with the drawing as curiosity and confusion arise during the process.
This part is key: learning is contextual and idiosyncratic; students better absorb new material if they can learn at their own pace and see the result of different options in realtime.
The pedagogy fits squarely into what educators called “scaffolded problem-based learning” [PDF]; students solve real-life problems and are encouraged to explore, but are guided by a teacher along the way, who can point out novel ways of accomplishing the task. Scaffolded learning acknowledges that real-life problems always have more than one path to a solution, that students learn best by doing, and that curiosity should drive exploration. This last point is perhaps the most important, since one of the primary barriers to boosting science-related college majors is a lack of interest.
Combined with their new textbook-replacing iPad app and their ongoing experiments in schools, this new Computer Science platform gives Sal Khan one very realistic step forward towards his vision of creating an interactive, personalized education system.
We encourage our readers to come see Khan speak at our annual conference, Disrupt SF, September 10-12.
By adult learners, I am not referring to men and women above the age of 40 who choose to return to school to pursue a university degree or earn their first primary or secondary school certificate. An adult learner, in the context of this piece, refers to any student attending a university or other post-secondary institutions. These are learners who do not usually reside with their parents while attending schools.
It is commonly said that lecturers are for higher institutions, while teachers are for secondary and primary schools. This difference in nomenclature should not preclude the lecturer from carrying out his teaching role. A lecturer, by whatever name he is otherwise known, is employed to teach students. The concern, however, is the conventional wisdom from many higher institutions especially the publicly owned institutions- that a lecturer lectures, and not teaches. Let’s picture one common scenario seen in our university classrooms: for a one hour class, the lecturer comes to the lecture hall, it takes the class 10 minutes to settle down, then it takes 15mins for the lecturer to hand out the hands-outs which students had probably paid for earlier, the lecturer then spends the next 30 minutes brushing or flipping through the 110 page hand-out he has given the students. At the end, he asks if there are any questions, no one responds and the class is over. Yes, he just lectured!
Did learning take place in the classroom we just pictured? Absolutely, not. The entire time has been spent and the class taken, but the teacher, err lecturer, did not teach. Teaching has only taken place when someone learns. When and how did we decide that students in higher education no longer deserve to learn? Of course, the students will write the exams and pass. The secret is memorizing, or ‘cramming’, as it is commonly known. All the students had to do in most cases is to spend some nights before the exam to memorize the hand-outs and regurgitate them to the lecturer. Few students actually understand what they were meant to learn and fewer students could connect various lessons together and understand how they are blended. The absence of real learning is actually a major reason why employers found Nigerian graduates unemployable. Sad, isn’t it?
This is not another piece to bash Nigeria or our learning institutions. Just as a medical doctor needs to know the history and nature of a patient’s ailment before he can form the right prognosis and prescribe treatment, we can only solve our educational challenges if we correctly identify their underlying causes and the ensuing risks.
What I have written here is a surface diagnosis of our educational malaise, a comprehensive diagnosis will follow in subsequent publications and together, we will attempt to proffer some of the solutions we should pursue for educational recovery.
To be clear, this is a complimentary and free service to our educational sector. I will only begin sending bills when the complimentary service period is over. For now, I need to figure out who I will be sending those bills to when the time comes and of course, doing the writings.
Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:
By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:
By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:
With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a specialty:
A master’s degree deepens that specialty:
Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:
Once you’re at the boundary, you focus:
You push at the boundary for a few years:
Until one day, the boundary gives way:
And, that dent you’ve made is called a Ph.D.:
Of course, the world looks different to you now:
which is why some people erroneously refer to Ph.D. as permanent head damage!
So, don’t forget the bigger picture:
I facilitate a Engineering Design class for 2nd year students. In this course, I do not have to teach in the sense of pouring out knowledge from my reservoir to the students. Rather, all I do is guide the students to learn by doing something. They bring forth whatever idea comes to mind; develop it and possibly implement it. In a design course, you cannot conform students to learn in a particular way because
sometimes 1+2 might not be equal to 3, probably 12.
Students need to follow their intuition; draw from the inspiration that comes to them; at the time they work. Of course, not all ideas that will be brought up will be practicable, however, they will need to discover the impracticability of it. Through the multitude of ideas from different minds in class, students appreciate the diversity of ideas, opinions and styles that fill the world; students learn that there is no limit to innovation. The future engineers realise that the world is simply awaiting their own creation as they learn by doing.
Have you created something awesome recently, that is worth sharing? Let me know about it - in photo or words.