TEDxMuskegon: A Recipe for Free Range Learning

Apr 17, 2012 by

I just realized I never posted the Recipe for Free Range Learning video from TEDxMuskegon.  You can watch the video or you can read a rough transcript of the talk, posted below.

Here’s the text this talk was based on …

“Free range learning” describes the learning that takes place outside of the formal boundaries of education. I’ve been asked if the existence of “free range learning” implies that there is also some sort of “caged learning” as well. Well, the current U.S. education system was developed in the industrial era using the principles of a “factory model.” So, in a sense, you could call formal education a sort of “caged” system of learning, but

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Ignite on the Learn This Button

Aug 29, 2011 by

After this presentation, my husband told me it was the best one he has ever seen me do.  The Ignite format is 5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds each.  Please watch, and if you want to see Socrait get built, please forward it to everyone you know, post it on Facebook, share it on Twitter and GooglePlus.  Thanks 🙂

Ignite Great Lakes: Where’s the Learn This Button?

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Remembering What You’ve Read

Aug 18, 2011 by

While trying to get all my Kindle devices in re-sync (iPad, Kindle, Android, Laptop, and Desktop), I discovered a feature of the browser-based Kindle app that I wasn’t aware of.

Remember the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve?  In 1885, Ebbinghaus showed that we need repeated exposure to information to store it in biological memory … and pretty much we’ve been forgetting things ever since.

I try to build reflection into my learning routines (to take advantage of the Ebbinghouse curve) by doing things like rereading my tweets and the end of the week, organizing ideas into mindmaps, and composing blog posts that bring together ideas.  This Kindle Browser feature helps with that (at least, it will if you remember to use it).

“Daily Review is a tool to help you review and remember the most significant ideas from your books.  It shows you flashcards with either your highlights and notes or the popular highlights from one of your books.  Only books that you have marked as “read” are eligible for review, and Daily Review will take you through all of your read books, one per day.”

The Kindle Daily Reader is getting closer to what I would want Socrait to do, but it’s missing the recall portion.  This app provides the highlights or notes that you have marked important, but you only process them as recognition items.  I still think a forced recall from memory would be more powerful.  Nonetheless, kudos to Kindle for building in this feature … now when can I have it on my Android App?  🙂

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Podcast Interview: Future of eLearning

Aug 14, 2011 by

Illustration in black and white with title "Future of eLearning" in the middle.

Here is Part 2 of my Podcast Interview with Eric and Staci at On Teaching Online.  In this part of the podcast, we discussed the future of online education and possible trends in course management and learning systems.

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Interview with a Learning Futurist

Jul 31, 2011 by

Last week I was asked to do four interviews!  One of them was with Dale Dougherty, the publisher of Make Magazine.  Here’s the link to the post over at Maker Faire Daily.

I’m excerpting the questions here to make them easier for me to find later:

You are a learning futurist and you’re also a math teacher at a community college. How do these different perspectives give you a fresh understanding of what’s important in education?

As a learning futurist I scan the technology, international, and business horizon to look for changes that will be affecting learning – that means looking at the future of careers, work-life, and technology-assisted learning. Rather than make predictions (best left to the work of psychics), I try to create positive visions for learning paths we could achieve… if the right steps are taken along the way. I believe that good common visions lead us to great accomplishments. One of the most famous examples of this is the 1961 speech by J.F.K. visioning us landing an American on the moon – a task accomplished 8 years later, fueled by a common vision of a positive future. So many of our forecasts for the future of education are gloomy, so I try to provide alternative paths – ways we could take another route if we just choose to do so (see Where’s the Learn This Button).

The fact that I am still an educator within the formal higher education system provides grounding to my ideas. Mathematics is a subject that builds on itself with every course that is taken, so if math is learned poorly one semester, this problem is magnified in the next semester. Mathematics is also the first subject to really be tackled by companies developing technology-based tutoring/learning systems because it is easilyprogrammable (math-based subjects like physics, economics, and chemistry are close behind). Online homework systems, “smart” computer tutoring systems, and open learning platforms are all proliferating in mathematics first. From my vantage point as a math instructor, I can see how learners interact with these systems and develop a realistic understanding of the role of such technologies in the future of learning.

Making is a form of learning, an active demonstration of what we know and what we can do. What potential do you see for making in education?

Making is definitely a great way to assess learning, and you can see examples of making in education now (though you might not recognize it as “making” from your perspective). When you write a paper or put together a presentation as part of a class, youare”making” – demonstrating what you know and what you can do. Unfortunately, most of these types of activities are seen by our learners as tasks of drudgery instead of opportunities to polish their learning and demonstrate their skills. There are some “maker faire” type activities in education, but they are more the exception rather than the rule: Science Fairs, engineering competitions to build the best cement canoe or a solar-powered car, the “Egg Drop” or bridge-building competitions in science classes, putting together a class yearbook, use of lego robots to understand computer programming.

In order to see more of these types of maker activities in education, I think we would need to take back 20% of classroom time (either by increasing the time spent in school or cutting the curriculum). Project-based activities (take a look at the Learning in Depthprogram) require freedom to explore ideas and learn skills that are not scheduled into a lesson plans.We need to find a way to create the “Google 20%” time for students at all levels of our education system, but I don’t optimistically see a way to do this inside educationandfocus on high-stakes testing too. We need a nationwide shift back to valuing learning (not education) as one of our fundamental core values, and I’ll talk more about how I think we can do this at Maker Faire on Saturday.

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Future of eLearning

Jul 9, 2011 by

Here is today’s talk from the World Future Conference. I’ve been thinking about the future of eLearning for almost a year now (in preparation for this talk). It’s always amazing to me how my unorganized thoughts crystalize into visions in the last few days before a talk. In this talk I propose a new direction (vision) for educational eLearning – one in which the learning platform is chosen and customized by the student instead of the instructor and institution.

Links related to today’s presentation:

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