Category: Edge of Learning

Suggestions from the Age of Distraction

A reading assignment for today: The Age of Distraction: The Professor or the Processor? by Michael Bugeja (published in The Futurist magazine) The question that Bugeja poses: Are digital distractions the cause of lowered performance measures for students? He argues that we’ve spent a lot of money on technology in education. Have we seen results? It’s a good question. It’s not an argument against technology, per se, I think he’s just making the point that we may need to retake our learning environments from technology distractions (like improper laptop use, cellphone texting, video games on calculators, etc.). Bugeja writes about what he calles “interpersonal intelligence” which he defines as “knowing when, where, and for what purpose technology is appropriate or inappropriate.” He suggests teaching incoming students some basic interpersonal intelligence. At my college, we have a seminar designed to teach students study skills, and perhaps this is where these questions belong, in addition to being reiterated in other freshman-level classes: Are you being exploited by the media? Is your internet impulse purchasing destroying your budget? When has using technology distracted you from accomplishing something? Do you have real-person communication skills, like meeting your neighbors or talking to the students in your group? How is instant feedback different from critical thinking? Hmm. I may need to revisit the third bullet point myself. I know that technology (specifically writing these blog...

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Motivating math faculty to adopt new technologies

Well, I’d like to say I know exactly how to do this, but I’m still researching the theory behind this one and experimenting a bit myself. I would like to send you to a recent issue of the Educause Review called “Back to School: It’s All About the Faculty” This issue contains several articles about the difficulty of getting faculty to adopt technology in their teaching and the challenges faced by faculty who try to learn new technologies. There are three articles that I’d recommend reading here: Active Learning and Technology: Designing Change for Faculty, Students, and Institutions (Moore, A. H., Fowler, S. B., and Watson, C. E., 2007)brings up the necessity of also teaching students how to learn in new ways. If you’ve ever tried something new in your class, surely you’ve had students that “push back” against anything contrary to lecture… so you know what they’re talking about here. My Computer Romance (Campbell, G., 2007) is a meandering story about how the author finally “fell in love” with technology. What I found to ring true about this one was his idea that for every faculty member, there is some “hook” that will get them to finally bring technology into their classroom and use it in their teaching. The real trick is finding the requisite hook, and everyone will have a different one. Faculty 2.0 (Hartman, J. L.,...

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Education is NOT prepared for the 21st Century

Today, I’m sending you to read this article “21st Century Learning: ‘We’re Not Even Close‘ from THE Journal. This article summarizes the highlights of a paper published jointly by SETDA, ISTE, and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, called Maximizing the Impact: the Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System. Here are some highlights (or lows, depending on how you look at it): “education is dead last in technology use compared with all major industrial sectors, and that has to change in order for schools to meet the challenges of 21st century learning” we need to incorporate technology comprehensively to prepare students for 21st century skills technology needs to be used to support innovative teaching & learning educators need training in 21st century skills themselves… our skills have become outdated as our schools have become outdated. Did you catch that last one? TRAINING!!! It took me a while to find a working link to the actual report, but I did find one here. This is a report aimed primarily at K-12, but keep in mind that K-12 students eventually become College students … and some of our community college students are really catching up on skills they should’ve learned in their K-12 eduction. If K-12 catches up with technology, and we don’t… well, you can imagine how that will go down! Possibly Related Posts: Reimagining Calculus...

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Books about Brain Science

There seem to be quite a few talks this year on brain science and how it relates to teaching… specifically math. The one I could attend in my schedule was Ed Laughbaum’s talk “Teaching Developmental Algebra Isn’t Brain Science. Wait… Yes it is.” Here is a link to Ed’s website, where I assume he will post the presentation. Ed had a fantastic list of references (some of which I have read and some that I have not… so it will be time to abuse my account again): On Intelligence by J. Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee (2004) Wider than the sky: The phenomenal gift of consciousness by G. Edelman (2004) The first idea: How symbols, language and intelligence evolved from our primate ancestors to modern humans by Greenspan & Shanker (2004) How the Mind Works by S. Pinker (1997) The seven sins of memory: How the mind forgets and remembers by D. Schacter (2001) Minds, brains, and learning: Understanding the psychological and educational relevance of neuroscientific research by J. Byrnes (2001) Memory by Thompson & Madigan (2005) The power of mindful learning by E. Langer (1997) The mind and the brain: Neuroplasticity and the power of mental force by Schwartz & Begley (2003) The new brain: How the modern age is rewiring your mind by R. Restak (2003) This last one looks like one I will definitely have to...

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Dimenxian: “Learn Math or Die Trying”

This was a featured article in What is it? It’s an algebra game produced by Tabula Digita called Dimenxian. You can download a demo of the game on the Dimenxian website. They also provide a list of alignments to NCTM Standards for Algebra with the game. For the record, the website says there is a trailer for the game… but I can’t get it to work, so if someone else figures it out, please comment on how to do it. I have downloaded the demo and tried the first “mission” … but I think I need more practice moving around and navigating in the game. From my five minutes of trial, it seems 90% game and 10% algebra, but perhaps that’s just because I’m not good at it yet. I’ve got some time trapped in airports this weekend, so I’ll give it another go and see if I can’t find more algebra in it. The game also does not encompass all of the topics we teach in algebra (really, it seems to focus on topics related to graphing). But it does engage the students and they learn algebra (read the article, research on middle school students). However, I’ve been saying for a while now that college textbooks are only a few years from becoming multimedia experiences first, and books second (or not at all)… here is my evidence...

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