It has been one of those wild and crazy weeks. Work has been stressful and now I am taking two courses, one on e-learning instructional design for credit and toward a certificate, and the etMOOC. I thought for sure that my blogging would take a hit this week, as I also need to plan a presentation on teachers using twitter in the classroom.
Using twitter and other social media networks has become an intricate part of my every day life. If I’m not sharing then I’m learning, if I’m not sharing or learning, then I’m either reading off-line, spending time with my family, watching old episodes of Boy Meets World (trying to get teaching pointers from Mr. Feeny), or at work. Whew!
The main ideas that have dominated my thinking this past week has been the idea of learning styles and the idea of personalized learning. For some reason Sue Waters has been on my mind as well as how the main presenters for etMOOC have been either Canadian or Australian. I looked up the education rankings by country online and found that the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (English speaking countries) are all ahead of the U.S.
The controversy over learning styles continues. I have come to the personal conclusion that there are not different learning styles. ‘What this means for instructors, Mr. Pashler says, is that they should not waste any time or energy trying to determine the composition of learning styles in their classrooms. (Are 50 percent of my students visual learners? Are 20 percent of them kinesthetic learners?)
Instead, teachers should worry about matching their instruction to the content they are teaching. Some concepts are best taught through hands-on work, some are best taught through lectures, and some are best taught through group discussions.” See article here. Deb Peterson wrote a nice piece for About.com on the controversy over learning styles. You can read her article here.
I do know that we learn through our senses and that a web based digital world changes the way that we think and learn. Involve more senses in real situations and learning is more apt to take place. Restak, a researcher in the UK has the following to say on the topic, “What does seem to be important is that learning activities should stimulate several parts of the brain simultaneously since this promotes the increased neural interconnectedness associated with the development of increased cognitive capacity. Repetition and practice also seem to be important since they bequeath thickening of the myelin insulation on the axons of the neurons and this favors future thinking speed and accuracy.” See article here.
Now it may seem like splitting hairs but all of the “multiple intelligences” that are quoted by Howard Gardner can be found with varying degrees within every individual. To me, I think that as teachers we should focus on making sure that we include as many senses as possible when teaching and assessing students and teach using various modalities.
I have become a very vocal advocate for personalized learning. Whether it is self-learning by reading books, blogs, and papers or watching YouTube videos I learn something. Dave Comier gave a presentation on rhizomatic learning that gave me pause to think deeply, I know, it did hurt. Dave states in his most recent blog post, “Our challenge was in learning how to choose, how to deal with the uncertainty of abundance and choice presented by the Internet. In translating this experience to the classroom, I try to see the open web and the connections we create between people and ideas as the curriculum for learning. In a sense, participating in the community is the curriculum.”
Just by participating in the form of reading, blogging, watching, listening, curating, thinking, I am learning. What bothers me about rhizomatic learning is how to measure that learning, how to quantify that learning, how to have learning evaluated? I guess that this can be a personal choice also.
There are people willing to help others achieve their goals of personalized learning. One example is Peer 2 Peer University where courses are taught, badges can be earned, and learning credentialed or validated by peers. Wikiversity is another way to learn collaboratively using Open Education Resources (OERs) and Wikipedia. I do not know enough about this form to tell if it has true value or not. Another source of personalized learning is WikiQuals. This is true democratic personalized learning. Using affinity partners that can range from family members to peers, learning can go in any direction and validated through peer review and openness.
What can I say about Sue Waters? She is Australian, blogs a lot, and teaches teachers how to use blogging in the classroom. She is also pretty good with technology and its educational uses. You can follow Sue’s blogging exploits at http://suewaters.com/ trust me, you will want to follow this educational leader.
Cat Meme by http://tainith.dailykos.com/
Rhizomatic Learning via Flickr by giulia.forsythe