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TIES 2013: Andrew Vanden-Heuvel-The Future of Learning is Here!

Andrew Vanden-Heuvel, a former astronomer turned educator shared his thoughts on the future of learning. He currently serves as an online educator in Michigan.
Cosmic issue: Solve the poverty problem
Education can do that.

Purpose of school is to help kids find their passion.
The problem is that "school is boring!"
How can we make school engaging?
Too often we think that technology is the answer for technologies sake.
The real question is how to make LEARNING engaging?
It's everywhere. Reward cards, video games, etc. The reason they are interesting is that they can be fun.
What kind of gamification do we want at school?
Target cashiers get a score for the speed of checking someone out, with tracking of score and number of sales. Would this work in school?

One mentioned the importance of clear learning targets.
Identifies those not scoring well and allows the teacher to differentiate.
I see similarities with this and the tool, Kahoot! It provides some motivation and "friendly" competition, but I can also see the downside in an educational setting that it emphasizes competition rather than learning.

Vanden-Heuvel notes that we assess what is easiest to assess. Depending on the criteria of the assessment it may limit or focus on the wrong things.
Let's think about the higher level skills we want our kids to learn.
He showed BrainPop's game that seems to focus more on Knowledge level questions. But what about this...

There are ways to take simple elements to make the

Social Networks
He talked about Facebook, Twitter and Edmodo as tools teachers can use.
He pointed out that in general, they are asynchronous. If we want students to interact with one another, asynchronous can be hard. He gave the examples of "Asynchronous dancing," and Asynchronous Digging, where there is lack of depth.
He suggested of a shared Google Doc as being a better tool.
For example, what if everyone were correcting grammar errors, or in a class discussion site, where everyone is using the social tool in the "chat room." He feels synchronous can be more engaging.

Roles of the Educator: Vanden-Huevel identified three.

  • Create Content
  • Build Relationships
  • Provide Feedback
All of these are interrelated to each other. Some teachers are great at some of these, but not others.
As we think of the future of education, we may see people specialize in roles in the educational process.
Is this a good thing?
Most in the audience felt building relationships is most important. There may be some blessing with this specialization. Another member noted that when providing feedback, it's important to know more about the kid, and whether they were having a bad day.

He noted that when MP3 players replaced portable CD's, the skipping of music stopped, but the quality of the sound wasn't as good.
Quality isn't the only thing that matters. One aspect may improve while another diminishes.

Learning Analytics
The first thing that comes to mind is Website analytics. We can also track this in the classroom. The more digital tools we use, the more data we can gather and we can personalize learning.
Simple tools like YouTube allow you to see analytics on how many students are watching videos.
You can also view how many people watch the whole video, or just a part. You can also see geography.
He showed data on a video that showed 2 people in Ireland had watched it, but he doesn't have any students there!

He showed how sections of the video show that students re-watched sections of the video, or in others where few watched it. This can help teachers improve the video and inform instruction.
Newton is a company that is working on data for educators.

Google Glass
It may inform our learning in the future.
He demonstrated how they work, "Ok Glass..." and then speak the command. It now has the ability to translate.
His story of Google Glass was that he
He tweeted, "If I had glass, it would transform the way I teach science-making every moment a teachable moment." 

Google invited him to go to Cern and the Large Hadron Collider to give a first person account.

Here's how he's used it!

Pretty cool!
I love the questions and excitement in the students.

"And then I got home!"
Now he has a YouTube channel and will be using Glass at the conference!

Definitely a science teacher to follow!


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