Nov 20 : key elements for engaging adolescents in games

I think that two elements are key to engaging adolescents in games:

  • freedom to experiment: allow the student to re-invent himself and see new approaches for solving problems.
  • freedom to fashion identities:allows the student to explore his identities in other worlds
  • aesthetics are important in highly visual games such as Myst

I did a study a while back of students in my Intro to Design course who used Second Life over a 3 month period, and compared to the control group they had a more content view of their “future social self” in an educational context.

I think that the experience of creating various avatars with different looks helped them explore “possible selves”, and then self-construe back to who they are now.

Nov 13 – Feedback to a trainee teacher on designing constructive alignment in her course design

Nov 13 – Feedback to trainee teachers on designing constructive alignment in her course design


– excellent consistency with the verbs you have bolded in your ILOs, TLAs, and ATs!

– you have a shortage of high-level verbs in your ILOs: your only Relational level behaviors are compare and contrast in sessions 2 and 5, and analyze in session 6.    You NEVER challenge your students to reach for that highest level of understanding: you have NO verbs asking for Extended Abstract behavior!

One easy way to address that is to look for higher-order thinking in the Individual Designing Project: surely in a DESIGN project your students will perform behaviors higher than perform serial skills by running an app!  What about analyzing the requirements of the digital story, relating advertising techniques together to design a coherent commercial, and creating an original advertising commercial to persuade (justify?) viewers of the value of a product?   I would put design, create, persuade, and justify on the Relational / Extended Abstract border, depending on how original the thinking is!   See this link for an extended list of SOLO verbs beyond the basic ones:

– major error: you are asking your students to reflect in your ATs in sessions 1, 2, and 6, but you don’t always have reflect in those session TLAs, and you never put reflect in your ILOs!   If you are going to assess reflection,  you MUST teach it in an TLA, and why not include it in your ILO as part of your course plan?  This is a great way to get high-level thinking going and create long-termlearning, but you need to list reflection consistently in all 3 elements: TLA, ILO, and AT (and bold it)!

Yes, when you want your students to go for deeper understanding, use higher-level SOLO verbs in your ILOs, and then follow that plan up with TLAs and ATs.    Reflecting on prior learning is a great way to make your students aware of the strategies they used, and this will help them create long-term learning they can build on in the future.

Nov 6 : Can all students be expected to hypothesize?

My comment would be that it doesn’t have to be hypothesize, it could also be reflect.

So, instead of predicting the future, they could look back at the past and analyze the strategies that helped them integrate the new information into their existing knowledge schema, or solve the problems presented.

Generally the teacher is pretty familiar with the domain of knowledge they have just presented (the context), so when a student answer applies this knowledge into a new context, it is pretty obvious.

Another phrase for “Extended Abstract” is “Unanticipated Extension”, which perhaps more clearly states the pleasant surprise of a student answer that goes beyond the given context.

E.g.: if I am teaching students how to ride a bike (as beginners), when a student “pops a wheelie” on their summative assessment it’s pretty obvious!

To create an Extended Abstract example student answer you must imagine a student who deeply understands what has been taught, and can now apply that understanding to build NEW knowledge beyond the course context.

This means not only applying it in new contexts (or “domains”), but also applying it to the past (how it used to be), or the future (how it will be).

It can also apply to within (my personal experience), or without (where we as a group may apply this new knowledge).

Nov 5 : On using SOLO verbs to write good course intended Learning Outcomes (LOs)

On using SOLO verbs to write good course intended Learning Outcomes (LOs)

ONLY bold the SOLO verbs, not things like “watch”, “complete”, or containers such as “reflective journal” or “wiki”.  How about “based on the prior unit TLAs, write reflective statements about what you have learned and upload them in a journal”?  (and make this the last TLA in the unit)

Also, you’ve got LOs with listcombine, and classify, but your AT is “complete the translation exercises on the wiki”.   Perhaps you could break down the way you are using “complete” into what the students should list, combine, and classify in order to do the exercises on the wiki?

Try going thru and bolding all the SOLO verbs in each TLA, LO, or AT.

If you don’t have SOLO verbs, then find a way to state it using them.

For example, in your LO in Unit 1: “Learn the ability to create a discussion forum as a group and be activate in discussion with groupmates.

How could you say that same LO using SOLO verbs?

Same for AT: “Watch videos and post the understanding in forum.”   You must break this AT down into behaviors that can be assessed, using SOLO verbs.

You can try this litmus test on an AT: if you asked a student to do this on a quiz, would they know what to do?

Ex: “Please take out a piece of paper and write down your understanding of the video.”  Would your students know what to do?   What do you really want them to do IN ORDER to demonstrate their understanding of the video?

Nov 6 – adopting a new teaching paradigm

Nov 6 – adopting a new teaching paradigm

Yes, Web 2.0 technology lets us build Edu 2.0, but keep in mind that Web 2.0 technology was introduced around 2007, maybe 2008 (the rise of social networking).

The new trends in crowdsourcing and “big data”, social constructivism and Connectivism are enabling what people are calling “Education 3.0”.

The issue is: will teachers and teaching institutions update their pedagogy, adapt to the new technology, and adopt a new relationship with the student?    Or will they keep scratching away with chalk on blackboards, safe in their lonely little F2F classrooms?

Nov 2 : on Biggs’ Robert and Susan : surface vs deep learning styles (Marton and Saljo)

Nov 2 – on Biggs’ Robert and Susan : surface vs deep learning styles (Marton and Saljo)

I agree with you that the key idea is engagement, and that to stimulate a “Robert” to engage requires active participation in formative assessment projects, such as PBL.

The main reason I give individual grades even on summative group work is to keep it fair for the “Susans” in the group, since they don’t want to be penalized for Robert’s lack of effort.

Nov 2 : On using SOLO verbs to assess student forum posts

On using SOLO verbs to assess student forum posts

You need to make sure that your explanations justify this rating at the appropriate level, and typically this means that this answer FAILS to reach the next higher level for a specific reason.

For Multi-structural, you state “But he failed to connect it with his own situation to have a deeper reflection.”  Reflection is a key behavior for the Extended Abstract level, not for the one above Multi-structural, which is Relational.   To fail to reach Relational, typically an answer will list, classify, or describe, but not analyze or relate key elements together to demonstrate a coherent understanding of the whole.

You need to apply this same methodology to your justifications of each example answer.

Nov 2 : On writing example student answers to illustrate the 5 SOLO levels of understanding

On writing example student answers to illustrate the 5 SOLO levels of understanding

I think starting with low-level answers and working towards higher-level answers makes sense.

Typically each answer fails to reach the higher level for some specific lack (like a Multi-Structural answer failing to analyze or relate key elements together to indicate a coherent understanding of the whole), so you can correct that lack when you develop the next higher student answer.

The key is to use the SOLO taxonomy verbs and link them to specific parts of the student answer, or identify things that the answer FAILED to do (but should have to score higher).

Oct 28 : On the role of the teacher in social constructivist pedagogy

On the role of the teacher in social constructivist pedagogy

One role of the teacher within social constructionist pedagogy is to inspire students by demonstrating high level inquiry-based learning, and communicate a sense of high expectations.

At the start of the course, the teacher can model the style of discussing at a high level:

– reacting to the issues students face

– showing how to bring in expert opinions by referring to applicable academic papers

– applying deductive reasoning to shine the light of inquiry on new problem areas: “if this is true, then we should consider that this other factor may apply to this situation

– resourcing intra-group perspectives by sharing the viewpoints evidenced in other group discussions: e.g. “Phryne has brought up a similar issue, and she thinks that pure eLearning has significant disadvantages compared to blended learning

– recognizing that even the teacher can still realize new truths or react to new perspectives: “That is the first time that someone told me that working through a problem as a group in synchronous chat is like meditation!

The teacher’s model of high-level inquiry can serve as the foundation for the learning community, as a demonstration of preferred practice, and a key element defining the social interaction for the students to build upon.

Oct 19 : On the different uses of the term “instrumental learning”

On the different uses of the term “instrumental learning”

What Thorndike and Skinner refer to as instrumental learning is probably related to the way that Mezirow uses it in his article, but only loosely related.   Thorndike developed the idea by observingcats trying to escape from puzzle boxes, while Mezirow states:

“When we engage in task-orientated problem solving – how to do something or how to perform – we are engaged in instrumental learning; reflection is significantly involved when we look back on content or procedural assumptions guiding the problem-solving process to reassess the efficacy of the strategies and tactics used.”

While both uses of the term involve learning to do tasks and developing procedural knowledge, somehow I doubt that Thorndike spent much time theorizing how much the cats reflected on their procedural assumptions.   Mezirow applies this term to human learning, which involves things like “checking that our actions are consistent with our values“, and “whether our attitude has been objective“.

Mezirow’s use of the term is much more about meta-cognition, or knowing about how we think.   Because the current context is about human thinking, it involves much more higher-order thinking skills than the way Thorndike and Skinner used the term.