plenary/keynote, day 2

15 08 2009

I finally woke up early this morning so I attended the keynote for day 2. Well worth it of course. Wade, the keynote speaker is very charismatic and his presentation was both humorous and very informative. It encouraged reflection, really, and one must go back and look once again at some of the activities one has planned for classes that one teaches.

wadeWade,  Jane and ?

Inquiry-based software MicroWorlds: Promoting Understanding and Retention of Concepts

Presenter: Wade Ellis – West Valley College.

Wade wanted to use technology in teaching mathematics. He then understood that technology was about learning and that he really liked to lecture with chalk boards [that were in themselves a technology]. Students should learn to learn mathematics or your chosen discipline. He felt he needed to facilitate and improve their learning but he couldn’t do it by himself – he felt he needed a team. Any time you want to change the quality of instruction you need a team.

Wade has been involved in several projects, among them the National Digital Library Visiting Team, ODE Architect software package, etc.

Merlot as a repository:

What kinds of things are in Merlot? Text, animations [we are told what we should observe], simulations, lessons of various sorts and other stuff as well. What is missing in Merlot? A significant amount of effort put in in instructional design.


Contour map: it runs for 28 seconds and it is really good, but where is the lesson that surrounds it? This was an animation that you can sort of make it into a simulation.

ALEKS Tour: it is really a package.  It is an artificial intelligence-based system for individualized learning. Start up money was 10 million dollars. It is expensive, heavily based on research, heavily designed in terms of interface and pedagogy. This is a full-blown package that has bells and whistles and is on the web all the time, whereas we saw the Contour map which was smaller. How do we integrate them or how do we put all this stuff together? The learning object is not the learning activity here.

Brain research: diagrams by Kolb and Zull. The idea that there are different parts of the brain that we know about that deal with concrete experience. Others deal with reflective observations. Others take that reflective observation and creates hypotheses and then there is the actual testing of the hypotheses.

The brain therefore engages in experience, reflects on it, abstracts it and then tries it. From a mathematical point of view we often start with diagrams, reflect on it, abstract it and then try it. However the materials we produce tell student things and does not let them go through this process. If you bathe the whole learning event in emotion, you get better results. The other way is to scare people. J

Malcolm Knowles makes the following assumptions about the design of learning for adult learners [Andragogy]: they need to know why they need to learn something; adults need to learn experientially; adults approach learning as problem-solving, and adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning: it has 4 levels of learning: information [remembering]; knowledge [understanding]; application [applying in real world]; problem solving [analyzing]; evaluation [judging] and research [creating].

Some research shows that if you don’t get to the application and problem solving level it does not translate into long term knowledge. They don’t remember anything later. As the adage goes: “what happens in the mathematics classroom, stays in the mathematics classroom”. Not good.

Action, consequence, reflection principle: students act on mathematical objects, observe the consequences of their actions and then reflect on it.

The learning object should be embedded into the activity. If you embed it into an activity, what is the important part of the activity that you will build? You build the reflective part of this which is essential to the Bloom’s taxonomy.

Inquiry questions: we could use good or bad questions and students should recognize them.

Learning process methodology: in the activity, there is preparation, a learning activity and then a reflection.

In preparation: why are we doing the activity? Where does it fit in the knowledge framework? What are the resources? Goals? Performance criteria, is there a language that I will have to learn? Do most lessons and most activities have this set of ideas? Probably not.

The learning activity: you’re prepared, now you need the plan, key questions/critical thinking questions [Reflection], examples and models, application and problem solving.

Reflection: self-assessment is very important especially that I already have performance criteria. Then there is the extension: could I use this somewhere else?

Learning as a process:

Learning skills: Good idea if we embed into the activity learning skills such as reading carefully, abstracting, generalizing, dealing with frustration. Can you prove any of those skills? Should we talk to our students about those frustration issues?


Preparation : why? Understanding contour mapping will help you in reading such maps when you are deciding on paths for power lines or hiking paths.

Where does it fit? You can currently read road maps and hiking trail maps

Learning activity example:

Plan:  read the critical thinking questions, work with the contour map program, answer the critical thinking questions, interpret the applications, solve the problems. There should be some questions that are easy and some that should be more complicated.

Application: another topographic map to interpret.

Reflection: self-assessment: can you determine basic features of a region from its topographic map?

Extension: how do you use it beyond class?

Two essential ways of thinking: The Axiomatic Method and the Scientific Method. They are the foundation of many of the activities that we do. Yet there are no technological support for us to apply those.

Bits and pieces: social aspects of learning communities; tablet PCs and classroom communications, using the Internet to expand the curriculum.  Important to check the classroom setting, how students are sitting, room temperature, etc. Expanding the curriculum on American History for example should show emphasis on American Indian perspectives, black perspectives, Hispanic perspectives etc… but this would cause teachers to be challenged. Most teachers don’t like to go there. We need to diversify the sources of what they learn and this is what the internet will do.




One response

15 08 2009
Audio Conference | plenary/keynote, day 2 | Conference calling

[…] posted here: plenary/keynote, day 2 Tags: again-at-some, Conference, fantastic-slide, finally-woke, keynote, miller, presentation, […]

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