Trends in Ed 1.22.10

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Fri, 01/22/2010 - 11:52am.
Jessica Mezei's picture

This article features the multi-institutional study, from the journal Cerebral Cortex where researchers found they were able to predict performance in a video game simply by measuring the volume of specific structures in the brain.

This study tells us a lot about how the brain works when it is trying to learn a complex task. We can use information about the brain to predict who is going to learn certain tasks at a more rapid rate. Such information might be useful in education, where longer training periods may be required for some students, or in treating disability or dementia, where information about the brain regions affected by injury or disease could lead to a better understanding of the skills that might also need attention.

-Kirk Erickson, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh,and first author of the paper.

Despite having found trends of specific brain areas there was no sign that playing games actually increased the size of those areas of the brains. Inferring that pre-existing individual differences in the brain might predict variability in learning rates. This could impact the ways learning abilities are assessed, could it only be a matter of time before MRIs replace aptitude tests?


Trends in Ed. 1.15.10

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:31am.
Jessica Mezei's picture

After school programs for enrichment have become a common occurrence offered by schools today. Quest to Learn (Q2L), the school created by members of the Institute of Play and which promotes a game-based, systems perspective on learning opened its doors this fall in NYC. Not surprisingly, they offer an outside program called Mobo

The Mobo studio focuses on digital citizenship, creativity and design for mobile platforms. Mobo Studio extends Q2L's focus on tinkering, problem-solving, creating, and inventing. In a studio-like environment, it brings together experts in their fields to empower Q2L students to take on the roles of designers, inventors and creativity specialists.

Projects enable students to use curiosity and explore personal interests as they are paired with talented designers and educators to guide them in their inquiries. For example, one project consisted of a fashion show put on by members of the club. As a part of a challenge to create a line of accessories that function as coded messaging systems, a group begin by examining their own closets and de-coding their own personal styles. The group researched fashion history, mastered sewing machines and pattern-making and prototyped a range of design ideas. The group also analyzed the nature of code and used smartphones to investigate braille, morse code and semacode as unique systems.

As a result of these 'wearable technology' investigations, the group produced the "txt scarf," a scarf that carries a phone and enables texting and the "semacode purse," a purse that both holds the phone and displays semacodes that reveal secret messages.

These kind of after school programs are exciting to hear about and add to the trajectory of how this trend is developing. They are also raising the bar of expectations for what schools offer outside the hours of the traditional 'school day'.


Trends in Ed, 1.8.10

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:17pm.
Jessica Mezei's picture

Adding to the debate of the schools of the future and specifically, how to (re)design classroom spaces I found this article about the application of virtual worlds toward school and classroom design. It offers the ability for teachers and students to 'test' out the spaces before they are actually built by being immersed as an avatar in the virtual space. This application offers a nice option to the prototype phase in the design process to get useful feedback from those who will experience the space the most.

Sylvia McNamara, Director of Education, Birmingham City Council says: “LEVROS is an innovative change management tool that gives our key stakeholders – students, school leaders, governing bodies and the local community – the opportunity to creatively engage with design concepts throughout the transformation process and explore the full potential of their schools.”

For further comments of those involved in the project visit Archi-Me.


Trends in Ed, 12.18.09

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Fri, 12/18/2009 - 11:08am.
Jessica Mezei's picture

"If the U.S. is to maintain its economic leadership and compete in the new global economy, the Nation must prepare today's K–12 students better to be tomorrow's productive workers and citizens. Changing workforce requirements mean that new workers will need ever more sophisticated skills in science, mathematics, engineering and technology."- National Science Board (NSB)

A longstanding concern in education to encourage American students in science, technology, engineering and math subjects continues to push for innovative programs to inspire students into STEM fields. One such innovative approach to this challenge asks if hip-hop can impact student's choices to enter STEM fields?


Described in this article Honeywell and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have been involved in a project since 2004 to inspire students into STEM fields. They announced the fall 2009 tour of their award-winning science education program FMA Live!

FMA Live! is the only nationally touring, multi-media, science-education production of its kind. Designed to make science relevant to kids' everyday lives, the program brings an authentic, live, hip-hop concert experience to middle schools across the country. This concert will reach over 16,000 students during its 10-week, 20-city tour of the United States and Canada.

Named for Sir Isaac Newton’s second law of motion (force = mass x acceleration) FMA Live! uses professional actors, original songs, music videos and interactive science demonstrations to teach middle school students Newton’s three laws of motion and universal law of gravity. During each FMA Live! performance, students, teachers and school administrators interact with three professional actors in front of a live audience to experience Newton’s laws firsthand. A giant sticky wall is used to demonstrate inertia; go-carts driven across the stage illustrate action and reaction; and ‘extreme’ wrestling and a huge soccer ball show that force is determined by mass multiplied by acceleration. All three of Newton’s laws are demonstrated simultaneously when a futuristic hover chair collides with a gigantic cream pie. Educator and student feedback is consistently and overwhelmingly positive after each tour stop.

In 2006 and 2007, FMA Live! received a Yahoo! Big Idea Award, BrandWeek’s Gold Reggie Award for Best Community Outreach Campaign and the Diamond Award Winner for Best Cause Marketing Campaign. In 2005, FMA Live! received the gold SABRE award and was recognized as the best community relations program worldwide by The Holmes Group. The entire program, including the 18-wheel truck, tour bus and 10-person street team, is fully funded by Honeywell.

If you are interested in creating programs or innovating to encourage students in STEM the National Science Foundation (NSF) has an upcoming grant called ITEST that has multiple strands for people to create applications and experiences in this area for either students or teachers. Here is a nice summary of areas of the grant and includes a link to the official NSF grant website.


Trends in Ed, 12.11.09

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Fri, 12/11/2009 - 7:00pm.
Jessica Mezei's picture

Student debt is a very real issue for a large part of the population today. With jobs requiring accreditation of higher education degrees the educational debt of today's young people is significant. The info graphic below depicts the number of graduating college seniors is the US with more than $40,000 of student debt (by year) and as you can see it is rising!

This article in USA today summarizes some of the issues stateside in this problem.

The articles states that

"This generation of twentysomethings is straining under the weight of college loans and other debt, a crushing load that separates it from every previous generation."

"This debt-for-diploma system is strangling our young people right when they're starting out in life," says Tamara Draut, author of Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30- Somethings Can't Get Ahead. "It's creating a sense of futility that no matter what they do, they're not going to be able to get ahead. It's a sense of hopelessness."

The trend is something that Americans aren't braving alone, it is an international issue. New Zealand is racking up considerable dollars as well with a collective student debt approaching $10 billion. This pattern has spurred many debates on the expense of education and the detriments of this sort of system. However, with more and more growth in online learning debates of free education or at least more moderate and affordable fee education could be hope for generations to come to bypass this issue.

This blog has pooled many articles in this describing the potential of online learning as a future endeavor that could help this problem. Articles include, models for free open online learning, why university education should be free and politics of student debt in NZ.

There remains much change ahead before systemic reform and traditional models of university and degree programs 'poof' disappear... so unfortunately, for some, to start behind the 8 ball out of their higher education degree programs remains a reality.


Seminar Recap: Adaptive Learning Opportunities

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Wed, 12/09/2009 - 7:49pm.
Jessica Mezei's picture

During last week's seminar, Dr. Gary Natriello presented work on adaptive learning opportunities. He presented a model of processes and interactions that can lead to adaptive learning opportunities and within the model, seven major areas that provide perspectives for these adaptive learning opportunities emerged.

The work is part of an effort to explore the landscape of the kinds of applications that provide adaptive experiences both within the education sector for formal learning as well as tools not necessarily focused on learning but possibly relevant in future collaborations or developments in this field. The talk featured an overview of the proposed seven buckets that encompass areas where adaptive opportunities exist as well as a small group breakout activity to discuss each of these areas. Specifically, the conversations in the groups were to discuss any experiences within the group pertaining to their topic, any EdLab projects that would fit in their bucket, as well as any missing links they could identify around their topic or additions they would make. Below, is a summary highlighting points in each groups focused discussion. Due to the length of some of the notes please click on the title for a more detailed account of information.

The Natural Task Perspective

The Constructed Learning Task Perspective

The Learning Research Perspective

The Content Model Perspective

The Teaching Perspective

The Assessment Perspective

The Social Network Perspective

A general set of answers to the questions posed across the groups included that (1) people have experienced adaptation in some form or another, mostly in context of learning. (2) Connections of EdLab projects/products and materials are related to or can be placed in at least one if not a few of the presented adaptive opportunity buckets. (3) Areas exposing missing links or ideas for the future included capitalizing on learning research possibilities and gaining richer understandings on the roles during development of these tools and relationships between those creating such applications.

Moving forward with this work, empirically supported concrete examples need to be collected in each bucket and analyzed to find areas in which future collaborations among developers of these tools can be harnessed. Everyone at the lab is encouraged, if they come across any specific product that exemplifies one of the categories, to please share it!


Trends in Ed, 12.4.09 ;)

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Fri, 12/04/2009 - 12:13pm.
Jessica Mezei's picture

Do you want a new reason to wink at someone? A project called Winkball has re-purposed the classic eye wink in a way that could have some interesting applications.

The new set of video tools created by Winkball offers a forum to communicate easier using video. Specifically, the Winkball wall features fields of short fields of short video-accounts posted for exploring events from numerous perspectives. It seems this tool could have some promising potentials for education as a dynamic way to capture teachers and young people’s multi-faceted accounts of single events and outings. Other academic applications could include using it as a tool for student expression, or communication between students across the world. It could be a sidekick for teaching if you want to use it to demonstrate procedures to students. These are just a few examples of ways it could be used, and you can learn more by clicking here to see what else the Winkball team imagines for its educational uses. I am also curious about using it as a research tool, it seems like it could also have potentials here. I think it is encouraging that the use of video is becoming such an easy and accessible thing.

Conveniently, Winkball is free and so you can start winking at people as soon as you choose, just visit here to get started.

An elevator pitch from a Winkball team member....


Trends in Ed. 11.20.09: A Flavor for Mobility

Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Fri, 11/20/2009 - 8:16pm.
Jessica Mezei's picture

Mobility as a characteristic of learning environments is something that has become increasingly relevant on a personal note with some research I am involved in and it is also proving to be a current focal point for innovation. The bounds for the kinds of interactions that handheld, or mobile devices offer is currently growing in new and exciting ways. I wanted to share a tool I found for the PSP a popular hand held game platform that is adapting to this trend to have additional potentials.

  • Second sight: PSP ConnectED
    Is a new technology aimed at education sectors and works with traditional printed content to trigger audio, video and interactive 3D images.

    Second Sight would enable teachers to blend the use of their established text books, display materials and audio visual content in a way that has not been easy to deploy in the classroom before. Second Sight comprises a PC based content creation suite and a Second Sight viewer application for the SONY PSP.

  • Top Sites
    In addition as I do not want to overload this post with many of the different kinds of handhelds and ways that they are used, the following provides useful links to places that are interested in handheld devices and their potentials to learning.

    Top 50 mobile learning sites


    Win $25,000 Creating a facebook app!

    Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 10:40am.
    Jessica Mezei's picture

    A non-profit organization called Hidden Agenda has started another round of a development competition of creating online facebook games for learning.

    Win $25K in cold hard cash by creating a better way to teach a high school subject - on Facebook! Get creative. Blow away the competition! The best example of fun and effective "social learning" gets the juicy prize.

    As mentioned, this is the second iteration of this competition and some things have changed since the first round. This time the applications will focus on high school students as the target audience and will be inspired by one particular school subject. Discussions are already underway on the Hidden Agenda wall voicing what subjects people want to see in the competition. Another detail change includes a fluid form of the experience, explicitly stating that the definition of a "game" has changed to mean anything you want to build ON FACEBOOK that fosters interactive learning. Despite these minor modifications the main thing that has remained true to this competition is the call to ask for teams of full time college and grad students to create a unique, fabulous, and undeniably fun way for kids to learn. This design perspective to place fun at the heart of learning is a staple within the Hidden Agenda philosophy.

    As a number of us on the D&R team are involved in creating content and envisioning learning experiences for the Teaching and Learning Network I thought this competition could help in brainstorming alternative ways to think of online learning experiences. It also relates to some of the issues we discussed in the trial run for the Educause session, so what kind of online experience would we create? I think it presents an opportunity, if people are interested, to try and test some of our ideas about the forms of online learning in a way that could also have some profitable outcomes!!

    Anyone else inspired? Want to give it a go?

    For more details on the competition click here, or to view past created games visit Hidden Agenda Games.


    Do you Play to Relax?

    Submitted by Jessica Mezei on Wed, 10/07/2009 - 10:15am.
    Jessica Mezei's picture

    As apart of a current research project, my team is exploring relaxation techniques and habits people use. We are specifically looking for instances of gameplay that people use as a way to relax.

    Therefore, if you play a game or know of a game that is relaxing or soothing to you in some way PLEASE take this survey to help us in our research. If you have any further comments or questions please feel free to ask me, or leave comments.

    XML feed