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Trend: Being Green The first monolithic dome built as a school was based in Emmett, Idaho in 1987. When I was recently at home in Toronto, I picked up a metro paper and found this article that featured domes as efficient models for schools. The dome is such an efficient shape having lower surface area, and less building material required making them efficient when it comes to energy conservation and holding heat. The benefits are both short- and long-term. In the short-term, a Monolithic Dome school usually costs less to construct, in both time and money, than a conventional building of the same size. In the long-term, a Monolithic Dome's energy-efficiency and low maintenance allow it to operate very economically. Other long-term benefits include the dome's strength, longevity and ability to survive virtually any natural or man-made disaster. The idea has spread across North America. Below are a few examples of schools that have been using this model. For further information check out the Monolithic Dome School site that features news about these spaces. Bishap Nevins Academy, in Sarasota Florida School of Communication Arts, Idaho Falls
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Unfortunately, the global ranking of the American educational system has continued to be documented as falling behind many other leading nations. According to the Global Competitiveness Report in 2009-2010 the USA struggles to compete with international programs in the areas of education expenditure, quality of math and science education, and quality of primary education. As shown below, the USA ranks 48th in the world in the quality of math and science programs. We also have seen from test scores that this is one of the key areas where USA needs to improve education to keep up with the rest of the world. Math and science education should teach students how to solve problems, become more creative, gain self-confidence, and they should have fun learning. So what can the US do to improve such areas and create programs and assessments that make them leaders in education? Stanford University professor and noted researcher Linda Darling-Hammond discusses what the United States can learn from high-achieving countries on teaching, learning, and assessment -- from Finland to Singapore. Big Thinkers: Linda Darling-Hammond on Becoming Internationally Competitive -Edutopia
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Common Craft, where the product is explanation delivered in short animated videos, have unsurprisingly acquired a following of educators that are putting their videos to use. The following results are of a case study published by Common Craft, around how one school district, containing 30 schools that serve over 16,000 students, 1200 teachers and 2100 total staff is using these videos. Who is the target audience for the videos? How do they react to them? Our target is wide range — staff and students. The primary target would be our 6th grade course. The initial videos — blogs & wikis — are not used too much anymore due to our spectacular trainings (haha). Every time they are shown — the staff and students really enjoy them and certainly meets their need of learning without all the techno-garble. What problem do the videos solve? They really help solve that introduction and defining “the what is this thing” in clear and simple to understand terms. Too often us ‘techies' get too confusing so this allows them to watch and learn in a non-intimidating manner (with a good chuckle or two). Since we have them in our LMS, they can review them anytime they need. How are the videos displayed or shared? Intranet? LMS? DVD? etc. Primarily our LMS — Moodle at this point. We are looking to move to Angel (budget willing). What would you say to other schools and school districts about getting the most from Common Craft videos? These videos are a great for delivering introductory explanations to new technologies in a clear and easy to understand way. I would not say "simple" — because that would imply the lack of content. Each video is full valuable information presented in a fun and engaging way. Students really like that ‘old school' animation and gets them thinking on ways they can use those same techniques in their own introductory film-making. ‘Experienced' staff members like them because they are not confused with all of the techno-garble and confusing terminology.
10 years ago
Lit: A Mobile Game for Smoking Behavior Change Needs YOU! As apart of a research project that I have been involved in since last spring, Lit: A Mobile Intervention For Nicotine Smokers, we are now recruiting people and that could involve you! The project aims to design a mobile game as an alternative strategy to cigarettes and currently in our recruiting phase, we are in need of participants for both the principle study as well as game playtesters. Please, have a look at the details of the project as well as the potential roles you could play to be involved and be in touch.
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The popular form of self expression, Graffiti is making it's mark virtually on college campuses.
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What's The Reality of Augmented Reality for Learning? Dunleavy, M.,Dede, C.,Mitchell, R.(2009) Affordances and Limitations of Immersive Participatory Augmented Reality Simulations for Teaching and Learning.Journal of Science Education and Technology(18),7—22 Article Review Responding to the need for studies that explore how immersive technologies can be leveraged for enhanced learning, this study provides details of an augmented reality (AR) tool. Alien Contact! was designed with funding by the U.S. Department of Education and in collaboration with MIT and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The master goal of the curriculum unit using AR technology is to discover why the aliens have landed. However, in order to collect sufficient evidence to form a hypothesis, the students must successfully complete multiple sub-tasks requiring math, language arts, and scientific literacy skills applied through an inquiry process. However, this article not only shared perspectives of the student learners but also included a teacher lens. As reflected in their conceptual model, it showcased the the connections of immersive media to current conceptions of how people learn which then directly effects the ways in which students and teachers form their roles. To uncover the reality of this model and how middle and high school teachers and students describe teaching and learning within a participatory AR simulation, a design based approach was used. Their approach also featured emphasis on multiple case study designs used for both student and teacher audiences. The findings from this inquiry included trends such as high student engagement, physical interactions, distributed knowledge through role play, logistical management, student cognitive overload, hardware/software issues, competition and previously disengaged students. These perspectives are useful to researchers interested in understanding the nuanced details of the interactions that new media immersive technologies can offer. It is also useful for teacher educators to be aware of the challenges that arise with the technologies so that they can better promote appropriate technologies and support teachers. Further, as the study was able to collect, this AR experience from the student perspective was also able to capture the teacher perspective. It is fruitful to consider the teachers' role in the evaluation of a tool and is something that is often missing from the assessment of many of the new learning technologies. The study also mentions necessary further enhancements to this research that there is still much work to be done around the issues of the kind of pedagogies that can support the use of such tools, as well as creating a clearer picture of what factors affect how such practices are enacted. The reality of these kinds of technologies remain connected mainly with research agendas to evaluate newly designed tools. Further study will be needed to understand the place these tools potentially have on formal or informal learning settings. Connection to the Edlab Considering the missions of the EdLab, this work situates itself both in the future of learning, re-imagining schooling as well as efficiencies in educational research. In understanding what kinds of learning interactions, moving towards immersive technologies are becoming more and more relevant and prevalent. As this study also implored a design-based research approach, it is a model that is also becoming more accepted in the field as its affordances make sense with the details that need to be uncovered in educational situations. Full Article
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Opportunities for online education are changing the way we consider how to 'go to school'. A company called Supercool School has announced its plans to reinvent online education by allowing people to quickly and easily start their own web-based schools. The video below offers more specific details about the platform. This this article describes the founders' goal of creating a Ning for education. So far, more than 100 schools have already been created on the Supercool School platform since it launched in January. "Become an education entrepreneur and start educating people around the world." This platform could have implications for the Teaching and Learning project as we had considered Ning as a platform. I am interested in learning more about the affordances that Supercool School offers.
10 years ago
More highlights from the sessions I have been attending included design based research in science education and developing inquiry-based curriculum materials. The strand around design based research featured a collaborative National Science Foundation grant funded project with the University of Michigan. They are designing an inquiry science environment based on CAST's Universal Design principles. This session focused on the design aspect of the project and how they were pilot testing the application with multiple audiences and iterating based on the results. The online science environment aims to allow students the chance to interact with avatar's for aid in their learning, and they are looking to find which specific features of their application help what profile of students. This project was interesting in the sense that the UDL principles are becoming more and more relevant as we design applications because if we design at a level for those that may have learning disabilities it allows us to include that population where they may have been left out otherwise. It is a perspective that is abut designing for all students and as certain science policies call for 'science for all' or 'no child left behind' such access for all has to be considered. Additionally, in the scientific inquiry vein the session featuring multiple BSCS presentations provided a current evaluation of inquiry-based curricula developed and tested with multiple audiences to understand learning gains. The presentations featured at NARST are available on their website for further specific details. But where I found this section particularly interesting was the discussions generated after each of the sessions. Particularly around the acknowledgment that there is still so much unknown around the construct of 'inquiry' and even people who are leaders in developing materials for it struggle with articulating how all the pieces fit together, but recognize and encourage continued scholarship. The session ended with an encouraging message that we need to work as a community to parse out the nuances and build a clearer picture.
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10 years ago
Today, I attended a session featuring Chris Dede, Yasmin Kafai and Melissa Gresalfi in which they discussed their current work related to science education as well as provided an overview of where such technologies have come from and the current landscape.  Gresalfi presented on behalf of the Quest Atlantis (QA) group and discussed the design of the world as representing problem based learning and how they design for engagement. Specifically, in school procedural engagement and conceptual engagement are the focus. However, when designing the quests for QA, the designers argue that not only do you need both of those strategies, they also adopt  two additional goals for engagement (1)consequential engagement: connect tool use to implications (what does ph level tell me about why fish dying?) and (2)critical engagement: decision making on students part as agents of change within the space. So from a development perspective, I think that these design frameworks provide insight toward future expectations of learners when they enter learning spaces.   Chris Dede provided information on two of his current works. One being a science virtual world called ecoMUVE based in real locations in the community as spaces to interact with relevant science problems. Questions around transfer from the virtual world to the real world were discussed indicating that there is really no definitive research around this topic. Dede spoke of a study done with RiverCity that had shown results to support near transfer but because the focus currently seems to be around developing these spaces, more research around transfer will be a future direction for study. The second project Dede spoke about included an assessment focused project virtualassessment.org, which they have so far created three immersive worlds as a summative assessment application for science learning. Specifically, students would face a problem and have 90 minutes to use science inquiry skills to solve the issue. This project is an example of the pioneering work that is happening around using virtual applications to collect more robust data around student interactions with content far beyond what paper and pencil tests can measure. It is still in early stages and they need to test the algorithm that matches the database of student actions in the space with an inquiry framework and can accurately recognize and distinguish such skill sets are unknown at this stage but will no doubt be figured out in the near future.  Kafai provided an overview of how games and  virtual spaces have developed and the state if things currently. She covered:     Games in education Games and content/ inquiry skills   Games and participation This section made me wonder about the adoption and sustainability of virtual environments and games in future learning experiences. Will assessment be a driving feature of how these applications chisel a role within educational contexts? As Dede mentioned, barcodes and electronic technology voided the need for physical inventory and similarly these applications have the potential to be used as continuous robust formative assessments and change the way we can asses skill--we just need to break ground in creating a system that can support it which is the issue being studied now.        
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10 years ago
Today I am blogging from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) conference in Philadelphia. I am at a presentation by Janice Anderson and Mike Barnett which deals with a pre service teacher experience to develop physics content knowledge using the game Supercharged! So the pre service teachers are acting as students learning physics.  A summary of what gameplay provided as seen by their results includes: -allowed students to be in charge and experience force they showed while playing the game...
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