Education Can Change The World (5 Ways Tech) – Tae Yoo

Twenty years ago, Cisco recognized a shift toward a knowledge-based economy. We felt it was important that everyone have an opportunity to participate in this economy—and that education, combined with technology, would have the power to achieve that. From this, Cisco Networking Academy was born.

What began as an act of community turned into a global movement as schools, students, and teachers were inspired to harness the power of technology to provide the skills people and businesses need to thrive in the digital economy.

Today, we look back at how this IT-and-career-skills-building program has reached 7.8 million students in 180 countries since 1997 and highlight best practices and lessons we’ve learned along the way.

1. Adapt to technology trends and ensure programs are digital, flexible, hands on, and relevant.

Technology is transforming the nature of jobs and continuously evolving the needs of today’s employers. New technologies are connecting everything, intuitively adapting, and better protecting users and their data. Research from Gartner shows that 1.4 million full time employees will be needed to deliver application and business services for the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020, and education programs must prepare students for these changing needs.

Today, we provide students a more personalized and flexible education experience, as well as the opportunity to build deeper knowledge through collaboration and experiential learning. In addition to classroom-based, face-to-face instruction, we also offer a portion of our curricula directly to students for those who want to learn at their own pace.

From the start, students are encouraged to solve real-world problems on their own or in groups, just as they will in the workplace. For example, Cisco’s Packet Tracer, a network simulation and visualization tool, allows for student-directed, open-ended network building.

It facilitates the teaching and learning of complex technology concepts and promotes the development of essential career skills, such as teamwork, critical thinking, and creative problem solving. Additionally, hackathons and hands-on lab challenges allow students to create solutions together.

2. Continuously introduce new digital skills.

Changes in the technology landscape mean students need to continuously master new digital skills. Technical education programs today must include areas of study such as security, machine learning, and programming, and evolve as technology does.

We partner with in-house experts, governments, educational institutions, and employers, and use research to ensure our curricula portfolio remains relevant over the long term. Networking Academy builds a solid digital foundation through courses like Cybersecurity Training Essentials and Programming Essentials in C, and students can also acquire career-ready skills that prepare them for entry-level jobs in networking and cybersecurity.

We regularly develop new courses that cover big data, analytics, and device connectivity, some of the fastest-growing job areas. Our learning portfolio strategy, the material we create and teach, has recently been broadened to include cloud security, automation, and machine learning to better prepare our students for today’s digital workforce.

Additionally, Networking Academy builds the capacity of instructors through instructor training centers and ongoing professional development. Based on survey feedback, instructors said that their involvement with Networking Academy has helped them become better educators, broaden their careers, and develop professional relationships.

3. Build an inclusive program.

By leveraging both traditional and non-traditional education channels, education programs can reach a more diverse set of students. Current education cost models can be prohibitively expensive, and we must focus on programs that provide affordable and accessible education to all, regardless of socio-economic background, geographic location, gender, or life stage.

Networking Academy courses are offered at high schools, universities, and community colleges, and through partnerships with governments and ministries of education. We target individuals looking to launch their careers, re-skill, or find new jobs.

We reach traditionally underserved communities such as remote populations and people with diverse abilities. Over the past decade, more than 3,000 students with disabilities have benefited from Networking Academy courses.

4. Scale impact through public-private partnerships.

Effective and strategic public-private partnerships between business, government, and academia are critical in providing access to and support for instructors, reaching students at scale, and ensuring curricula is providing relevant skills for today’s workforce.

While educational partners can provide instructors, classrooms, lab equipment, and help attract students to the program, business partners can enhance the program with curricula, online assessments, a learning management system, hands-on labs and competitions, instructor professional development, and connections to job opportunities.

Networking Academy’s global reach depends on the 22,000 instructors at more than 10,400 educational institutions who deliver our curricula worldwide. Our partners are at the forefront of new teaching methods and resources, delivering not only technical training, but also the problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills students need to get a job or start a business.

Technology—specifically a cloud-scale platform—has been critical to achieving a wide reach as well. Using the latest technologies and architecture drives performance and provides a rich experience for students, instructors, and administrators.

5. Set students up for career success.

There is currently a mismatch between the skills employees have and the skills companies need. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.7 million people across the country are unemployed, though 5.8 million unfilled jobs were available.

Nearly half of U.S. employers can’t find qualified candidates, with many citing a lack of technical skills as a top reason. In the IT industry that number is worse, with 86 percent of hiring managers challenged to find people with the right skills. Connecting student to employers is a vital step in closing this gap.

Networking Academy provides students with a range of career support services—from webinars to career advice to career-pathway options. Cisco has a strong ecosystem of 60,000 global partners, and for the past 20 years our students have found jobs with many of them.

We recently began pilot testing a talent-matching engine to more easily connect students with partner employment opportunities. More than 70 percent of our students who complete advanced courses go on to obtain a new or better job, increased responsibilities, and/or higher pay.

Networking Academy not only equips students with digital skills, it empowers students to become global problem solvers. Our program is designed to enable students to innovate as technologists, think as entrepreneurs, and act as social change agents. They are prepared to help businesses grow and flourish, but also to start their own businesses or address pressing global challenges.

We hope that our students’ inspirational stories incite others to harness the power of technology and become global problem solvers.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

How To Transform Problem Solving – Cheryl Capozzoli

Technology has become vital to our day-to-day lives and critical in the K-12 classroom. In a tech-saturated market, parents of our students have raised questions about how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact their future careers.

Whether you believe AI has potential to meet or surpass human intelligence, it is imperative that we equip students with skills to match the nearing demands of the future workplace. Computational thinking (CT) is the latest skill set that addresses the demands of the future workplace.

CT enables us to analyze and process data algorithmically, and often visually. CT offers a process for problem-solving, where one develops a series of steps (an algorithm) to solve open-ended problems. Put simply, it’s a framework to approach problems like a computer would: by processing data in a well-defined series of steps.

Harrisburg School District implements a 5th “C”

By introducing our students and staff to CT as a thought process, we have been able to provide skills to more deeply engage in problem solving. Many standards identify the 4Cs of 21st-century skills—critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration—as the most vital skills needed for success today.

If educators and students begin using CT as a more systematic way of thinking about solving real-world problems, the better we can prepare our students for a future in computer science or STEM. At Harrisburg School District in Pennsylvania, we have taken initiative to teach the CT skill to our K-12 students. After all, computation is how the world around us operates.

Rallying staff, student, and parent support

With a clear, district wide goal in mind, we partnered with Discovery Education and Tata Consultancy Services to support our vision for equity in STEM. The Ignite My Future In School initiative is a five-year commitment to transform the way our students learn. We adapted the program’s curriculum, career vignettes, and teacher training in collaboration with staff, students, and parents. With an emphasis on equity, we designed an approach that demonstrates our dedication to all support systems that surround our students.

Before integrating CT into curriculum, we hosted a professional learning day with staff to introduce the nature of computational thinking and computer science. The day was dedicated to exploring methods to engage our students in deeper levels of thinking and learning across subjects. Following this, we invited parents to share our experiences in an open and friendly environment. We introduced parents to CT and shared resources and games to enforce concepts at home.

Exploring cross-curricular connections

The key to successfully integrating a CT program is to start simple. We’ve found that basic data sets are a great way to introduce CT concepts to students. Data.gov offers information collected by the U.S. government in nearly every topic imaginable. Find more free resources here.

Curriculum Connector activities assist our staff in creating engaging lessons and tasks in which students learn to use the seven key CT strategies. Students are required to collect, analyze, and decompose data so that they can better understand large amounts of information. This helps them to see the larger picture to create designs that solve complex problems.

Students are also encouraged to use models to design algorithmic computing methods to create a model or a simulation. For example, our eighth-grade students recently used CT to design a SMART tiny home to become comfortable with the “CT mindset.”

For educators looking to introduce CT concepts into curriculum, be prepared to make continuous changes to your lessons. Embrace the fact that CT is prone to change as technology changes. Leave room for adjustments in your curriculum from year to year.

Our 6th “C”: commitment

Computational thinking is a new way to process information within our school community, but we are excited to have embarked on this journey because we know that it is vital for our students to be successful thinkers, problem solvers, inventors, scientists, and divergent 21st-century leaders.

We want to empower students with the confidence that they are fully capable of approaching an unfamiliar problem independently and solving the challenges most important to them. Through our continued work and partnership, we will sustain our priority to provide a modern and equitable education to all students.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

7 Tips To Better Define Personalized Learning – Laura Ascione

personalized learning

Personalized learning is a pretty well-known term, but educators have different definitions for personalized learning, making for a sometimes-confusing approach to its implementation.

Now, a new report seeks to apply a common definition to personalized learning and outline best practices for educators to advocate for the practice in their districts.

The report comes from Education Elements and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and it defines personalized learning as “tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs, and interests—including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn—to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible.”

According to the report, the four core elements of personalized learning include:

  • Flexible content and tools: Instructional materials allow for differentiated path, pace, and performance tasks
  • Targeted instruction: Instruction aligns to specific student needs and learning goals
  • Student reflection and ownership: Ongoing student reflection promotes ownership of learning
  • Data driven decisions: Frequent data collection informs instructional decisions and groupings

The authors outline a handful of tips to help communicate ideas around personalized learning.

1. Focus on the future. The goal of personalized learning is to ensure that students will be adequately prepared with the knowledge and skills they need for college or career.

2. Highlight benefits to families, including the idea that personalized learning can give parents a deeper understanding of how their child is progressing and will improve opportunities for collaboration with teachers. It also can provide opportunities for increased interaction with teachers and peers, and can encourage higher levels of student engagement.

3. Highlight benefits to students. Students are encouraged to play a greater role—and be more invested—in their learning. Instruction will be tailored to a student’s strengths and interest to keep them more engaged in their learning. Students can learn at a flexible pace that’s right for them in order to ensure they have thoroughly learned the material.

4. Highlight benefits to teachers. Personalized learning will give teachers the flexibility and tools they need to meet the needs of each child.

5. For district leaders: Make sure the vision for personalizing learning is clear, that the “why” is commonly understood and that you develop messaging that makes sense for your entire community, not just those steeped in education jargon. Use words and phrases that work. Provide preferred messaging to your district staff and your principals so they don’t need to start from scratch. Communicate often with your teachers, families and community.

6. For school leaders: Talk about personalized learning whenever you can. Include examples in newsletters to highlight how it helps students, not the software you are using. Remember this is something most families want, so celebrate that you are doing it… or starting it. There is tremendous momentum behind this evolution in teaching and learning. Whenever possible, share those stories from your own school.

7. For teachers: Hang signs in your classrooms; talk about personalized learning on Back to School Nights and during parent conferences. Help your students understand why things are different. While you are among the best messengers, your students can be a huge asset because what they perceive and what they say really impacts what families think. Invite families into your classroom and show them how you are now better supporting their children

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Here’s How We Made Data Usable For Our Teachers – Martinrex Kedziora

In today’s digital classroom, teachers have access to more data than ever. With a few clicks, we can view detailed reports on student test scores, formative assessments, progress reports from self-paced software, attendance, and so much more. At times, the amount of data can feel overwhelming, especially when each data point only exists as an isolated channel, unrelated to the next.

I am not saying that multiple data measures are a bad thing; in fact, they can help us to differentiate instruction, personalize learning, and really meet each of our students where they are academically. As administrators, it is critical that we help our teachers collect the most meaningful data points by giving them the tools they need to quickly interpret figures to make informed decisions in their classroom.

In my district, Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) in California, our data showed that our students were really struggling in math. Our state test scores were low and, with the changing rigor of Common Core, parents were coming to me concerned that they were not able to help their child with assignments. I knew we had to do something outside the box—and quickly—to catch our struggling students and prevent them from falling further behind.

Step 1: Finding the right data
We knew that MVUSD’s math scores were low on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). For our students that were not meeting proficiency, the score alone did not show a clear picture of the specific skills they needed to master to catch back up to grade level. Our teachers needed a tool to pinpoint skill gaps for individual students so we could be more targeted in our interventions.

After much research, it was clear that we would benefit from administering benchmark assessments. Unlike traditional summative assessments like the CAASPP that simply determine content mastery, a good interim assessment allows educators to get a snapshot of what an individual student knows, is able to do, and is ready to learn next.

While there are many assessment options, we chose NWEA MAP Growth because it had the most research behind it. Our students take a computer-adaptive assessment a few times each year that adjusts to each student’s responses. Teachers get detailed reports that identify individual student needs and show projected proficiency through the school year and over multiple years. Administrators get higher-level reports that make it simple to do a temper-check several times throughout the year (instead of just at the end of the school year) and measure longitudinal growth.

Step 2: Connecting interventions to our data
Now that we were collecting the right data to isolate the instructional areas MVUSD students were ready to tackle, we needed to provide our teachers with additional resources to help them differentiate instruction. Teachers can use MAP data to identify common pain points to inform their lesson plans, but the granular data allows us to personalize learning even further. We know the specific topics students need to close skill gaps, but with an average class size of 24, it can be difficult to find the time for one-on-ones with each student.

As a district, we sought out the interventions that could take MAP growth data to the next level. I think the best example is the one-to-one online tutoring program we provide to students who scored a level 1 or level 2 on their math CAASPP.

We worked with FEV Tutor, who took individual students’ fall RIT scores (grade-level equivalences) to create personalized tutoring plans for each student. Depending on the school site, students worked one-on-one with their own professional tutor during the day or at an after-school program. All tutoring was online, and since it was one-to-one, students could work through the specific learning strands identified on their learning plan with the support of a live instructor.

Each online tutoring session concluded with an exit ticket. Teachers and administrators saw this data on a weekly basis, which allowed our teachers to see—in real time—how their students were progressing through their learning plans. If students were continuing to struggle, it was a warning that students would not likely reach their projected growth goals for the year and that we should explore additional interventions.

At the end of the tutoring program, the team at FEV Tutor did a full analysis to examine the impact. In academic year 2016-2017, MVUSD set a district-wide goal for 50 percent of all students to meet or exceed their fall to spring MAP Growth goals. We are pleased to share that 69 percent of FEV Tutor participants met or exceeded their fall to spring MAP Growth goals in math, compared to 17 percent of students who were identified for tutoring but did not participate.

Step 3: Connecting data points
MAP Growth is a great sign of students working their way toward proficiency; however, it is important to match this data into overall student performance. To try and get a clearer picture of the impact online tutoring had on student achievement, MVUSD’s department of accountability and assessment worked with FEV Tutor to examine the impact that online tutoring had on the CAASPP.

We saw that students who participated in FEV tutoring grew by an average of +26 scale score points from the spring 2016 CAASPP to the spring 2017 CAASPP, compared to +22 points for non-FEV Tutor participants. By taking a deeper dive into the data we found that, across the district, students who participated in 10 or more tutoring sessions had the highest rate of performance-level movement.

For students that took 10 or more sessions, the percentage who scored a level 3 (standard met) or level 4 (standard exceeded) grew by 15 percentage points from the spring 2016 to spring 2017 CAASPP. The percentage of students who scored a level 2 (standard nearly met) grew by 13 percentage points. This 13-percent increase is specifically significant at MVUSD because most students who participated in the FEV tutoring program scored a level 1 (standard not met) on the 2016 CAASPP.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Top 5 TED-Ed Lessons On Creativity – Ellen Ullman

“Do schools kill creativity?” asks Sir Ken Robinson in the most-viewed TED Talk of all time (more than 51 million!). In the video, Robinson challenges schools to promote and inspire creativity, but it’s difficult to know where to start, and some teachers aren’t sure if it’s possible.

“I don’t think creativity can be taught,” says Rayna Freedman, a fifth-grade teacher at Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, Massachusetts. “It’s an experience that inspires students to think beyond their potential and see things differently. It’s about giving them tools and choice to complete tasks and let them fly.”

Other educators disagree.

“Everyone is creative in their own way,” says Nicholas Provenzano, makerspace director at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan and blogger at The Nerdy Teacher. “Too many people view creativity as a connection to the arts. The idea that creative students are the ones that can draw or effectively use glitter glue is nuts. Some students are super creative when it comes to solving problems or creating games during recess. Some are amazing storytellers.”

Doug Johnson, a former classroom teacher who now serves as technology director for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Schools in Minnesota, agrees: “One of the biggest myths is that creativity only belongs in the arts. We may think of creativity as a nice extra, but a lot of us have to be creative on a daily basis.”

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Johnson asks: “Do I want a creative dentist? I’d rather have someone who follows best practices and isn’t experimenting on my mouth, but I do want a creative problem solver who will use nontraditional methods when the traditional ones don’t work.”

How to inspire creativity

Johnson recommends several things teachers can do to encourage creativity, such as asking for multiple possible answers to questions or giving points for “design” on assignments, in his blog post “Myths of creativity” and in his book Teaching Outside the Lines: Developing Creativity in Every Learner.

For Provenzano, creativity is about giving students a time and place to be creative. “I am always an advocate of teachers modeling what they want to see from their students,” he says. “Teachers cannot give students multiple-choice tests and worksheets all year and then wonder why their students are not more creative.”

If you’re looking for more ideas and resources, here are the 5 most popular TED-Ed Lessons on teaching and assessing creativity.

1. The power of creative constraints
Imagine you were asked to invent something new. It could be whatever you want, made from anything you choose, in any shape or size. That kind of creative freedom sounds so liberating, doesn’t it? Or … does it? if you’re like most people you’d probably be paralyzed by this task. Why? Brandon Rodriguez explains how creative constraints actually help drive discovery and innovation.

2. Why should you listen to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons?”
Light, bright, and cheerful, “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi is some of the most familiar of all early 18th-century music, featured in numerous films and television commercials. But what is its significance, and why does it sound that way? Betsy Schwarm uncovers the underlying narrative of this musical masterpiece.

3. Music and math: The genius of Beethoven
How is it that Beethoven, who is celebrated as one of the most significant composers of all time, wrote many of his most beloved songs while going deaf? The answer lies in the math behind his music. Natalya St. Clair employs the “Moonlight Sonata” to illustrate the way Beethoven was able to convey emotion and creativity using the certainty of mathematics.

4. How playing an instrument benefits your brain
When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

5. Can robots be creative?
People have been grappling with the question of artificial creativity— alongside the question of artificial intelligence—for over 170 years. For instance, could we program machines to create high-quality original music? And if we do, is it the machine or the programmer that exhibits creativity? Gil Weinberg investigates this creative conundrum

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

New Technologies Allow You to Do Business (and Compete) From Anywhere – Amarillo

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Everyone knows just how much of an impact technology has had on global business, but if there’s one segment that has benefited the most from technological innovation it’s entrepreneurs. With mobile phones, cloud computing, do-it-yourself accounting software and ubiquitous connectivity, business owners can now create successful companies quickly and from anywhere.

However, with so much technology out there, it can be hard to know what programs and tools are essential for getting a company off the ground and growing. There are some must-haves, though, including these five types of tech.

Super-Size Your Storage

In today’s world, most budding businesses need far more storage than their computers can provide. Things like high-resolutions photos, data-heavy PowerPoints and an endless stream of documents will max out CPU storage in no time. Fortunately, cloud-based companies like Dropbox, Box, Apple and Google offer several terabytes of data for a reasonable monthly cost.

These programs also make collaboration easier as you can quickly share files and folders with contractors and employees. Thanks to these storage sites that many small companies can create a global workforce from the start.

Keep Up With Collaboration

Whether you’re in an office or have a remote workforce located in different cities, being able to collaborate and connect with staffers quickly is a must. Over the last few years, sites like Slack, Basecamp, Trello and others have revolutionized the way small business employees interact with one another.

Forget e-mail–you can now send messages to individuals or teams in an instant, you can work together, in real-time, on complex projects, and you can even build camaraderie by creating “channels” dedicated to more social communication. Messages and files are also easily searchable, making it difficult to lose something important.

Crunch The Numbers

As excited you may be about your brilliant idea, you still need to run a business. That means keeping receipts, adding up bills, doing taxes and other more mundane work. While it may still be a good idea to have an accountant nearby, technology can, and should, take care of most of this work.

Quicken, the classic accounting software, is still popular for tax work, but other programs like Wave Accounting, Xero and Zoho Books come with a variety of features like invoicing, payroll, bill payments and other mission critical applications and fall well within the budgets of most small businesses.

Show Your Face

Instant messaging and email only goes so far. In many cases, you still want to see clients or employees face-to-face–maybe you have to walk them through a presentation or just want to catch up. That’s why having a good video program is critical for small businesses today.

You’ll want to find software that allows you hold meetings with multiple participants, share files with people on a call and you may want to be able to record conferences for future viewing. Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, Zoom.us and GoToMeeting are just some of the popular video conferencing sites to choose from. While it may not be quite as good as a face-to-face meeting, it saves a fortune in travel costs and wear and tear.

Set Up A Store

There was once a time when creating a consumer-focused e-commerce website was a painstaking process. Now, though, sites like Shopify and Tictail let even the smallest companies create sleek websites with all the e-commerce fixings. Companies like these have been a boon to entrepreneurs-

They let users create online shops in snap and take a variety of payment options, such as credit card and PayPal, so that every potential customer can buy what you’re selling. It only takes a few hours to get a store up and running and turn your company into a potentially global business.

While there are plenty of other useful technologies out there–security software, customer relationship management programs and so on–incorporate these five tools into your budding business and you could find yourself ahead of the competition in no time.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5 you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

The Question Game: A Playful Way To Teach Critical Thinking – Sophie Wrobel

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Big idea: Teaching kids to ask smart questions on their own

A four-year-old asks on average about 400 questions per day, and an adult hardly asks any. Our school system is structured around rewards for regurgitating the right answer, and not asking smart questions – in fact, it discourages asking questions. With the result that as we grow older, we stop asking questions.

Yet asking good questions is essential to find and develop solutions, and an important skill in innovation, strategy, and leadership. So why do we stop asking questions – and more importantly, why don’t we train each other, and our future leaders, to ask the right questions starting from early on?

In A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, Warren Berger suggests that there are three main questions which help in problem solving: Why questions, What If questions, and How questions.

Regardless of the question, the question needs to be phrased openly and positively in order to achieve positive results – a closed or negative question only raises bad feelings against each other.

  • Why questions help to find the root of a problem
  • What If questions open up the floor for creative solutions
  • How questions focus on developing practical solutions

So, perhaps, this lesson can be adapted to help trigger young children to start solve problems early too and stop accepting whatever the kindergarten teacher says to be fact? And perhaps, continue to keep up these inquiring and probing abilities later on in life?

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The Question Game focuses on teaching children a kind of thinking which is particularly useful in creative problem-solving–a focused approach to get from a problem to the most effective solution. It is most effective when combined with regular repetition, which solidifies the thought pattern, and with groups, which encourages contributory exploration of alternative responses and creativity.

Thinking strategy is just one of many qualities that are necessary for imparting charisma and leadership skills to the next generation. Many of us would claim that we don’t have the ‘natural gift’ that charismatic leaders like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi had. However, charisma and leadership are qualities that, to a large extent, can be cultivated and trained.

With soft skills becoming more important in today’s job market, cultivating these skills early on can provide children with an additional edge in becoming effective, active citizens in our society. These skills can be broadly grouped into four logical skills and four emotional skills:

  • Logical skills: risk-taking, thinking strategy, creativity, and negotiation.
  • Emotional skills: persuasion, emotional connection, body language, and dealing with vulnerability.

Of these eight skills, the Question Game focuses on thinking strategy and creativity, and aims to solidify the critical thinking thought pattern from an early age onwards.

Introducing The Question Game

Preparation: print out the figure in the illustration, cut it out and glue the tabs together to form a cube.

  1. One simple idea is to pick up your favorite illustrated fairy tale book–the kind of book you’d read a two-year-old for bedtime stories. (This also works with most fictional works; the natural ‘break point‘ for questions is at the end of a plot development or paragraph for older audiences.)
  2. On each page, roll the cube and answer the question together. I’ll bet you’d be surprised by what turns Little Red Riding Hood can take. And more importantly after a while you and your child will both start asking these questions reflexively.

Evaluating Learning Progress

My personal experience introducing the game to my two children (aged Pre-K) is a gradual acceptance of the game and associated learning goals:

  1. Initial excitement: Rolling the cube puts the child in control and made a fun addition to reading their picture books; they couldn’t wait for their turn to roll the cube.
  2. Distress: The questions are hard, especially when they aren’t used to this sort of thinking pattern and are accustomed to the ’teacher knows everything’ thinking pattern. Here, my children often asked if we could read ‚without the cube‘, or ‚I don’t want to roll, but ___ can roll and answer the question.’
  3. Acceptance: As they start to recognize that there isn’t a single correct answer, and they begin to understand what each question is trying to achieve, they begin to enjoy the game and insist that we read ‘with the cube‘.
  4. Application: During more abstract conversations, discussions, or observing how the children go about solving day-to-day problems during play. Example: a particular lego construction doesn’t quite work, even though it was‚ built according to instructions‘–and the child goes about investigating what is wrong and fixing it himself. Another example: When they ask me questions and I give them answers that obviously don’t make sense, I get more pointed questions than just ‘why?‘ as a response.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

4 Stages Of Edtech Integration From A Student Perspective – Terry Heick

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Technology can be used in the learning process in a variety of ways. Some are supplementary, serving the original design of the classroom and usually automate some previously by-human task or process–grading multiple choice assessments, searching for a source of information, or sharing messages and other data across large groups.

But fully integrated and embedded in the learning process, technology can be transformative–and disruptive. Below the idea of technology in learning is framed in stages, from “on learning” and externally-directed, to “in learning,” and self-directed. This is not to imply that stage 1 is “bad” and that learners should always be given free-reign with powerful technology. The age of graduated release of responsibility model (show me, help me, let me), as always, holds true here as well.

Scaffolding the learning of anything unfamiliar–somehow–is a way of supporting the learner and setting them up for long-term independent success. How to use this framework isn’t cut-and-dry.

Should all learners begin a school year at stage 1 and move as far as they can towards stage 4? (Probably not.)

Can a planned learning experience be evaluated using this framework in mind? That is, understanding which stage the planned learning experience operates within and revising accordingly? (This sounds better.)

Can schools be designed differently with this approach in mind? From teacher professional development to funding and curriculum policies? (Hopefully, yes.)

And further, how can we begin to design learning so that it automatically scales to the available technology, the technical proficiency of that learner, and the personalized learning needs of the student? (Jackpot.)

The 4 Stages Of The Integration Of Technology In Learning

Stage 1: Learners are directed in their use of technology

Asynchronous access to information and peer networks. Some ability for learner to select platform, technology, or even content. Traditional classroom learning begins to be disrupted.

Stage 2: This stage is characterized by powerful access to information, networks, and communities, but is mostly unable to leverage that access without supporting frameworks or planning.

Learners are directed in their selection and constructivist use of technology in the learning process, traditionally to accomplish purely academic tasks that are fully accessible without the technology.

Stage 3: Mobile technology erodes traditional classroom. Truly mobile learners should disrupt non-flexible curriculum.

Mobile learning experiences are inherently unpredictable, requiring varied communication, critical thinking, and aggressive resourcefulness. Standards-based academic work struggles for gravity working against this stage of technology integration.

Stage 4: This final stage of technology implementation necessitates learners to consistently self-direct critical, core components of learning experiences.

Self-direction based on curiosity and play while supported by personalized learning algorithms and the connectivity of authentic networks characterizes this final stage of technology integration. Traditional classroom learning is fully disrupted.

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The Benefits Of Using Blended Learning To Improve Learner Engagement – Peter Schroeder

Blended learning offers the flexibility of online learning, with the personalization and real-world application of in-person training. It helps improve engagement with your target audience, increase retention, as well as reduce churn, increase revenue, and contribute to the growth of your company.

Discussing The Benefits Of Using Blended Learning

When appropriately implemented, blended learning can be the key to better-skilled employees, happier customers, and more productive channel partners.

What Is Blended Learning In The Workplace?

Blended learning in business is learner-centric and informal, with a focus on training skills. The learning is conducted using traditional face-to-face methods, as well as online training courses to provide learners with a deep understanding of the material.

Business or training managers oversee the training similar to how a professor would manage the studies and course materials in an academic setting. They are there to fill in the content gaps and supplement the training.

Benefits Of Blended Learning For The Learner

There are many benefits of blended learning. Learners have the flexibility of being able to access training materials on their own time and schedule, regardless of geographical location and time zone. This is a significant advantage, especially for companies with a global workforce. The online side enables learners to learn at their own pace to truly engage in the course activities, absorb the material, and apply the skills and knowledge acquired when working in their role.

While the in-person side of the blended learning enables collaboration between team members to help with brainstorming ideas, sharing feedback, fostering a positive work culture. Face-to-face training can also offer more personalized experiences as trainers can connect with the learners in a physical location to provide hands-on training and foster participation.

A healthy mix of both will ensure your learners are receiving appropriate training that is most effective for their learning style and the topics covered.

Business Benefits Of Blended Learning

The benefits of blended learning are not restricted solely to the learner; there are advantages for the business as well. Blended learning reduces training costs by minimizing the number of time trainers need to spend conducting live training.

As more of the training program are moved to an online setting, content maintenance becomes more natural. For example, instead of having to conduct a new training session each time a process is changed, trainers can merely update the online content in real time. The result–employees are always up-to-date on training materials, and trainers can dedicate more attention to scaling the training program, and focusing more strategically on the initiative.

Blended learning also gives the business the ability to track online course engagement and assessment scores. Correlating these metrics with work performance can provide valuable insights into knowledge transfer and how your training impacted your employees’ skill development.

Another great benefit of blended learning is that it enables trainers and Instructional Designers to create a curriculum using various tools and mediums, such as slide decks, digital guides, videos, interactive modules, and more. This creates a more diversified and comprehensible learning experience that helps learners efficiently absorb and retain information.

Blending Learning Best Practices

There are some ways to optimize your blended learning program. Below are tips and strategies that consolidate best practices in both in-person and online training. Blended learning requires that both areas of your program be adequately woven to create an immersive learning experience that is seamless and meaningful for your learners.

  • Develop your learner personas.
    Conduct research and document who your target audience is, what they care about, and how they like to learn. This is the best and only way to create highly relevant content that captures the attention of your learners.
  • Prepare the learner by setting expectations with course objectives. 
    Ensure your training meets the learning goals you set forth and enables your team to achieve business outcomes. Create a seamless connection between the in-person training and the online training to develop a comprehensive learning experience.
  • Make the best use of each training environment.
    There will be some topics that are best covered during in-person sessions, while others can be included asynchronously in an online setting. Planning your curriculum will help you align your training with each delivery method.
  • Always be improving.
    Analyze your online course metrics, review quiz scores, and read learner feedback on your training program. Creating a training program that is tailor-made for your audience requires that you continually learn from them. Monitor their engagement and feedback and incorporate your takeaways in future iterations of your blended training program.

Next Steps

You likely have an existing in-person training program in place. Take the appropriate steps to incorporate an online component to your initiative and reshape the program accordingly. Consider using a Learning Management System (LMS) that enables you to pull different types of media together to create an entirely integrated online learning experience. The right LMS should allow you to balance your online and offline efforts, and enable you to leverage training to achieve more significant business goals.

It can seem hard to know where to start when it comes to selecting the right LMS for your business. With over 500 LMSs on the market, all with different feature sets and value propositions, it’s never been more important to do your homework before buying software.

Unlike other software categories such as Marketing Automation (HubSpot) or CRM (Salesforce), we have yet to see a clear LMS market leader emerge. The market is highly fragmented, which makes it particularly difficult for you (the buyer), to understand what the “best” options out there are. That’s why we decided to assemble The Complete LMS Buying Guide For SMBs comprehensive guide.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Assessing Maker Education Projects

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Institutionalized education has given assessment a bad reputation; often leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many teachers, students, and laypeople. This is primarily due to the testing movement, the push towards using student assessment in the form of tests as a measure of student, teacher, principal, and school accountability.

Educators should be clear about why they include assessment in their instruction; be strategic and intentional in its use. For me, assessment really should be about informing the learner about his or her performance so that increased learning and future improvement result for that learner.

Assessment is the process of gathering and discussing information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand, and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences; the process culminates when assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning. (Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses: Shifting the Focus from Teaching to Learning)

As Hattie, Fry, and Fischer note in Developing “Assessment Capable” Learners:

If we want students to take charge of their learning, we can’t keep relegating them to a passive role in the assessment process.

When we leave students out of assessment considerations, it is akin to fighting with one arm tied behind our backs. We fail to leverage the best asset we have: the learners themselves. What might happen if students were instead at the heart of the assessment process, using goals and results to fuel their own learning? ((http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb18/vol75/num05/Developing-%C2%A3Assessment-Capable%C2%A3-Learners.aspx)

Maker Education and Assessment

As maker education infiltrates more formal educational settings, there’s been and will continue to be efforts to include assessment as part of its implementation. It is important, though, to keep in mind the characteristics of maker education and the role assessment has within it.

Making innately provides evidence of learning. The artifact that results, in addition to the process that a student works through, provides a wealth of evidence, indicators, and data of their learning. Overall, though, assessing making comes back to the original (and difficult) question of what learning outcomes we’re seeking. Assessment is critical for understanding the scope and impact of learning, as well as the associated teaching, environment, culture, and content. (https://www.edutopia.org/blog/assessment-in-making-stephanie-chang-chad-ratliff)

Being a teacher, you’re constantly faced with having to assess student learning,” said Simon Mangiaracina, a sixth-grade STEM teacher. “We’re so used to grading work and giving a written assessment or a test. When you’re involved in maker education it should be more dynamic than that.” Part of the difficulty is that, in evaluating a maker project, teachers don’t want to undo all of the thinking that went into it. For instance, one of the most important lessons maker education can teach is not to fear failure and to take mistakes and let them inform an iterative design process — a research-informed variation of “guess and check” where students learn a process through a loop of feedback and evaluation.  (https://rossieronline.usc.edu/maker-education/7-assessment-types/  from USC Rossier’s online master’s in teaching program)

I have my gifted students do lots maker activities where I meet with the 2nd through 6th graders for 3 to 5 hours a week. Since I do not have to grade them (not in the traditional sense as I have to write quarterly progress reports), I don’t have to give them any tests (phew!). I do ask them, though, to assess their work. I believe as Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine, does:

[Making] is intrinsic, whereas a lot of traditional, formal school is motivated by extrinsic measures, such as grades. Shifting that control from the teacher or the expert to the participant to the non-expert, the student, that’s the real big difference here. Dale Dougherty

Christa Flores in Alternative Assessments and Feedback in a MakerEd Classroom stated:

In a maker classroom, learning is inherently experiential and can be very student driven; assessment and feedback needs to look different than a paper test to accurately document and encourage learning. Regardless of how you feel about standardized testing, making seems to be immune to it for the time being (one reason some schools skip the assessment piece and still bill making as an enrichment program). Encouragingly, the lack of any obvious right answers about how to measure and gauge success and failure in a maker classroom, as well as the ambiguity about how making in education fits into the common standards or college readiness debate, has not stopped schools from marching forward in creating their own maker programs.

If the shift of control is given to the students within maker education settings, then it follows that the students should also be in charge of their assessments. One of the goals of maker education should be self-determined learning. This should include learners engaging in their own personal and personalized form of assessment.

Student self-assessment involves students in evaluating their own work and learning progress.

Self-assessment is a valuable learning tool as well as part of an assessment process.  Through self-assessment, students can:

  • identify their own skill gaps, where their knowledge is weak
  • see where to focus their attention in learning
  • set realistic goals
  • revise their work
  • track their own progress
  • if online, decide when to move to the next level of the course

This process helps students stay involved and motivated and encourages self-reflection and responsibility for their learning. (https://teachingcommons.stanford.edu/resources/teaching/evaluating-students/assessing-student-learning/student-self-assessment)

Witnessing the wonders of making in education teaches us to foster an environment of growth and self-actualization by using forms of assessment that challenge our students to critique both their own work and the work of their peers. This is where the role of self-assessment begins to shine a light. Self-assessment can facilitate deeper learning as it requires students to play a more active role in the cause of their success and failures as well as practice a critical look at quality. (Role and Rigor of Self-Assessment in Maker Education by Christa Flores in http://fablearn.stanford.edu/fellows/sites/default/files/Blikstein_Martinez_Pang-Meaningful_Making_book.pdf)

Documenting Learning

To engage in the self-assessment process of their maker activities, I ask learners to document their learning.

We need to integrate documenting practices as part of making activities as well as designing, tinkering, digital fabrication, and programming in order to enable students to document their own learning process and experiment with the beauty of building shared knowledge. Documentation is a hard task even for adults, but it is not so hard if you design a reason and a consistent expectation that everyone will collect and organize the things they will share. (Documenting a Project Using a “Failures Box” by Susanna Tesconi in http://fablearn.stanford.edu/fellows/sites/default/files/Blikstein_Martinez_Pang-Meaningful_Making_book.pdf)

Documenting their learning can include one or a combination of the following methods:

  • Taking notes
  • Talking to a fellow learner or two.
  • Making sketches
  • Taking photos
  • Doing audio recordings
  • Making videos

(For more information, see Documenting Learning https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/documenting-learning/)

The folks at Digital Promise have the following message for maker educators regarding documentation:

Make the documentation an organic and expected part of the process. When documentation feels like it is added without reason, students struggle to engage with the documentation process. Help students consider how in-process documentation and reflection can help them adapt and improve the project they are working on. Help them see the value of taking time to stop and think.(http://global.digitalpromise.org/teachers-guide/documenting-maker-projects/)

Documenting learning during the making process serves several purposes related to assessment:

  1. It acts as ongoing and formative assessment.
  2. It gives learners the message that the process of learning is as important as the products of learning, so that their processes as well as their products are assessed. (For more information on the process of learning, see Focusing on the Process: Letting Go of Product Expectations https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2017/12/17/focusing-on-the-process-letting-go-of-product-expectations/)

Maker Project Reflections

Because many students haven’t had the experience of reflection and self-assessment, I ease them into this process.  With my gifted students, I ask them to blog their reflections after almost all of their maker education activities. They take pictures of their makes, and I ask them to discuss what they thought they did especially well, and what they would do differently in a similar future make. Here are some examples:

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Teacher and Peer Feedback

The learners’ peers and their educators can view their products, documented learning, and reflections in order to provide additional feedback. A culture of learning is established within the maker education community in that teacher and peer feedback is offered and accepted on an ongoing basis. With this type of openness and transparency of the learning process, this feedback not only benefits that individual student but also the other students as they learn from that student what worked and didn’t work which in turn can help them with their own makes.

The Use of Assessment Rubrics

As a final thought, there has been some thoughts and efforts into using rubrics as assessment tools. Here is one developed by Lisa Yokana and discussed in Creating an Authentic Maker Education Rubric 

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I think rubrics, such as this, can be of value in assessing student work and/or having them assess their own work, but I prefer more open ended forms of assessment so the learners can but more of their selves into the process.