The brain is actually three brains: the ancient reptilian brain, the limbic brain, and the cortical brain. This article will focus on the limbic brain, because it may be most important to successfully using interactive video or web-based video. The limbic brain monitors the external world and the internal body, taking in information through the senses as well as body temperature and blood pressure, among others. It is the limbic brain that generates and interprets facial expressions and handles emotions, while the cortical brain handles symbolic activities such as language as well as action and strategizing. The two interact when an emotion is sent from the limbic to the cortical brain and generates a conscious thought; in response to a feeling of fear (limbic), you ask, “what should I do?” (cortical).
The importance of direct eye contact and deciphering body language is also important for sending and picking up clues about social context.
The loss of social cues is important because it may affect the quality of the content of the presentation (by not allowing timely feedback or questions) but also because students may feel less engaged and become frustrated with the interaction, and subsequently lower their assessment of the class and the instructor (Reeves & Nass, 1996). Fortunately, faculty can provide such social cues verbally, once they are aware of the importance of helping students use these new media.
Attachment theory also supports the importance of physical and emotional connections.
As many a struggling teacher knows, students are often impervious to learning new concepts. They may replay the new information for a test, but after time passes, they revert to the earlier (and likely wrong) information. This is referred to as the “power of mental models.” As explained in Marchese (2000), when we view a tree, it is not as if we see the tree in our head, as in photography.
The coping strategies of the two hemispheres are fundamentally different. The left hemisphere’s job is to create a belief system or model and to fold new experiences into that belief system. If confronted with some new information that doesn’t fit the model, it relies on Freudian defense mechanisms to deny, repress or confabulate – anything to preserve the status quo. The right hemisphere’s strategy is to play “Devil’s Advocate,” to question the status quo and look for global inconsistencies. When the anomalous information reaches a certain threshold, the right hemisphere decides that it is time to force a complete revision of the entire model and start from scratch (Ramachandran & Blakeslee, 1998, p. 136).
While much hemispheric-based research has been repudiated as an oversimplification (Gackenbach, 1999), the above description of how new information eventually overwhelms an old world view may be the result of multiple brain functions – some of which work to preserve our models and others to alter – that help us both maintain and change as needed.
Self-talk is the “the root of empathy, understanding, cooperation, and rules that allow us to be successful social beings. Any sense of moral behavior requires thought before action” (Ratey, 2001, p. 255).
Healy (1999) argues that based on what we know about brain development in children, new computer media may be responsible for developing brains that are largely different from the brains of adults. This is because “many brain connections have become specialized for . . . media” (p. 133); in this view, a brain formed by language and reading is different from a brain formed by hypermedia. Different media lead to different synaptic connections being laid down and reinforced, creating different brains in youngsters raised on fast-paced, visually-stimulating computer applications and video games. “Newer technologies emphasize rapid processing of visual symbols . . . and deemphasize traditional verbal learning . . . and the linear, analytic thought process . . . [making it] more difficult to deal with abstract verbal reasoning” (Healy, 1999, p. 142).
From attending class to talking with peers and professors, and from going to the local bookstore to having everything on a laptop in a dorm room, students on campus typically have a more “organic” learning experience than an online student who may not know how to best access these features of a higher education in an entirely mobile setting.
The essentials for getting started
Computer terms (Android) (Apple): Online learning means you’ll need to know basic computer technology terms. Both apps are free and break down terms ranging from words like “cache” to “hex code,” all in layman’s language.
Mint (Android) (Apple): Online learning students are usually financially savvy, looking for less expensive alternatives to traditional four-year tuition. This app allows students to keep careful track of personal finances and spending.
Study Tracker (Android) (Apple): These paid apps help track the time spent on courses, tasks and projects to help online students better manage their time and be able to visualize unique study patterns with the aim of ultimately improving efficiency.
Wi-Fi Finder (Android) (Apple): It’s a no-brainer: If you’re learning online and on-the-go, you’ll probably need to find a connection!
To access actual courses (LMS)
Blackboard Mobile (Android) (Apple): Access all courses that are integrated with Blackboard’s LMS.
Canvas (Android) (Apple). Access all courses integrated with Canvas by Instructure.
Moodle (Android) (Apple): Access all courses integrated with this open-source learning platform.
My note: No D2L in this list, folks; choose carefully in 2018, when MnSCU renews its D2L license
For access to files and remote annotation
Documents to Go (Android) (Apple): Students can access the full Microsoft Office suite, as well as edit and create new files without requiring a cloud app for syncing.
Dropbox (Android) (Apple): This app allows students to access any-size files from their computer anytime, anywhere. My Note: Google Drive, SCSU File space as alternatives.
iAnnotate (Android) (Apple): Read, edit and share PDFs, DOCs, PPTs, and image files.
Instapaper (Android) (Apple): Recall websites for research purposes; strip away clutter for an optimized view of content; and read anywhere, since no internet connection is needed.
Marvin (Apple): A completely customizable eBook reader that includes DRM-free books, customizable formats, layouts, and reading gestures, as well as highlighting and annotations tools. Considered one of the best replacements for the Stanza app, which is now discontinued.
Pocket (Android): An app that allows students to save websites, blog posts, videos, and other online resources to access at a later time. It also saves the information to the device, meaning no internet connection is needed.
Wolfram Alpha (Android) (Apple): Considered the scholar’s version of Google, this app is a search engine that reveals precise information for natural-language searches. For example, if you ask “What is the graduation rate for Harvard?” the engine will bring up exact numbers with citations and suggestions for similar queries.
For online communication with peers and profs
Dragon Dictation (Android) (Apple): Create text messages, social media posts, blog posts and more by using your voice (speech-to-text). According to the company, Dragon Dictation is up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard.
Evernote (Android) (Apple): Whenever you look at a list of education apps, Evernote is usually listed. This app allows students to scribble notes, capture text, send notes to computers and other users, and much more for ultimate multi-media communication.
Hangouts (Android) (Apple): Google’s social network shines for its own online video chat solution, which lets teachers, students and third-party experts easily videoconference in groups—it’s even been used to broadcast presenters live to packed auditoriums. My note: desktopsharing is THE most important part. Alternatives: SCSU subscription for Adobe Connect. Skype also has desktopsharing capabilities
Quora (Android) (Apple): Ask questions to experts including astronauts, police officers, lawyers, and much more to receive industry-insider responses.
Smartsheet (Android) (Apple): An app that allows students to create task lists and assign deadlines to share with remote group/team members.
Tom’s planner (Web): A Gantt chart-based, online planning tool that uses color-coded charts to reveal work completed and many more features for project management.
my note: Avoid using infographics for purposes, which toodoo can serve. Infographics are for about visualization of stats, not just visualization. #FindTheRightTool
By Vicki E. Phillips
As instructors, we are constantly looking for new ways to capture our students’ attention and increase their participation in our classes, especially in the online modalities. We spend countless hours crafting weekly announcements for classes and then inevitably receive multiple emails from our students asking the very same questions that we so carefully and completely answered in those very same announcements! The question remains, how do we get them to read our posts?
It was precisely that problem I was trying to solve when I came across several articles touting the benefits of comics in higher education classrooms. I knew I couldn’t create an entire comic book, but I wondered if I could create a content-related cartoon that would not only capture students’ attention and maybe make them laugh, but also interest them enough that they would read the entire announcement or post. In doing so, I would be freed from responding to dozens of emails asking the same questions outlined in the announcements and students could focus on the homework.
A quick Internet search led me to a plethora of free “click and drag” cartoon making software applications to try. I started posting my own cartoons on characters, themes, etc. on the weekly literature we were studying in my upper division American and Contemporary World Literature classes, as well as to offer reminders or a few words of encouragement. Here’s an example of one I posted during week 7 of the semester when students can become discouraged with their assignment load: http://www.toondoo.com/cartoon/10115361
After a positive response, I decided to provide my online students the opportunity to try their hand at cartoon creation. I created a rubric and a set of instructions for an easy to use, free program that I had used, and I opened up the “cartoon challenge” to the students. The results were nothing short of amazing—what intrigued me the most was the time and effort they took with their cartoons. Not only did they create cartoons on the story we were reading, but they also wrote additional posts explaining their ideas for the creation, discussing why they chose a particular scene, and identifying those elements pertinent to the points they were making. These posts tended to receive many more substantial comments from their peers than the traditional discussion board posts, indicating they were being read more.
When students in my face-to-face course heard about the cartoons, they asked to try this approach as well. Their cartoons, shared in class via the overhead projector, led to some of the most engaging and interesting discussions I have ever had in the residential literature classes as students explained how they came up with the elements they chose, and why they picked a certain scene from the reading. The positive student feedback has been instrumental in my continuing to offer this option in both my online and face-to-face classes.
How does one get started in making these cartoons? The good news is you do not have to be an artist to make a cartoon! There are free programs with templates, clip art, and all the elements you would need to click and drag into place all those wonderful ideas you have simmering in your brain. My favorite to use is ToonDoo, available at http://toondoo.com. I like it because there are literally hundreds of elements, a search bar, and it lets me customize what I want to say in the dialog bubbles. It is very user friendly, even for those of us with limited artistic ability.
The whole experience has been overwhelmingly positive for me, and judging from the feedback received, for the students as well. It has also reminded me of one of my teaching goals, which is to incorporate more activities which would fall under assimilating and creating aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, 2001). If that is your goal as well, then try inserting a cartoon in those weekly announcements and ask for feedback from your students—I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Armstrong, Patricia (n.d.) Bloom’s Taxonomy, Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/#2001
Pappas, Christopher (2014) The 5 Best Free Cartoon Making Programs for Teachers. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/the-5-best-free-cartoon-making-tools-for-teachers
Vicki E. Phillips is an assistant professor of English and Literature at Rasmussen College, Ocala, Fla.
This phenomenon — testing yourself on an idea or concept to help you remember it — is called the “testing effect” or “retrieval practice.” People have known about the idea for centuries. Sir Francis Bacon mentioned it, as did the psychologist William James. In 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote that “exercise in repeatedly recalling a thing strengthens the memory.”
Another theory is that information goes into our brains attached to context.
Sobel realized that his students were studying in exactly the wrong way, by rereading their notes the night before his two exams.
A vastly better model, Sobel thought, would be one where he essentially forced his students to retrieve knowledge over and over again throughout the course.
So, every semester, instead of two exams, he started giving his students nine quizzes.
Sobel has tried to talk to his colleagues about the results he was seeing with quizzing, but he says most of them aren’t interested in switching from a few exams to multiple quizzes. “University faculty are considered very smart, but are also very conservative,” Sobel said. “We don’t like to change our ways.”
“Hybrid learning gives us the advantage of having technology available to learn in the way that we’ve grown used to,” says Ms. Pillwein, who is also a Brock University graduate. “In the abnormal psychology course, the online component is mainly tests and quizzes that you can do in your own time. I’ve found that suits my learning style more, as opposed to doing a test in class where you’d have to memorize a lot of terms and concepts.”
Ms. Pillwein also likes that the professor uploads all of her PowerPoint presentations for students to access and review. She feels that helps get the material embedded in her brain more than writing things down word for word during the lecture.
Ms. Hotham finds that the combination of two hours of classroom lecture and then one hour of online activity for the week is an effective way of teaching the material, particularly because it gives students time to take away what has been said and digest it.
After two years of teaching the course with the online component and one year before that of teaching without it, she says the student grades are higher than when she taught only in the classroom.
Ms. Hotham also finds students are more engaged in the discussion the week after doing the online activities because they have more to talk about. Sometimes she posts a video, which then becomes an online discussion.
Patrick Lyons, director of teaching and learning services at Carleton University in Ottawa, visualizes online learning taking many different forms, presenting all kinds of opportunities that could not be delivered any other way. Carleton has a long history offering distance learning, first broadcasting courses on a local cable TV channel in 1978 and then offering the world’s first video podcast of a university credit course in 2006.
“Action video games have a number of ingredients that are actually really powerful for brain plasticity, learning, attention, and vision,” says brain scientist Daphne Bavelier in herTED Talkon the subject.
In February, Italian researchersfoundthat playing fast-paced video games can improve the reading skills of children with dyslexia.
In 2012, scientists at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galvestonfoundthat high school gamers who played video games two hours a day were better at performing virtual surgery than non-gaming medical residents.
Even if stated the obvious, it is good to repeat:
checking Facebook is not that bad for learning, it becomes bad when exceeds the time spent on learning…… this and more useful truisms to make the right choices with the start of a new academic year…
creating a learner profile, a set of criteria the school district wanted students to learn while in school. That profile includes: seek knowledge and understanding; think critically and solve problems; listen, communicate, and interact effectively; exhibit strong personal qualities; and engage and compete in a global environment. The profile helps guide all approaches to learning in the district.
Kids already know how to use their devices, but they don’t know how to learn with their devices,” Clark said in an edWeb webinar. It’s the teacher’s role to help them discover how to connect to content, one another and learning with a device that they may have only used for texting and Facebook previously. “It’s about the kids being empowered in the classroom to make decisions about the ways that they are learning,”
IN-CLASS BACK-CHANNELING: Backchanneling refers to the use of networks & social media to maintain an online, real-time conversation alongside spoken remarks.
IN-CLASS READINGS AND HANDOUTS. Smartphones can also be used productively in the classroom as eReaders for books and handouts. You can place all student handouts into DropBox folders (see “Dropbox A Multi-Tool for Educators”).
Using Google Docs for backchanneling with students:
Gardner now teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is the author of numerous books on intelligence and creativity. His new book ”The App Generation,” co-authored with Katie Davis, explains how life for young people today is different than before the dawn of the digital age, and will be published on Oct. 22 by Yale University Press.
Gardner’s theory initially listed seven intelligences which work together: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal; he later added an eighth, naturalist intelligence and says there may be a few more.
Excerpts from the blog entries under the article
The idea that multiple intelligences and learning styles have become interrelated is so true. Learning about all the different types of intelligences and learning, it can be hard to keep them all straight. This article was helpful in pointing out the differences. Educators should be aware of these differences, so that they might be able to better teach their students.
– how how human capacities are represented in the brain,
– a number of relatively independent mental faculties
– a number of relatively autonomous computers—[that compute] … information
A strong intelligence:
– an area where the person has considerable computational power
– the power of the mental computer, the intelligence, that acts upon that sensory information, once picked up
So “learning” = us[ing … (different) cognitive faculties?
Q1: Is that ok to assume and say?
Q2: What of “dimensions” – cognitive processing (higher order thinking) and knowledge (concrete to abstract) and sense of self, or affect[ive]?
– Individualize your teaching
– Pluralize your teaching. Teach important materials in several ways, …reach students who learn in different ways… [present] materials in various ways
Mindfulness has become a core social and emotional learning strategy in the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Texas. The district has even created a mindfulness specialist position, filled by James Butler, the district’s 2014 Teacher of the Year.
There are various understandings of mindfulness, but most focus on being nonjudgmental and present in the moment.