zaterdag 2 juli 2011

MSU2011: Reflection

Time for me to look back on my visit.. What did I see, hear and learn?
  • Michigan is a lot like Twente, except for the city of Holland, which is a nice city, but not very Dutch..
  • Michigan State University's campus is a lot like the campus of the University of Twente, except it is a lot bigger (it's huge!).
  • MSU’s MAET program is in terms of content a lot like UT’s CIMA program, except for the whole organization (on-line learning works if you also a schedule f2f program!).
  • Teaching for two whole weeks, every day of the week is exhausting for both the instructors and the students, but it gives good group dynamics and the opportunity to share and show experiences, products and personal feelings (which is very important for continuing the program online).
  • Teaching for two whole weeks, every day of the week, and keeping your students interested and motivated means that you have to use active, authentic and dynamic activities, based on a specific “rhythm” that is used every day, this will help in keeping pace, speed and enthusiasm.
  • Learning about the use and added value of technology in education should be tailored to the needs and opportunities of the interests and context of your students. General information can be applicable to all students, but when it comes to specific technology, offer this (preferably hands-on) only to those students that are interested.
  • Learning about TPACK can be done by explaining the TPACK framework and the model, but you can also incorporate the idea of TPACK throughout your own teaching without explaining it, both are good.
And there are many more things that I have seen/heard/learned, but these are the most important ones with regard to my visit to the MAET program. Next to this however, I also learned that
  • American bikes are not meant for tall Dutch persons....
  • There are no bike lanes around MSU, you have to bike on the sidewalks. This is ok during the summer months when there are not many people here, but what would happen when the semester starts again?
  • Just like it is no use to re-calculate Euros to our old Guilders (what used to be 1 Guilder is now approximately 1 Euro, even though the Euro is much more expensive than the Guilder), it is also no use to re-calculate miles into kilometers: distances are much larger here and you just have to deal with that.
  • And coffee… well, just let me say that you really need to find your own places/coffee houses/etc. to find a coffee that somehow resemblances Dutch coffee (with apologies to my American friends..;-)).
  • But when you do find the right place, you will not only have coffee, but also free WiFi everywhere, outlets for your laptop plug, and enough inspiration to think, write and produce the articles that you had in mind!
All in all: I had a great time here in Michigan! Thank you all for having me here, especially Punya Mishra and the MAET students, it has been a wonderful experience!

vrijdag 1 juli 2011

MSU2011: Videos on misconceptions

Before the final day of the MAET on-site program ends every group presents a video that they have made. All videos are about "understanding understanding", based on what we discussed previously in the first week: many of our students have well-developed naive conceptions and knowledge structures, which sometime are, or may become misconceptions. In the video project each group had to select a certain topic and document student understandings of these topics (for instance what causes weather events such as thunder, lightening, or wind? or what causes shadows?).

The students have to do more than "just" make a video. They have to look up prior research in this area and the misconceptions of the topic, develop research questions and an interview protocol, select a group of individuals to interview and record, edit the videos and creatively incorporate them into one group video that will show a variety of people’s understanding of your topic. The video should not just give an overview of the different interviews, but has to demonstrate patterns and differences in what you see, connect it to the ideas of cognition and learning that have been discussing in class. Next to the video the students have to create a web page for this research project, including relevant research that was found, a statement of the group’s research questions, the video, and a summary of what was found.

The first video that we see is about the misconception about spot reduction when exercising: if you exercise a specific section of your body, the fat around this area will disappear. Most people that were interviewed believe that certain exercises reduce fat in certain areas and that if you exercise your fat will become muscle.. But, as the group who made this video concludes, spot reduction is in fact a myth. When you exercise fat is burned, however you can't decide where it is taken from and when you exercise fat is burned to create energy that is used by the body.

The second video is about lightening and this group found a wide range of misconceptions about lightning.  Many people they interviewed had a general idea, but most of them were unable to clearly state how lightning is formed or where it comes from. An interesting conclusion from this group was that "while many of the people were incorrect, most of them thought the information they were sharing was correct. It is this misinformation that causes misconceptions."

The third group presented a video on the myth of a raindrop. They investigated how people perceive the shape of a raindrop, and what forces act upon a drop of rain to have it take that shape. When asked to explain why drops of rain took that specific shape (that you probably have in your mind too) when falling through the sky, many of the answers involved the force of gravity and how the water was moving through the air. Want to know how a raindrop really looks like? Take a look at one of the links that this group provided!

The fourth video was about geographical knowledge and they asked people questions about what they remembered about learning geography and using maps in school, and if they could draw the outlines of the United States, China, Russia and Iraq, and if they could locate East Lansing, Hong Kong, Moscow and Baghdad on a map. The group explained that most of the participants had a negative association with learning geography because their teachers stressed a “short-term recall” approach of memorizing and recalling factual knowledge on tests and on the map assessment, many demonstrated a limited geographic understanding. The group adviced that geography should be taught in a more innovative, investigative, interactive, international and interconnected way, because they believe that this will lead to better geographic knowledge.

The fifth group made a video about Blood Alcohol Content and how this is measured. They asked people what they know about blood alcohol content and how it is measured, if there are actions a person could take to lower their potential blood alcohol content, and how your body removes alcohol from your system. One of the known myths is of course that drinking coffee or water or eating something will help sober up (but only time will sober you up, coffee might wake you up, but it sure won't do anything about your blood alcohol levels). And many of the persons interviewed mentioned this as a "cure"..

The videos did not only help in identifying common misconceptions, but making these videos helps in discovering and thinking about your own misconceptions. This activity is therefore very useful to do with your own students!

MSU2011: Looking back and forward

Day 10.. the final day of the on-site meetings before the students go on-line for four weeks. It has been 2 weeks of interesting, active and dynamic activities. This morning some readings are discussed, such as the recent (2011) paper on of Punya Mishra, Matthew Koehler and Danah Henriksen on "The 7 trans-disciplinary habits of mind: Extending the TPACK framework towards 21st Century Learning".

But most of the activities today are looking back at what has been learned and looking forward toward what should happen in the next four weeks.
For instance, the students have to sketch out their own personal learning network and they have to list all the technologies the encountered during the last two weeks. An impressive list!

But it's also imprssive what has to be done in the next four weeks.. each group has to explore some key topics in technology & education and write about these topics individually in a wiki. The topics are
  • Developing information literacy, technology skills (in students)
  • Meeting the diverse needs of your students, assistive technologies, particularly through the idea of Universal Designs for Learning (UDL)
  • Social and ethical uses of technology (particularly digital equity, intellectual property, and copyright) and healthy practices in the use of educational technology
  • Using Technology to Facilitate/Develop Creativity and Critical Thinking Skills in Students
  • Using Technology to Engage in Professional Development & Leadership
This could become a very interesting resource for many of us!!
Everything that will be posted in the wikis can be used while writing a technology based grant proposal for transformative learning. And next to all these things each student has to develop a personal web portfolio and write a final reflection paper. These are all individual assignments, but the students do have the chance of course to talk (virtually) with each other and they have the opportunity to talk either face to face (here on campus) or online (Facebook, e-mail, skype, twitter) with the instructors.

And.. at the end of July every student will come back to MSU. They will present everything that they have done this summer in a "science fair": each group chooses a location in the room and set their presentation up and each student (and instructor!) has the opportunity to look around. I wish I could be there too... Maybe we can set up a connection so I am able to see the science fair virtually??
All MAET students & instructors (and guest..)