Edtech522: Module 1 Discussions

Describe the instructional technique(s) utilized by teachers you’ve had in the past that were effective. What made the technique(s) effective? How did they incorporate adult learning principles in their teachings?

Giving learners self-direction was an instructional technique that I found useful for effective learning. It was emphasized and organized in a surprising way in Edtech 532 Games and Simulations. All assignments were organized and available using 3D GameLab at the beginning of the course, which allowed students to work on them in a non-linear fashion. Activities were broadly organized in categories: scholarly, multimedia, and experience-based. Learners not only self-directed, they developed particular learning patterns and interest(s) with continuous practice of this technique. Using myself as an example, I noticed that I gravitated towards games that I could play and test and activities that help me to understand gameplay techniques that could also be found in education. The online environment is well-suited for self-direction. It naturally promotes this behavior due to the abundant resources and choices that are available on the internet. Learners decide the topics and ways to interact with the content. This in turn helps learners become intrinsically motivated to learn as mentioned in Dan Pink’s model on motivation. Experiments showed self-direction is more effective in making workers more productive than using monetary rewards. I haven’t studied Pink’s model in detail, but I’d be curious to see the similarities that would arise with Edtech 532.

Describe one ice-breaker activity that you have experienced in an online course or you plan to use in your future online course. State your reason for this activity.

An ice breaker activity that I’ve used in the past was to have students share any photo or picture doing something with family or friends or some activity they experienced. I found it to be a good way to understand students and their interests. I use it as a speaking activity so it’s also great way to get them talking. I used the warm-up activity on a first year university student who studies education. After doing the activity it was evident that her interest was art. She showed a picture of cat. I thought it was sketch, but it was actually thousands of dots she made with her pen. It was impressive!

Jamie: EDTECH 532 sounds really interesting. I would agree that self-direction is really important for all learners, not just adult learners. I know my 7th grade students always loved when they could move through course material at their own pace or choose a starting point. How do you plan to use what you have learned in 532?

Me: I created some activities using the game Plague, Inc. to help students to better understand the Ebola Virus and develop skills that they could apply in TOEFL reading passages. The skills were: notetaking, learning new vocabulary, reading, and agreeing or disagree on a topic.  In one activity students could read an article about the origin and transmission of the virus, its infection rate and fatalities. They would then use the information and create a virus in the game and see if the results were the similar or different and provide explanations to share with classmates. Many of the games that I tested did not require much reading and so much of this was done using connected resources. But I think with additional digging other game options would come up targeting this skill.

Miriam: Robert, It sounds like 532 is an interesting course based on gaming theory. It is very appealing to me as well and with your opinion, I think I would gravitate to the games to play the same way. On the other hand, I’ve had experiences were students will not be motivated by gaming at all. It is like everything, some will work well, but others would get frustrated.

I taught a 7th grade Tech Apps class a couple years back and had all my students register to a National Video Game design competition. In general, it was great for most students. I assigned different “jobs” to be fair and rotated the jobs weekly. It was an interesting project based unit and some of the challenges that came about included the lack of motivation on students that had a higher level of frustration in gaming.
I am looking forward to continue learning techniques to help self-motivation to increase student perseverance.
Me: I like the way Colin explained it – developing self-motivation with options that play to various learning preferences. The game design competition sounds really interesting but I could imagine it being frustrating if it involves using a lot of codes. Frustration could come from different sources so it might be worthwhile to further investigate the causes. If it is the coding aspect using a program like Sploder might help. This program is drag and drop so that students can focus more on applying game design principles to develop complex games without codes.
Colin: The experience with 532 sounds really interesting, especially being able to access all of the assignments in the non-linear fashion you describe.  I think sometimes its easy to think students need to be provided course material in a pre-determined fashion that might make sense to instructors, but the experience you describe dis-spells this notion and illustrates how students can develop self-motivation with course material when there are options that play to various learning preferences.  Thanks for sharing.

Me: I’d be curious to see if this model would work for students at the secondary levels. One person’s comment somewhere on the internet was that it would mean a complete change in the educational framework. Thinking about this brought up some questions:
What would be the role of the teacher? 
How would activities be managed if it requires prerequisite learning?
If it’s a face-to-face classroom, how would class time be managed?

Colin: You  bring up some good questions…and it got me to thinking, the role of the teacher might become more of a facilitator, as in a constructivist approach.  One way to manage the activities could be a scaffolded approach where students start with easier activities that build on one another and accomplish the prerequisites needed.  And in a face-to-face class, maybe using a flipped model would work; lectures occur online and activities happen in class.
Did you come up with some ideas?

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