Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The neuroscience of learning

I recently attended (and co-presented) at the Metro State University Teacher and Scholar Forum in February. The keynote speaker was fabulous so I wanted to share a summary and key take-aways from his presentation.

Professor Terry Doyle is from Ferris State University in Michigan. He has been focused on learner-centered teaching and faculty development for 35 years. The title of his keynote at this conference was "The new science of learning."
You can review the slides from this keynote at his website: http://learnercenteredteaching.wordpress.com

He starts with 3 Vital Questions:
  1. What is the best use of our time in helping students master learning outcomes?
  2. What would make us happy that our students still knew and could apply from the content and skills from our course one year later?
  3. How do we get students to be more responsible for their own learning?
  He goes on to explain the actual neuroscience of learning. What exactly is going on in our brains when learning happens. Memory and retrieval processes are certainly key to not only retaining the information but being able to remember it when you need it in a given situation or application.

What I found really interesting is the list of things that the brain needs in order for learning to occur. Then with each item on the list he explains why and some research that has been done to prove its importance in the learning process. The ironic thing is that most college students DO NOT serve themselves well and often neglect all of these things!
  1. exercise/movement
    • improves focus, motivation and attention, actually makes learning easier
  2. oxygen
    • thankfully we breathe to stay alive and there's no getting around that, however, some nice deep breathes of fresh air before class is not a bad idea.
  3. food
    • a normal, stable, healthy diet is necessary (not beer, cheetos, soda and pizza)
  4. water
    • the brain must be hydrated in order for learning to occur. Most students are dehydrated. Drink lots and lots of water, especially before an exam
  5. sleep
    • you must have at least 7.5 hours of sleep for a healthy brain. During sleep your brain replays memories, taking a nap after learning something new will actually help you retain the info
What teaching relevance does brain research affirm to promote learning?
  1. Tie personal relevance to the skill or information
  2. content should be made to respond to survival needs (attaining career or move up for better paying job)
  3. aim for teaching with multi-modal, experiential and multi-sensory activities
  4. emphasize PRACTICE and necessary time on task to effectively learn
  5. surround factual data around Meaningful context
  6. Use various sensory channels at the same time for especially difficult content
  7. the brain seeks and detects novelty. mix it up, try new methods for delivery
  8. help students see patterns in learning
    1. similarity and difference
    2. cause and effect
    3. compare and contrast
    4. in student's own words
Definitely take a look at the full presentation at his website for additional points and explanation.

SlideRocket: an alternative to Adobe Presenter

Recently, I went out on a quest for a viable alternative to Adobe Presenter for narrating slide presentations and discovered SlideRocket.com.

SlideRocket enables students and educators to:
  • Create vibrant presentations
  • Work on the same presentation together
  • Embed videos and YouTube clips on slides
  • Post presentations to websites, blogs and social media
  • Create and share a library of presentations, slides, images and videos
  • Download to thumb drive or run your presentation offline using the SlideRocket Desktop Presenter
  • With SlideRocket’s new iPad App you can log into your SlideRocket account and cache your presentations for later viewing, play presentations, view analytics information, send invites, and upload PowerPoint presentations - all from your iPad.
  • Choose from creative themes and templates or import a PowerPoint into SlideRocket
  • Add Audio to your slides
  • Track how many people viewed your presentation and for how long
  • Ask a quick poll question- did your viewers like the presentation? Did they find value in it? Did it help their understanding of a topic?
And here is the best part, get your FREE, full-featured SlideRocket EDU account simply complete the form using your school email address. http://www.sliderocket.com/launch/education.html

Evernote: It is more than just a note taking tool

Mobile App Review
Price: FREE

Devices it may be used on: Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows desktop, Mac, and a web-based version. Browser extensions available for Safari, Chrome, Firefox and IE

Brief summary of purpose and functionality of this app: Evernote is a robust note taking tool but can do so much more!. The best thing about Evernote is its flexibility in that no matter which place you use the app it all syncs up. So you can work on a notebook on your iPad today and then access it via the web-based app tomorrow, and then Thursday use the Windows desktop app in the office. Evernote is more than just text based notes, you can “clip” webpages or web articles, images, or audio. You can use Evernote for any kind of notebook “collection.” (recipes, research on a topic, or plan a trip) You can share and collaborate on notebooks too.

How might an instructor use this app? Aside from using Evernote for personal or productive notebooks they can: ask students to create a notebook to share with peers on particular topics.Instructors can create topic notebooks to share with students.
How might students use this app?Students can use it to take notes. They can keep a notebook for each course. Students can collaborate with other students on notebooks. There is an add-on called "evernote Peek for iPad" that can be used to to create study material, practice quizzes, and flash cards. Evernote could even be used as a journal tool.

Are there tutorials, help or support available? Yes there are tutorials, a knowledgebase and user guides.

Other comments: This app is fairly easy to use and is VERY versatile since it can be accessed via several devices and methods.