Friday, March 14, 2014

Knowing our Learners

Knowing our Learners

by Keenan Kibrick

Knowing our learners is extremely important to meeting their needs.  The problem however, is we must ask ourselves, how well do we know our students?  Our students are very different learners then we are, and the question becomes how should we teach them?  Should we design classes towards their learning styles, or have them conform to ours?  A mixed path I feel is a great way to do this, and to help these are very good links to articles that help us better understand our students and their learning process to better the education we can provide.

The Key Components of a Learner-Friendly Interface Design

Why I opened it:   I was curious to read about interface design, because I was making videos on the topic.  I wanted to confirm my video knowledge, and to learn a little more about what to add to the videos.

Why I kept reading it:   This article went beyond what I imagined.  It’s not just one article it’s a starting point that lead into many fascinating articles.  Each link is another step to great interface design in an e-learning classroom.  If you have a blended class, online class, or even use Sakai in a face-to-face class this hits so many key points in design it’s almost a crucial read.  It covers 4 primary topics graphic clarity, readability, usability, and learnability.  However, each topic has links to must-reads and they are must-reads.  How learners read on screen was fascinating, and made me realize how I should change my online class design.  It covered so many key issues in education.  Like the idea that students don’t read more than 8 seconds at a time and only read 20% of what we present to them.  The ideas on how to handle this and thought discussions about this issue were fascinating.  Another must read “experience is everything” focuses on design tips to make students experience a class rather than just read it like a website and they are easy to follow.  This website is a 
valuable article that I will reference many times and I recommend faculty also reference. 

It’s perfect for:  Redesigning and online or blended class, using courses as a tool in the classroom, learning more how our students think, designing classes to fit student needs.


How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom

Why I opened it:  Sticking to the theme of design I was curious to see how technology changes the classroom.

Why I kept reading it:   It followed those same philosophies from the design article above.  It highlights primarily how students think and interact with technology.  It gives very good overviews of specific technology facts, and after every overview it presents classroom outcomes gained from these technologies.  The classroom outcomes are very valuable and help reflect on ways we can change our classroom practice.  Great examples gained:  Flipped teaching to meet the needs of the “on-demand” student, and tips to increase interactivity in the class.

It’s perfect for:   learning more how our students think, wanting quick tips to help change classrooms, trying to meet the needs of a changing population of students

Learning Theories Gone Wild – Urban Myths that Hurt Your Learning Designs

Why I opened it:  It was catchy looking and eye appealing, and when I skimmed the article I landed on the last theory and was hooked.

Why I kept reading it:   I almost stopped when I started because it was too font weird and eye distracting.  However, when I looked past the eye distracting fonts and pictures I loved the information delivered.  I loved that it included Myths and more importantly it had ways to move away from the myths.  That was the best part for me.  It wasn’t alternatives but ways to move away.  The line alone was catchy and signaled that they understood change is a process.  Further, when we look at the tips to move away from the myths we see that they are small steps to take to improve classes.  I enjoy small steps some times and I hope many readers will also.  If we can take small steps to improve our practice they will turn into larger steps in the future.  This entire article had great small steps to improve learning.  The last step was all about research proven methods leading the classroom and dispelling the rumors that learners know best.  It’s all about making sure to cater to our students by doing what is proven and what’s best rather than just what the students want.  The rest are equally as insightful and it is a fascinating article that I hope many will read and learn from.

It’s perfect for:   Questioning how we learn (even newer practices), wanting to take small steps to success, reading more on the theory of learning.