Learning for Life

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach,

maybe we should teach the way they learn”.  

Image provided by imgarcade.com

Image provided by imgarcade.com

This quote by Ignacio Estrada (Gutierrez, 2014) has inspired my thoughts on the general state of education, my personal learning environment, as well as my career journey in higher education. Prior to the masters program courses, my knowledge of education was limited to my experience not training. My understanding of how the mind learns and my knowledge of teaching and educating has dramatically increased. This quote wouldn’t have caught my attention, had I not been learning concepts and theories and practical information, from the Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning course. Nor would this quote have the same deep intrinsic meaning as it does now. It cuts to the core, since it addresses concepts that are so critical and affect our future of education in my personal learning environment as well as this country. Let’s break it down and possibly you’ll be inspired as well:

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should

teach the way they learn”.

Attention, Memory and Learning

First, the quote addresses learning, a simple word with powerful meaning. In my class one concept learned was the cognitive connection between attention, memory and learning. This concept involves the integration between these essential elements and by grasping this concept it allowed me to transition to a different level of belief and understanding of how the brain really learns and affects education.

Here’s a short recap from previous blogs. Attention is the present state of the mind. It is the brain’s ability to focus and concentrate and actively process information that is presently in one’s environment. Attention requires effort and has its limitations. Attention is viewed as the path towards cognition. Learning rewires our brain, produces more myelin and is stored as memory. Memory is the recall and the recognition of what we have processed. “The ability to process information via attention and store information in an accessible state via memory are critical aspects of our cognitive capacities” (Fougnie, 2008, p. 1). The result of this cognitive relationship and integration process is learning.

Dynamic Learning Systems

Jumping ahead, the course just recently covered Dynamic Learning systems, another concept that has significant meaning to me. The dynamic system is an approach in cognitive science that promotes the concept of the overall mind, body, environment and external factors that occur all around us everywhere and mold us, as we evolve over a period of time. This framework is not just based on context, but mathematical theories come into play as well, because of the compounding domino effect of how one event affects another and the probability and variability, at which they may occur. This concept is important to me because it addresses the external factors. Attention, memory and learning connections take place internally based on these external factors. The combination of these two general concepts reinforces the overall integration process of learning. Not all simple, extremely complex and very powerful!

Personal Story

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should

teach the way they learn”.

Here’s a personal story about a little girl, a previous student of mine, who struggled to learn. When we first met, she was in kindergarten. Her behavior in class was very poor and she had frequent outbursts, fought verbally and physically with other students and could not get along in a social setting. However, put her on task or read her a story and she was engaged, at least for a few minutes. She had the mechanics in place, so not entirely learning problems, just behavior issues.   She was definitely the student that made teaching challenging as she would frequently disrupt the entire class. The teachers she had were strict and patient. Strategies were put in place to help “deal” with her. No one gave up on her, except her home life. Her microsystem consisted of crime and part time guardians. She lived in a very unsafe neighborhood in the city. Her older brother was partially responsible for raising her. He however, sold drugs, and was frequently in jail. Her Father did not exist. Her Mother worked the night shift. She usually came to school without lunch and her school uniform was often times dirty or ripped. Her house was raided for drugs and she witnessed things, many adults only see on TV. She was an angry and neglected child. Things started to improve as she learned how to read. She found something she could do, something she enjoyed and her reading took her to another place where she wanted to be. Miraculously, around 5th grade she grew into a completely different little girl. She became the “star” student. She was funny, well liked and smart. She got along with others and would even help her classmates. Her dynamic learning system, what she learned and experienced externally had a huge impact on her ability to focus and pay attention, making it very challenging for her to cognitively progress thru the learning stages. Her microsystem was in shambles but she was able to turn herself around with the help of her school environment.

Perkins’ Principles of Teaching

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should

teach the way they learn”.

The third concept learned in this course, when tied together with attention, memory, learning and dynamic learning systems may reveal for you, a new meaning behind this quote.

There are seven Perkins’ Principles which can be viewed on the Perkins’ Seven Principles website.   Three will make my point: the Hard Parts Principle, the Hidden Games Principle and Learn the Game of Learning Principle.

  • Hard Parts Principle

This principle refers not only to practicing the hard parts but identifying the hard parts. The hard part for the student is not just learning the material but digesting the process of learning. Singular focused selective attention on the student’s part will enable the material to flow into the brain, stimulate a few billion neurons, and process, program, and save the data into memory.  The educator truly only has (some) control over their own brain and very little control over another’s, so the attention process is most entirely left up to the student.  What the educator can do is engage, motivate and anticipate the hard parts.  These hard parts are not time and circumstances (Perkins, 2009).  The hard parts are the nuts and bolts, the stumbling blocks, what makes the material difficult to understand.  Educators must know their material so extensively that they can troubleshoot and anticipate learning challenges.   Even a simple subject can have tweaks that cause stumbling blocks and challenges for the student to learn.  In order for the educator’s objectives and learning outcomes to be reached, the educator must have an influence over the material by understanding the students need to focus and pay attention as well as anticipating the hard parts.

  • Hidden Games Principle

This principle refers to the subsets of learning and/or knowledge that is obtained from a particular subject. Within a general area of study are specific elements, subsets or junior versions of the whole game. Getting really good at a game, or really understanding a subject means digging deeper. Delving into the parts and not simply scratching the surface. Covering material for the sake of a test, to simply obtain the basics and then move on to the next chapter, does not involve critical thinking, thorough thought processes, analysis or problem solving. “Getting really good at the overall game means learning the games underneath the surface also, layers, dimensions and perspectives that can make big differences in understanding and performance” (Perkins, 2009, p.135).

  • Learn the Game of Learning Principle

This principle refers to the deep internal altruistic individual process of learning.   This theory is about the student intrinsically motivated and ideally educating themselves and to make the leap from student to lifelong learner in a self-serving meaningful way.   Perkins uses the analogy of driving a car. Teaching a teenager to drive is only one step in the process. It is not until the new driver, for example takes the car out for the first time and learns how to get from one destination to another and back home again. Really, this is learning how to drive. A map that guides us to our destination with interpretation is like lifelong learning which continually strengthens our intellectual being and continually builds upon our foundation of knowledge. If a formal education has done its most important job, it is this – that the student enjoys learning maybe even, loves to learn for the pure sake of learning.

 If a child can’t learn the way we teach,

maybe we should teach the way they learn”.

Let’s put all three concepts together. First: attention, memory and learning, second: the dynamic learning systems and third: the hard parts, hidden games and learn to learn principles. As educators or cognitive scientists we know how the brain learns. So why do we keep teaching the children using the same methods and the same material in the same fashion? Students are not learning how to learn, because we are not teaching the way they learn. We are not teaching to the way the brain learns. This quote goes way beyond a simple reading assignment or arithmetic problem. The real common core is that our brains, even as a young child, learn to learn. Its a scaffolding process of knowledge, built on knowledge, built on knowledge, built on knowledge. It’s like the illusion of the never ending staircase (World-Mysteries, 2011). Yes! Change a lesson plan, update a course, revamp a curriculum, overhaul the entire education system in our country; adapt to the learning styles if students aren’t learning. And guess what they’re not (really) learning the way we teach, so we need to teach the way they learn!!

 Image by M.C. Escher provided from World-Mysteries.com

Image by M.C. Escher provided from World-Mysteries.com

How To Links:

Adult Learner – Faculty Focus: Five Tips for Fostering Learning in the Classroom (Spencer, 2013).  Faculty Focus

Child Learner – We Are Teachers: 10 Ways to Inspire a Love of Learning in Your Classroom (Macpherson, 2015).  We Are Teachers



Fougnie, D. (2008). The relationship between attention and working memory. Nova  Science Publsihers, Incorporated.

Gutierrez, L. (2014). Cognitive science: adult training and development. Retrieved from http://freshapproachlearning.wordpress.com

Macpherson, E. (2015). Ten ways to inspire love of learning in classroom. Retrieved fromhttp://www.weareteachers.com/blogs/post/2013/11/15/10-ways-to-inspire-a-love-of-learning-in-your-classroom

Perkins, D. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can   transform education. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.

Spencer, K. (2013). Five tips for fostering learning in classroom. Retrieved fromhttp://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/five-tips-for-fostering-learning-in-the-classroom/

World-Mysteries (2011).  Retrieved from http://www.world-mysteries.com/illusions/sci_illusions3.htm

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Food for Thought: Get Your Students to Crave Learning


Clip art courtesy of Spotify.com

Clip art courtesy of Spotify.com

Halfway thru my Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning course and my mind, brain and emotions are full of facts and information!! Here’s a summary of a few insights into      what educators can do to help students crave learning and what ultimately makes the game worth playing, the savory chocolate dessert worth devouring!

The concepts that relate to my setting, a college environment from the student’s perspective are: the cognitive connection between emotions, attention, the brain, memory and learning and from the educator’s standpoint; anticipating the hard parts. This anticipation can help to facilitate learning, making it easier for the student to digest the material.

Generally, understanding the brain holistically has been the theme or the norm. It’s as important to understand the unique parts, as it is to truly understand and digest the integration of these parts and how ultimately they affect learning. Let’s look at the ingredients:

Emotions impact the learning process of the brain; it is the study of interpersonal neurobiology, the relationships and the brain. The brain is the social organ of the body and learning is a social experience (Siegel, 2009). The brain, the mind and emotions all influence each other and work together. Siegel calls it relations, the emotional side and that learning is a social experience. As with a family dinner where stories are told, food is shared or information is exchanged, this experience and exchange of information, relations according to Siegel gets neurons firing. When neurons fire together they wire together and we learn. Skills are then created, as the 100 billion of neurons help create the myelin sheath in the brain. This activity and flow of energy is what enables the brain to learn and gain skills and ultimately makes the “game worth playing” (Siegel, 2009). Here’s a link to an article that applies to adult education and reiterates what Siegel emphasizes: Learning Rewires The Brain (Stevens, 2014).

Attention is the present state of the mind. It is the brain’s ability to focus and concentrate and actively process information that is presently in one’s environment. Attention is the working memory, and refers to the present moment, not the long term memory which, is information from the past (whether yesterday or years ago). Attention enables people to be alert and focus, to be in a present state of consciousness. Attention requires effort and has its limitations. Consciousness is a state of awareness of one’s surroundings from all levels: emotional, such as how we feel: happy, hungry, energized, etc. Sensually, are we hot or cold? Cognitively, what we are processing at the moment; driving to work, while preparing a grocery list? In a state of consciousness (we would be dead or in a coma if not) we are aware of our surroundings and functioning, but we may not be paying close attention to one thing in particular.

There seems to be a debate about the state of consciousness and attention and whether they are essentially the same or uniquely different. Either way, the two aspects of attention and consciousness are connected. Attention and its importance are viewed as the path towards cognition. Attention also has two components: top-down selective attention and bottom-up attention. Top-down is internally driven whereas bottom-up is externally driven. For example, top-down attention would be following a recipe while making a cake. Bottom-up attention would be responding to the smoke detector, because your cake is burning in the oven.

Attention, Cognition & Memory
Just as we need food for survival and possibly college students need more, we need attention for cognition. Attention is like opening our mouth to eat food. Without attention, and even directed and selective attention, our ability to take in and process information cognitively and then store the information for long term memory (i.e. learning) is significantly reduced. Thus, to improve cognition it would seem clear, that selective focused attention would open the pathway for cognition. Difficult to eat soup with your mouth shut! Maintaining selective focused and singular attention is complex and challenging. However, focused attention fires up billions of neurons, creating connections and adding to the myelin sheath a process called myelination. “Scientists have found that myelination increases the speed and strength of the nerve impulses by forcing the electrical charge to jump across the myelin sheath (a grey matter made up of fatty tissue) to the next open spot on the axon” (Shen, 2013, p.3).

Learning (and practice) rewires our brain, produces more myelin and is stored as memory. Memory is the recall and the recognition of what we have processed. Its way beyond the photographs in our mind, that spill out when we remember a vacation at the beach or a long past grandmother. Memory is the data that is stored for future recall, so we know how to tie our shoes, ride a bike, play an instrument, read a book, and basically function. We don’t have to relearn how to tie our shoes every day. Memory is the foundation of knowledge of which humans and the brain builds and builds on every single day. It’s not just what we have learned but it’s how we learn! And every day we live – we learn. It’s learning for life and its lifelong learning. So more practice equals more myelin, which is the icing on the cake!

Challenges for Educators and Students
Tough to swallow? Is it understanding the cognitive explanation of how connections are made in our brain between attention and memory? Or is it the connections between educator and student? Actually both. The hard part for the student as mentioned above is not just learning the material but digesting the process of learning. Singular focused selective attention on the student’s part will enable the material to flow into the brain, stimulate a few billion neurons and process, program and save the data into memory. The educator truly only has (some) control over their own brain and very little control over another, so the attention process is most entirely left up to the student. What the educator can do is engage, motivate and anticipate the hard parts. These hard parts are not time and circumstances (Perkins, 2009). The hard parts are the nuts and bolts, the stumbling blocks, playing out of town, what makes the material difficult to understand. Educators have no excuse on their part for not thoroughly knowing their material. Educators must know their material so extensively that they can troubleshoot and anticipate learning challenges. Even a simple subject can have tweaks that cause stumbling blocks and challenges for the student to learn. In order for the educator’s objectives and learning outcomes to be reached, the educator must have an influence over the material by understanding the students need to focus and pay attention as well as anticipating the hard parts.

Anticipate the Hard Parts
Educators need to play an active role in designing and presenting their material by anticipating the hard parts. Perkins (2009) has outlined specific areas that identify the challenges in learning and the need for educators to anticipate and address them. The areas of knowledge which make it challenging for the student are as follows: Ritual, Inert, Foreign, Tacit, Skilled and Conceptually Difficult. For a detailed explanation of these areas of difficulty refer to this link:  Perkins Seven Principles

Educators in a college setting of adults can, by understanding their material and conditions that make it challenging, as well as understanding why the aforementioned six types of troublesome knowledge, influence a student, with the use of various methods and strategies. In an adragogy setting, there can be group discussions, group projects, class activities and hands-on applied learning through internships, which can supplement learning that will ultimately have a positive influence on these hard parts.

Another great link :
Why Practice Actually Makes Perfect: How To Rewire Your Brain For Better Performance

Perkins, D. (2009) Making learning whole: how seven principles of teaching can transform  education. San Francisco, Calif. Jossey-Bass.

Shen, J. (2013). Why practice actually makes perfect: how to rewire our brain for better performance. Retrieved from https://blog.bufferapp.com/why-practice-actually-makes-perfect-how-to-rewire-your-brain-for-better-performance

Siegel, D. (2009). We feel, therefore we learn’ at Mind & Its Potential {Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPkaAevFHWU

Stevens, A. (2014). Learning rewires the brain. Retrieved from https://student.societyforscience.org/article/learning-rewires-brain


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Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning

clip art two cog brain

image courtesy of shutterstock.com

Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning is my fourth online graduate program course, at Post University. In this course I am learning about the implications of cognitive science research on acquisition of knowledge theory and how cognitive principals affect teaching and learning. Already, this course has enlightened my concept and understanding of the human brain.

So far, I’ve been learning about artificial intelligence, which is fascinating and quickly becoming a reality, to the differences between the way an adult learns (andragogy) and a child learns (pedagogy). As well as the various mental representations of logic, rules, concepts, analogies, images, and problem solving, which are used to understand how the brain works cognitively.   In combination with how the brain works, is the more scientific side which pertains to the synapses and neural pathways or connections and the brain’s ability to store and process data, which has led the class into the various learning style theories.

The three most important implications of cognitive science that I have learned so far, which affect my college’s setting are: Andragogy – teaching to adults, Cognitive process of problem solving and the connection between learning styles and brain processing/neural synapses (brain vs. mind).

cstl clip art heart brain
image courtesy of dreamstime.com

From my interpretation of the different cognitive levels of learning it doesn’t appear that the child or adult differ entirely cognitively, but more chronologically. An infant and adult will process information and learn in the same “way” but as humans their goals for learning are different. In both cases, children and adults are processing information for learning purposes and both are indeed “interactive” learners. However, the motivation may be different, which may or may not affect the levels of learning. Malcolm Knowles, the father of andragogy proposed five factors involved in adult learning: (Knowles, n.d). Here’s a link the Knowles’ andragogy website: http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html

Additionally, learning styles have a huge impact on how the brain cognitively processes and stores information. Use this link to the Learning Style Questionnaire to find out your style: http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html “Learning is about creating and strengthening pathways thru these neurons for impulses of electricity but between each connection is a synapse. To learn something new the electrical signal has to jump across a gap to continue its journey” (Rogers, R. 2010). Understanding the various learning styles, helps educators adapt their curriculum, lecture and class activities to their student’s learning style, which can ideally help the students succeed academically. Adapting teaching methods for the learning styles or instituting learning group can result in positive outcomes as well.

Collaborative and Cooperative Learning groups have proven successful in all levels of education. “Group work is used as a means for learning at all levels in educational systems. There is strong scientific support for the benefits of having students learning and working in groups” (Hammar-Chiriac, E. 2014). The link provided below gives specific instructions on how to make it work in a classroom. Isn’t that the point of education? To enable our students, as best we can with our ability, so they can learn to the best of their ability?

cstl clip art grad

image courtesy of shutterstock.com



Here are some links worth checking out:

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

IBM Watson: The Science Behind an Answer

Collaborative Learning in a Classroom



Cornell University, (2014). Collaborative Learning: Group Work. Retrieved from            http://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/engaging-students/collaborative-learning.html

Felder, R.& Soloman, B. (n.d.). Learning Styles and Strategies. Retrieved from            http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm

Hammar-Chiriac, E. (2014) Group Work as an Incentive for Learning: Students’ Experiences of   Group Work. Frontiers in Psychology. Vol. 5 p. 1-18. 19p

IBM (2011, July 18). IBM Watson: The Science Behind an Answer [Video File].            Retrievedfrom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DywO4zksfXw

Knowles, M. (n.d.) Instructional design andragogy. Retrieved from                http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html

PBSoffbook. (2013, July 11). The rise of artificial intelligence [Video File]. Retrieved from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53K1dMyslJg

Rogers, R. (2010). How We Learn – Synapses and Neural Pathways. Retrieved from            http://.youtube.com/watch?v=BEwg8TeipfQ

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Open Education

Open Education Resources



image provideb by imgarcade.com

The term and movement of Open Education has been around since 2002 where it was “first coined at a UNESCO conference: Open Education Resources, OER is defined as the open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communications technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purpose” (McNally, 2012). Basically this means all course material is available to the general public via the internet and specifically designed OER websites. The movement is very exciting because it is making education available to everyone at basically no cost to the consumer. This is an exciting concept because it is altruistic by nature and allows an individual whether student or instructor to learn about a topic without having to pay tuition costs. One of the goals of the OER is to eliminate this barrier of tuition costs which can prevent some from learning and make resources available to everyone. I visualize this movement as an institution or university completely online and free to the general public. For a lifelong learner not interested in obtaining a specific degree or certificate this is very exciting! “Education is the most fundamental public resource we’ve ever had. And, over the last two generations, more and more people on more and more occasions have had to pay more and more money to get it. And suddenly, the glacier is melting. Suddenly the tide is receding. And education is being offered to larger and larger numbers of people for nothing, for everybody” (Bonk, 2009). This is a great way to sum up the exciting and promising effects of the OER movement.


Unfortunately the Open Education movement has some barriers. The most difficult challenge is the copyright licensing issues. The resources and materials are published on specifically designed OER websites and free to all, but copyright laws prevent the freedom to use this information freely! “Copyright inhibits both use of copying, modifying and publishing material and the creation (preventing others from copying, modifying and publishing)” (McNally, 2012). This is the biggest barrier for OERs. Creative Commons is a solution to the copyright licensing issues. “Creative Commons established in 2001 by Larry Lessig, is a nonprofit organization devoted not to just expanding access to online materials, but also to the creative use and mixing of them” (Bonk, 2009). The objective of Creative Commons is to provide a “share-a-like” environment whereby the use of the material is strictly for non-commercial use. “The creator assigns varying rights on use from reserving all rights to some rights to allowing free distribution” (Bonk, 2009).
The other barriers include the difficulty in finding the material or the specific website. For example, “such institutions as MIT have over 2000 courses online. The OER website must be easy to navigate in order to find the information. MERLOT Pedagogy is a website with a very advanced search engine that allows the individual to find specific OER websites” (McNally, 2012). Other barriers may include the fact that OER are now available to anyone who has internet access and would like to explore the information and material on the website. The course content is now not just available to a small number of students but it is now available for millions of others to criticize.

With the rising cost of tuition and the education reform of affordability and accessibility issues at a peak of awareness and concern, the Open Education Movement couldn’t come at a better time. The movement is promising and is fulfilling the overall need to make education more accessible and certainly more affordable!
The OER movement is worldwide. A great organization that addresses these open education issues globally is Open Education Consortium. The OCW Consortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of universities and associated organizations committed to advancing open education globally. The website is http://www.oeconsortium.org/

The Open Education Resource is not just for students but or educators and instructors as well. My learning activity requires college students to design an academically inspirational video for the office of Academic Affairs. Honestly, OERs are new to me! I will consult the Merlot website in order to find more information about activities involving inspirational videos created as a learning tool. Instead of “reinventing the wheel”, I can turn to other colleagues or resources to learn the best steps to take for instructing students on my topic. The Open Education Resource is a great teaching and learning tool for everyone in education!

Is and Open Education Resource competing with the supply and demand effect? Now that the information and course material is so open and available could this diminish the value or cost of traditional tuition?

Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. SanFrancisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McNally, M. (2012, March 22). Democratizing access to knowledge: Find out what open
educational resources (OER) have to offer. Podcast retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2IPOgl0ZE8.

Merlot Pedagogy (1997-2014). http://pedagogy.merlot.org/teachingstrategies.html.

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Settings for Learning

We have been learning about three setting for learning: Face to Face, Hybrid and Online.

Face to Face is the traditional form of teaching with an instructor and a group of students and is held in a classroom. The instructor prepares a lecture and presents the material to the students. The instructor is in charge of the classroom and the material presented to the students. The instructor serves as the communicator of information – actually teaching the material to the students; direct instruction. “Direct instruction is more like the lecture format in that the instructors tell learners what they need to know and what they ought to do” (Bates, C. & Watson, M. , 2008).  The environment is face-to-face and means the instructor is working directly with the students.


graphics: http://www.academicsltd.co

The Hybrid setting is a combination of Face to Face and online setting. Hybrid classes typically meet once a week in a classroom setting and the remaining instruction/classes are held online.  With hybrid learning technology is introduced to both the instructor and students but will not be used entirely.   This combination can be viewed by some as preferred combination. “The best of both worlds learning environment model is the web-enhanced, or hybrid, learning environment, in which the predominantly face-to-face model connects the learners in a cooperative, interactive environment that offers online interactive activities” (Crawford, Smith & Smith, 2008).

In the Online learning setting classes are held completely online. The online professor becomes the coach or facilitator. The course design is completely different since classes do not meet face to face. Lessons and materials are provided to students via a web based online learning system. “The third (online) learning environment is the implementation of a web-based learning environment also known as distance education or online learning. Engaged entirely online, learners in web-based learning environments lack the traditional support structure inherent within a face-to-face environment” (Crawford, Smith & Smith 2008). The online instructor is not directing the instruction as with face to face. The instructor leads the students in the direction that is required for the curriculum. This type of instruction is referred to guided discovery. “In guided discovery strategy, students learn on their own by observing the phenomena, asking questions, allowing time for inquiry , or conducting activities and experiments followed by feedback” (Bates & Watson, 2008).

We also have been learning about the various teaching techniques that work best in these settings. A great website to refer to for an explanation of the techniques is: MERLOT Pedagogy:    http://pedagogy.merlot.org/TeachingStrategies.html  An example of a teaching technique is collaborative/cooperative learning. Collaborative/cooperative learning is as defined by MERLOT: “cooperative and collaborative learning are instructional approaches in which students work together in small groups to accomplish a common learning goal. They need to be carefully planned and executed, but they don’t require permanently formed groups” (MERLOT Pedagogy).   I will be using this type of learning approach in my learning activity for the course.

The learning activity proposed for the final project is a video loop presentation that will be created by students. The content and purpose of the video is to inspire students academically via the visual presentation. The video will be displayed continuously on a TV monitor screen in the Academic Affairs office, which can be viewed by students, faculty and staff. The video can be displayed in other locations such as the college’s cafeteria and the various lounge areas throughout the campus. This concept would be new and different for the Academic Affairs office, since the equipment does not currently exist. Additionally the video loop presentation does not exist and will require the students to be creative and inventive. Collaborative and cooperative learning is ideal for this type of activity.


This is my office.  Back wall is where TV would be placed.


My learning activity will involve students designing a video and the theme of the video presentation is academic inspirations. I would like the students to come up with concepts, ideas, situations, examples that will “inspire” students to achieve academically. We will start with brainstorming ideas that inspire a student to perform better. What ideas do you have? What inspires you to do better academically???


Bates, C. and Watson, M. (2008). Re-Learning Teaching Techniques to be Effective in Hybrid and Online Courses.  Journal of American Academy of Business. 12, 1; page 38.

Crawford, C., Smith, R. & Smith M. (2008).   Course Student Satisfaction Results: Differentiation Between Face-to-Face, Hybrid, and Online Learning Environments. CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Merlot Pedagogy (1997-2014). http://pedagogy.merlot.org/teachingstrategies.html

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Communities of Practice (CoP) and Professional Learning Communities (PLC)

PLC clipart

Helping educators help students learn – this is the general purpose of CoPs and PLCs. Both are not new, and evolved as a network to promote peer learning. Many educators take the success of their students personally “If students don’t learn, it’s not their fault. It’s our fault. We are taking responsibility. It makes us better teachers”. (Adams, Caralee, 2009). Both CoPs and PLCs support learning because they put the student first and find ways to help the students learn.

Communities of Practice (CoP ) and Professional Learning Communities (PLC) were both originally designed in the corporate world as a way for peers to get together and discuss a common topic or interest in order to help each other. Both the CoP and the PLC are very similar and as the YouTube video points out “the CoP and the PLC were designed so that people with a common interest can learn from each and share what they know” (Bouchard, 2012). The PLC was designed more for educators at the K-12 level, which of course can be used in higher education as well. Watch the 9 minute video on YouTube below.

Additionally, PLCs are a form of collaboration that will help support teachers. “Researchers and teachers’ organizations universally endorse improving schools through PLCs, and with good reason: PLCs can help you be a better teacher while saving you precious planning time, thanks to the power of collaboration.” (Adams, Caralee, 2009).

CoP and PLC can utilize technology which will essentially enhance the learning environment. Since by definition, CoPs are groups of people with a common interest that would like to learn and collaborate this is a type of networking with peers for information and advice, etc. The internet and social media is a perfect tool for a CoP and PLC to continually collaborate and communicate.  CoPs and PLCs can be beneficial in any environment.

Learning about CoPs and PLCs has been informative for my learning activity because of collaboration and teamwork. Not only as educators can CoPs and PLCs be beneficial but for students as well. What is students collaborated more constructively in the same way? Such as in a “flipped classroom”? What if students had a learning management system that allowed them to turn to their peers for their homework assignments and projects?

How can we in an academic institution take advantage of CoPs and PLCs? If a CoP or PLC doesn’t exist in your environment, then is it possible to introduce it as a worthy and beneficial communication learning tool?


Student Athletes at Becker College – representing teamwork and academics

becker group_1989


If you would like to start and develop a PLC – check out the website link !

Developing a PLC

Adams, Caralee. (2009). The Power of Collaboration. Instructor, 119 (1), 28-31.

Bouchard, J. (2012). CoPs and CLPs. YouTube Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pg3cx7dW1U&feature=youtu.be.

Photo courtesy of Becker College Marketing Department (4/19/2011)

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Hi my name is Deb Crowley and welcome to my personal learning environment (PLE).    The purpose of this PLE is to explore, identify and analyze the future of education and to create an environment to express these ideas and predictions.  In this course I am learning about the trends that will affect the future of education.

It is my goal as I continue on in this program to learn more about these trends in order to better understand higher education which will then help me in my position at Becker College.

Affordability and accessibility issues are causing institutions to make changes in order to accommodate and/or attract prospective students and position themselves for the future.

My PLE will look at areas that I see potential and how institutions can stay “on track for change”.

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