Good Learning Principles in Canvas

Teaching Effectively in Canvas

I’ve been asked how a course framework (e.g. a course site in a Learning Management System such as Canvas) can encourage better learning. This is an early/simplified attempt at explaining and identifying what those indicators might be, and how they can increase learning. This is work inspired in part by Gee’s identification of 13 principles of good learning in good games. General Principles of Learning We are sensing and social animals. Embodied: we learn most powerfully through direct interaction with our environment, through Continue reading

Engagement & Gamification Takeaways

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I was recently asked to briefly summarize “takeaways” for gamification and student engagement. This was not easy for me, as there is so much on these topics, and so many nuances that defy summary. As a student of Squire, Gee, Steinkuehler, Halverson, etc, it is perhaps no surprise that I used Gee’s 13 principles as a base. I am sure there are things I’ve missed. Gamification: Players (learners) are not alike: Some like to accumulate points, but some play to socialize, some to explore, Continue reading

Active Teaching Lab

This past Spring, with the wonderful support of DoIT Academic Technology and the Teaching Academy, I launched a series of Active Teaching Labs — low-commitment, structured explorations of cool teaching tools and techniques to teach more effectively. The response to them was very positive. GOAL: Capacity Building at faculty level; create deeply-embodied and socially-playful environments & experiences for learners — Lure with low-risk involvement. Inspire with stories. Motivate with hands-on success. SUCCESS: Because it is a safe & playful, low-risk environment where faculty are Continue reading

Teaching for Graduate Student Instructors

Pedagogical Treatments for Graduate Student Instructors  (GSIs) I’ve been thinking about his for some time. Thought I should write something up on it. Overview I propose that someone create small programs to improve the teaching of GSIs — in conjunction (and collaboratively) with various entities on campus to identify and target needs, to avoid programming in areas that do overlap, and to capitalize on lines of communication to potential participants. Benefits: This proposal addresses a problem that has not been adequately Continue reading

OK, Blended Learning — How about Blended Teaching?

I’m a conscientious teacher. I work pretty hard to ensure that learning activities are driven foremost by learning goals, and I work pretty hard to avoid “easy-for-me; crappy-for-student” learning activities, where they spit back content in multiple choice tests. But there’s no denying that I get really tired doing it this way. And there’s no denying that I mess up from time to time. And sometimes I really long for the simplicity and clarity that quantitative, multiple-choice assessment offers in spades. Continue reading

New Article Published

Our TechTrends article is now online — soon to be in better newsstands and libraries across the globe! Sadly, the title isn’t quite what it should be. What it should be is: Participatory Scaling of Augmented Reality Learning through Local Games Authors: John Martin, Seann Dikkers, Kurt Squire, David Gagnon Abstract: The proliferation of broadband mobile devices, which many students bring to school with them as mobile phones, makes the widespread adoption of AR pedagogies a possibility, but pedagogical, distribution, and training models Continue reading

Disney and Education

Let me just be clear on a few things: I love Disney and its ability to create incredibly immersive experiences. I am a HUGE proponent the power of designed, built environments for learning (Ellworth 2005, etc.). Experiences that situate learners’ experiences in embodied contexts that touch multiple senses are experiences that “last a lifetime”. They’ve created top-notch, heavily-designed multimodal learning (and entertainment) environments that hold consumers’ attention throughout a learning experience. If all (or even 1%) of my public education Continue reading

Integrating Resilience Development into Assignments

One of my primary learning goals in designing assignments is to integrate content, while also helping students develop “non-academic” or “noncognitive” skills. It turns out that successful people aren’t necessarily the smartest folks; they’re the most resilient ones. Formal education has traditionally focused on content acquisition. Before books were abundant (and before the internet contained almost all “knowledge”) people with questions had to figure them out by themselves, with others, or find someone who knew the answer. Once “answers” started Continue reading

Popular Science and the Impact of Trolling

THIS: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/why-were-shutting-our-comments   It’s exceptionally sad to me to see a 141 year old magazine, Popular Science, shutting off commenting on its website because the effect that trolling comments is actually having on shaping people’s opinions about the issues presented.    People still fear trolls. Or, at least, they avoid them. Maybe cross the river at other bridges, or decide not to cross the river at all?   It is precisely this type of story that motivates me to implement activities such as Continue reading

Crocodoc! — Annotating PDFs in an LMS

I just found Box.com’s recently-acquired Crocodoc, and promptly tried to embed it in D2L as part of my “Embed Everything!” philosophy. I was looking for a solution to problem: “how can I get my students to collaboratively read a PDF?” (for PDFs that are text-based, it’s easy to import them to Google Docs and have them read and annotate them there, but image-based PDFs don’t convert very well). Enter Crocodoc. It turns out that Crocodoc Personal lets one do this Continue reading

Collaborative (T)role-driven Reading Responses

This semester, I’m teaching a “tech-enhanced” first year experience class at UW-Madison. Part of it will include collaborative work in Google Docs. But I’d like to make collaboration mean more than “let’s be nice and help each other by agreeing with each other” — so I’m going to try to facilitate mean-spirited arguments in Google Docs by having the students take on roles. Here’s how I’m explaining it in the syllabus. For the four weeks when we have articles and Continue reading

Twitter for First Year Experience Class

How are you using Twitter for teaching and learning? This fall I am teaching a tech-enhanced Wisconsin Experience (#wiexp) seminar, and Twitter sort of embodies “tech-enhanced” (in a disembodied way), so I’m going to require that they open a twitter account, and each week we’ll be using it (with hashtags) to share things. The idea behind this is to get you to explore and share. We learn new stuff every day that helps us get through our days more comfortably, more efficiently, Continue reading

Prezi for more than presentations

As a visual-primary learner, and as a fan of learning tools, I love the spirit behind this article in the Chronicle’s ProfHacker: Hacking Prezi as a Platform for Visual Composition and Design Experimentation. The infinite zoom of Prezi has tremendous potential in design and visual layout as an organizer of content. But, as a devotee of sociocultural and collaborative learning, I especially love this part: One of the best things we have found along the way is that Prezi has a collaborative Continue reading

Place-based Learning in Environmental Studies

In summer and Fall of 2012, I was thrilled to be involved in the Situated Learning Award by the Engage program at UW–Madison. I got to assist three instructors in creating and implementing mobile-based Situated Learning activities for their courses. This post examines a case in Environmental Studies, where the instructor and her two graduate students built an elaborate three-role collaborative interactive tour of six buildings on campus where six issues in sustainability that the course covered throughout the semester: electricity, carbon, LEED, Continue reading

Place-based Learning in Folklore

In summer and Fall of 2012, I was thrilled to be involved in the Situated Learning Award by the Engage program at UW–Madison. I got to assist three instructors in creating and implementing mobile-based Situated Learning activities for their courses. This post examines a case where the instructor (Tim Frandy) used the ARIS platform (ARIS, 2012) on mobile devices and light augmented reality to supplement in-class activities and investigate place. The activity was designed for the third and fourth week Continue reading