Archive for category Teaching and Learning

The Challenge of the the Personal Learning Environment

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Six Big Skills

The year 2010 is coming at us like a train exponentially increasing in speed and size. Many educators and researchers have tried to define 21st century skills. Some of us have even discussed if ‘21st century skills’ is the correct way to define the skills we are talking about. One group of researchers Michael B. Eisenberg, Doug Johnson wrote an article back in 2002 describing the skills in question. Although the article is now about to be eight years old, the suggestions within the article are still very pertinent to the discussion today. It helps answer the question, what skills will students need to be successful in the 21st century?

The stand out portion of the article is a section defined as “Technology Skills for Information Problem Solving”, which is was originally written by Michael B. Eisenberg, Doug Johnson and Robert E. Berkowitz in a title called Information problem-solving : the Big Six Skills approach to library & information skills instruction The authors break down these skills into six large groups that they refer to as the Big 6 Skills.

The Big 6

  1. Task Definition
  2. Information Seeking Strategies
  3. Location and Access
  4. Use of Information
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

One thing to note about the Big 6 Skills, is that they are not technology oriented skills. Technology may be used to accomplish the development of the skills, but the skills themselves are not directly related to technology.

The authors further break down the Big 6 skills into specific objectives or tasks that students must understand or be able to complete. The list is quite extensive, and it would not be suggested that the entire list be incorporated into a course. However, this is a great resource to help instructors pick and choose skills they wish to incorporate into their course so that students are also developing skills that are needed in the 21st century workplace.

ERIC Identifier: ED465377
Publication Date: 2002-09-00
Author: Eisenberg, Michael B.  & Johnson, Doug
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology Syracuse NY.

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Text books suited to your learning style

Our brains are not linear, so why should our textbooks be? Connexions allows users to break content down into smaller modules that can be linked and arranged in different ways better suited to an individual learning style.

Connexions Website:

A place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute:

Creative Commons article with Connexions creator Rich Baraniuk:

Baraniuk’s main beef with traditional teaching and textbooks is that they’re too linear. Subjects are broken up into discrete units, and then never reconnected. Textbooks mirror this flaw in that they are completely linear, and depending on the particular focus of a course, tend to offer a great deal of irrelevant or redundant information, while failing to cast any illumination on vital subjects. Even worse, by the time they make it through writing, editing, school board reviews, publishing and finally into students hands, textbooks — especially in the fast moving sciences — are often obsolete.

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Is the University a Dying Breed? Technology and Education

I came across this interesting article that speaks well to the effective use of technology in the classroom. Sometimes we make the mistake of relying too much on technology to improve teaching when it is just another tool.

Here we find a paradox within the argument as to universities’ collective fate.  The same technologies that are proposed as replacements for teachers and classes are actually improving both.  Recorded lectures don’t really replace the educational experience of taking a class, but they sure help when you’re trying to remember what your professor said at the beginning of the semester.  New media don’t teach students by themselves, but they are excellent resources in the hands of a capable educator.  If a technology can teach a certain topic better than a human can (say, a game to teach foreign language), it will be deployed to that purpose – but the teacher still take over where the technologies fail (which is to say, they are tools). Even as new technologies are offered as the new teachers, they make the traditional teachers even better at their work.

To read the full article click here:

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Teaching and the Information Revolution

We all tend to be most comfortable with familiar practices. And thus, thinking about changing the way we teach can be intimidating.  At the post-secondary level, a rich and powerful tradition surrounds the practice and construct of our teaching and learning activities – embedding face-to-face lectures, labs, tutorials and seminars as foundational components of undergraduate and graduate instruction.

The information revolution, however, is radically changing the way in which the global community communicates, accesses information, collaborates, constructs understanding, disseminates ideas, learns, and teaches. And the changes in information and communication technologies we have witnessed over the past decade will in all probability be exponentially eclipsed by the changes of the next.

Kevin Kelly – author and publisher – in his classic “TED Talk” introduces some radical thoughts about the evolution of information, knowledge and technology as he attempts to predict the future of information technologies and the further revolutionary changes they will certainly invoke in our lives (and thus, perhaps, our teaching).

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