Monday, March 23, 2015

Importance of practice

Via various sources, a collection of links on the importance of practice. Many come from the literature and blogs of musical training and musicians. 

Here is a post from a sports psychologist, Kageyama, applying the learning of sports to the learning of music - providing a summary of how top musicians practice differently from others.

Another post from another musician on how many hours are optimum for practice. Plus another one here with perspectives from a cellist.

The business take on deliberate practice and expertise, as per learning from chess, is summarised in this blog.

So, still some work to do in contextualising the literature for application to trades learning. The challenge with trades work is its variability and complexity. For instance, in the craft I am most familiar with, baking and pastry cooking. There are tasks which require quite a bit of effort and time to master. Examples are the use of piping bags, moulding of bread and 'hand dropping' fillings and biscuit (cookie) dough. Then there is the learning required to perform tasks with fluidity and 'least effort' like loading /unloading ovens or tray racks, lining pastry tins, cutting out pastry or dough. The key is perhaps to identity tasks requiring aspects of deliberate practice and work towards the deliberate practice skills being applied across all other work tasks. Something to mull over for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, March 16, 2015

learning a trade resources - video, summary of video, poster and report

The resources produced to support the ‘learning a trade’ project’ are now available via the project website:

The resources were previewed at last year’s NZ vocational education research forum in October- day 2 of forum.

Resources include:
·         a video of just over a minute, pitched at apprentices to provide tips for making the most of work-based learning, 
·         a one page summary of the video, - as the videos is fast paced. I will need to gauge feedback and see if providing a transcript of the video's dialogue may also assist.
·         a poster to encourage workplace trainers and ‘coaches’ to feed up, feed back and feed forward and
·         the report - summarising recent literature on 'how vocational skills are learnt', connected to the data from apprentices' descriptions of 'how they think they learnt a trade' and recommendations to improve trades learning.

Both the video and the poster were developed by a NZ company Mohawk Media through research grant funding from CPIT and Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub

Monday, March 09, 2015

Educational neuroscience – some cause for critical evaluation

Educational neuroscience is a branch of psychology studying the application or relevance of recent neuroscience research to learning. The American Adult Education Research Association (AAER) has a website for their SIG on ‘brain, neurosciences andeducation. The British equivalent is bested at Cambridge University as the Centre for Neuroscience in Education. Various journals provide access to the work of educational neuroscientists including trends in neuroscience and education, mind brain and education and a more recent addition, neuroeducation. Conferences include this one for June 2015 and the annual AAER one. 

Of note are various publications, including this one from the Times, cautioning the direct match of neuroscience findings application to learning approaches or strategies. As per recent blog, the findings from various brain imagery systems tend to be patterns correlated from analyzing data, usually an ‘averaging’ out of various ‘spikes’ in the graphs measuring brain activity. 

The challenge is, as always, to try to consolidate the many (to teachers unfamiliar with the topic) disparate research themes and distill them to inform teaching practice. The recent book “visible learning and the science of how we learn” summarized on this blog, and websites like the one provided by the danafoundation and brain facts, go some way. However, there is so much coming along, it is hard to keep up.  The News site of the Dana foundation site, gathers newsfeeds from various general bulletins, pertinent to educational neuroscience with regular editorials, collating the latest findings including this one on neuro-myths and education. There is also a link to neuroethics – somewhat telling! 

Other articles of interest to follow up include:
Scientific and Pragmatic Challenges for Bridging Education and Neuroscience Sashank Varma, Bruce D. McCandliss, and Daniel L. Schwartz 

Can Cognitive Neuroscience Ground a Science of Learning?_702 17..23 (2011) Anthony E. Kelly

Neurosciencefor Educators: What Are They Seeking, and What Are They Finding? (2012) Cayce J. Hook & Martha J. Farah 

and a paper found on Ebsco host database -
Getting to the Heart of the Brain: Using Cognitive Neuroscience to Explore the Nature of Human Ability and Performance by  M. Layne Kalbfleisch

As always, a need to keep up with the play. There is much work pertinent to informing improvements in teaching and learning but always to approach with caution and a critical stance. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Surface RT – working with multiple accounts in education context

Back into the fray with project surface tablet. The 12 projects we started out with last year have morphed into 16 with 2 of last year’s 12 moving on to BYOD or to other types of tablets and several ‘new’ projects.

We have learnt much from experiences last year. Chiefly, capabilities of RT surfaces in the various classroom / workshop environments at CPIT, staff capabilities requiring support and limitations of the RT surface to allow the running of video annotation apps. Here is another blog cataloging experiences in the higher ed. sector.

One of our main challenges has been to work out how to best manage accounts on tablets. Although Surface RTs allow for several user accounts to be set up on each tablet there is still the challenge of ensuring the right students accesses the correct tablet with their account set up on it.

A work around has been to set up a class account for each intake of students. We then coach students to transfer, at the end of each session, all their data on to onedrive or a memory stick. So, classes with small numbers of tablets (up to 8) are set up with individual student accounts. Larger classes or programmes sharing tablets (20 plus) are set up with a generic ‘programme’ account and students download the data when they complete each session.

The RTs have only a limited range of apps and in our bid to move to BYOD in the next year, all our projects do not rely on apps. Instead, the main functions revolve around some use of office 365, the video/camera capabilities and accessing web-based platforms including our Moodle LMS, etextbooks and echo350/socratic. One of the projects is working with computing students to develop an app but this is a long range project as each component of the app is developed and tested.

The main objective of surface tablet is still to upskill students and tutors digital literacy. Once tutors (and students) realise the potentialities of using tablets in classrooms / workshops, our role is to support the introduction and deployment. Before full digital literacy occurs, there is still a need to be 'guide on the side' to ease programmes into introducing technology enhanced learning into programmes.