The Anatomy Of A Puzzle-Based Learning Tool

Jared Cosulich blogs about a fractions puzzle game he is exploring. He unravels each area with a series of screenshots and explanations, including the simulator, option set, goal, feedback loops, explicit content, appropriate challenges,  editing / selecting levels and an escape valve:

The Escape Valve
The Escape Valve is simply a mechanism that makes it possible for a student to declare that a challenge is too hard and get additional help with it. This project will build out libraries that will make it easy to include a hint system that gives students one piece of the puzzle, allowing them to work their way closer to a solution. This technique only works if there are enough puzzles of similar difficulty so that a student can get hints on one and still be able to assess their proficiency by taking on another level of similar difficulty.

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Is technology the new kid on the block?

via the Yildiz University Wired In or Out blog, a vimeo interview with Dr. Gary Motteram by the British Council Turkey.  Gary talks about the differences in his own experiences of teaching languages and the range of options available using recent technologies. The Wired In or Out blog covers the symposium with more posts to follow.

The interview

Pictures from the poster presentation session showing a range of different Turkish projects


Technology use in the classroom helps autistic children communicate

The Economic and Social Research Council report findings from Topcliffe Primary School in Birmingham. The project received a grant from the ESCRC and the EPSRC. The children are using a large multi-touch screen and explore the virtual environment, interacting with an agent called Andy. The staff were surprised at the level of social interaction.

Research shows that children with autism often find computers and technology safe, motivating and engaging, particularly in the areas of social interaction and communication. Autistic children often struggle to communicate and learn effectively, but it seems that this technology can tap into their motivation and enable them to communicate in a way in which teachers simply can’t get them to do in traditional classroom settings.

Echoes 2 project

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Funding awarded for Sierra Leone health partnership

From Kings College London news, their Global Health centre has been awarded a grant to improve health professions education in Sierra Leone.

The partnership will draw on the expertise of staff from across King’s Health Partners to work with staff at COMAHS to develop revised curricula for all programmes, provide training in modern teaching methods, equip classrooms and develop proposals for new training programmes. This will involve visits by medical, nursing and pharmacy educators to Sierra Leone to conduct needs assessments and hold curriculum workshops, as well as provide distance mentoring and support.

The project will also use an online learning platform called MedicineAfrica

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Tips for TechCautious Teachers

Kevin Fairchild mentions an article which includes a range of tips for teachers who are not used to technology and not sure where to begin.

Some people get excited by finding new websites, new tools, new strategies for students: the more, the better.  Other people get easily overwhelmed with too much new information: how can you select the valuable from the worthless?

The article by Brianna Crowley mentions some great pragmatic suggestions including giving yourself time to learn

Sometimes, to understand the potential of a tool to enhance your classroom, you have to dive in and experiment, giving yourself permission to learn and play before you fully commit

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School Districts and Modern Technology, or, Things That Make Me Bang My Head On My Laptop

Orangespicedrop aka Diane succinctly notes that technology is great when it is used correctly and works correctly.

Our school district constantly boasts about the fact that they use technology in the classroom. To the point of annoyance and nausea.  And it’s true–the Tweedles’ homework these days is mostly done “online.”  When I walked into various classrooms on Teacher Conference Day, a Smartboard was present in most of the rooms.  On the school’s website, you can do everything from checking your student’s grades or the event calendar, to putting money into their lunch account.  Each Friday, the principal of the school sends out a mass email, detailing events of the past week and informing parents of upcoming important dates.

She has a hypothesis that people fail to use technology correctly 90% of the time and provides several anecdotes highlighting how both information and technology have been used to illustrate this.

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ten bucks for a school

Xaviera Medina de Albrand profiles the work of Marie Da Silva who lost many of her close family to HIV whilst living in Malawi. Marie’s mother provided space in her home to start a small school for students who could not afford private education.

Where once there was a garage or a dinning room, today there is a classroom. Children and new students sat on the floor, with no desks or any type of school furniture. Marie black painted some walls to turn them into blackboards and start classes. “At first the children paid some money for school, but then, in conversations with my mother we thought that if our own orphaned nephew and niece were not paying, so, other children who were orphans too, had not to pay. So the Jacaranda school became fully free “.

Marie also created a foundation to support students who could not afford to eat and highlighted their situation whilst working in New York as a nanny to a well known tv presenter.

The post continues the story of successes from students at both the foundation and the school and how it has provided support for their neighbouring communities

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Closing the gap on aboriginal education

Brian Tompson writes about the exclusion of indigenous students and communities in education. He explains how teachers have looked at issues such as misbehaviour and absenteeism and attributed a lack of achievement against an indigenous label.

If we are to help our students learn then we need to look at student-centred classrooms and learning techniques that encourage learning. It is recognised that Aboriginal students learn best by doing rather than by theory. Neil Harrison recognises that students learn by imitating others (Harrison 2011). Teachers need to differentiate their teaching methods which include avoiding the overuse of textbooks and provide authentic learning experiences which deal with real life situations or themes that students can relate to.

He stresses the role of collaboration with the local communities and parents in developing a meaningful education and have a more informed cultural awareness, moving away from textbooks and other formal learning materials

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Post-Gaddafi Higher Education in Libya

emelieloeb takes a look at Libyan universities, noting changes in freedom of expression for students but is unable to find signs of radical change in sharing of ideas and learning practices. She wonders about the connections between those who opposed to Gaddafi who now expect educational positions as highlighted by a professor in Tripoli.

A year is a relatively short time compared to the extent of Gaddafi’s rule. It is only natural that students would like their educational institution to reflect the political change of their nation, but it will take Libya many years to see all of the changes that students are craving.

It will be interesting to see what students continue to do to encourage change in the educational systems.

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11th Sharing – Lifegiverian

Jorie reflects on the use of technologies and how it can create meaningful learning opportunities which have resulted in reduced student absenteeism and creating opportunities for independent learning. She has observed her teaching colleagues preparing technologies and media and notes the amount of time involved. She looks at the internet use by both teachers and students seeing advantages of being able to find interesting resources but notes being able to find precise information can be challenging

The achievement of technology in instruction is the effectiveness on how it is being incorporate in the teaching-learning process. Teachers should skillful enough and innovative to create new ideas in order to build meaningful learning environment.

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