Waiting for Gamification in Higher Education

When I was a kid I loved reading comic books. One of my favourite series was the Adventures of Tintin. I just had to have the video game of the same name was recently released for iPad. During Christmas break I couldn’t stop playing the game; but the more I played it, the more I thought, “Why can’t we do this in education?”

For me the game had the challenge of learning to use the controls, I had to solve problems, there was a clean storyline, good animation, and I was rewarded for going off the beaten path as I (or should I say Tintin and Snowy) looked for gold coins. The skill level, for control and thinking, increased as the game progressed.

These key elements of gaming have been around since humans invented games. Unfortunately, educational games today come to an abrupt halt by the time someone enrolls in college or university. I would have loved to play an adventure game to help me learn four hundred years of Canadian history, or psychology, or research methods. Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Student Created Curriculum Builds Enthusiasm for Learning

Everyone has a different way of studying and learning new material. As an educator, I was often guilty of creating lessons plans that favour my preferred learning style. As Socrates said, “Knowing thyself is the height of wisdom,” but in today’s higher education system it is a wise educator who first learns about his or her students.

A few years ago I was asked to teach a basic business course to students in a fairly new program. I asked the program coordinator to describe the type of students who enrolled in his program, and what he needed the students to know by the end of the course to succeed in future courses.

He told me that they were very creative, but needed confidence. They had no business experience, were between 18 and 25 and needed to know how to create a business plan. Most of the students hadn’t yet chosen an area of specialization, and were still exploring their options. Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Using Mythbusters to Tech Basic Research

Almost every episode of the popular TV show Mythbusters includes a segment that involves research. I found using the show is an invaluable tool for teaching basic research terminology and illustrating to students that research can be fun.

In my first class I list and explain basic research terms, such as independent and dependent variables, hypothesis, correlations, types of samples, and sequencing. In the second class, I recap some of the terms, answer questions, and once the students are confident they understand the material, I play a segment of Mythbusters.

The students have a task while watching the video: Identify as many research terms as possible and provide examples used in the show. If it is a short segment, I’ll play it twice. This allows the learners to find more examples and allows them to absorb the research that is being presented as opposed to watching merely to find terms and examples. Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Creating Lesson Plans Based on Questions of the Day

After I’ve written a lesson plan, I review it and sometimes discover that I have taught my learners how to do something, but not clearly illustrated how the day’s lesson aligns to at least one of the course’s learning objectives.

If I can’t clearly align the lesson to the objects, then can I expect my learners to?

I cured this problem by doing two things: As I create a lesson plan, I look at the course objectives and align the lesson to one or two of the objects. Next, I create a couple of questions I want the learners to answer at the end of the lesson. Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Learning Journals Help Students and Professors

Getting ready for a new school year, or semester, has its challenges for professors. One challenge is to try a new mode of learning for students. One mode of learning I have successfully used to enhance reflective learning is having students keep a journal on the course’s subject matter.

I began using journals when I taught research course, but I quickly realized how powerful journals are in other courses to help learners capture and organize their thoughts. While many students bemoan writing a journal by hand, they soon discover that their thoughts become more concise when they write by hand. Students don’t want to spend much time writing, but they need to capture information, and quickly learn brevity.

Students are required to purchase a notebook that is hard covered and with numbered pages. I want to see their mistakes, their doodles, and misinterpretations. While some learners don’t immediately see it, reviewing mistakes is part of the learning process.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Experiential Teaching Methods Help Learners Retain Information

Some instructors deliver a lecture to learners, have a Q & A session, and expect learners to both retain the information and know how to apply their new found knowledge in real-life scenarios.

More than likely, learners will only retain a small part of the information, and not for very long. Learners will then have to study from notes to pass exams. Again, most of the information will not reside in long-term memory.

Instructors and curriculum designers must take reasonably for transferring knowledge, and for using methods that help learners retain information.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

The Take-Home, Open-Book Test

In one of my college prep courses I found that students were very stress about taking college-type tests. While I had to prepare the students for college level learning, I certainly didn’t wan them to drop out or fail because of their fear of tests.

One colleague suggested giving the students a take-home test, but I suspected that students would give into the temptation of using the Internet to answer the questions. Occasionally I had used open-book tests, so as an experiment I created a take-home, open book test.

A week before the test, I have the student a choice of three topics they could write an essay about. I also gave them a fill-in-the blanks form to help them organize their information for each paragraph of essay.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it