Cat Videos, The War on Learning and The Power of Mindset

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YouTube Cat Videos Cannot Compete With Education Videos
Recently YouTube celebrated its 10th anniversary (10 years?!) and today this medium has over 1 billion unique visitors a month.  While cat videos are extremely popular, videos in the Education category are viewed twice as often as videos in Pets & Animals category.  When Sal Khan decided to post his first video in 2004 to tutor his cousin in Math, who could have imagined that this was a launch of digital education platforms that today deliver over 440 million free micro-lectures to 2.2 million YouTube subscribers.  Even more popular than Khan Academy is CrashCourse – an Education YouTube Channel created by John and Hank Green.  Their goal is to create resources that allow for more valuable interaction in the classroom – thank you John and Hank!  Worth checking out is their crash course history video on the agricultural revolution.
Are You Ready To Teach Online?
Penn State provides a terrific self assessment tool – you can access it if you input your name and email.  Once you answer the questions, you’ll be sent a review of your results and some insight into your readiness to teach online.  What’s evident is that in order to effectively teach online, you need to have developed a few key skills – namely:
  • Technology and Social Media Skills: Technology skills are fundamental, and though social media skills are not an essential, they enhance the instructor’s ability to connect with students.
  • Administrative and Organization Skills: Includes skills such as time management e.g. ability and willingness to respond to student questions with immediacy e.g. within  24 hours
  • Pedagogical Skills and Teaching Approach: instructor focus on supporting and guiding learning not delivering content and instruction
Apparently, Technology in Classrooms is a Challenge for the Majority of K-12 Teachers in the US
US survey results published this past week reveal that teachers feel ill-prepared to use technology in the classroom.  Although 90 percent of teachers believe that technology in the classroom is important to student success, 60 percent of teachers feel they are inadequately prepared to use technology in classrooms, according to research released by Samsung Electronics America.
The War On Learning
A new book by Elizabeth Losh, The War On Learning, is a worthwhile read.  In this book, Losh examines current efforts to “reform” higher education by applying technological solutions to problems in teaching and learning. Losh reminds us that education is a process and she cautions that video games for the classroom and/or or the distribution of iPads may let students down because they promote consumption rather than intellectual development.  As background, Losh studies media history, institutions as digital content-creators, the discourses of the “virtual state,” the media literacy of policy makers and authority figures, online political activism for human rights, electronic art that uses hacktivism, and the rhetoric surrounding regulatory attempts to limit everyday digital practices. She has published articles about digital literacy, citizen journalism, video games for the military and emergency first-responders, government websites and YouTube channels, state-funded distance learning efforts, national digital libraries, political blogging, congressional hearings on the Internet, and the role of gender and sexuality in technoculture (source: losh.ucsd.edu).
The Power of Mindset
The reading and practice of mindfulness in education is a growing one and there is a some evidence which supports the connection between learning mindset and improved learner outcomes.  Currently in its beta version is the Mindset Kit, a free online resource designed to help educators learn about adaptive academic mindsets, view practices that promote these mindsets, and download activity ideas.

Cheers to the week that was and the week ahead!

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