Posts Tagged ‘experiential learning’
This coming year, I am doing several keynotes and workshops on the reflecting on the making process. Two elements from my training as an educator lead me to really embrace this topic:
- Background in Experiential Education
- Studying the Reflective Practitioner During Graduate School
Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing.” Experiential learning is distinct from rote or didactic learning, in which the learner plays a comparatively passive role. The general concept of learning through experience is ancient. Around 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote in the Nichomachean Ethics “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiential_learning)
Experiential education is a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their communities. (http://www.aee.org/what-is-ee)
There are several elements of experiential learning that are relevant to this discussion. First is that learning starts with an experience. This permits learners to have a direct and sensory experience interacting with the instructional materials. This often permits deeper and more significant learning. Second is that there is a huge reflective component to experiential learning. A saying from this field is that if there is no reflection on the experience, then learning is left to change.
The Reflective Practitioner
During several of my graduate courses, the idea of the reflective practitioner was introduced through studying the works of Donald Schon and Stephen Brookfield. Donald Schon explains the characteristics of the reflective practitioner:
The reflective practitioner allows himself to experience surprise, puzzlement, or confusion in a situation which he finds uncertain or unique. He reflects on the phenomenon before him, and on the prior understandings which have been implicit in his behavior. He carries out an experiment which serves to generate both a new understanding of the phenomenon and a change in the situation. (http://infed.org/mobi/donald-schon-learning-reflection-change/)
Stephen Brookfield describes reflective practice as:
Reflective practice has its roots in the Enlightenment idea that we can stand outside of ourselves and come to a clearer understanding of what we do and who we are by freeing ourselves of distorted ways of reasoning and acting. There are also elements of constructivist phenomenology in here, in the understanding that identity and experience are culturally and personally sculpted rather than existing in some kind of objectively discoverable limbo. (http://elearning.olc4tpd.com/enrol/index.php?id=5)
A recent research study published via Harvard Business Review concluded that:
- Learning from direct experience can be more effective if coupled with reflection-that is, the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience.
- Reflecting on what has been learned makes experience more productive.
- Reflection builds one’s confidence in the ability to achieve a goal (i.e., self-efficacy), which in turn translates into higher rates of learning. (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7498.html)
Reflection in the Maker Process
The maker movement and maker education are becoming very popular in school and after school settings, libraries, and community centers. If making is to go beyond something that is just fun to do while doing it, then reflection can and should be used to help insure that the knowledge, skills, dispositions, attitudes, and values learned through individual making sessions are transferred to other settings.
Here is the slide deck I started for use during my presentations this year:
Given this era of learning where information is abundant and easily accessible, it is even more important than ever to help learners understand the learning process. As such, one of the major responsibilities of an educator in this era of education is to make the learning process overt and intentional so learners develop skills for becoming more effective learners. To do so, though, educators need to explore and deeply understand the processes and cycles of learning. Real life learning or learning outside of school usually doesn’t entail studying textbook materials and then taking tests to assess learning.
I’ve discussed the learning cycle in The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture, the need to provide context to learning, being intentional with students about the metacognitive process, and the importance of reflection in the learning process. These ideas and the works of John Dewey, Carl Rogers, and David Kolb provide the foundation for a natural and experiential cycle of learning presented in this post:
An educative experience, according to Dewey, is an experience in which we make a connection between what we do to things and what happens to them or us in consequence; the value of an experience lies in the perception of relationships or continuities among events. Before we are formally instructed, we learn much about the world, ourselves, and others. It is this natural form of learning from experience, by doing and then reflecting on what happened, which Dewey made central in his approach to schooling. (http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1914/Dewey-John-1859-1952.html#ixzz3x3JsjkBP)
The famous psychologist and a founder of humanism, Carl Rogers, also emphasizes the importance of experiential learning:
Rogers distinguished two types of learning: cognitive (meaningless) and experiential (significant). The former corresponds to academic knowledge such as learning vocabulary or multiplication tables and the latter refers to applied knowledge such as learning about engines in order to repair a car. The key to the distinction is that experiential learning addresses the needs and wants of the learner. Rogers lists these qualities of experiential learning: personal involvement, self-initiated, evaluated by learner, and pervasive effects on learner. To Rogers, experiential learning is equivalent to personal change and growth. Rogers feels that all human beings have a natural propensity to learn. According to Rogers, learning is facilitated when: (1) the student participates completely in the learning process and has control over its nature and direction, (2) it is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems, and (3) self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success. Rogers also emphasizes the importance of learning to learn and an openness to change. (http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/experiental-learning.html)
David Kolb proposes that experiential learning has six main characteristics:
- Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes.
- Learning is a continuous process grounded in experience.
- Learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically opposed modes of adaptation to the world (learning is by its very nature full of tension).
- Learning is a holistic process of adaptation to the world.
- Learning involves transactions between the person and the environment.
- Learning is the process of creating knowledge that is the result of the transaction between social knowledge and personal knowledge. (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/styles/kolb.html)
Too often in way too many school settings of all grades and levels; concepts, ideas, and skills are presented as abstract concepts. Students can learn these concepts theoretically but not with deep understanding. Deep understanding often requires learners to intimately interact with the material and for them to interact intimately with material, they need to learn about and know the material experientially.
Kolb conceptualized learning as a cyclical model.
Effective learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages: of (1) having a concrete experience followed by (2) observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to (3) the formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and generalizations (conclusions) which are then (4) used to test hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new experiences. (http://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html)
[I am referring to and discussing Kolb’s ideas re: the natural cycle of learning not his ideas re: learning styles].
An Experiential and Natural Cycle of Learning
What follows is my version and explanation of the Experiential Learning Cycle:
The Stimulus; Gaining Interest
Gaining interest through some form of stimulus is a precursor to and a necessary component of engagement and entering into the experiential learning cycle. Gaining attention or interest is actually the first event of Gagne’s 9 events. According to Gagne’s nine events of instruction, gaining attention is the first key step taken into account when designing instruction. The basic idea is to grab the learners’ attention by presenting an interest device or a teaser. (http://elearningindustry.com/5-step-design-model-gain-attention-learner)
Both in real life and in the classroom, the learners’ attention and interest occurs when some stimulus is found to be interesting, novel, engaging, and/or exciting by the learner. It can be a demonstration, video, something someone has said, something a friend explained, a magazine article, a game. But again, it is something that the learners, themselves, find inherently interesting; something they want to learn more about due to some characteristics they find intrinsically motivating.
For example, I started playing Pickleball a few months ago. The stimulus came from several friends who began to play it at a local community college and told me repeatedly how much fun it is. This combined with my desire to add some fun sports-related work-outs to my routines acted as motivator for me to try it out for myself.
The Experience: The Doing and Redoing
The idea of experience as part of the learning process is central to John Dewey’s beliefs about powerful education.
The underlying philosophy of experiential learning cycle (ELC) models is Deweyian. By Deweyian is meant that Experiential Learning Cycle models emphasize that the nature of experience as of fundamental importance and concern in education and training. A further, Deweyian assumption underlying ELCs is that people learn experientially and that some experiences are educative whilst other experiences are miseducative. All experiences are understood to be continuous, that is, each experience influences each future experience. It is the teacher’s responsibility to structure and organize a series of experiences which positively influence each individual’s potential future experiences (Dewey, 1938/1997). In other words, “good experiences” motivate, encourage, and enable students to go on to have more valuable learning experiences, whereas, “poor experiences” tend to lead towards a student closing off from potential positive experiences in the future. (http://wilderdom.com/experiential/elc/ExperientialLearningCycle.htm)
Once attention and interest are sparked, learners typically have a desire to try that thing out. There are lots of ways the learners to have an experience including sensory-rich and kinesthetic experiences; hands-on use of and experimentation with materials and objects; and well designed virtual experiences and simulations. For my Pickleball example, it simply meant joining the group who play at the local community college.
The Reflection: Self-Assessing
We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience. – John Dewey
I believe as John Dewey does that deep, meaningful, long-lasting learning is left to chance if it is not a strategic, integrated part of the learning process.
Critical reflection is an important part of any learning process. Without reflection, learning becomes only an activity — like viewing a reality TV show — which was never meant to have meaning, but was only meant to occupy time. Critical reflection is not meditation, rather it is mediation — an active, conversive, dialectical exercise that requires as much intellectual work as does every other aspect of the learning process, from analysis to synthesis to evaluation. But in reflection, all the learned material can be gathered about, sorted and resorted, and searched through for greater understanding and inspiration (https://canvas.instructure.com/courses/612829/wiki/heres-what-to-do-on-saturday).
In terms of this learning cycle, it becomes reflecting deeply on what worked, what didn’t work during the doing phase and exploring reasons why. For my own Pickleball example, I spend time after each play day assessing which individual plays went well and which did not along with coming up with my own reasons why for each.
The Conceptualization: Researching
Once learners have the experience and have reflected on the experience, they are ready to research ways to improve and increase their learning. The research is designed to hone skills and improve future performance. Since learners have had the experience of doing and reflecting on what worked and didn’t work in the implementation of the doing, they can research specific and personalized ways to improve. This research can come in many forms based on learner preferences. It can include doing online research, watching videos, talking to friends, colleagues and experts, and/or watching experts in action.
In my example of learning Pickleball, I went online and read blogs as well as viewed Youtube videos on how to play pickleball. I learn more about how and where to stand in the court, how to hold the racket, and how to read my opponents. None of these ideas or tips would have made any sense to me had I done the research prior to playing Pickleball.
Return to Doing and Redoing
Once the learner completes the cycle of experience, reflect, and research, they return to the doing phase to try it, reflect on it, and research it again.
For Pickleball, I return to the court to try out my new skills.
Going back through the cycle repeatedly reinforces that learning process is iterative. Iteration is the act of repeating a process with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an “iteration”, and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iteration) This cycle of learning reinforces that learning any new skill – making something, writing something, learning new technology, developing skills in physical movement, music, the arts – is an iterative process.
Thinglink of Resources: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/753039991126360065
I have been asked to return to teach summer enrichment classes on maker education for elementary-aged learners at a local school during the summer of 2016. One of the new classes I am designing is called Coding and Bots. It is a week long (5 days) class that will meet for 2.5 hours each morning. The description is:
Learn how to code first by playing games and then by coding some bots including Sphero, Ollie, mBot, OZOBOT, and Dash and Dot. All ages are welcome but the child should have basic symbol recognition/reading skills.
Two things to note about this class are, first, I learned last summer not to underestimate the learning potential of very young kids. These classes are mixed ages ranging from 4 to 10 year old kids. For most of the maker education activities, the very young ones could perform them, sometimes better than the older kids. Second, I am a strong proponent of hands on activities. Although I like the use of iPads and computers, I want elementary aged students to have to directly interact with materials. As such, I am designing Coding and Bots to include using their bodies and manipulating objects. This translates into having all activities include the use of objects and materials excluding and in conjunction with the iPad – not just using the iPad and online apps/tools to learn to code. The activities I plan to do follow:
Warm-Ups: Human Robots
Coding the Cups
Adapted from this Tinkersmith Activity, learners use symbols and plastic cups to act as robots using the coded symbols to build and manipulate a cup stack. Each small group of 2 to 4 learners gets 18 to 24 plastic cups and a set of symbol cards (a few sets of the template below):
The cups are lined up on two levels. Each player, one at a time, picks and flips over one of the symbol cards and does the action stated on the card with the cups. In doing their movements, players need to insure that their selected cup is in contact with at least one other cup as part of their action. A player is “out” if s/he knocks over the cup/cups. The winner is the last player who places a cup without knocking any over. To increase the challenge, have learners play the game with just the symbols during second or third round of the game.
An Outdoor Treasure Hunt Through Codes
The educator sets up a Treasure Hunt outdoors for the learners to solve using coding clues provided by the educator. The coding clues are based on the following legend:
The pre-activity set-up includes setting up clues around the outdoor learning environment that lead from landmark to landmark and finally to a treasure (a treat or prize of some kind) along with the coding clues to get to each of the landmarks. Several routes might have to be set up if working with a larger group. I recommend no more than 3 or 4 per group. Learners are given the first clue, a series of the coding symbols that lead to the first landmark. An example might look like:
When they arrive at that landmark, they will find another clue, another series of coding symbols that lead to the next landmark and so on until they arrive at the last landmark that contains their treasure.
As a follow-up, learners will be separated into smaller groups to set up a treasure hunt for the other groups using the same legend of coding symbols.
This activity was adapted from Kodable’s Fuzz Family activity.
Robot Turtles Game
Learners will play the Robot Turtles Board Game. Robot Turtles is the a board game that teaches coding skills to kids as young as four, and the only screen-free resource for this pivotal age group. Read more at http://thinkfun.com/media-center/robot-turtles/.
Coding Monkey Island
Learners will also play the Code Monkey Island. Its description is:
Code Monkey Island, the board game designed to teach players of all ages computer science logic! As the wise leader of your own tribe of monkeys, it’s up to you to guide all three of your monkeys safely around the board and into the banana grove. You’ll have to use concepts like conditional statements, looping, booleans, assignment operators and more to earn moves for your monkeys, dodge quicksand traps, and score some delicious fruit along the way!
In Code Master, your Avatar travels to an exotic world in search of power Crystals. Along the way, you use programming logic to navigate the Map. Think carefully, in each level, only one specific sequence of actions will lead to success. Once you collect all the Crystals and land at the Portal, you win! (http://thinkfun.com/products/code-master/)
Bots and Coding
Finally. the learners will move into coding the bots: Sphero, Dash and Bot, and Ozobot.
Learners will code their Spheros and Ollies using the Tynker app.
MESH are wireless electronic tags shaped like blocks and each of them has different function. When you connect them together by using MESH app, your ‘what if’ ideas come to life. There is no need for knowledge of electronics or programming. Creating an IoT (internet of things) system will be very simple with MESH. http://meshprj.com/en/
Children ages 5 and up learn the foundations of problem solving and computer programming as they have fun with Dash & Dot. Dash Dash is an explorer who zips around the room, getting into mischief along the way. Using sensors, Dash can detect objects in front and behind, hear where you are, and see where Dot is. This robot has quite the personality and becomes more capable as you program and play. Introducing Dot Dot is a puppet master who instigates the adventures that Dash goes on. When you toss, shake, or pick Dot up, Dot sends a signal telling Dash what to do. Dot can also tell stories using lights, sounds, and eye expressions.
Lesson plans for Dot and Dash can be found at https://teachers.makewonder.com/lessons.
OZOBOT is an award winning smart robot, designed to teach kids & techies alike about robotics, programming & coding.
Ozoblocky is the programming language. The editor can be found at http://ozoblockly.com/editor
I like and have always used games in my classrooms. One of my current educational interests is maker education. As such, I have begun creating games for maker education – see my first one, a board game, at Reflecting on the Making Process. The game I am presenting here is a card game that ends with the makers making something based on selected cards. Each maker picks a card from each of the three categories:
- The Thing or Process
- The Product
- The Population.
For example, a maker may choose, Create a Blueprint from The Thing or Process category; a New Toy from the Product category; and Adults from the population category meaning the maker would create a blueprint for a new toy for adults. The educator and makers can choose whether it is a “blind” pick or one in which the makers see their options. (Note – I would love to increase options in all categories. If you have additional card ideas, please leave them in the comments section).
I have been offered an opportunity to teach maker education again at a local summer enrichment program during summer, 2016. Last summer was my first time around so I experimented with lots of different maker education activities to see what worked and didn’t work with the 5 to 10 year old kids. I now have this foundation and can build upon this foundation. I love creating new learning activities and will be thinking of new ways to use the materials so my returning students will have new activities. I plan to blog about those activities as I formulate them so (1) I don’t forget about them, (2) others will have access to them, and (3) folks will realize that maker education can be implemented with accessible, fairly cheap materials; that a makerspace is not required to do maker education.
LED Throwies Meet the Magnetic Board
- LEDs (see http://lighthouseleds.com/)
- Coin Batteries (I get mine in bulk from ebay)
- Magnets (I also get these in bulk from ebay)
- Electric tape
- Individual Magnetic white boards
- Dry erase markers
- Each learner is given the task to make 4-6 LED throwies (with the intent that they aren’t going to be thrown.
- Directions from Make Magazine:
- Pinch the LED’s leads to the sides of the battery, with the longer lead (the anode) touching the battery’s positive (+) terminal, and the shorter lead (cathods) touching negative (–). It should light up.
- Cut a 7″ length of strapping tape or electrical tape, and wrap the leads tightly to the battery so the LED does not flicker. Wrap once around both sides of the battery.
- The battery’s positive contact surface extends around the edges of the battery, so don’t let the short lead (cathode) touch it or you’ll short the circuit.
- More about LED throwies can be found at http://www.makereducation.com/led-throwies.html
- Each learner is then given a magnetic dry erase board and the task to create a design using both their LED throwies and dry erase makers (like the opening photograph).
- Since it is a dry erase board, learners can be encouraged to create multiple iterations of their LED-based art pieces. Photos can be taken so the learners feel comfortable with erasing and creating new art works.
- Learners can work with partners and switch around their LED throwies creating new and unique designs.
- Group Version:
- Small groups form a design on a larger classroom whiteboard. They all put their LED throwies on the larger magnetic, dry erase board. They all then use the dry erase markers to create a group mural.
This is a whole group example prior to me realizing they could have decorated their LED group creation with the dry erase makers.
LED Craft Foam Bracelets, Bookmarks, and Pictures
Bristlebots with LEDs
An LED-Lit City
Painters Cap Hacked with LEDs
- White Painters’ Caps
- Fabric Markers or Paint
- Cooper Tape or Copper Tape (depending on age)
My primary job is that of educating pre and in-service teachers with a bit of teaching elementary students along the way. I often say that there is not enough time during the school day and the school year to teach isolated and singular content area topics. I stress designing and teaching cross-curricular thematic units. Not only will the learners then get to experience multi-layered instruction, they will also experience more authentic learning experiences. Real life learning doesn’t segment itself into isolated content areas.
What follows is a specific lesson for upper elementary and middle school students. It combines geometry concepts with a language arts activity while addressing several common core standards.
- Grade Level: Grades 6 through 8
- Title: Geometry Meets Maker Education
- Brief Description: Learners create a robot using geometric shapes and LEDs. They then compose a comic strip using Storyboard That which describes the geometric properties of their robot.
- Common Core State Standards Addressed
- Math: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.
- CCSS.Math.Content.6.G.A.4 Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
- CCSS.Math.Content.7.G.B.6 Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.
- English Language Arts
- Math: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.
- ISTE’s NETS-S standards addressed
- Creativity and innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
- Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
- Create original works as a means of personal or group expression
- Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
- Communication and collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
- Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
- Creativity and innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
- Various geometric 3D styrofoam shapes (http://www.smoothfoam.com/category/Smoothfoam.html)
- LED Lights (http://lighthouseleds.com/)
- Coin Batteries
- Miscellaneous art supplies
- Glue guns and electric tape
- Measuring tapes t
- Computer – one per participant
- The Learning Activities
- Learners are offered a variety of styrofoam shapes, LED lights/coin batteries, miscellaneous art supplies and glue guns.
- Learners are given the task of building a robot composed of geometric shapes.
- Learners are asked to determine the surface area of their robots using the tape measures to get dimensions of individual pieces. They can use the LearnZillion tutorial to assist them – https://learnzillion.com/resources/72676-use-nets-to-represent-three-dimensional-figures-and-find-surface-area-6-g-a-4.
- Learners share their results, both their constructed robots and their surface area results, with peers. Peers give feedback.
- Learners are then told that they are to explain the properties and story of their robots through a digital story using Storyboard That. Their stories need to be at least four panels and contain both images and test in each of the panels. These are shared with peers.
- Learning is assessed through learner self-reflections using the Google form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1H0Q3rTERUuylntFbaa1tZrxVAwTSYIIReo99ow7p8uc/viewform?usp=send_form
Having learners engage in hands-on activities, both with the art items and with the technologies, permits educators to directly observe the performances of their students. Because these activities are somewhat self-directed, educators can actually view the learning activities as formative assessments and intervene when individual learners are having problems. This increases the chances that mastery by all learners are achieved.
During Connected Educators’ Month I did a virtual presentation on The Mindset of the Maker Education. The description for this presentation was:
Dr. Jackie Gerstein discusses why we are in a perfect storm for maker education and the maker mindset–new skills and roles (many of which you probably already have on your internal desk)–with a self-assessment to help you determine how maker-ready you are, and what you need to do if you want to get there…
What follows are the slide deck and some of the graphics-Thinglinks I created around this topic.
The Perfect Storm for Maker Education
Educator as a Maker Educator