15 Jul 2017

Improving Student Learning with Effective Learning Techniques: Elaborative Interrogation (Part 1)


The achievement gap among students is widening, although there are major strides in the educational systems to bridge the gaps. From my experience as an educator and educational leader, one of the chief factors affecting student achievement is learning techniques. I am talking about the learning techniques that can be reasonably taught to students so that they can independently use it in the same or different contexts at a later date. Many students use ineffective learning techniques that if trained with more effective one can improve their achievement. Many teachers help students to use ineffective learning techniques because they do not know about effective techniques due to their ubiquity (Dunlosky et al., 2013).


A comprehensive review of the literature by Duosky et al. (2013) offered  recommendations for the utility of learning techniques to improve educational outcome. The review yielded 10 learning techniques that are labelled as low utility, medium utility, or high utility. The utility level (degree and scope of effectiveness) was based on the generalizability (educational contexts)  and promise for improving student learning.


In this post series, I will be discussing each learning technique in terms of

  1. General description of the technique and why it should work.

  2. How general are the effects of this technique?

  3. Effects in representative educational contexts

  4. ssues for implementation

  5. Overall assessment


The 10 learning techniques are


2017-07-15_14-05-34Dunlosky et al. (2013


The authors identified generalizability of these techniques’ impact on four categories of variables:

  1. materials

  2. learning conditions

  3. student characteristics

  4. criterion tasks


The authors also stressed the importance factual knowledge not as an ultimate objective but as a prerequisite for deep learning in a subsequent stage – one thing that the new fad into critical thinking in education has overlooked. Therefore, improving student retention of knowledge is essential for reaching other learning targets. They state that “if one does not remember core ideas, facts, or concepts, applying them may prove difficult, if not impossible”.


So, let’s begin with the first learning technique in this post.



Elaborative Interrogation

Explanatory questioning is extremely significant to promote learning, an ample body of evidence suggests. In particular, research has shown that answering “Why?” questions -embedded in elaborative interrogation and self-explanation techniques- can facilitate learning.



Description and Why it should work

Elaborative interrogation , such as asking “Why wasn’t action performed?”,  boosts memory recall. The key to elaborative interrogation  is “prompting learners to generate an explanation for an explicitly stated fact.”

A typical format was followed in most studies for EI prompting “Why would this fact be true of this [X] and not some other [X]?

The predominant conceptual report of elaborative interrogation effects is that elaborative interrogation enhances learning by supporting the integration of new information with existing prior knowledge.




Generalizability

Learning conditions

Although most studies have involved individual learning, elaborative-interrogation effects have also been shown among students working in dyads or small groups.

Student Characteristics

Elaborative interrogation can be generalized to all learners however the extent to how it affects young learners is not clear. Student prior knowledge has significant impact on the EI strategy.

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Effects in Educational Contexts

Mostly,  elaborative interrogation enhance learning in representative educational contexts with few studies conducted outside a laboratory setting. One particular study (Smith et al., 2010) conducted a study on undergraduates enrolled in a Biology course. The study was situated during class meetings in the adjoining lab section. Students completed an assessment of verbal ability and prior-knowledge exam over relational but indistinguishable material to the target one.

In the ensuing weeks, learners were given long and complex texts taken from a chapter in the textbook. For 50% of the learners, 21 EI prompts were “interspersed” throughout the text “roughly one prompt per 150 words” , each incorporating a paraphrased statement from the text followed by “Why is this true?” . The other students were only instructed to study the text on their own pace, without any prompts. El students then completed a T/F questions about the material (none were the same as the EI prompts). Performance was better for EI groups than control groups 76% versus 69%, “even after controlling the prior and verbal ability”.




Implementation Issues

There are two advantages to EI :

1- It requires minimal training for students to learn it. Teachers can start with EI prompts interspersed in the text, or text explanation, and gradually let the students come up with their own EI prompts.

2- The EI is “reasonable with time demands”. It does not take a lot of time on part of the teacher to prepare the prompts at the outset nor training the students to derive their own EI.

However, EI is  limited to “discrete factual statements”. It is not clear to what one should ask the why questions for more intricate outcomes. It work great with  fact lists but elaborating on facts incorporated in lengthier texts requires teachers to guide students on the kind of content to focus on to be productively executed.



Overall Assessment: Medium Utility

The authors assessed EI as medium utility primarily because of it generalizability issues. Studies suggest that it is most effective with factual knowledge and especially with students who have low domain knowledge. Also, benefits for comprehension and long delays need more research and is not clear in earlier studies.

Next post will discuss Self-explanation learning technique.




Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4–58. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100612453266

Smith, B. L., Holliday, W. G., & Austin, H. W. (2010). Students’ comprehension of science textbooks using a question-based reading strategy.

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14 Jul 2017

A Science Museum That Makes Learning Overpoweringly Attractive for Kids: Schools, Take Note !

 

“We personalize learning all the time, we just don’t call it that,” says special education teacher Gina Tesoriero who has been teaching middle schoolers for over a decade. “When you give students open-ended challenges or design prompts, they actually personalize it themselves, bringing in their own interests and coming in at the level that is best for them.” Tesoriero has developed this belief over the past 10 years in the classroom—and she attributes much of it to her involvement with the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI).

“We want to know what you find compelling; what problem you think is worth solving; what you want to do or make. And then provide a space where that can happen.”

Douglas Moore

In 2010, Tesoriero and her colleague Amanda Solarsh, a middle school science teacher, stumbled across an opportunity to write curriculum at NYSCI. They were immediately taken with the museum’s learning model and wanted to incorporate elements of it into their classrooms at Simon Baruch Middle School 104. The following year, the duo participated in the Verizon Design Lab Fellowship, an opportunity for teachers to contribute to the creation of Design Lab, an interactive exhibit spanning two floors with activities that invite visitors to exercise problem-solving skills and develop solutions to engineering and design challenges.

 

Design_Lab-1499872148

Design Lab, Image Credit: NYSCI

The fellowship inspired Tesoriero and Solarsh to start an elective STEM course for seventh graders at their school. The course—developed to build 21st century skills like problem solving and innovative thinking—has scaled to two to three classes per grade level. Over the years, the teachers have participated in curriculum development, design labs and field trips, which have influenced the course and their practice.

The museum’s project-based, experiential, learner-centered approach isn’t revolutionary for K-12 education—in fact, many schools integrate elements of these approaches into their instructional model. But without the stresses of assessment and resource constraints, NYSCI is able to experiment and iterate. Douglas Moore, Vice President of Digital Education Strategy & Business Development at NYSCI says teachers visiting the museum with their students frequently make comments like, I’ve never seen those two work together so well or I’ve never seen her focus so much. “That’s because no one ever failed at a science museum,” he says.

According to Moore, getting someone to stop at your exhibit for even three minutes is a big win in the museum world. At NYSCI, visitors often stop to explore an exhibit for 30-45 minutes. Though this may not be optimal for museum flow, it begs the question: what can schools learn about engagement and personalization from this type of informal learning institution?

 

What can schools and teachers learn from NYSCI?

NYSCI, born at the 1964 World’s Fair in Corona, NY, is on a mission to put its visitors at the center of each hands-on learning experience. Originally exhibiting a collection of galleries sharing the potential of science, technology and space exploration, it is now home to over 450 interactive displays and a number of art and science exhibits rooted in experiential learning and the design, make, play approach.

 

NYSCI instructor Reid Bingham works with a class in the Maker Space,
Image Credit: David Handschuh/NYSCI

 

The NYSCI team is constantly asking itself: what is our role in education as an informal learning institution? “Our goal is to offer a very low barrier to learning—like a playful invitation,” says Moore. “We want to know what you find compelling; what problem you think is worth solving; what you want to do or make. And then provide a space where that can happen.”

Educators are part of NYSCI’s intended audience and there are a number of ways they can access the museum. Teachers can bring their classes to visit for open-ended field trips or scaffolded sessions designed around a particular challenge that needs to be solved, and can participate in professional development opportunities.

 

Field trips offer educators an opportunity to experience human-centered learning first-hand. Tesoriero reflects that some of the most engaged students during field trips were those who struggled the most in class. She notes that the greatest challenge with museum visits is finding a balance of holding students accountable for learning, while giving them space to explore what they are interested in, at their own pace.

 

For Tesoriero, a key part of that balance are NYSCI’s teenage “explainers,” a community of high school students participating in a youth development program with NYSCI called the Science Career Ladder. Explainers are not only experts on a particular exhibit or display, but are also skillful at supporting visitors to take control of their own learning and discover things on their own. These explainers are peppered throughout the museum and are often found with hands behind their backs asking open-ended probing questions to museum-goers. “They’re well trained and know a lot. I’ve learned a lot about how to help students discover things without telling them anything,” Tesoriero says.

 

Teenage Explainers, Image Credit: NYSCI

 

So what does it look like when a teacher adapts pieces of a museum’s learning model into the classroom? It can take shape in a number of ways. A museum might provide inspiration for resources and materials, inform lesson and unit design or influence philosophies of teaching and learning.

  1. Replicate an Activity: During a field trip, Solarsh’s students took part in a challenge to design and build a structure using wooden dowels that could provide shelter to 10 people after a natural disaster. Solarsh later purchased smaller dowels and replicated the activity in her classroom but with mini models, aligning it to her current civil engineering unit called “Scaling Structures.”
  2. Real-World Problems: Inspired by the challenge-based activities at NYSCI, Tesoriero developed a lesson back in her classroom that asked students to think about things that bothered them about eating and cooking and to design a utensil that could solve it. Students built prototypes of thermometer-spoons and cups that change color as the temperature of a liquid rises and falls.
  3. Empower Students to Make Meaningful Change: During a “Shark Tank” unit, Solarsh asked students to consider real-world issues they wanted to solve and design and present a solution for feedback. While she encouraged her students to follow their hearts and tackle large-scale problems like global warming, she also worked with students to make sure problems were focused so that students could get a sense of how individuals can affect change. One student designed and pitched an idea for lung-cancer detection and later found out that it aligned with what professionals are researching in the field.

The museum loves when classes come to visit, but Moore cautions against teachers trying to make their classrooms just like a science museum. “It’s not realistic,” he says. “There are resource constraints.” That’s why NYSCI takes PD so seriously, and is working hard to develop resources that teachers and learners can use outside the museum.

Moore explains that NYSCI’s biggest luxury is the ability to ask the question, “How do you make a topic irresistible so kids can’t turn away first, and then figure out all of the other stuff later?”


Expanding reach beyond museum visitors

Getting outside of the classroom can offer the opportunity to explore non-traditional methods of teaching and learning—but not everyone can get to NYSCI. Moore’s team spends a lot of time considering how to support educators, students and families that can’t make the trip to the museum.

“We want to scale access to these learning experiences to reach the folks we assume will never come—the kid in Jakarta, the teacher in Texas,” Moore explains. A major priority is building tools that make it possible for people to participate in some of these learning experiences digitally. “Because we don’t have to be adopted by every teacher, we’re able to make aspirational products that show what is possible—and to work with teachers to make them implementable in a variety of settings.”

In 2015, NYSCI’s first foray into this field was developing Noticing Tools, a set of five apps based on Design Lab that help students tackle math through selfies, video and building 3D models. The apps were prototyped in Tesoriero and Solarsh’s classes. The museum is currently in conceptual stages of its second initiative: a mobile game based on the Connected Worlds exhibit, an immersive ecosystem simulation for learners of all ages located in the Great Hall at the museum. The exhibit puts each learner at the center of a massive environment where even the museum’s youngest visitors can explore complex topics like sustainability, systems thinking and how actions have both short and long-term consequences.

Straddling magic and science, it challenges learners to manage a limited water supply and balance the needs of all living beings in six, interconnected digital biomes: wetlands, reservoir, jungle, grasslands, river valley and desert. Visitors can raise and lower their hands to plant seeds and move a set of physical logs to divert water from a 38-foot-high digital waterfall to an environment that needs it. Every decision made and every action taken impacts the environment.

The game will not try to replicate the exhibit. The goal is to design an open, online simulation game where players can build code and algorithms that have an impact on the ecosystem. With official launch over a year away, there are a lot of decisions to be made, but a core element of the game will definitely be to build upon intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic through gamification.

“‘I want to go deeper but the bell just rang.’ That’s what we want,” Moore says. Users won’t need to take a test to prove they are learning because the evidence will lie in what they have built. This may not fit the traditional instructional model but NYSCI isn’t building a game to fit into schools, they’re building a game to develop motivation through engagement.


The role of informal learning institutions in K-12 education

Society often turns to school leaders, educators, curriculum experts or the world of academia to propose innovative learning models when current practices fall short. But school leaders and educators face systemic pressures and budget challenges that can make it challenging to question the status quo and experiment with new ways to teach and learn. Perhaps informal learning experiences that take place outside of the classroom deserve more attention.

Without the stress of assessment, promotional criteria and the need to constantly provide evidence of progress, informal learning institutions like museums might just be able to make learning even the most complex ideas irresistible.

This blog post was first published on Edsurge

 

 

 

 

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11 Jul 2017

Moodle Announces Moodle Desktop for Windows Mobile Users

Many universities, schools, and even businesses require learners to use Windows operating system, whether on their laptops or their mobile phones. This is why Moodle has developed the Moodle Desktop. The Moodle Desktop has all features and functionalities a learners would find in the  Moodle Mobile App. This includes :

  • Easy access to course content: View course activities and download materials for offline use.
  • Connectivity with course participants: Quickly find and contact other people in your courses.
  • Engagement in course activities: Attempt quizzes, post in forums, play SCORM packages, edit wiki pages and more – both on and off-line.
  • Easy assignment submission: Upload images, audio, videos and other files from your device.
  • Checking of upcoming deadlines: View activities due, sorting by dates or by courses.
  • Keeping up-to-date reminders: Receive instant notifications of private messages, forum posts, calendar events and assignment submissions.
  • Tracking progress: View your grades, check completion progress in courses and browse your learning plans.

 

Moodle Desktop currently works for  Windows Version 10, with Windows 7 and 8 comining soon. As with Moodle Mobile, Moodle Desktop will be updated by Moodle HQ every two months.

 

Download the Moodle Desktop from the Windows Store and try it out.

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11 Jul 2017

Capture More Accurate Information and Save Time with the New Google Forms Features


Google Forms is a great way to solicit feedback, collect information, plan  events. and solicit feedback. Google Forms are used by all sectors from education to business, sciences, construction and professional journalism. Last night, Google Forms had some new enhancements that would make it even smarter and more efficient to save you time and input more accurate data.


Intelligent response validation

When you know the specific type of answer you’re looking for, it’s often helpful to validate responses in Forms. For example, if you’re asking for a website, Forms can double-check that the answer provided is a URL. Following this launch, Google Forms will suggest response validation based on the question you ask. If you ask respondents for their age, for instance, Google Forms may recommend validating that the answer they provide is a whole number. (Note that this feature is rolling out gradually and may take several weeks to appear in your domain.)

Cross-domain file uploads


Very often, when you use Google Forms, you’re not collecting data from your co-workers—you’re gathering data from third parties, customers, and more. To guarantee you get the information you need, Forms now allow users outside of your domain to upload files as responses to your questions—provided both of your organizations allow cross-domain sharing in Google Drive. Based on usage patterns, total uploads to new forms will be capped at 1GB, with an option to increase that limit to 1TB. Uploads to existing forms will be capped at 1TB.

Preferences


If you use similar settings across all of your forms, you can now save time by assigning default settings to apply to any new forms you create. For instance, you can choose to always collect email addresses, make questions required every time, and assign default quiz point values.

Checkbox grid” questions


Sometimes a question is more complex than multiple choice or checkbox answers alone can satisfy—you need to be able to select multiple options from multiple categories. Going forward, you can use the “Checkbox grid” question type to get the answers you need, like dates and times that work for an upcoming meeting.

Section reordering

Forms is  now making it possible to reorder whole sections quickly and easily.


Google Forms, and all G Suite Tools, are in constant upgrade based on consumer feedback. G Suite is helping everyone in education, business, journalism, sciences, technology, and much more to be more productive and communicative.

Have you used Google Forms to collect information before? Share your story in the comment below and we will publish it for you in the upcoming posts.

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04 Jul 2017

The New Google Earth Voyager for Exploratory Learning

Exploratory learning can be defined as an approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to examine and investigate new material with the purpose of discovering relationships between existing background knowledge and unfamiliar content and concepts. Many studies show that exploratory learning environments improve student achievement, most often indirectly by tapping into the students’ intrinsic motivation to explore and discover, something that you spot instantly when you observe kids exploring (without prompting) in outdoor activities. However, outdoor exploration is not an option for millions of students around the world, and when exploration is in foreign countries and remote places, it is impossible for students to explore them.

In this capacity, Google is really pushing forward to help students explore the world right where they are, in the classroom and at home.

Last week, Google introduced voyager for education— a “showcase of interactive tours” meant to enhance the latest version of Google Earth. Voyager works on Google Earth mobile App, Google Earth PC and Google Earth Browser.

Google Earth’s new Voyager feature brings visualization and geospatial storytelling to the fore in the redesigned application. Fly through landmarks and cities like London, Tokyo and Rome in stunning 3D, then dive in to experience them first hand with Street View. See the world from a new point of view with Voyager, which brings you one-of-a-kind stories and associated classroom activities from partners like National Geographic, PBS, and more.

 

Voyager scrn1

 

Voyager includes storytelling expirations. Many stories were added by PBS, National Geographic, BBC etc., and topics range from stories of explores to pristine seas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager scrn2-07-04-17-53-48

 

 

 

 

Start exploring stories with a click of a button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager scrn3

 

 

In addition to the geospatial aspect, videos on particular areas are displayed as you move from one place to another. You can easily hide and reveal videos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager scrn4

 

You can access voyager and other utilities right from Google Earth screen (this screenshot shows the GE Android app).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities

voyager lesson plans

 

To help teachers plan effective Voyage geospatial storytelling lessons, Google has included well designed lesson plans and activities that can be incorporated in existing lesson plans. You can access all lesson plans, activities, and any additional resources from Google Earth Education website.

 

Have you ever used Google Earth in its old version in the classroom? Have you got the chance to use Voyager or at least plan a lesson using Voyager? Share with us your experience in the comments below.

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03 Jul 2017

Forget Bloom’s: Here’s to SOLO teaching

During my conversations, interactions, designing, and planning with  teachers and lead teachers in the past decade, one obscure thing stands out in their minds: Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive process. This is what they articulate knowledge of. Many may have heard it in the staff room, been exposed to it in  professional development workshops, read it online or in a reference book, or perhaps even studied it during their college years. Many also may have used Bloom’s cognitive nouns and verbs to guide  their lesson planning, instructional practice, and even their assessments. Still, few know that Bloom’s Taxonomy has been updated in 2000. And very few know about Bloom’s knowledge dimensions (factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive). Whatever their level of knowledge of Bloom’s taxonomy, teachers recognize it directly and can even relate their teaching strategies if asked to categorize their practice and assessment.

This is really exciting as it holds real potentials to improve students achievement, but in the education domain one needs to know what works well and what does not work so well, in practice. If teachers want teaching clarity, that is making learning targets and success criteria clear for learners and teachers themselves, if teachers want learners to take more control over their learning,  and if teachers need to systematically use differentiation in their teaching, the taxonomy needs to be clear for both teachers and learners. The teacher, the learner, the tasks, and the assessment should all be clearly informed by the taxonomy.  This clarity is where Bloom’s taxonomy fails. The levels of cognitive processes in Bloom’s taxonomy, and their respective action verbs do not help teachers set clear, measurable learning targets, do no help teachers set learning activities that can meet the learning targets, and do not help learners recognize and articulate the cognitive processes they are involved in. Finally, Bloom’s taxonomy does not provide a whole school framework and common language to systemize instructional routines and assessments, including learner self-assessment. I have rarely, if ever, seen teachers who have designed, planned and delivered lessons with clarity informed by Bloom’s, nor have I seen learners who clearly know what cognitive effort a task entails or success criteria it needs in terms of Bloom’s. Pam Hook  says:

The taxonomy was published in 1956, has sold over a million copies, has been translated into several languages, and has been cited thousands of times.

The Bloom taxonomy has been extensively used in teacher education to suggest learning and teaching strategies, has formed the basis of many tests developed by teachers (at least while they were in teacher training), and has been used to evaluate many tests.

It is thus remarkable that the taxonomy has been subject to so little research or evaluation.

Most of the evaluations are philosophical treatises noting, among other criticisms, that there is no evidence for the invariance of these stages, or claiming that the taxonomy is not based on any known theory of learning or teaching.

 

The SOLO taxonomy (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes),devised by Collis  Biggs (1982), is divided into several levels  produced by students in terms of their complexity. The name itself reveals its function. The taxonomy is a structure, that is it has a form, and this form permeates throughout all knowledge levels. The taxonomy focuses on clarity since it seeks to make the learning outcomes observable by teachers and learners, unlike Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy which was devised for educational administrators.

The following is taken from Pam Hook’s wiki “The Learning Process – How Do You Know You are Learning?”

  • At the pre-structural level of understanding, the student response shows they have missed the point of the new learning.
  • At the uni-structural level, the learning outcome shows understanding of one aspect of the task, but this understanding is limited. For example, the student can label, name, define, identify or follow a simple procedure.
  • At the multi-structural level, several aspects of the task are understood but their relationship to each other, and the whole is missed. For example the student can list, define, describe, combine, match, or do algorithms.
  • At the relational level, the ideas are linked, and provide a coherent understanding of the whole. Student learning outcomes show evidence of comparison, causal thinking, classification, sequencing, analysis, part whole thinking, analogy, application and the formulation of questions.
  • At the extended abstract level, understanding at the relational level is re-thought at a higher level of abstraction, it is transferred to another context. Student learning outcomes at the extended abstract level show prediction, generalisation, evaluation, theorising, hypothesising, creation, and or reflection.

 

solo_taxonomy

 

Here’s a newer representation of SOLO using the house as a metaphor.

solo-houses

 

SOLO included declarative and functioning learning verbs

image

Source: Hook (2011)

 

SOLO verbs are easy to align learning targets with an achievement standard

image

 

SOLO can also be used codified for student self-assessment, linking student cognitive level to the task requirement.

image

source: Hook (2011)

The above are few sample of many, on how SOLO can be easily adopted by teacher and students. IT creates a common school language and framework for instruction, learning, and assessment.

 

Pam Hook writes a succinct Critique of Bloom’s Taxonomy and details advantages of SOLO model over Bloom’s :

Advantages of the SOLO model for evaluation of student learning
    • There are several advantages of the SOLO model over the Bloom taxonomy in the evaluation of student learning.
    • These advantages concern not only item construction and scoring, but incorporate features of the process of evaluation that pay attention to how students learn, and how teachers devise instructional procedures to help students use progressively more complex cognitive processes.
    • Unlike the Bloom taxonomy, which tends to be used more by teachers than by students, the SOLO can be taught to students such that they can learn to write progressively more difficult answers or prompts.
    • There is a closer parallel to how teachers teach and how students learn.
    • Both teachers and students often progress from more surface to deeper constructs and this is mirrored in the four levels of the SOLO taxonomy.
    • There is no necessary progression in the manner of teaching or learning in the Bloom taxonomy.
    • The levels can be interpreted relative to the proficiency of the students. Six year old students can be taught to derive general principles and suggest hypotheses, though obviously to a different level of abstraction and detail than their older peers. Using the SOLO method, it is relatively easy to construct items to assess such abstractions.
    • The SOLO taxonomy not only suggests an item writing methodology, but the same taxonomy can be used to score the items. The marker assesses each response to establish either the number of ideas (one = unistructural; _ two = multistructural), or the degree of interrelatedness (directly related or abstracted to more general principles). This can lead to more dependability of scoring.
    • Unlike the experience of some with the Bloom taxonomy it is relatively easy to identify and categorise the SOLO levels.
    • Similarly, teachers could be encouraged to use the ‘plus one’ principle when choosing appropriate learning material for students. That is, the teacher can aim to move the student one level higher in the taxonomy by appropriate choice of learning material and instructional sequencing.

Want more? Here is a link on  Problems with Bloom’s Taxonomy (Invalid, unreliable, impractical)

 

Want to dive into SOLO model? Check out Pam Hook’s Website. Start with these two introductory books:

SOLO Taxonomy: A Guide for Schools Bk 1: a Common Language  by Julie Mills and Pam Hook

SOLO Taxonomy: A Guide for Schools Bk 2 by Pam Hook Julie Mills

 

 

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01 Jul 2017

Moodle Nested Course Format for Complex, Multi-level Courses

Moodle course formats and additional plugins offer a myriad of options for any course to meet its specific  requirements. From one topic courses, to task-based courses, to social learning course, to weekly course formats, Moodle can cater for everyone’s needs. But many courses are complex, which forces the instructor to arrange the contents in  sub-components or  multi-levels. For example, my English class includes: Literature, Grammar, Writing, Vocabulary, SAT, Research Competency. Now, if I were to use any topical format, my Moodle course will have the above components as main Moodle course topics and all the sub-components will be laid out on the the topic page, where students will have to scroll forever to find all the complex contents of Literature, such as activities and resources based on different texts.

As a teacher, I will also have a major problem in 1- laying out and sequencing the content of each subject component using labels to separate the contents, and 2- showing/hiding contents that need to be revealed or hidden from students at specific times during the year. From my experience, this results in needless headaches and a lot of cognitive load on my part to hide/reveal separate contents that could go on forever.

This is where Moodle’s flexible sections format, nested topic format, comes in for the aid. The flexible sections course format looks very similar to the topic format except:

  • there is no parameter “Number of sections”, sections can be added and removed as necessary
  • section can also be added inside another section
  • each section (regardless of its nesting level) can be shown expanded or collapsed. Teacher can change it in edit mode.
  • If section is displayed collapsed, its name is displayed as a link to the separate page and on this separate page the link “Back to … ” is displayed
  • If teacher hides a section all nested sections and activities become hidden as well.
  • if section has both activities and subsections activities are displayed first.

 

flexformat-top sections 

 

 

 

 

Add as many top sections as you need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


control top level topic

Control Top Level Sections, highlight, make sub-section top section level, delete, move section, and hide/show section.

 

 

 

 


 

 

subsections

Add and arrange sub-sections to top level sections. Make a a sub-section, a top section level. Hide sub-sections, and its activities/resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


arrange sections and subsectionsArrange sections and subjections. Move top sections to sub-sections.

 

 

 


endlessly add subsections and sub-sub-sectionsEndlessly add sub-sections, and sub-sub-sections for complex. courses.

 

 


expand contract subsections and sections

 

Expand/contract section and sub-sections.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The flexible course format speaks for itself, it can provide for all multi-level courses, typically those that last for a semester or a whole year, specifically in an academic setting.

Give it a try and let us know in the comment below.

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