Reflection learning theory in the 21st Century-Module 4

Consider the intersect between the theories we explored in the previous unit and the methods explored in this unit. Can you map a particular learning theory to Khan Academy or to Eric Mazur’s peer instruction methods? What theoretical principles support the use of game mechanics in learning? Consider the list you created of ways in which the world has changed, then reflect on the goals of Partnership for 21st Century Skills. In your writing this week, discuss the ways in which learning must change in the 21st Century and the ways in which it must continue to build upon solid theory and models. Elaborate on ways in which Khan Academy or Peer Instruction are either accomplishing those goals or falling short.


Can you map a particular learning theory to Khan Academy or to Eric Mazur’s peer instruction methods?

Mazur’s peer instruction is a pretty clear example of both cognitive and constructivist learning theory. By inserting what I call thought questions, or what Mazur’s calls “ConcepTests (Links to an external site.),” into a lecture, he is giving students the opportunity to synthesize and reflect on that concept before moving on. Concepts such as applying what you’ve read about and what you’ve heard in a group context, reflecting, listening and articulating your understanding out loud incorporates meaning in a situated and contextual manner.

In a classroom, this combination of activities seems like a solid teaching method, however it really puts the pressure on the student and whom they are talking to. If you don’t have a partner who is as prepared as you are or one who has not been paying attention, your discussion may fall flat. You remember that for the next class meeting, you’ll want to make sure you don’t sit by that person and find yourself a more engaging group. I still think that you can learn if that situation does occur, I’m a strong believer in any kind of activity where you have to make a decision and state your case, whether in writing or in conversation. For me, it is one of the only ways that I can learn, otherwise, I revert back to being that passive, lazy learner.

The concept of flipping the classroom is brilliant, in my opinion. Too often students aren’t prepared for class by reading/viewing material but rather doing the readings afterwards. It seems so obvious now, doesn’t it? Doing the readings ahead of time allows you to prepare questions you might have, allows you to start putting things together earlier and prepares you for discussion, all after having time for the new information to settle in, which is so different from receiving information immediately at the moment. As Mazur says in his video, a clear cognitive overload.

What theoretical principles support the use of game mechanics in learning?

Certainly on an individual level, many of the game mechanics in learning fall into the Behaviorist Theory. Things like achievements, timed challenges, penalties for behaviors or actions. When you begin looking at group games or games you play with other people, Cognitivist and Constructivist theories seem more blurred to me as both seem to play into leveling up and multi-faceted challenges. Role playing seems to be more on the Constructivist or Experiential arena. This is an interesting question and might have to be a topic for one of my article reviews!

Consider the list you created of ways in which the world has changed, then reflect on the goals of Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

As I look over the P21 framework, I begin to really see why some K-12 teachers often complain about having to fit too much into their classroom day. When you look through the student outcomes (Links to an external site.) how can you accomplish all of the requirements in a clear way that isn’t artificial or superficial. My first thoughts are that you can certainly use one outcome to support another outcome, especially when you’re looking at using some of the category skills for some of the subjects, I think it would be important though, to be sure to point that out so it is obvious to students.

I think one of the biggest differences between the P21 framework and what I might have experienced in high school is the interdisciplinary themes within the curriculum. It seems like all of my subjects were separate and it wasn’t clear when things connected together. Probably the only exceptions to this was when the teacher was an an expert in multiple disciplines. For example, my history teacher was also the economics teacher so you often got a history perspective on economic trends and vice versa. My track coach was also my math teacher so when it came time to think about running hurdles or strategies for increasing distance in the triple jump, we talked about the math.

You’d also think that technology skills would be a big difference from the P21 framework compared to curriculum in 1979 when I graduated from high school. But except for the specific technology, I felt I was exposed to what was current, it was just different from what is available today. We watched media and were asked to watch media at home. We were exposed to office machinery or shop machinery which was available in the business and instrustrial world. We had driver’s ed simulators that mapped your speed, braking, how close you cut corners, your signalling patterns while you “drove” along with a movie. I also think we were encouraged to trying out and experience learning and innovation skills using the tools we had available.

The big difference is that technology, creativity and innovation were all at the individual school level, or even at the classroom level. We didn’t have that much opportunity to see what our peers were doing at the rival high school, let alone what was happening outside the city, state or nation. With this interaction with a larger population comes a different kind of instruction.

In your writing this week, discuss the ways in which learning must change in the 21st Century and the ways in which it must continue to build upon solid theory and models.

As a nation we’re moving away from an industrial workforce, what Seely Brown calls “supply-push” towards a workforce that needs to solve problems, what Seely Brown calls “demand-push”, think innovatively and have a more holistic view of the world around them (pg 25). The world is changing fast, increasingly faster than in the past. Students still need to be exposed to a variety of understandings delivered by a variety of learning models. The socratic method still works and is effective. Pairing that method with the ability to be creative and skills to express yourself through technology will help bring students to meet 21st century needs. Because of the global nature of the internet and because the internet is all about a communicative give and take, the resources that once were only available to some may be available to many. The real challenge is being able to evaluate those available resources.

John Seely Brown said, “When technical jobs change, we can no longer expect to send a person back to school to be re-trained or to learn a new profession. By the time that happens, the domain of inquiry is likely to have morphed yet again“ but I don’t think this statement goes far enough, I think this pertains to many kinds of jobs. You have to have some confidence that clicking and exploring around a computer or mobile device screen will give you results (pg 25).

Elaborate on ways in which Khan Academy or Peer Instruction are either accomplishing those goals or falling short.
I see strictly using Peer Instruction as described by Mazur, falling short of fully preparing students on its own. But if you couple that in class interaction with assessments that allow students to create presentation material based on what they take away from the in class interaction, then combined you have a stronger and deeper opportunity for more holistic learning.

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