What is CyberLearning and Why Should we Care?

10459038_10152457245791327_8999187596781240544_o

by Bonnie Bracey Sutton

K-12 Teacher and Consultant

Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFIk34PHPqs

A group of more than 150 research-based leaders in learning and technology participated in Cyberlearning 2015, a meeting sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). For two days in Arlington, Virginia, attendees collaborated to chart future directions for cyberlearning, a field that examines how new advances in the sciences of learning can integrate with new technologies to broadly and deeply advance  opportunities for learning.

– See more at:

Definition

Cyberlearning is about designing new kinds of applications and technology rich experiences, learning how to use them well to foster and assess learning, making the experiences work for particular disciplines and populations, and putting them in place in the world in ways that make a difference.

The cyberlearning research community includes people from a variety of disciplines working together to design and develop innovative learning technologies that deeply relate to, and inform our understanding of, the processes of learning. At its best, cyberlearning is grounded in research and theories on how people learn, reflects deep content expertise, seriously involves practitioners in the design and research, and focuses on learning activities (rather than, say, interactive features or media assets).http://circlcenter.org/about/

Here are some projects that may be of interest.

http://informalcommons.org/

I have some favorite projects that I learned about , you may discover a lot of others in the commons.

Connected Worlds: Understanding Sustainability Through Discovery and Play connectedworldsStephen Uzzo Cyberlearning DIP Project: Interaction Research in Complex Informal Learning Environments. Groups of museum visitors are able to formulate common goals, take on different roles and responsibilities and solve problems … Read more

Distance Learning through Game-Based 3D Virtual Learning Environments: Mission Hydro Science mhs-screenshotJames Laffey The Mission HydroScience (MHS) project seeks to design, develop and evaluate a game-based 3D virtual learning environment (3D VLE) for teaching and learning in blended or distance education. MHS … Read more

RALLe: Robot-Assisted Language Learning rall-e-and-autumnLewis Johnson The RALLe project is investigating how to design simulation-based learning experiences for language learning that optimize learner motivation and promote conversational skills. We are doing this by developing a … Read more

An online game that allows players to build their own moon and sculpt its features has won big praise in science art competition.

The game, called “Selene: A Lunar Construction GaME,” measures how and when players learn as they discover more about how the Earth’s moon formed and, by extension, the solar system. It received an honorable mention in the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, the journal Science announced today (Jan. 31).

As players experiment with the game, they learn more about one of the easiest heavenly bodies they can study, Selene developers said.

“The moon is the only body in the entire universe that we on Earth can look at with the unaided eye,” Debbie Denise Reese, principle investigator of the overarching Cyberlearning through Game-based, Metaphor Enhanced Learning Objectives (CyGaMEs) project, told SPACE.com. “When they look at the moon, players are seeing what actually created those features.”

No longer are the dark plains and overlapping craters a mystery.

“It makes moon observations more meaningful,” Reese said.

You Can Build Your Own Moon!!

Named for the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene works in two parts. In the first round, players aim asteroids of varying sizes, densities, and radiations so that they collide with one another. Too much force, and the rocks ricochet off one another. [How Earth’s Moon Formed (Video)]

But even if you overshoot your target, the gravity of the growing moon may tug just enough to pull the new piece into the pack, giving participants a chance to watch accretion in action. The developing moon is constantly compared to the real-life one, and players strive to make as close a match as possible.

After all of the small asteroids have melted together to form a smooth new moon, it’s time to scratch up the surface. Players can aim asteroids of varying sizes at the body, and select areas where lava breaks through the crust. Again, the time range is compared to Earth’s moon, with spikes and dips in bombardment and lava flow that the player must work to emulate.

“Playing Selene could be tied to eyeball observations of the moon at night,” Charles ‘Chuck’ Wood, Executive Director of the center for Educational Technologies at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, told SPACE.com by email.

This is a great free game for project based learning. Find it and videos here.

http://www.space.com/19573-moon-formation-online-game.html 

About Being the Best Teacher You Can Be…. Choose NASA .. the educational resources are great! You will leave dullness behind!!

5206_137672091326_268879_nI love teaching.

How can you fulfill this ? I am a Challenger Center Fellow and a Christa McAuliffe Educator. I went to minority schools. I did not have science in the elementary school. But I had NASA. Courses and workshops. So wonderful.

There are people who have given me immense gifts in the way of mentoring.NASA gave me the universe and project based learning  and the ideas about ecology. I loved learning and helping teachers to learn within the educational groups of NASA. The learning started with projects and went on to large and interesting project based learning, some of these are old, Moon Base America, The Challenger Center Initiative and the online NASA resources. I loved most the programs on Mars. I also use museums to teach with. They have a bigger budget than I have.

What an investment in teachers! You can find resources here. http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/index.html If you ever do any of the projects and are truly interested, there is much, much more and it is not at costs.


The Challenger Center is a little different but the project based learning is outstanding. You need not go to the Challenger Center, but it would be for kids, a life changing experience. There are lots of teachers who have been prohibited from this type of learning called project based learning  because it is not regurgitative test measured information. Project based learning? I loved wearing an astronaut suit and sharing information with students. I felt as if I was sharing , teaching and giving information to the children that was awesome. Here are some teacher resources. Now there is a different way of being involved.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education offers dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities to students around the world. These programs equip students with the knowledge, confidence, and skills that will help better our national social and economic well-being. But the center also offers courses and learning experiences for teachers. There is support and there are resources. There is a cost to some programs.

Our <a href="/teacher_resources/nitrogen_main.html">Traveling Nitrogen Game</a> makes a fun activity for students to learn about the <a href="/earth/Life/nitrogen_cycle.html">nitrogen cycle</a>.  The activity includes a student worksheet ("Traveling Nitrogen Passport"), 11 reservoir signs, and stamps.  The activity is available in our <a href="/php/teacher_resources/activity.php#8">Classroom Activities section</a>, including a free html version, and a pdf version free for  <a href="/new_membership_services.html">Windows to the Universe subscribers</a>.  The Traveling Nitrogen Game Kit is available in our <a href="/store/home.php">online store</a>, including laminated signs and a set of 11 dice.<p><small><em></em></small></p>

A unique and proven teaching model – Challenger Learning Centers – gives students the chance to become astronauts and engineers and solve real-world problems as they share the thrill of discovery on missions through the Solar System. Using space simulation and role-playing strategies, students bring their classroom studies to life and cultivate the skills needed for future success. Learning Centers reach into communities around the globe, engaging more than 400,000 middle school-age students and 40,000 educators each year.

Challenger Center’s teaching model is an effective approach to strengthen knowledge and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The McLain 2011 report examined two decades of evaluations from students who experienced a Challenger Learning Center mission, and the findings indicate overall positive gains by students. The study also recognized the psychological nature of career-choice, decision-making embedded in Challenger Center’s model. It found the hands-on simulation experiences are important contributors to that process, perhaps more than any other single experience that might be remembered as extraordinary in a young person’s exposure to STEM. In some cases it is a hard sell to the administrators. They often do not understand this kind of project or are worried about NCLB stats and so well, you are not allowed to do this project based learning. Not on the test they say. In this project you develop sophisticated knowledge that the general public may not know.

We in a 5th grade classroom, knew about the Horsehead Nebulae before the public saw it months later. It helps to talk to astronauts and scientist who care about their subjects.Horsehead Nebula

An assortment of containers and science equipment on a table
The STS-118 crew transported plant growth chambers, seeds and watering devices like these to the space station for an in-orbit experiment.

12682_493292470701096_2082112609_n

With these kinds of experiences, the imagination of children and critical thinking skills are challenged. It is not just the technology, it is the creation of the learning landscape to enhance learning.

It enhances discovery through simulation and exploration of new concepts

Explore this NASA program it is free.. and excellent..

Artists concept of 2 people sitting in a spacecraft on Mars

We connect individuals to new people and ideas and expand content beyond what was previously available.

It promotes equity by providing a diverse array of resources and experiences to those who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

It allows teachers to adapt to and to accommodate different learning styles through modularized , self -paced , just in time learning and non threatening learning

I was challenged to learn new science to be able to teach it well. It was supported with great curriculum and posters and resources.There is also this website

Windows to the Universe  What is different about this web site is that it is on three different levels and it is rich in resources.

If your principal will not let you teach during the school day. Do this.. it is fun!!!

Vic and I took this course, it is great!
Cut a pound cake in half, and what do you have? It is still pound cake, but in two pieces instead of one. What if you keep slicing and dicing the pound cake all the way down to single crumbs? No matter how many times the pound cake is cut, it’s still pound cake.

Three training participants look at materials about the solar systemAfterschool Universe training sessions are offered throughout the year at locations across the United States. Image Credit: NASA

What does pound cake have to do with the universe? Just like the chemical elements that are the building blocks for all the matter in the universe, pound cake retains its identity no matter how many times it’s divided. Pound cake also plays a key role in an activity that’s part of Afterschool Universe, a NASA-sponsored astronomy program for middle school students.

Afterschool Universe is targeted for settings outside the normal school day. The program consists of 12 standalone sessions in which students explore basic astronomy concepts.

“We saw a need for the program because existing astronomy education materials covering such topics were mostly aimed at high school students. Middle school students were fascinated by these concepts but had few options to learn more about them,” said Anita Krishnamurthi, the program’s project lead. “There’s a great potential to engage students and adults in astronomy in the afterschool setting.”

Each session usually begins with a brief introductory discussion facilitated by the program leader, followed by a hands-on activity in which students participate individually or in groups. A session typically runs about 45-60 minutes and culminates with a wrap-up discussion focusing on what was learned through the activity.

In most cases, program leaders must undergo training before they can run the program or train others to do so. Information sessions and training workshops are offered at various locations across the country, including at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Four training participants look at a light through cardboard tubesHands-on activities play a role in each of the 12 Afterschool Universe sessions. Image Credit: NASA

Upon completion of training, program leaders receive a NASA certificate, a comprehensive program manual, downloadable files, worksheets and evaluation forms, posters, and a kit of materials that are only available from specialized suppliers. Program leaders are responsible for obtaining the basic materials needed to implement the program. NASA encourages leaders to partner with a local scientist.

The manual provides background information and detailed descriptions of how to conduct each session, including listings of objectives, concepts addressed and materials needed. No activities require use of a computer, though the manual gives suggestions for optional Web-based activities.

Afterschool Universe, funded entirely by several grants for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate including the Chandra Mission, was developed by the education and public outreach team in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Related Resources
Afterschool Universe   → 
Beyond Einstein   → 
Imagine the Universe   → 

page2image60856

Fixing the STEM Problem by Asking the Right Questions-Don’t ask “Who, What, When, Where”; ask, “Why, and How?”

Fixing the STEM Problem by Asking the Right Questions 

Essay by

Allan C. Jones, President

Emaginos Inc.- Engaging Every Child Through Customized Education

Don’t ask “Who, What, When, Where”; ask, “Why, and How?”

Education in the No Child Left Behind era is all about answering “who, what, when and where” (4W) questions. But the questions that really matter are why and how. In a European history class, students are asked, “Who fought at the battle of Hastings?”, “What armies fought in the battle?”, “When was it fought?”, and “Where is Hastings?”. I can still remember that the English fought the Normans led by William the Conqueror in 1066. I don’t remember where Hastings is, if I ever did know it. What I don’t know is why it was fought and how it affected history. In considering what I know and don’t know, it seems like the stuff I know doesn’t matter and the stuff I don’t know does matter. In general, what matters is the stuff you learn by asking why and how.

The country’s leaders constantly complain about today’s students not learning enough about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). STEM topics are boring if you focus on the 4W questions.  But if you focus on “why and how” they come to life. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in the southern US before the civil war. Boring! Why did he invent it? How did it work. How was it powered? Why was it important? What recent inventions have had a similar impact on a nation’s economy? The last is a “What” question, but not a recall question. These are the interesting questions about the cotton gin – and they lead to a rich discussion of STEM.

Let’s make the issue more contemporary.

We tell children to use soap when they wash their hands. When they ask why they need the soap, the typical response is that soap gets the hands cleaner. This is usually where inquiry stops and authority takes over – just do it! But any healthy, curious child is thinking, “How does soap work?” The answer is, “Soap makes water wetter.” What does that mean? Soap breaks down the surface tension bonds between the water molecules. So the next obvious question is, “Why does that matter?” Because it allows the water to penetrate the dirt better to float it away. It also emulsified the grease molecules; allowing them to detach from the object and rinse away. I like to give the students another use for this piece of knowledge so I tell them that the next time they find a tick and are trying to kill it, the easiest way is to drop the tick into a cup of tap water. Initially, the tick will appear to float. (The little suckers are really hard to kill.) But ticks are not buoyant. They are not floating. They are standing on the surface tension. Add a drop of dishwashing liquid to the water and the tick will sink like a stone and drown.

We were recently at yet another STEM meeting where the people were all excited about an excellent robotics activity that they were proposing to engage more girls and minorities in STEM. Robots are cool; and designing and playing with them can be engaging and instructional. But why go the expense of creating an artificial world for STEM learning? Students are surrounded by STEM every minute of their lives. Some questions they might enjoy answering could include:

  • How do they get stone-washed denim to look that way? Do they really stone-wash it?
  • Why do the tires on a mountain bike look so different from the tires on a racing bike? Do car and truck tires have the same or different tread designs? How do they decide what is the best tread design for different uses? How does changing the amount of air pressure affect the performance of the tires? When do you use low tire pressure and when do you use high pressure and why?
  • Why does it get easier or harder to pedal a 12-speed bike when you shift the gears? How does the Derailleur work? How is the Derailleur different from a manual transmission on a car? Why does a manual transmission need a clutch and an automatic transmission does not? How does the clutch work? Why does a clutch burn out?
  • How do iPods store all that music? What other options are available to store it? Why was the one they use chosen? What may be the next better storage mechanism?

If you want to tie it into history, ask how people 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1,000 years ago did what we do routinely today. What did tires and treads look like at those different time periods? How were vehicles propelled? How was music stored and enjoyed? How does communications technology affect social unrest? Which technologies that were originally invented for military uses have become everyday household products? Did you know that microwave ovens came from radar technologies developed for guiding missiles?

The list of fascinating STEM topics is endless. More importantly, they are an integral part of everybody’s world. All of the inventions and the underlying technologies were designed and built by engineers and technologists based on work by scientists and mathematicians. STEM is not some remote esoteric set of knowledge reserved for nerds. It’s a fascinating set of knowledge and skills that make up the world we live in. The 4W questions are only interesting if they are used in the context of why and how.

Dropout prevention is another big issue in education. Because understanding why and how something happened are much more interesting than the 4W questions, students get more engaged in their learning when seeking answers to why and how. We need to get away from the model where the teacher asks the 4W questions and students answer them. We need to pose problems that require the students to determine what the questions are that they need answered in order to solve the problem. If you put the students in small ability-level based groups and frame the questions as problems to be solved, every student is actively engaged in learning. This student-centered learning environment also allows the teachers to work individually with every student and customize the learning for each of them.

Going back to the battle of Hastings, knowing why and how it was fought and how the result of the battle impacted the subsequent history of England might be of use in looking at the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Can we learn any lessons from Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq that will enable us to make better decisions about the value of those strategies?

We need to change the questions we ask our students and the way we pose them, not only in class, but also on assessments. There is an old axiom that applies; “You get what you pay for.” Since educational institutions get ‘paid’ for good assessments, they will structure the teaching and learning activities to produce what is assessed. So we need to do less assessing of who, what, when, and where; and start doing a better job of assessing students’ mastery of why and how.