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Free Download Active Learning iBook

Many of the posts on this blog are intended for teachers who want to design Active Learning activities. These posts are now compiled into a PDF format for download. This file can be read on any computer and can be sync’ed to a tablet device such as an iPad for more convenient reading.

Click on the button below to download the PDF file. To read the book on your iPad place the PDF in the Books section of your iTunes library. Sync it to your iPad. You can find and read the book with the iBooks App.

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Authentic Active Learning Activities Involve Multiple Perspectives and Resources

Authentic Active Learning Activities Involve Multiple Perspectives and Resources

Authentic Active Learning Activities Involve Multiple Perspectives and Resources

When asked to research a topic or to understand an important concept learners often see the matter from a single perspective. But in all disciplines there are multiple points of view on any topic and so authentic Active Learning activities involve multiple perspectives and resources.

This is more obvious in the Humanities and related disciplines where there may exist diverse points of view on any important issue. However, literary analysis offers conflicting opinions as well. The perspective of the historian or the philosopher can also be brought to bear when discussing literary works as can the views of critics.

In the Sciences important discoveries or theories may have a variety of implications—Einstein and the development of the Hydrogen bomb for example. Notable scientists like Newton were greatly influenced by the epoch in which they lived and, in some cases, have shaped those historical periods. These interactions are also evident today in the way in which Science, Politics, and Economics interact in the debate over climate change. (more…)

Authentic Active Learning Activities Are Ill-Defined

Authentic Active Learning Activities Are Ill-Defined

Authentic Active Learning Activities Are Ill-Defined

In their early school years students are often given problems that have clearly correct answers. But even during the primary school years children can begin to tackle more challenging tasks. Authentic Active Learning activities are ill-defined. This is true in two ways. First, the problem posed, or project to be completed, may not have a clear definition. Some work may be required in order to articulate what exactly is to be accomplished.

For example, “Write a 500 word biography of Marie Curie highlighting her accomplishments in Physics” requires little thinking about the nature of the task. On the other hand, this question is more ambiguous: [/column]“Some governments argue that there is an increased need for surveillance of public communication. Others take the view that this activity violates civil rights. Take a stand on this issue and make a compelling case for it.” (more…)

Authentic Active Learning Activities Have Real World Relevance

Authentic Activities have Real World Relevance

Authentic Active Learning Activities Have Real World Relevance

Although the literature suggests that authentic Active Learning activities have real world relevance we might be better to say outside world relevance. Otherwise the implication is that what goes on in the classroom is unreal.

John Seely Brown sees a divergence between what outside-world practitioners do and what we have typically been able to replicate in the classroom (see post on this site) . It is a difficult challenge because when we try to extract the “essence of biologist” we don’t get everything. What we usually bring into the classroom is what Seely Brown calls the explicit knowledge. This is the kind of knowledge we find in textbooks. (more…)

Stand-up Learning in Active Learning Classrooms

Computer Science Students at Champlain College Saint-Lambert prefer table designed for special needs students

Computer Science Students at Champlain College Saint-Lambert prefer table designed for special needs students

The furniture industry has presented us with two new ideas: first, that sitting all day in a work environment may be unhealthy and secondly, that students may be more energized if they work standing up. The response has been a sharp increase in the number of manufacturers offering either stand-up desks or desks that are adjustable. As a result we may see more stand-up learning in Active Learning classrooms.

Some institutions have installed one or two adjustable tables in each classroom in order to accommodate students with special needs who may need more clearance for their wheel chair, for example. These can become popular worksites for other students who simply prefer the stand-up working mode.


Designing Active Learning Activities

Designing Active Learning activities offers enormous possibilities for personal innovation and invention. Here is a chance to create something really new, and highly effective. The list of possible Active Learning activities is infinite! So be daring and have some fun. Don’t wait for someone to invent your Active Learning lessons. The following discussion is intended to help you build your own Active Learning activities.

Examine the following chart and think of it as an anatomical model of an Active Learning activity. It has, potentially, three parts, but at least two. Let’s also keep in mind that Active Learning activities can lie between simple and complex. This model can apply to even the simplest activities, such as a spontaneous in-class think-pair-share, but it is more valuable when you are designing Active Learning activities which are larger.

Authentic Active Learning Activities

Authentic Active Learning Activities

Authentic Active Learning Activities

John Seely Brown used the word authentic extensively in talking about situated learning. See the relevant post on this site.

Authentic is, nonetheless, difficult to define. Most definitions of authentic compare one thing to some existing model or template. Something is authentic if it compares well to the original. In their paper on authentic activities and online learning Reeves, Herrington and Oliver describe what authenticity means in the design of learning activities. They present ten characteristics that define authentic Active Learning activities.

Each of these design features is described in a more detailed post. Follow the links in the list above.

AL Activity Worksheet

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Problem Solving: Kapur’s Work on Productive Failure

Social constructivism generally argues for series of scaffolded processes as the route to meaningful learning. This study by Manu Kapur suggests that when students first tackle ill-structured, un-scaffolded problems and subsequently attack well structured problems the contrast enables them to transfer problem-solving skills which, without the contrast, might have gone unutilized.
The implication seems to be that designing to have students flounder with ill-defined, unscaffolded problems enables them to perform much better on subsequent direct instruction.

Productive Failure: A Hidden Efficacy of Seemingly Unproductive Production

Manu Kapur

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Active Learning Conference – June 4, 2012

Over 100 teachers and other professionals gathered at the Sandman Hotel in Longueuil to hear presentations from John Seely Brown and Robin Wright. They spent the afternoon working actively in groups studying Active Learning issues in Educational Technology, Inclusive Design, Educational Environment, Assessment, and Classroom Management.

Here is a souvenir.
Link to Robin’s PowerPoint presentation.
Link to JSB’s PowerPoint presentation.

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