Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Image via Mark Harkin [CC BY 2.0]
I remember watching some old movie or TV show when I was in elementary school back in the 80's (it was probably the kind of show my mom wouldn't have been happy to know I was watching.) In the show, the Bad Guys were trying to hijack a plane--they had guns!--but the quick-thinking pilot was able to save the day by pulling the plane up into a steep climb so the Bad Guys couldn't climb their way up the aisle to get into the cockpit.

Eventually, though, the plane stopped climbing, and "stalled." Now, 10-year-old me wasn't exactly sure what caused a plane to stall...but it was pretty clear what that meant: the plane stopped flying upward, nosed down, and began to dive back towards earth. Of course, this was great adventure on the show, because it meant that the Bad Guys went tumbling forward toward the cockpit, banging their heads and getting knocked out.

Meanwhile, the passengers were safely buckled in their seats, screaming about the plane plummeting toward the ground, and the editors cut back to a shot of the pilot and co-pilot straining as they heaved on the control sticks to regain control of the plane. Of course, they were able to level out and land safely, where police officers met the plane on the runway to take the Bad Guys away.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Ten Students You Have in Your Class

In my last post, I shared the nine teachers you meet at school. Today, let's consider the students. I enlisted my son and our Lego collection to help me think up the ten students you likely have in your class...

Does this look like your class?

I was amazed as I talked with my son about his insights into human nature as it manifests in the classroom. Here is what we came up with:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Nine Teachers You Meet at School

My son and I share a common bond in our love of Legos. Yesterday I snapped this picture of a sort of bizarro "Super Friends" team assembled from our collection:

Quite a team, right?

This morning, I started thinking (and laughing) about this picture again, and my thoughts turned toward teaching. This crazy picture reminded me of the many different approaches teachers take to their teaching practice. So, if you'll indulge me, here are the nine teachers you meet at school:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Thoughts about Meaningful Interactions in Online Courses

As regular readers of this blog will likely know, I am currently part of a doctoral program in Educational Technology, and my learning in this program is online.

The online design of the program is deliberate. It is convenient for me to be able to study at a distance, to be sure, but I'm also learning--both through the content of my coursework as well as the pedagogies employed--how educational technologies offer alternatives to face-to-face learning environments.

Early in my program, we spent a significant portion of a course reading about, discussing, and reflecting on the No Significant Difference phenomenon: the fact that countless research studies have shown that there is no statistically significant difference in learning outcomes when the media of instruction is varied. The body of research reviewed is comprehensive and compelling; it goes back to the 1920's, and includes correspondence courses, video-based instruction, and--more recently--online courses. The results indicate that while the experience of the course may be different, the learning is "not significantly different."

I confess though, I still get hung up on this point. Because the learning experience is not identical.