Lego: the building blocks of university teaching?

Educational Innovation Weekly Review for Academics
Curated by Tecnológico de Monterrey's Observatory of Educational Innovation
July 21, 2015
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Lego: the building blocks of university teaching?
Times Higher Education
  • Pat Cullum, a principal lecturer in history at the University of Huddersfield, has experimented with using Lego to help first-year undergraduates grapple with tricky intellectual concepts, and believes that it has the potential to improve learners’ understanding. This approach builds on the theory that physical manipulation of an object can help students to think, and to articulate their ideas. 
  • There is increasing evidence for the benefit of a “gamification” approach to learning, Dr Cullum added. “It is a technique that does engage attention and, if you have people engaged, they are more likely to be thinking for a longer time and at a deeper level about what you are using the gamification approach on,” she said. “That is likely to lead to deeper and more thorough learning.”
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Keywords: learning, Lego, gamification, educational trends
The Importance of a Healthy Teacher Ego
  • Rather than trying to be the star performer in the classroom, teachers should strive to maintain faith in their ability to help students learn. Our mission as teachers is transcending our own ego satisfaction, needs, and stories to focus on our students and what's good for them.
  • A core of healthy ego strength makes it much easier to focus more on what's best for our students and less on making ourselves feel important. And in terms of overall teacher well-being, the more that our daily life outside of the classroom meets our needs, the less likely that we'll need our teaching and our students to feed our ego.
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Keywords: teaching, health and wellness, character education, classroom management
Building a New Engine
Usable Knowledge
  • What will it take to design an education system that prepares 21st-Century learners? We’ve got an engine that’s broken, can we design a new engine — one that will help all students succeed in an increasingly knowledge-based economy? Professor Paul Reville wants the Harvard Graduate School of Education to play a leading role in answering that question.
  • This spring, he announced the launch of a new HGSE initiative called the Education Redesign Lab, which he hopes will drive a national conversation about rethinking education for the 21st century. Usable Knowledge asked him to outline his vision for a newly engineered system of education.
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Keywords: education, leaders, interviews
Researchers Find That Frequent Tests Can Boost Learning
Scientific American
  • Critics charge that the high-stakes assessments inflict anxiety on students and teachers, turning classrooms into test-preparation factories instead of laboratories of meaningful learning. A new research shows how to reverse the trend.
  • Research in cognitive science and psychology shows that testing, done right, can be an effective way to learn. Taking tests can produce better recall of facts and a deeper understanding than an education devoid of exams.
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Keywords: learning, research, assessments, cognitive science
Great Colleges to Work For 2015
The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • This special issue features results of The Chronicle's eighth annual Great Colleges to Work For survey, based on responses from nearly 44,000 campus employees. The survey found that at colleges recognized for a strong workplace culture, employees were more likely to feel acknowledged, supported, well informed by their leaders, and engaged in a common mission.
  • You can see the complete list of colleges and exceptional performers on the Honor Roll,search particular categories, see how answers to questions differed among types of employees, and learn about the survey's methodology. 

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Keywords: higher education, colleges, surveys, great places to work
Learning to Engineer a Better Brisket
The New York Times
  • Harvard engineering students were assigned the task of creating a technologically sophisticated barbecue smoker that can outperform the best product on the market and sell for less than $1,500. This was not some strange undergraduate ritual. These were students enrolled in a course called Engineering Problem Solving and Design. 
  • The syllabus for the three-month course incorporated business and culinary lessons in addition to engineering skills. Guest speakers included a taste chemist, a barbecue pit master and patent specialists.

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Keywords: education, innovation, learning, problem solving
Mentoring as Tenure Criterion
Inside Higher Ed
  • Purdue University, like most colleges and universities, evaluates faculty members up for tenure on their accomplishments in research, teaching and service. And as is the case at most research universities, research has tended to be prominent. But now, the university plans to make significant changes in those criteria.
  • On top of them all in the policy will be an expectation that faculty members are active mentors to undergraduates, especially to at-risk students. Teaching evaluations will feature two new measures: commitment to involving undergraduates in research and to pedagogical innovation.
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Keywords: higher education, academia, tenure track, mentoring, pedagogical innovation
Watson Beat Jeopardy--Can It Beat Teacher Burnout and Fix Education?
  • It could be a whole category on Jeopardy: “Technology For Teachers”. Contestants, here's the clue. “Technology that started as a game show contestant, but now wants a job in schools.” The answer is: Watson. 
  • Last weekend, at the American Federation of Teachers’ annual conference, teachers heard from the IBM researchers who created “Watson,” the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer. Conference goers buzzed with questions about what this “Watson for Teachers” might mean for the classroom, teachers and students. Here are just a few.

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Keywords: technology, Watson, IBM, educational technology
How Blended Learning Increases Teacher Job Satisfaction & Retention
  • Blended learning is not about merely using technology in the classroom. It’s about the combination of online learning in schools that gives students more control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning. For the first time in human history, there’s a way to affordably scale the powers of personalization for all students; differentiation that previously only a tutor could provide. 
  • As models of blended learning grow, improve, and reinvent what school looks like, their potential isn’t only limited to helping create a student-centered education system; they can also vastly improve the lives and capacities of teachers worldwide.

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Keywords: blended learning, professional development, edtech, teachers
3 Ways Educational Technology Tools Predict Student Success
  • One of the goals of academic assessment is to identify which students need help; the sooner they can be identified, the better. The promise of technology has been that its ability to collect unique data could make this process timelier, more accurate, and less burdensome.
  • Academic research suggests that technological tools can predict outcomes by collecting or analyzing data according to three different categories: Usage, engagement, and knowledge/skill. 

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Keywords: edtech, assessment, technology
Educational Innovation Weekly Review is curated by Tecnológico de Monterrey's  Observatory of Educational Innovation. With the highlights of the week on innovation, technology and education. If you require more information about a specific note, please email us: TECNOLÓGICO DE MONTERREY, 2015.

Observatory of Educational Innovation

Tecnológico de Monterrey's Observatory of Educational Innovation: We identify and analyze the educational innovation trends that are shaping the future of learning and education. 

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