RED Team

Observations from an Open, Connected, and Evolving Learning Environment

A ROOM WITH NO NAME

In 1999, a room named “This Room Has No Name” opened its doors in the heart of the Media Union, a grand new facility for the University of Michigan’s colleges of Art, Architecture, Engineering, and Music. A small group of students and faculty members from each college had worked together for months to decide on the initial contents of the room. With the goal of attracting peers who would work across disciplines and outside the prescribed curricula, they requested empty space, sketching tools (digital and analog) [1], “converging technology” (unsanctioned, edgy tools of interest to emerging groups), and, most importantly, student employees whose interests would drive new investments and whose regular presence would foster both academic and social connections among new participants. Gradually, the room developed into a multifaceted learning environment with a distinctive cultural character representative of its members.

Today this room, now known as “Design Lab 1” (DL1) [2], is thriving. A recent mixed-method descriptive study of the environment suggests that DL1 offers unique advantages and opportunities and that users highly value the cultural, physical, technological, and programmatic features that allow them to feel comfortable, connected, productive, and free to initiate change in the space. Informed by DL1 practice and research, the University Library’s Digital Media Commons (DMC), of which DL1 is a part, is beginning to introduce the Design Lab learning environment model in companion locations. These will not be generic learning spaces; DMC Design Labs will each have a unique character, reflecting the different ambient (and emerging) academic interests and cultures—as expressed through use—of the cross-disciplinary “anchor” groups in each location.

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Turning Up the Volume – Advocacy in Action

By Dr. C.J. Huff, Superintendent, Joplin (MO) Schools, and NSPRA Vice President at Large – Superintendents of Schools

Each day professional educators across our country walk into our schools with the noble purpose to educate and grow our next generation of leaders, employees, neighbors, and families. And with each passing day our noble purpose – the reason we do what we do – becomes muddled as we find ourselves fighting perceptions that don't really reflect reality. But as a school board member reminded me once, perception is reality. So the question that must be answered is, “How do we change perception?”

What’s Working...What’s Not?

As you read this article, from coast to coast, school districts will be pushing the send button on thousands of press releases. Spelling bee champions will be recognized, teachers of the year announced, scores from last night’s ballgame celebrated, a big decision by a school board shared, the kindergarten penny drive that raised funds to help the local humane society – the list goes on. We will permeate cyberspace with the good news of our schools. We will tweet, post, click send, like, repost, resend again with the hope that someone... anyone... will pick up on a story and that it will go viral in a good way. And we wait. Then wait some more. We tell great stories, but few are there to listen.

But as a school board member reminded me once, perception is reality. So the question that must be answered is, “How do we change perception?”  <click to read more>

5 examples of blended learning success

Discover how New Hampshire is sustaining positive blended learning policies in its schools blended-competency. As new educational models gain support among educators and students who want to learn in new and different ways, blended learning is perhaps one of the strongest among these new models.

Now, researchers have discovered that some of these models work well together–for instance, blended learning and competency-based learning, another strong model in which students advance based on mastery and not grade level or time-in-seat, have evolved to overlap and complement one another.

A new report from the Clayton Christensen Institute, authored by Julia Freeland, notes that blended learning supports competency-based learning in at least four ways:

1. “Online content can offer a continuum of learning along which students can progress at a flexible pace.”
2. Assessments can be delivered on-demand when students are learning online.
3. Students have more than one lesson, or one information source, through which to access content, because online learning is delivered in a “more modular manner” than face-to-face instruction. This leads to students having “multiple pathways to mastery.”
4. Blended learning offers tools for personalized education, which can support districts that are trying to scale competency-based learning systems.

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A New Wonderful Wheel on SAMR and Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

The buzz that the Modern Taxonomy Wheel generated over the last couple of weeks  has not yet died out and now we have a new updated wheel from the same guy Allan Carrington. I love Allan's work and I find it really interesting. His wheels come along in such a visually attractive way summarizing most of the apps and web tools we have been sharing here with you.

If you already had a chance to have a look at the previous wheel and compare it with this new one you will notice that Allan has brought about some new updates to the new wheel. There is now a particular shared focus on both SAMR model and Bloom's digital taxonomy to help teachers better leverage technology in their teaching.

If you are not familiar with what SAMR is all about, please read this post.

Now, Click on this LINK to get the poster as PDF.