7 Characteristics Of Future Learning

It makes since that learning is also changing–becoming more entrepreneurial than directly didactic. That is, more learner-centered and controlled than teacher-and-report-card controlled.

The presentation below by Steven Wheeler explores some of the shifts occurring in our digital age. Clarifying the differences between knowledge, wisdom, and critical awareness was an excellent way to frame the presentation. As we explore so many new teaching and learning methods, an ironic side-effect is there is no longer a consensus on what “learning” is, a concept this presentation seeks to understand.

Architecture of Participation: 7 Characteristics of Future Learning

Also interesting was the “architecture of participation,” supercharged by social media and characterized by:

  1. Collaborating
  2. Tagging
  3. Voting
  4. Networking
  5. User-Generated Content
  6. Tools
  7. Sharing
Social factors are coming to dominate learners’ interaction with text and other media, making a kind of communal constructivism perhaps the single-most fundamental trend in “future learning.” In this way, these actions become 7 characteristics of future learning itself.
Communal Constructivism
According to a study by Sheffield Hallam University, communal constructivism “posits that students not only actively and socially create their own knowledge, but are active in the process of constructing knowledge 

for a larger learning community…(and) wider disciplinary arenas.” This simple-sounding idea has the potential to fundamentally shift how learning–and learning processes–are designed and evaluated. We’re going to explore communal constructivism in much greater depth soon, and the following presentation works well as a foundation for such a discussion.

7 Characteristics Of Future Learning.

The Difference Between Instructivism, Constructivism, And Connectivism


difference-between-instructivism-constructivism-connectivism-4We spend so much time in education trying to make things better.

Better policies.

Better technology.

Better standards.

Better curriculum.

Better instruction.

Better assessment.

Better response to assessment data.

And too with research, teacher collaboration, school design, parent communication, and so on. In fact, many of the “fads” in education that ebb and flow are simply micro-experimentation with this macro and general notion of “better”–zooming in on one thing–whole child education, whole language reading, or gender-based classrooms, and so on.

So while viewing a presentation from Jackie Gerstein recently (that we’re going to share in full tomorrow), I was stopped at the very simple distinction she made between instructivism, constructivism, and connectivism. These differences dovetail behind broader differences between pedagogy, andragogy, and heautagrogy–fundamental assumptions about how and why people learn that have to be considered if our end goal is not to make students better at school, but rather to improve literacy and critical thinking for global citizens everywhere.

So as you focus in your PLC or staff meetings on better “research-based instruction,” you’re looking at ways to improve how to better deliver instruction–more to understand how to better “give learning” than to cause it.

The Difference Between Instructivism, Constructivism, And Connectivism

Instructivism is definitely more teacher and institutionally centered, where policy-makers and “power-holders” create processes, resource-pools, and conditions for success.

Constructivism sees the teacher step aside to a new role as facilitator, pairing students with peers, learning processes, and another another at key moments based on data and observation while the students create their own knowledge and even early learning pathways.

Connectivism is similar to constructivism–in fact, a learner participating in connectivism would likely do so at times with an constructivist approach. The difference here lies in the central role of relationships and networks in connectivism. Rather than supplemental, they are primary sources.

Gerstein’s definition’s appear below. More tomorrow.




The Difference Between Instructivism, Constructivism, And Connectivism –.

20 Mobile Apps For Learning Through Play

Even though older adults might still carry a negative association with video game consoles and devices, today’s technology is vastly different than it was 20 years ago.

Apps have exploded on the scene, and while there are plenty of time wasting games available on the market, today’s offerings also include a wide range of affordable apps that enrich learning and allow for quick on-the-go play. Whether your child is waiting for the doctor or relaxing on a long car ride, the following apps are some of the best games that pack an educational punch.

20 Mobile Apps For Learning Through Play

1. The Letter School

The Letter School app won the Editor’s choice for Children’s Technology Review for 2012. It is available on iOS devices and uses three simple components for learning letters; tap, trace, and write. In the first mode, children tap on the end of the letter and watch the app draw the letter. Then they use their own finger to trace the letter. The app uses cute graphics like railroad tracks to make tracing fun. Finally, the child writes the letter himself, with guidance from the app in the event he goes off course. The app offers uppercase letters, lowercase, and numbers too.

2. Amazing Alex

From the makers of Angry Birds comes Amazing Alex. He is a boy who cleans his room in the most interesting ways. Children will not even know they are learning the principles of physics as they manipulate different objects in the room to get it clean. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay is intuitive and addicting. Amazing Alex has over 100 levels and is available for both the iPhone and Android.

3. Awesum

If your child likes puzzle games and math, Awesum is a fantastic combination of Tetris and Sudoki. Numbered cubes fall from the top of the screen and children must match the numbers so that it equals a predetermined sum. When they line up, the cubes disappear and keep the wall from filling the screen. This app is available for Android phones and tablets. Using color graphics, sound effects, and awards, this app teaches mental math skills without pain and suffering. In 2011, Awesum won awards for the best children’s educational app.

4. Barefoot World Atlas

Traveling explorers and geographers will love the Barefoot World Atlas app available for iOS devices. It is a higher priced app at $4.99 but takes kids on an interactive and magical tour of the planet. Kids can explore continents, countries, environments, and oceans. With a tap of the finger, children can explore new cultures and learn about different ways of life.

5. Jungle Time

For parents looking to teach children how to tell time, Jungle Time was featured in Parenting magazine as one of the 10 best educational apps for kids. The clock speaks in several different languages and has large numbers and hands for easy to read lessons. There are three different clock styles as well as the ability to learn 12 or 24-hour time. You can track your progress and manually set the time with a tap of your finger. This app is available for iOS devices.

6. Mad Libs

For kids who have trouble understanding the difference between a noun, verb, and adjective, the beloved Mad Libs game is now available in a lite and pro version for the iPhone and iPad. In addition to the standard word game, kids can share their stories through email and get hints for silly words to add to their story.

7. Super Why!

The Super Why App is based on a popular kid’s television show that makes literacy an adventure. The four characters, Alpha Pig, Princess Presto, Wonder Red, and Super Why each have a special super power. The app is designed for children ages three to six and includes word hunt games, tracing, rhyming, and sentence completion. This app is available for iPhone and iPad.

8. My Mathbook

Cleverly designed in a visually appealing math book layout, My Mathbook HD is a highly organized and entertaining math app for kids. The book is divided into sections such as numbers, computation, shapes, and test. There are several games for each concept, including tracing, simple computation, and shape coloring. The beautiful graphics and layout make it an educational and pleasurable activity for children ages four to six. This app is currently only available on the iPad.

9. Ladybird Ready for Phonics

Kids who love space will enjoy the Ladybird Ready for Phonics app available for iOS devices. The games consists of 12 levels that progress through important phonics principles. Parents can also unlock the levels manually if they wish. The app has been tested in classrooms with great success. In addition to phonics lessons, the space themed app helps kids learn the “tricky” words that cannot be sounded out.

10. The Android Shape Builder

The Android Shape Builder App is a fantastic educational game for children who love puzzles. Different scenes are displayed on the screen and children must use different shapes to fill in the image. With 144 puzzles, bright colors, and quality sound effects, children won’t even know they are learning geometry concepts while they put together the image on screen.

11. Brain Challenge

Brain Challenge for iOS is a comprehensive app that develops math, logic, memory, and focus. There are over 40 separate mini-games that use creative thinking in puzzles, trivia, quizzes, and other mental mind exercises. It is currently $4.99 and suitable for older children and teenagers.

You can monitor your progress with status charts that detail your success in the different areas.

12. Chicktionary

Word enthusiasts will love Chicktionary– a cross between Hangman, Scrabble, and Scramble. Kids hatch the hen’s eggs, which contain letters. The goal is to make as many words as possible. Shaking the device allows you to rearrange the letters for more help.

The hens do all sorts of silly things and the game design is fun, colorful, and quirky. You can earn rewards along the way too. This app is available for iOS devices.

13. Color Splash

Art teachers love using Color Splash for the iPad. This photo-editing app allows a user to alter paintings, images, and other artistic drawings to highlight areas of color and design.

This way, students can focus in on a particular technique or concept without the use of a projector. Color Splash is one of the most affordable editing apps on the iPad for only $1.99. The app comes with robust sharing options for students to display on Facebook and other similar sites.

14. Slurpy The Frog

An activity book designed for young children between ages three and five; Slurpy the Frog is a cute and funny animal that teaches kids concepts like shapes, relationships with size, and important facts about the world. It is a visually appealing app that contains 100 different activities that progress in difficulty.

The app is available for the Windows Phone.

15. Brain Thaw

Puzzle addicts will love Brain Thaw, an app that teaches mental math concepts using different puzzles.

The main character of the game is Newton the clever penguin. He loves to eat numbers according to the math rule given, but evil yetis will try to stop you. As you pass each level, the math rules change and increase in difficulty. It covers multiplication facts, fractions, division, addition, and subtraction.

16. Meet The Insects: Forest Edition

Meet the Insects: Forest Edition is a visually stunning app available for the iPad. Now bug lovers can meet the critters up close and personal with high definition images, facts, and trivia. Kids can go through the bug story, take a quiz about their favorite insect, and record observations in a digital journal.

You can even watch the bugs in action with video clips. The app is currently $3.99 and won the Red Dot Design Award.

17. Ansel and Clair’s Ride with Paul Revere

Ansel and Clair’s Ride with Paul Revere is an educational history app designed by Cognitive Kid for ages six to twelve. Both Ansel and Clair are childlike aliens who want to learn about history. The story begins in Boston and covers the major events of American History.

At the end of each unit, there is a quiz and the opportunity to take a snapshot of the location for the child’s scrapbook. There is narration and photos of historical artifacts to go along with the story. It is available for iOS devices.

18. Shake a Phrase

Shake a Phrase is a fun language app designed for kids who enjoy creative writing. Children age eight and above will learn vocabulary and parts of speech by shaking their device and watching silly sentences pop up on the screen. When there is an unfamiliar word, just tap on it to get the definition. Creative writing prompts are also included. This app is available on iOS devices and covers over 2000 vocabulary words.

19. Jungle Coins

Jungle Coins is a money app for kids learning how to count coins and bills. The app is available for many different currencies including the Euro, the British Pound, American Dollar, Australian Dollar and more. The animals come to life while teaching children how to count change and substitute coins for bills and vise versa. Right now it is only available on the iPad for $2.99.

20. Kids Genius All in 1

Kids Genius All in 1 is an app that contains 18 games covering a range of educational concepts from math to language, music, animals and nature. Flashcards, trivia, tracing drills, and other activities are all included in one handy app so kids don’t have to exit out of the game to access another subject. The games are made for children four and up, and can be downloaded on any iOS device.

20 Mobile Apps For Learning Through Play.

Mentor-Based Learning: Becoming A Mentor In Your Own Classroom

by Jane Healey, Ph.D.

Most educators have heard the current mantra about their role in the classroom: teachers are not delivery systems, filling empty vessels with acquired bits of knowledge. The image of a master in the front of a room lecturing to students furiously scribbling copious notes is outdated and anachronistic. Beyond the mantra, what role does the teacher play if not the expert in the room?

The obvious answer is the teacher must learn to guide students as they navigate a knowledge-rich world. Information is ubiquitous today, so students need to develop skills to work with the plethora of data: discovery, interpretation, analysis, organization, practice, and discussion. Skills-based teaching is a more nebulous enterprise than fact-based delivery. Here’s a few tips for the bold souls venturing forth:

Let Go

The struggle begins with the voice in our heads that warns, “But don’t they need to know that?” Usually, we’re talking about a name, a date, a formula, etc.  Here’s the quick answer, ”No, they don’t need that discreet bit of information.”

Even when we include every critical detail into a class period, we can’t guarantee students will remember it. Research indicates that if fact-based lessons aren’t connected to previous materials, they fill a student’s cognitive dump truck that tips and empties every 20 minutes. For fact-based knowledge to stick, it must be attached to a larger pattern or thread that flows throughout the course—like stitching a tapestry that covers the full course curriculum.

Facts don’t educate children; patterns lay the pathways to authentic learning.

Filling Time

The next concern many teachers have is what to do with all that time in the classroom if we’re not talking? The best strategy is to consider the overall goal of the unit you’re studying and find a moment in the curriculum that can serve as the wheel hub for spokes to attach to. Design activities in the center of the topic for students to muck around with relevant materials and gain first-hand experience.

Obviously, project-based learning sounds like a perfect fit. Students complete active projects and learn important information in the process. The danger is simply stringing together one project after another without the final product in mind. Keep the course goals primary and vary methods to touch the many ways students learn things:

  • Visual imagery: sketch, describe, create graphic organizer, etc.

  • Personal relevance: think, write, or speak about a connection.

  • Act out: role-play, pantomime or debate.

  • Create: produce a product or make models.

  • Cross curriculum: identify similar themes in another class, put a character in another world, etc.

  • Be kinetic: measure the hallways, take photos of words on posters, etc.

Students retain lessons if their touch points vary and involve senses and emotions.

Our Classrooms, Our Sanctuaries

As teachers, we are very aware of the physical space we operate in.  We design our rooms to fit our pedagogy.  What design suits a mentor?

Clearly, rows don’t work. Students need to confer in a natural manner to explore materials. Some teachers enjoy a horseshoe where students can move chairs through the open end and face peers during collaborative moments. Others like pods—groupings of tables or desks that optimize physical proximity to motivate collaboration. The critical aspect of the space is that it needs to be flexible and fluid. Furniture moves and shifts as the activities do, including solitary reflection.

Mentors move, too; they don’t sit or stand still—especially not with arms crossed over their chests like judges or officials. Mentors need space to walk around unobtrusively, so they don’t distract students. Students also need to move around to record information on a board, draw on a large span of butcher paper or practice a skit. Research says students learn more when they avoid settling into a habitual rut/spot in the classroom.

And walls need to be converted into exhibition spaces for the products students create. They need visual reminders of previous lessons to see thematic patterns. As current thought says, make the students’ learning visible so they can refer to it and incorporate it into succeeding activities.

One of my best mentors said, “Your job is to build the sandbox for them to play in.”

Prep Time

Probably the biggest fear teachers have about transitioning to a mentor position is the amount of prep time they’ll need to get ready for the new role. It’s tough, but front-loading the learning process means the students do the heavy lifting in the classroom while teachers monitor, redirect, nudge, and compliment—lots of positive feedback, because students learn best when they feel good about their contributions.

Creating effective activities requires strategic thinking, collaboration and plenty of energy. Thinking ahead is the best way to organize a full lesson. Work backward from the end goal, laying the ramp to get there. A group math quiz using mini-white boards to record answers and display the work means acquiring the supplies ahead of time. Often a colleague has the items to share or knows where to find them.

Patience and Tolerance

The most salient ingredient to a successful mentoring relationship with students is learning to live with low-level chaos and uncertainty.  Whew, that’s really hard for teachers who are experts and like to show it. I once had a colleague from a neighboring school visit my Sophomore English class when the students were debating if Rochester should have told Jane about Bertha or not. Afterward, the only comment he made was, “You tolerate a lot more than I would.”

That traditional teacher missed the action and meaning that occurred right in front of him. As the students’ passions flared, raising their voices in indignation, they were citing passages from the book, interpreting the character’s motivations, comparing him to characters they read about in other books, and pronouncing personal judgment on a dubious fictional hero.

During all of that commotion, I furiously took copious notes on the board, capturing students’ exact phrases, marking concepts mentioned multiple times, and linking related ideas (case-study method). I did not intervene in their argument even when I knew a student was “wrong”. After I called a cease-fire, and the students rearranged themselves and calmed down, I directed them to the board and asked each one to proclaim his/her final stance on Rochester’s culpability.


While not perfect, the Mentor-Based Learning approach goes a long way towards promoting the kind of deep learning we all strive for.

Image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad; Mentor-Based Learning: Becoming A Mentor In Your Own Classroom