Trends in Learning and Teaching in 2016


I found this interesting article outlining the trends the author expects in Learning and Teaching in 2016.  There are three identified areas where significant advancement is expected 1) Alternative credentialing, 2) Experimentation in new teaching models and learning spaces, and 3) Student-driven personalized learning.  The author ignored gamification and augmented reality this year as these are seen as advancements that will not take hold in a large way this year.

Alternative Credentialing is already starting to take place with digital badges and the multiple certifications that are now being issued by sites such as Coursera and edX.

Experimentation in new teaching models and learning spaces is changing our education system from one that is instructor-focused and passive to one that is student-centered and active.  Instructional models are changing and schools are now re-inventing their learning spaces to adapt to a new culture and digital technology.

Student-driven personalized learning is starting to take shape.  As the author put it “learners control their learning and become not just consumers of content but active creators of content”.

These trends are having a large impact on education today and the potential for change resulting from them is enormous.  I encourage you to read about these in more detail at the blog link provided below.

Exercise and Learning


I thought a post about how exercise can improve learning outcomes would be appropriate while also discussing digital media, virtual classrooms and other things of the sort found on this blog.

Just this morning I heard a conversation on CBC radio talking about how primary school children had improved learning outcomes when incorporating exercise while learning.  When counting to five for example they would be doing 5 jumping jacks!  The implications and applications could go far beyond that however.  Below is a link to the podcast, incredibly interesting stuff that gets you thinking!  Thoughts?

Manipulatives in Education


A fellow classmate, Liana Exente, starting a discussion thread about manipulatives in education, a term I was not familiar with.  Below is an excerpt from her writing that should give you an indication of what they are:


“Manipulatives media involves the student in learning through physical interaction, an effective alternative to text and visual media. In the context of education, manipulatives, are physical tools of teaching, engaging students visually and physically with objects. By using manipulatives, students become more independent are actively engaged in discovery during the learning process.”


I did a couple years of schooling toward a math degree before switching into an electrical apprenticeship and then taking on a role teaching electrical.  Manipulatives in the trades is an essential part of the learning process and it is not just the time in the lab.  Even during lectures instructors will pass around a small transformer for example while explaining how they work.  Sometime they would even disassemble items and put them back together to demonstrate the principles they learned in action.  There is definitely something to be said about having your other senses engaged while learning.

Below is a link to an interesting powerpoint on slide share on the history of manipulatives from ancient times to digital manipulatives being used today that I found quite interesting.  To me, incorporating manipulatives in education feels very intuitively like the right thing to do and the options and applications are endless.


Digital Badges & Self Directed Learning


A classmate Liana Axente commented on my earlier post ‘Mentorship Matters’ with an interesting idea I likely would never have contemplated.  Her post is below:

“Digital Badges are increasingly used in the workplace, a way to make achievements known and credible. Wikipedia calls them a “validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest that can be earned in various learning environments.” Open Badges by Mozilla takes digital badges one step further to standardize the information coded into the badge image file. According to Credly, a digital badge service, some organizations use digital credentials to validate skills individuals bring to their current and future jobs.”

“I am wondering if a similar method would be applicable in the Journeyman tradespeople to help professionals take some of the responsibility for learning in a more self-directed approach.”

I believe people need to take charge of their own education and become more self directed.  Electrical is a very large trade which can, and is, broken down into numerous subject areas.  I can actually see how badges for particular competencies could be awarded and even be added to a persons resume to prove they are competent in a particular area.

After reading her post I looked online to see if anything of the sort is being used today and to my surprise I very easily found the article below.  It turns out that Los Angeles Trade-Technical College is using digital badges for foundation credential competencies.  An excerpt from that article is below.  Very interesting indeed.

“The Foundation Credential competencies will be further documented and memorialized through the use of digital badges. These badges will include digital information about the specific competencies that are demonstrated and how they were assessed.”

Monkey Does Not Own Copyright to Selfie

This 2011 photo provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shows a selfie taken by a macaque monkey on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi with a camera that was positioned by British nature photographer David Slater. The photo was part of a court exhibit in a lawsuit filed by PETA in San Francisco last September.

I thought I would post a lighter article I found on copyright, an area which can be a bit of a dull subject at times.  I found this CBC article from January this year about a court case in San Francisco where the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sought to represent a now famous monkey who took a selfie of itself with the camera of a British nature photographer.  PETA’s aim was to administer all the proceeds from the photos for the benefit of the monkey, not the photographer.  It is a great photo and was an interesting twist on the debate around copyright rules and the ownership of the property and whether it would extend to our intelligent cousins.  Thoughts?

Access to Internet in Canada

Pam Cheema, a fellow student in my PIDP 3240 class, shared the link to the article below on  internet access in the US and how many students without access struggle to complete homework assignments that increasingly have online components.

This comment really got me thinking in particular:

“Ms. Rosenworcel cited research showing that seven in 10 teachers now assign homework that requires web access. Yet one-third of kindergartners through 12th graders in the United States, from low-income and rural households, are unable to go online from home.”

After reading the article I decided to look into how Canada stacks up, thinking that this must be a more pronounced problem in the US.  What I found however is that while we have a higher percentage of households with internet access (86.8% as compared to 81% in the US), digital divides still exist.  Here are some statistics from the article below that made me step back:

  • 95 per cent of Canadians in the highest income quartile are connected to the Internet, yet only 62 per cent in the lowest income quartile have Internet access.
  • Internet access varies by province. According to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Internet Use Survey in 2012, British Columbia and Alberta lead the nation in household Internet access with 86 per cent, followed by Ontario at 84 per cent. Household access is lowest in Quebec (78 per cent) and the east coast (Prince Edward Island, 78 per cent; New Brunswick, 77 per cent).
  • Whereas broadband is available to 100 per cent of Canadians that live in urban areas, only 85 per cent of Canadians in rural areas have access. The urban/rural/remote divide is even more pronounced in the Canadian North. A 2010 report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) showed that 83.5 per cent of households in the Northwest Territories (NWT) had Internet access, 100 per cent of communities in the Yukon had access, yet only 27 per cent of communities in Nunavut had access. In the NWT, community level Internet access ranged from 17 per cent in the tiny hamlet of Wrigley, to 89.9 per cent in Yellowknife.

These are sobering stats and being aware of this should give all teachers and instructors pause when creating assignments.  Giving options for assignments as suggested by Pam may be one solution but I think we will need to remain creative as others issues are sure to surface.



I discovered an interesting was of producing documents with Powerpoint called Slidedocs through a forum post by a classmate Javier Otero (below).


I had never really thought of writing a document in Powerpoint but after a quick read it makes a lot of sense.  I write a very extensive Business Development Strategic Plan each year for the electrical company I work for, with help from an assistant who is more MS office savvy than I,  and we have struggled to add images & links as well as charts and graphs to these in an effective way.  They are typically written in Microsoft Word and we often end up also creating a presentation.  Combining the two is a logical next step that I had never even contemplated for some reason.  I am now aiming to produce something similar this in October for our AGM.  I have done a fair amount reading since and stumbled across the article below.  As the author mentions:

It’s been in front of us the whole time — this crazy awesome way of communicating information that’s both easily consumed and easily referenced.

My sentiments exactly!