WOW! Exciting Things in Education

I recently attended Pearson’s on-line learning conference, CITE, in Orlando, and was fortunate to have been included in their keynote panel on student services.  It was very exciting to hear what colleges around the US are doing to serve students and improve student outcomes in the online learning space.

What really knocked my socks off was the presentations I saw about how traditional “on ground” campuses are creating true blended learning environments that leverage technology and classroom learning formats to meet students where they learn the best.

Among the innovations was a story that Dr. Klaus Woelk, from Missouri University of Science and Technology, who shared a story about a large lecture class that was delivered through live (synchronous) online modes, as well as in the classroom.  Students in any location (classroom, or watching online), can send questions through text message systems leveraging Google, classroom clickers were used to facilitate discussion and peer-to-peer learning, and then video and internet were used as well.

My favorite component of this innovative classroom was something that even Dr. Woelk didn’t expect — a small group of students decided to meet, together, and watch the class online.  They gathered in a classroom, brought their breakfast, projected the lecture on the screen, and watched and learned together.  The advantage, they stated, was that they could talk, ask each other questions, and enjoy a smaller-scale learning environment instead of the 200 seat lecture.

The kicker was when one student didn’t understand a concept, another student in the room jumped to the white board and filled in the missing pieces from the lecture until everyone in the room understood — this kind-of peer-to-peer educating couldn’t happen in the traditional classroom, nor could it happen watching from your dorm room… but the brilliance is apparent.  No one in the room was left behind.

The clincher came with end-of-course assessments. Student knowledge (as assessed on a third-party assessment tool), increased significantly from the cohort prior to implementing these tools, to the present teaching methods.

It’s exciting to see how we, as educators, are implementing these tools — even more exciting to see how our students are making them their own, and building even better learning models.

A very exciting time to be part of the education innovation world.