Notes on "Hacking the Learner Experience"

Hacking the Learner Experience: Techniques & Strategies for Connecting with Your Instructional Ecosystem
Brian Mathews, Associate Dean, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Andy Burkhardt, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Champlain College, Burlington, VT
Lauren Pressley, Associate Director of Learning and Outreach, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

  • The presenters had mapped out class-by-class what students need to learn from each course.
  • “Threshold concept”: New way of thinking; without this “portal,” student learning cannot progress. The threshold concept is:
    • Transformative
    • Irreversible
    • Integrative
    • Bounded
    • Troublesome (difficult concepts)
  • Taxonomies:
    • “Blooms”: Pyramid learning invented by Benjamin Bloom. The items lower in this pyramid are easier to teach than the items higher.
    • Perry’s taxonomy: 9 stages that students progress through in college:
      • 1st year: Students are very receptive to authority figures and believe they all know the answer
      • 2nd & 3rd years: Contextual relativism; everyone has a right to his or her own opinions
      • 4th year: Commit within the contextual relativism approach
    • Kolb taxonomy: “Learning is a holistic process of adaptation to the world”:
      • Assimilators
      • Convergers
      • Accomodators
      • Divergers
  • We need to understand who our students are & where they are in the pyramid.
  • Our instruction has to be learner-centric; not content-centric. We should teach not just tools, tips & tricks, but attitudes & habits of mind. We should not just help on specific assignments, but help our students to succeed overall in their college career.
  • We should also be question-centric; not answer-centric.
  • Poll students:
    • Where do you get your information from?
    • What do you want it to do?
    • How do you search?
  •  We need to teach habits of mind. This serves students much longer than showing them how to search a database.
  • We need to create skilled questioners.
  • Instructors should become co-learners. Inquiry-based learning is a shift in perspective. We need to give up some of our power to empower our students.
  • Students are afraid to fail. This leads to the feeling of incompetence & disrupts learning. Acknowledging this difficulty could stop this vicious circle from happening. The importance of learning by failing is HUGE.
  • Things that work:
    • Gamification of learning
    • Real world experience
    • Maker spaces

Add new comment