Thursday, December 31, 2009

3D Avatar the Movie & What We Can Learn About 3D Learning

Okay, Avatar is the latest craze in the movie world and is totally worth the cost and trouble to see it in all of its 3D glory ( and on IMAX is even better). The movie also has some great lessons for 3D learners. Recipients of excellence in entertainment and of education do better when they feel involved, either ducking from flying objects headed right their way in the audience or education being delivered through the use of 3D interactions involving sight, sound and touch.

Enough research exists at the high school and college level that students participating in a combination of classroom and online coursework outperform their counterparts that only attend passive classes. You can read more about research conducted with online learning and published by The US Department of Education on their website.

So this brings me to options available to bring education into the 3D world. Although not yet three dimensional (but I'm sure they are working on it), Time4Learning has just released a new preschool curriculum and the only thing that could make it better would be to ship a pair of 3D glasses with every subscription.You can see some free demos of the Time4Learning online preschool product on their website. They have thought of everything that a preschooler might need to prepare for a successful kindergarten entry.

Don't get me wrong, their entire online educational program for kids in preschool through 8th grade is awesome and they really outdid themselves on the preschool launch this fall. But I'm still waiting for those glasses to arrive anyday in the mail!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lapbooking in 3 Dimensions

Looking for a hands-on way to engage your 3D learner? Try lapbooking! This approach is used by homeschoolers as a way to bring a subject to life. The great thing about a lapbook is that the education happens while your child creates the book and everytime they share it with someone they reinforce the lessons. Time4Writing has a unique way of incorporating writing assignments right into the lapbook for easy reference and storage. There is even a nifty lapbook pocket you can download at their site to easily integrate the written word in with the other elements of the lapbook.

Here's a great blog post I found that shows a video of a completed lapbook that is themed just in time for Thanksgiving. Here's an excerpt from that post:

"A completed lapbook can be compared to a child's pop-up book or a lift-the-flap book. These types of books often generate more enthusiasm among elementary aged kids than simple text. Tactile learners respond well to the interaction involved in making and looking at a lapbook."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Learning Today

Todays' learners are dramatically different than the previous generation....things have changed. Technology, the school systems, the students and the companies that hire them have all changed. Lets start with the students...

I'm talking about the youth of today and also the work force in today's competitive companies. Online education is now mainstream with teachers now choosing between careers in schools, tutoring, or teaching online.Online teaching is hot! Our people are now, as Marc Prensky calls them, "Digital Natives" with skills and a mindset suited to todays technical realities. Learning styles have evolved as have our diagnostic tools and categories of learnig styles and dysfunctions. The skills are different too with keyboarding & web researching moving into mainstream skills. And while public schools still dominate the educational system, homeschooling and virtual schools are the two hottest growth areas in education. They're cost effective and they work!

Homeschooling is a hotbed of experimentation with new educational paradigms. Homeschoolers are a diverse group. But homeschoolers do share a few vital characteristics....

A determination to provide the best for your children!

A sense that life has more possibilities than those found by following the crowd!

A personal involvement in educating your child!

A need for some help in putting together an optimal education for each child!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Most parents start homeschooling with a clear sense of the lessons they want to teach their children. And while that vision remains, most home school parents become immersed in the reality of the learning needs of their children. Each one is different and each one evolves. While remaining highly principled, most parents become somewhat eclectic in their use of curriculum and learning tools as they discover what works best to homeschool their children.
One homeschool curriculum that is really useful either as a core or supplementary curriculum is Time4Learning. What i like about them is that since they are flexible and low cost, I can use them in different ways in different subjects.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

3D Learners - What are they?

There's been usage of the term 3D Learners as a category which includes kids with dyslexia and some other groups whose minds process less sequentially than is most common. It's a descriptive term in that the imagery evokes the idea of being a visual learner.

I can remember two of the places that I've seen this term used although I have the feeling that I've seen is used broadly. For instance, I don't have my copy of The Gift Of Dyslexia in front of my but my memory is that the description that they use for the Gift describes how people with dyslexia see "all around an they see it from all sides and in 3D at the same time..." The two uses are by a treatment group for 3DLeaners and a school run entirely in a 3D Visual space, Wilostar3D.

3DLearners - There is a treatment group called 3DLearners run by Mira Stulberg-Halpert. They roughly equate right-brained learners with 3DLearners: "Most students with Dyslexia or a Learning Disability and a fair number of students with ADHD are right-brained learners." As an aside, I just reviewed the tools that they integrate in their treatment and it's an impressive list:
1. The Structure of Intellect Assessment ® for assessment (attention, auditory, visual ?)
2. Interactive Metronome ® to assess attention issues and improve attention and self-control, reading and math fluency and sports skills
3. Visagraph ® for vision issues
4. Brain Gym ® exercises that improve left and right-brain integration and also improve focus, attention and vision
5.An Internal Controller for both the students and parents to control their frustration and improve productivity
6. The Freeze Frame ® System - a neuro-feedback system to calm the student.
7. The Gemstone Vision System ®, a web-based solution to improve vision tracking and related skills
8. Reading Plus ®

3DLearn - This online accredited school, recently been renamed Wilostar3D, conducts most of it's classes in it's own custom-developed 3D space with the students as avatars. Much of the activities and school work is conducted in this synthetic shared 3D space using highly visually and interactive approaches to learning. This approach, which they say is based on Constructionist Learning, is dramatically different than the traditional text and speech-based approach to education. And I quote their page on special needs: 3D virtual reality learning experiences in our 3d campus include specific curriculum adaptations to enhance the learning experience for students with:
  • Aspergers
  • Panic Disorder
  • Gifted Children with Attention Deficit
  • Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism
  • Executive Dysfunction
  • Mood Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
  • Sensory Issues
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Psychological disabilities such as depression, bipolar disorder, or severe anxiety
  • Mobility impairments such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injury
  • Students disabled by chronic illnesses such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, cardiopulmonary disease, cancer, chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome, and seizure disorders
  • Learning Disabilities such as information processing deficits or weaknesses in specific areas such as reading, math, writing, or organization

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pervasive Learning & Vacation Time

How much did the kids learn?
Was an interest in history or archaelogy sparked?
Or did they just enjoy the climbing up and down the ladders and through the tunnels?

I'm on a family vacation, we just spent a few days looking at the ruins of the Pueblo civilization in Mesa Verde. We saw their early pit homes built in the 800's and the very sophisticated cliff dwellings built and abandoned in the 1200's. There are many mysteries around this people in terms of why they built the way they did, how they lived, why they disappeared so completely, where they went to, and why nobody ever returned to these dwellings from the time they were abandoned (1285).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The hot trend in K12 education demographics

I believe that the school choice numbers run like this. Over the last decade, the three hotest growth trends were charter schools, homeschooling, and magnet schools. Each trend showed at times nearly 100% annual growth. I'd estimate overall, they each constitute around 4% of the K12 population with growth in the 25% annual rate.

They've been usurped by a new trend: public virtual schooling which is growing at 100% annually, mostly at the high school level. With the enthusiastic support of teachers (they like working in their pajamas from home) and students; and fueled by superior test results and a really nice cost structure (it can be much less expensive than the traditional approach), the trend appears to be headed towards a few percent.

Where is my data for this? I'm estimating. I've ready many reports and this is my impressionistic conclusion. As this blog develops, I might provide detailed bibliography and sources.