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