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Frank Connolly, MindEdge Senior Editor, discusses critical thinking as the antidote to fake news in his debut column on The HuffingtonPost:

“There Has Always Been Fake News, It’s Americans’ Inability To Read Critically That Should Be Alarming.”

Connolly’s “Dig Deeper” podcast on issues related to digital literacy and critical thinking launches later in April.

Copyright © 2017 MindEdge, Inc.

What it means to teach, and to be a teacher, has evolved since high technology entered the world of education.

Learning today is markedly different than it was in the pre-Internet days of, say, 1987. Students now have at their fingertips a digital Library of Alexandria, whether they turn to Khan Academy or MOOCs or to Google Books. The tools available, from mobile apps to online courses, help make learning easier.

There’s also been a shift in the classroom. Instructors have embraced experiential learning. Others promote group learning and project work. Some have abandoned lectures.

Students have more options, more ways to learn. Fewer find themselves in traditional classrooms.

Yet some aspects of teaching haven’t been altered. The art of teaching, of making connections with students, of spurring their intellectual development, of helping them engage, remains vital. And irreplaceable.

Our best educators recognize that they’re not only imparting knowledge, but also preparing students for a complex, challenging, and exciting future. The art of teaching in 2017 involves inspiring curiosity, supporting critical thinking, and encouraging a love of learning.

Jefferson Flanders is president of MindEdge Learning. He has taught at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, at Babson College, and at Boston University.

Copyright © 2017 MindEdge, Inc.

One foundation of student-centered learning is variety—providing learners with multiple ways to learn.

With the advent of online and blended learning, instructors can present students with a wide range of learning options. These include video (mini-lectures, animations), audio, interactive games, narrative learning (case studies and scenarios), writing to learn exercises, simulations, flash cards, formative and summative assessments, discussion boards, adaptive learning, concept mapping, and in-class group work and discussions.

MindEdge Varied Learning

As we’ve noted in the past, not everyone processes information in the same way. Some learners find video presentations help them master challenging material—others prefer text, some are most comfortable with visual aids.

There are key five benefits to focusing on variety. Students tell us that it:

  • Stimulates their interest.
  • Encourages their participation.
  • Engages them through their preferred way of learning
  • Supports their sense of achievement
  • Allows them to demonstrate their mastery in varied ways

We’ve also noted in the past the importance of planning ahead during the content development process. Instructional designers should consider the sequence and pacing of the learning. They should look for opportunities to introduce new and different learning elements. The pay-off will come in the form of learning that engages, entertains, and informs.

Helpful resources

Elizabeth F. Barkley, Student Engagement Practices: A Handbook for College Faculty, Jossey-Bass, 2009.

Peter Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, Belknap Press, 2014.

Gerald F. Hess, “Value of Variety: An Organizing Principle to Enhance Teaching and Learning,” Elon University Law Review, June 10, 2010. (Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1796882)

James M. Lang, Small Teaching, Jossey-Bass, 2016.

Copyright © 2017 MindEdge, Inc.

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