10 Smart Tips for Effective Learning
BRAINSTORMING: The Power of Three
“Every brainstorm session you will ever facilitate or attend, like any good movie you will ever see, can be divided into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end. No matter what the topic, who’s in the room, or how stale the muffins, you will cycle through the same three phases again and again. How well you will cycle through these phases is another story.
Three. Not two. Not four. Not one. Three. The more attuned you are tothreeness, the more likely it will be that the sessions you facilitate will be successful. Here’s a quickie overview:
1. THE BEGINNING: This is the “foreplay” stage of brainstorming — the mood and context setting effort that will either make or break the session.
While the specific “look and feel” to the beginning may vary from session to session, the outcomes you are aiming for will not: 1) Establishing a sense of relaxation and rapport; 2) Agreeing on ground rules for participation; 3) Clarifying the history and current reality of the topic to be brainstormed; 4) Framing the challenge in the most powerful way; 5) Establishing yourself as the facilitator of the creative thinking process.
2. THE MIDDLE (“Divergence”): This is the heart of the matter — why people were invited to the session in the first place — to think outside the box and generate compelling ideas.
What you actually do in the middle phase of your brainstorming session is up to you. I recommend the right mix of “group geometry” (solo, dyad, triad, or full group), creative thinking triggers, and the skillful application of facilitation savvy.
Remember, the goal of this phase is an abundance of ideas — not just discussion, debate, philosophizing, or long-form storytelling.
3. THE END (“Convergence”): Just like most people would prefer to plant a garden than weed it, the end game of a brainstorm session requires more “roll-up-the-sleeves” effort than most facilitators want to deal with — the application of some left-brain mojo after the right brain has had its say.
The end game of creative thinking is all about jump starting the process of making order out of chaos and clearing the way forward.
Depending on the amount of time you have, this order making stage might include: idea review, idea evaluation, idea selection, identifyingidea champions, clarifying next steps, and deciding who’s going to generate a brainstorm report — and by when.
There’s no need to make people cranky by trying to do too much convergence during this closure phase, but it’s definitely good to get things grounded as a prelude to whatever follow up effort will be made.
Three phases to a brainstorming session. Three.”
Just in case you think change resistance is recent or for the uneducated or poor . . .
“When a new teaching device—the chalkboard—arrived at Yale University in the 1820s, it didn’t receive an especially warm welcome. In fact, it actually incited a rebellion.
What is now seen as a taken-for-granted classroom staple was once the object of intense controversy because it changed the way students were expected to learn mathematics. Students at Yale in the 1820s were accustomed to using their textbook as a reference when they solved problems. According to Smithsonian, the introduction of the chalkboard meant that they were suddenly expected to solve problems at the board, without the help of their books. ”
“When you assign projects, you want to see the evidence that students are thinking carefully, critically, and creatively about the topics related to your courses. However, you also want to ensure that students are, in fact, doing their own work: with academic integrity, and according to the principles and practices of sound research and scholarship. Therefore, the task of checking the originality of students’ work, and identifying plagiarism where it occurs, falls upon you (or your TA’s).
In our Spring 2015 Instructor Engagement Insights survey, we asked instructors: “What steps do you take to identify plagiarism in your students’ work?” What solution was the highest ranked among the 682 who responded to this question?
Considering these numbers, it’s clear that no one particular strategy is used by an overwhelming majority of instructors. However, we can deduce that many instructors use a combination of these strategies. By doing so, they can cross-check their findings, and perhaps confirm or correct their initial assumptions about the originality of a student’s work.
Of the instructors, 8% noted that they take other steps to identify plagiarism. Here are a few that they mentioned:
A distinct minority of our respondents (7%) said that they use “nothing.” Granted, a percentage of these respondents also indicated that identifying plagiarism was not applicable to their courses (in which case it makes sense that they wouldn’t use any tools or strategies to identify plagiarism!). Even so, it’s surprising to hear that some instructors don’t take steps to check the originality of students’ work, even if the issue of plagiarism may have a bearing on students’ accurate, ethical completion of the coursework.
Given that plagiarism is such a serious issue, you may want to adopt a variety of steps in order to dissuade students from cheating and cutting corners on their work.
For more suggestions regarding how to identify plagiarism and help students avoid it, review our previous post, “Ways to Discourage Plagiarism in Your Course.”
Your students will also benefit from the recommendations in the post “Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism.” You might also include a link to your college library’s plagiarism tutorials in your syllabus or within your course LMS.”
“More than seven in 10 learners report career benefits and more than six in 10 report educational benefits from completing massive open online courses (MOOCs). Participants from developing countries and particularly those with lower socioeconomic status and less education appear to be more likely to report benefits from pursuing MOOCs.
Those results and others come out of the first major research survey done among Coursera learners and reported in the Harvard Business Review. The survey was sent in December to 780,000 people from 212 countries who had completed a Coursera course prior to September 2014. The researchers received 51,954 survey responses from people in every one of those countries. The top ones represented were the United States, China, India and Brazil. Fifty nine percent of respondents were male; 58 percent were employed full-time; and the most common age was 26 to 35. The five-person research team included two data scientists and the president from Coursera, the assistant vice provost for global affairs at the University of Washington and a former project manager forPenn Global at the University of Pennsylvania.
The study asked people to state their motivations for taking a MOOC, then divided them into two “core” groups: career builders (pinpointed by 72 percent of respondents, but referenced as the primary driver by 52 percent) and education seekers (chosen by 61 percent, but designated as the primary motivation by 28 percent).
Among career builders:
Among education seekers:
The authors of the research article noted that their findings show “the possibilities MOOCs offer to change the educational landscape.” MOOC courses are “reaching large numbers of people, and disadvantaged learners are more likely to report tangible benefits.” While not a “cure-all” for what ails global education, MOOCs are a “step in the right direction, providing open access to a learning experience that many find beneficial for furthering their education and careers.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at [email protected].”
“The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has released their analysis of how privacy advocates trigger waves of public fear about new technologies in a recurring “privacy panic cycle.””