Thursday, August 28, 2014

Google Earth and Learning Styles

Google Earth helps children visualise and discover the world around them. It’s an online program that lets you explore the earth using 3D maps and 3D street views. It also has some library images of forests and mountains, so you can see inside the White House including all the details of the Oval Office décor, as well as the spots on a jaguar inside the Amazon Jungle. (Incidentally, when you do see a large spotted cat inside the Amazon Jungle on Google Earth, the search engine Google itself can tell you, as it told me, whether it’s a leopard or a jaguar. It’s a jaguar. Leopards don’t inhabit South America. You Google and you learn.)

Depending on your child's learning style and personal interests, you can use Google Earth to:

·        Find the globe’s volcanoes and researching details about their locations.
·        Map the journey our food takes from the farm to our plate, and investigating the environmental impact of food choices.
·        Travel back in time to learn about their own neighbourhood and how it’s changed over the years.
·        View shipwrecks.
·        Use the Ruler tool to calculate distances.

 Have fun!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fun Education Apps

For all those students out there whose Learning Style is visual, tactile and stationary, here are a few iPad apps to try out at school or at home.

  1. StoryKit - an awesome app that allows users to create an electronic storybook via illustrations by drawing on the screen, using pictures and text, and recording audio to attach to stories. 
  2. Video Science - A growing library of hands-on science lessons. These short videos demonstrate inexpensive and easy to recreate experiments that are designed to inspire and excite kids of all ages. 
  3. Google Earth - Explore the planet: search for cities, places, and businesses. Browse layers including roads, borders, places, photos and more. Visit the Earth Gallery to find exciting maps such as real-time earthquakes, planes in flight, hiking trails, city tours, and more. 
  4. Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries - Soar through the universe with the Hubble Space Telescope, exploring dark energy and colliding galaxies. 
  5. Solve the Outbreak - Get clues, analyze data, solve the case, and save lives! In this fun app, you get to be the Disease Detective. Do you quarantine the village? Talk to people who are sick? Ask for more lab results? The better your answers, the higher your score – and the more quickly you’ll save lives. You’ll start out as a Trainee and can earn badges by solving cases, with the goal of earning the top rank: Disease Detective.
 Is e-learning a good option for your child? Find out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Your Working Style And Conferences

You hear about a new conference in your field coming up next month. The topics all seem interesting at worst and ranging all the way up to super-fascinating. The guest speakers are experts you've heard of and would love to connect with/ And, best of all, your diary is clear for that week and your boss is paying.

Are you excited? Or not so much? That will probably depend on your Working Style. If you learn best in groups, by looking and by listening, in a noisy environment, during the day and by sitting still, then conferences are the thing for you. Change some of these preferences into non-preferences, and you might actually not enjoy your conference experience very much. Of course, there are always the tea breaks to look forward to.

With this in mind, we've decided the time may be right again for a Learning Styles conference. Watch this space for more details.

What is your own Working Style? Find out.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Nigel Latta Rates Kiwi Schools Brilliant

Nigel Latta is a familiar name in every Kiwi household. His parenting advice may appeal or raise eyebrows, but is inevitably hilarious and memorable. A few weeks ago, we were honoured to host Nigel on our blog. Today, the country hosts him in our TV lounges as he discusses the way New Zealand schools work today and whether it's better than the traditional approach.

The traditional approach relied on an end-of-the-year examination system that have you a neat mark out of a hundred. You got 50%, you passed, You got 49%, you failed. But, on the day and under pressure, is that one mark really important enough to determine whether or not you're labelled a failure? What if you worked hard all your school life, but crumbled under exam pressure because of your learning style? What if you had a headache on the day of the big exam?

Nowadays, New Zealand schools offer Discovery Learning as part of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Discovery Learning, according to the Wikipedia, is "a technique of inquiry-based instruction and is considered a constructivist based approach to education. It is supported by the work of learning theorists and psychologists Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, and Seymour Papert."

What this means in the real world is that the teacher doesn't impart his or her knowledge to the students, expecting them to assimilate and regurgitate. Instead, the teacher guides the students towards the answer or answers, bearing in mind that there may be more than one correct outcome.

For example, a class on Soft Materials Technology (sewing in traditional speak), might design and create a soft toy that scares away monsters at night but doesn't scare the child. Doesn't it sound more fun than sewing an apron from the same pattern throughout the whole school?

In English, the students may watch a movie and discuss the character's emotional journey or the symbolism of certain objects.

In maths, kids will be learning that there is more than one way to solve a problem. If you need to add 12 and 15, you may go:
  • well, 12 is 10+2 and 15 is 10+5, so I'll just add the two tens and then add 2 and 5; or
  • well, 15 is the same as 12+ 3, I know two twelves are 24, and I still have 3 left over, so I'll add that to 24.
This helps children get strategies to choose from. Some kids will choose strategies best suited to the numbers. Others will choose strategies best suited to their own learning style.

Watch Nigel Latta go to school: