Takeaways from an Edsurge Podcast

We love Edsurge! (Check out ProctorFree’s Edsurge product page). Edsurge has a new podcast feature that I was excited to check out. While the podcasts I listened to were all great; the project based learning podcast on strategies for promoting student collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking was a real winner.

A team of two educators, and two entrepreneurs were the panelists for the podcast. Panelists included Cary Matsuoka (Superintendent, Milpitas USD), Kyle Brumbaugh (Director of Educational Innovation, Presentation HS), Steve Ritter (Chief Product Architect, Carnegie Learning), and Michael Hageloh (Director of Global Education, littleBits). Michelle Spencer from Edsurge facilitated the panel.

What were the biggest takeaways of the podcast?

Classroom space is changing, and probably not in the way you think.

This conversation of space doesn’t mean the room, or an area, but more so in the way a classroom is set up. The traditional way of students facing teachers, and teachers leading the classroom isn’t out quite yet, but it should be.

Most of the panelists agreed that a teacher leading a classroom is old news, and should be phasing out. Instead, the students should be changing the environment to have their own creative space, and they should be able to rearrange themselves. A teacher’s role should be more of a guide, that allows students the flexibility to work in their own space. Learning environments affect how people learn, and how students learn the content you are teaching.

“Let wi-fi bleed out of the school walls”

Teachers an help students with available access. One of the best tips from Kyle Brumbaugh was this idea: teachers can go to yelp, google places in the area with free wifi, create a spreadsheet of the places, and using google maps, find the exact locations. From there the list can be given to your students, virtually, or non-virtually. This list of free wifi can benefit students to give them access to tech as much as possible. The learning doesn’t have to stop in the classroom.

You shouldn’t want to make learning frictionless.

Steve Ritter made a great point. Aspects of learning should be frictionless; however, “frictionless is not always the goal”. An overarching theme of students should understand a struggle, and shouldn’t always get the right answer right away is beneficial. A new buzzword that is hot right now is the idea of “desirable difficulties“. Students should work with the problem and stick with it. A struggle to learn is a part of how you learn.

“Email is for old people”. 

Is what one student told Cary Matsuoka, (a superintendent) as he touched on the point of communication, and how it is one of the biggest complaint he hears. “We need to think about different tools, as email is on the way out.” Right now, figuring out different communication environments is a hot topic. Emails are becoming less and less popular.

There will always be difficulties of critical thinking assessment. 

“How do we measure students success?” Michelle Spencer asked. Well, a great point was made: assessment of critical thinking doesn’t have to be a test, or understanding what students know or don’t know. A great example, a typical workplace works on projects to get to an attainable goal, the same should go for students.  Too much assessment on over night homework, and end of chapter assessment are poor ways to measure critical thinking.

To really measure student success, you have to look at the student work, and look at what your student produced. Focus not on the outcome, but the effort. A finished product demonstrates critical thinking. Focusing on the effort is most beneficial.

What are your thoughts on these takeaways? Agree or disagree with any of them? Listen to the podcast, here. And let me know your thoughts!