Growing and Learning with Mobile Infographic

While educators have been busy trying to understand and teach to Millennials and Generation Y over the past several years, a new generation of mobile natives has been growing in the background. Generation Z, which includes those born after 1995, now fills our K-12 classrooms, and they’ve brought their mobile habits with them. The Growing and Learning with Mobile Infographic will give you a better understanding of the Generation Z students, including the role mobile devices play in their home and school lives.

Mobile Trends around the World

Studies show that, by the year 2017, the percentage of smartphone users in the US will reach 80 percent – triple the percentage of users we saw in 2011. In the UK, this number is set to reach slightly more than 80 percent, while in China and India, the percentages are set to rise at a slower rate. Globally, mobile learning is growing at a rate of 18.2 percent per year, suggesting that learning organizations will need to adopt appropriate technologies in order to keep up with growing demand.

Mobile in the Classroom

Today’s middle schoolers use mobile devices for everything from checking grades to writing papers. Of those students using mobile devices:

  • 78% use devices to check grades
  • 69% to take notes
  • 56% to access text books
  • 64% to write papers
  • Teachers are also on the move, with 35% using a tablet or e-reader in class in 2013, up 20% from 2012.

Impact on Student Achievement

Studies show that standardized test results are higher in classes where students have access to mobile devices. In one case, test scores of low-income students climbed as much as 30 percent after being given access to smartphones – an increase attributed to the fact that students were able to keep connected with teachers and classmates, even while at home.


Active Learning

The traditional teaching method of giving a lesson at the front of the class puts you, the teacher, in an active position but leaves students in a passive role, where they are taught to but don’t interact with the material as much they should. In fact, Edudemic reported that teachers do 80 percent of the talking in class. This format can quickly cause students to become bored and disengaged—students that aren’t engaged have a higher rate of failing. When you use technology, however, the classroom becomes an active space, where you can interact with students and be more hands on. These active, technology-rich classrooms are often referred to as Active Learning Classrooms, and because of their many benefits, they've become a popular option for college professors in recent years.

You don’t have to rewrite your entire curriculum or individual lessons. Instead, take a look at what you've already prepared and consider how you can supplement with technology.

Creating an active learning environment is also a valuable opportunity for teachers of younger students, who have keep a whole class of inattentive students focused and interested.

While some teachers choose to rearrange their classroom to make them more student-focused, the simple addition of a few tech tools can make immense improvements for you and your students. See how simple it is to make this happen for your classroom.

Classroom Design (The Non-Tech Portion)

Some teachers like to rearrange their classrooms to make it more conducive to the active learning experience. In these classrooms you’ll commonly see one podium in the center of the room and round tables or desks that are placed together in a circular shape.

“This classroom design enables instructors to spend a few minutes guiding the whole class from the center of the room, and then quickly transition students into collaborative work without needing to reconfigure the furniture or organize students into groups,” according to Tech Basics for Active, Collaborative Learning. 

However, it’s important to note that this is not a critical aspect of active learning; you can facilitate this learning experience without rearranging your classroom. If you want to ease into it, consider the following four steps.

Step 1: Assess Student Objectives

Before introducing any new tech tools, it’s important that you consider the learning objectives for your students. You don’t have to rewrite your entire curriculum or individual lessons. Instead, take a look at what you've already prepared and consider how you can supplement with technology in a way that makes the lesson more active. For example:

  • Add an engaging video.
  • Task students with writing responses in a blog post.
  • Use Google Earth to explore a region students are learning about.
  • Connect with another classroom via Skype to further explore an assignment.

Or you can use the following ideas to build entirely new lessons:

Step 2: Consider the Learning Curve

Before implementing the tool in your classroom, it’s important that you learn how to use it. Not only will this make you more confident, but it will give you an idea of what kind of learning curve your students will have with the tool. For example, perhaps after setting up your teacher blog you know right away that there are a few students who will struggle with understanding the tool at first.

In this case, plan for a more personalized learning experience where you work closer with those struggling students on the first day to ensure everyone is on the same page later in the lesson.

Step 3: Introduce it to Your Students

Introduce any new tools just like you would a lesson or theme. Prepare any extra materials you’ll need, compile important resources, and create samples if necessary. This is the process Nicole Long, a secondary language arts teacher, used when she first introduced Skype in her classroom:

“For the first [Skype] session I compiled a list of resources and added them to the sheet; these resources provide tips on how to navigate Google Maps, a World atlas and a map of different time zones, among others—this is a helpful resource for students to prepare for every session. Try to keep this resource simple to encourage students to engage their own research as well,” says Long.

Consider what resources, tips and documents you’ll need for the specific tool you’re using.

Step 4: Reassess

Take a look at the progress you’ve made since introducing this new technology. Tools likeInside MathematicsWhooo’s Reading, or an LMS will provide you with data about student improvements. Read through this information to determine if students have made any gains that you can attribute to that technology. If so, you can use this as leverage to get the school to pay for paid tools.

An active learning environment is more effective for students and gives you an opportunity to work closer with each student. This increases engagement and excitement, which will make your job easier too!

Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to

Steps to Create the Conditions for Deep, Rigorous, Applied Learning

Many school administrators, teachers and parents want the education provided to children to be high quality, rigorous and connected to the world outside the classroom. Teachers are trying to provide these elements in various ways, but a group of schools calling themselves the “Deeper Learning Network” have codified some of what they believe are essential qualities of deep learning (check out how students lead parent teacher conferences in this model).

Some of these qualities include learning designated content, critical thinking, communication skills, collaborating effectively and connecting learning to real-world experiences.


Learn more:

Social Learning Is More Than Just Social Media: Crafting An Effective Strategy

Australia and the United States are the two most individualistic countries in the world. From the time we enter formal schooling, we are expected to forge our own academic paths and pursue individual careers, occasionally crossing paths with others but always keeping our own best interests in mind. But in a world of increasing complexity and interdependence, we can no longer afford “to go our own way.” Informal learning may have already become a social phenomenon, but formal education has a lot of catching up to do–and quick.

One way of explaining this individualistic spirit is to say that many Western cultures still have a “Lockean” attitude emphasising individual freedom and the pursuit of individual affluence above all else. Our founders may have assumed that the freedom of individuals to pursue their own ends would be tempered by a “public spirit” and concern for the common good that would shape its social institutions.

But social scientists say that public spirit has been dwindling since the 1960s. One study, featured in USA Today in 2012, analysed how often certain words and phrases appear in written language from year to year. Co-author and psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University says it is yet another indication that U.S. society since 1960 has become increasingly focused on the self. Her findings show nuances in different aspects of individualism.

“There’s an emphasis on uniqueness and greatness, and things being personalised for the individual. But it’s not about being independent and standing on your own two feet,” Twenge says. “We got changes we expected in words like ‘unique’ or phrases like ‘I love me.’ We didn’t get them in words and phrases more about independence. It shows the type of individualism that has increased.”

And it’s not just America suffering from this condition. According to the Hofstede Centre, Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Italy are also in the running for “most individualistic country.”

So how did individualism work its way into our education systems?

Developing the Individual

Dr. David H. Hargreaves of the Department of Educational Studies at Oxford University says it all started with Rousseau. The French philosopher’s romantic image of individualism spawned an educational philosophy in Great Britain called “developmental individualism” and society hasn’t looked back since.

“This tradition includes the now widespread belief…that education must be centrally concerned with the growth and development of the individual person,” Hargreaves writes in A Sociological Critique of Individualism in Education. “The child-centered movement in education stemming from the work of Dewey, buttressed by a psychology grounded in Freud or (more often) in Piaget, is merely one floriferous branch of a sturdier tree.”

You don’t have to look far to see evidence of Hargreaves’ theory in the real world. In 2008, the FrameWorks Institute conducted 49 in-depth interviews with Americans from New England and southern California, hoping to get a better picture of the way the public views education. After extensive analysis, they found that an overwhelming majority of participants shared the same three views:

  1. The purpose of education is to serve individuals.
  2. Individuals and families are responsible for educational outcomes, in the form of both successes and failures.
  3. Learning occurs through individual interactions with teachers.

“From a reform perspective,” the authors write, “these three themes present unique challenges for engaging the public in system-level policies. In other words, focusing on individual purposes, responsibility, and interactions diverts attention and crowds out those aspects of education that identify it as a public issue: the collective good, institutional responsibility, and policy-level changes.”

Beyond policy, individualism has become a communication problem as well.

“In the multicultural environment of typical American schools, teachers and educators are challenged by communication problems with both students and parents,” says Gheorghita M. Faitar for College Quarterly. “Very often, the conflict is caused by the use of a different scale of values when the student is educated at home by parents, and in school by teachers. Strong ‘collectivist’ educational approaches, used by many minorities in USA, are not always compatible with the preponderant ‘individualistic’ style of teaching in the majority of American schools.”

Other social learning advocates warn that even online learning can be individualistic in nature. Just because we’re using technology to reach more people doesn’t mean it’s social.

“There has been much talk of the ‘online revolution’ in higher education,” writes Johan Neem for Inside Higher Ed. “While there is a place for online education, some of its boosters anticipate displacing the traditional campus altogether. A close reading of their arguments, however, makes clear that many share what might be called the ‘individualist fallacy,’ both in their understanding of how students learn and how professors teach.”

“These advocates of online higher education forget the importance of institutional culture in shaping how people learn,” he adds. “College is about more than accessing information; it’s about developing an attitude toward knowledge.”

Neem believes there is a difference between being on a campus with other students and teachers committed to learning and sitting at home. “Learning, like religion, is a social experience. Context matters.”

Learning As a Social Experience

Social learning theory arose in the 1960s as an alternative to the behaviorist paradigm that dictated psychology circles at the time. Whereas behaviorists believed that humans learned how to behave through a direct, rewards-and-punishments-based system, social learning theorists proposed that humans could learn indirectly, simply by observing others.

American psychologist Albert Bandura is largely credited with the development of social learning theory as we know it today. Over the course of his career, Bandura undertook innumerable studies showing that when children watch others, they learn many forms of behaviour, such as sharing, aggression, cooperation, social interaction, and delayed gratification.

In Bandura’s classic Bobo Doll experiment, children were exposed to situations in which adults acted aggressively to determine whether they learned from it and played it out themselves.

Each child was first brought into a playroom where there were a number of different activities to explore. The experimenter then invited an adult model into the playroom and encouraged the model to sit at a table and join in the activities. Over a ten minute period, the adult models began to play with sets of tinker toys. In the non-aggressive condition, the adult model simply played with the toy and ignored the Bobo doll for the entire period. In the aggressive model condition, however, the adult models would violently attack the Bobo doll. In addition to the physical aggression, the adult models also used verbally aggressive phrases such as “Kick him” and “Pow.” The models also added two non-aggressive phrases: “He sure is a tough fella” and “He keeps coming back for more.”

After the ten-minute exposure to the adult model, each child was then taken to another room that contained a number of appealing toys including a doll set, fire engine, and toy airplane. However, children were told that they were not allowed to play with any of these tempting toys. The purpose of this was to build up frustration levels among the young participants.

Finally, each child was taken to the last experimental room. This room contained a number of “aggressive” toys including a mallet, a tether ball with a face painted on it, dart guns, and a Bobo doll. The room also included several “non-aggressive” toys, including crayons, paper, dolls, plastic animals, and trucks. Each child was then allowed to play in this room for a period of 20 minutes while raters observed the child’s behavior from behind a one-way mirror and judged each child’s levels of aggression.

What happened? Children exposed to the violent model tended to imitate the exact behavior they had observed, even when the adult was no longer present.

According to Bandura, the violent behavior of the adult models toward the dolls led children to believe that such actions were acceptable. He also suggested that as a result, children may be more inclined to respond to frustration with aggression in the future. The authors also suggested that “social imitation may hasten or short-cut the acquisition of new behaviors without the necessity of reinforcing successive approximations as suggested by Skinner.”

After his studies, Bandura was able to determine three basic models of observational learning:

  1. A Live Model, which includes an actual person performing a behavior.
  2. A Verbal Instruction Model, which involves telling of details and descriptions of a behavior.
  3. A Symbolic Model, which includes either a real or fictional character demonstrating the behavior via movies, books, television, radio, online media and other media sources.

The tenets of social learning theory, inspired by Bandura’s studies, are as follows:

  1. Learning is not purely behavioral; rather, it is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context.
  2. Learning can occur by observing a behavior and by observing the consequences of the behavior.
  3. Learning involves observation, extraction of information from those observations, and making decisions about the performance of the behavior (observational learning or modeling). Thus, learning can occur without an observable change in behavior.
  4. Reinforcement plays a role in learning but is not entirely responsible for learning.
  5. The learner is not a passive recipient of information. Cognition, environment, and behavior all mutually influence each other.

Useful applications of Bandura’s social learning theory have appeared in fields like criminology, developmental psychology, management, media violence, psychotherapy, and educational psychology.

But social learning has evolved far beyond its original parameters. Now, it’s an action-based concept, encouraging onging knowledge transfer and connecting people in a way that makes learning enjoyable. And no, it’s not just a product of social media, although it certainly makes use of it.

The real mission of social learning is to create “a culture of service.”

Read more ...

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Programming Your Brain: The Art of Learning in
Three Steps

From time to time, I run into people who are interested in breaking into programming. Last night at the company holiday party a guy (we’ll call him Sam) walked up and introduced himself, asking for advice on how to move from his current role over to development. Sam’s attitude impressed me – those with a genuine desire to learn go places quickly. And on many occasions I’ve hired someone very green simply because I could sense a genuine interest in the craft and a hunger for knowledge. I’ll take attitude over aptitude.

Obviously, the road to becoming a better developer begins with learning. Everyone learns differently, but I’ve found no better way to learn than watching over the shoulder of someone else, bending the technology to his or her will. That’s why I was so amped to become aPluralsight author. I really believe in the format. Yes, tech books are also a great resource for going in depth. I read Pro C# nearly cover to cover, but not everyone would benefit from this approach. Much falls out of your head with that much breadth over such a short period. That said, learning isn’t hard if you follow a recipe. It’s starts simple enough:

Watch someone

Thus, I personally watch videos or read books and blogs. But I’ve learned that step one isn’t enough, so I quickly follow that up with a real world implementation.

Now, be forewarned that according to National Training Laboratories, the percentages on this diagram have no known source behind them, so take my references to the absolute percentages with a grain of salt. That said, the fact remains that we retain very little of what we hear from others compared to other learning approaches. But what if we practice doing what we just learned? Well that get’s us to a seriously juicy 75% retention rate, baby! So go learn a new tech somewhere using the learning format you prefer. Then pick a topic you’re into. Games, cars, sports, doesn’t matter, and write some basic piece of software related to it. That will help stoke your interest and give you something real life to talk about in an interview. So now, we have a simple two step process:

  1. Watch someone
  2. Try it yourself and experiment

But that’s not the end of the road. As the learning pyramid shows, we learn best by teaching others. So ideally, once you learn something new and have practiced enough to not look like a total idiot, schedule a lunch and learn or share it with someone at work. Justifying your logic will both clarify and solidify your knowledge. It will shine a spotlight on the areas you thought you understood and force you to fill in the gaps. And keep in mind that you don’t have to teach someone in person to benefit from this step. Write a blog post, explain it to your cat, or post your new piece of software to GitHub in hopes of receiving feedback. The act of organizing and justifying your thoughts is the important part for increasing both retention and comprehension. This brings us to the magical three step process for becoming an expert at anything:

  1. Watch someone
  2. Try it yourself and experiment
  3. Teach someone else

Presto. Next thing you know, you’re the senior developer telling other people how bad theircode is! (Yes, everyone gets their turn). And remember, once you’ve built something, anything, you’re no longer merely “learning development” or wanting to “break into development”. You *are* a developer, so sell it. Don’t wait for someone to come pick you. Pick yourself. They can question your methods and your skill level, but no one can say you’re not a developer once you’ve crafted an application with your own hands. Hint: we’re all learning development together. Never apologize for that.

Does this ring true for you? Join the conversations on Hacker News or Reddit.


Some resources for parents and whānau to guide how you can support your child’s learning at home.


Action Learning involves working on real problems, focusing on learning and actually implementing solutions. It is a form of learning by doing.

Pioneered by Professor Reg Revans and developed worldwide since the late 1940s, it provides a well-tried method of accelerating learning which enables people to handle complex issues more effectively.

Action Learning is based on a radical concept: L = P + Q.  Learning requires Programmed knowledge  (i.e. knowledge in current use) plus Questioning insight. It also uses a small group to provide challenge and support: individuals learn best with and from one another as they each tackle their own problem and go on to actually implement their own solution.

The process integrates: research (into what is obscure); learning (about what is unknown); and action (to resolve a problem) into a single activity and develops an attitude of questioning and reflection to help individuals and organisations change themselves in a rapidly changing world.

The approach has been successfully applied to a wide range of situations in industry, commerce and the service sector as well as in other fields of human endeavour across Western and Eastern Europe, North America, Africa, India, China and Australasia.

Specifically it has been used to: tackle strategic problems at board level; help the unemployed start their own businesses; develop skilled managers for new responsibilities; improve productivity in retailing and manufacturing companies; bring about major changes in large organisations and improve services in health and education.

Some of the benefits of Action Learning

Individuals benefit from:

  • Having the opportunity to reflect
  • Practising the postponement of judgement, providing an opportunity for new connections and answers to arise
  • Receiving support and challenge in relation to specific issues
  • Being held accountable for actions and their impact
  • Setting goals, developing options and taking action that would not have been possible working on their own
  • Learning to listen carefully, ask powerful questions and offer ideas, without telling others what to do
  • Learning about group dynamics and how to contribute effectively within a group.

Some of the above is taken from De Haan, Erik (2005) Learning with Colleagues: An Action Guide for Peer Consultation, Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke.

Organisations benefit from:

  • Staff who can listen to, and work with, others
  • People who take responsibility for their actions and the impact of those actions
  • New perspectives on real issues  – often leading to breakthroughs on long-standing issues
  • Enhanced confidence to bring about change
  • Greater self awareness
  • A clearer understanding of how learning occurs
  • Reduced stress

Organisations large and small, including GEC, ICI, Motorola, Texaco, Prudential, Zeneca, Siemens, Lloyds TSB, Littlewoods, the Financial Services Authority, the NHS, water utilities, local authorities and government departments use Action Learning. Business schools, universities and colleges including Henley and Ashridge, the Universities of Lancaster and Manchester and the International Management Centres Association  incorporate Action Learning into their activities.

‘We learn most when faced with a real problem which we are obliged to solve.’ Lord Weinstock, Managing Director, GEC

‘I started this course for the security of a qualification but I found that security in the learning.’ Student on MSc by Action Learning, Manchester Polytechnic

Part 1 - Introduction to Moodle - An Online Classroom (Moodle How To)

How can Moodle change a school (Part 2)

The How Personalized Learning Can Benefit Students Infographic shows how the personalized learning model boosts engagement, achievement, and helps both students and teachers optimize their educational efforts for greater success.

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