Crucial Thought Rss

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Chris selected as K12OnlineConference keynote speaker Each year the K12OnlineConference provides tremendous professional development for free, and entirely online. This year, they have selected me as one of their keynote speakers. I am thrilled to have been chosen and look forward to participating in the conversation. Read the full post announcing all the keynote speakers here.

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Two quick links on Cognitive Load Theory I've been fielding lots of questions lately about Cognitive Load Theory. Here are two quick links that may be useful. First is an article talking about the practical implications of CLT on the design of learning. The second are some "recent" (as of 2003) developments regarding CLT. Happy reading! Update: I clarified the second...

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Practical advice on kids and Android app development After hearing about my students' success developing an Android app, I've gotten several emails asking for more details as to how I practically worked with my kids. Here are some pointers that I offered to the first person that emailed me, perhaps they are of some use to you. Please note that your mileage may vary. It's ok to not be...

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Publishing an App Inventor app to the Android Market As I mentioned earlier, my students and I published an Android app to the Android Market. See those links for more information on the background. This post is decidedly technical. First, once we finished the coding process, we packaged the app for to download to the computer. This is an option in App Inventor. This downloaded an .apk file....

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Designing and publishing an Android app with kids This post is designed to provide some context around how/why we decided to build this app. The more technical details of the code and how we published it will come in a future post. My students and I recently completed and published an Android app, and here's how we did it. First, the genesis for this goes back to a question I asked...

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Learning Styles do not exist (according to Dan Willingham)

Category : Academics

Take a look at this video by Professor Dan Willingham.

Then tell me what you think. Is he right? I pretty much happen to think so.

Comments (9)

In the interest of accurate science I get the point and accept that the absolutes pointed to by learning theories are not sound conclusions. Yes, good teaching is good teaching…However I think that learning theories have served a purpose. They have helped us to find a wider variety of techniques for presenting material and encouraged us to provide the “one more example”.

Teaching is more dynamic, more diverse and I think more interesting because we have encountered this idea. I also do not think that many teachers hold to the absolutes that the ‘science” may suggest. We expect and encourage the use of all senses by all students.

So my next question is what does the science say about multi-modal learning?

Two things struck me as I watched this video once, I probably should watch it at least once more.

One, he seems to be talking specifically about learning factual, rote information, that requires rote memorization. Is that the “learning” we are promoting in our classrooms?

Two, his final conclusion will be used to continue perpetuating the “one size fits all” approach which does NOT benefit students.

Wonder what he would say about Universal Design for Learning which advocates using multiple methods of engagement, representation and expression in our classrooms? (

So does that mean that since I learned about this concept through a YouTube video that I am a visual learner? :)

I have always questioned the theory of “visual” vs. “auditory” (and/or “kinesthetic”) but have accepted the theory – as has most of the population, according to the video.

In fact, I have even labeled myself as a visual learner – but I know that I also need hands-on experience with some things that I am trying to learn (how to create spreadsheets in Excel, for example).

If nothing else, this video is making me rethink whether I am a visual learner :)

I have always loved analogies – because the comparison helps me understand new concepts in relation to other concepts I know. Or it gets me to consider new ways to think of a known (to me) concept.

Students do need variety in the ways that information is presented. So, if as Barbara said, the whole learning styles theory has encouraged teachers to find new ways to present material, then it has helped teaching in general.

I strongly believe, though, that actual hands on experience with concepts is the best way to ensure understanding. (Which is why we always include practice with material before testing.)

Glad to see these distinctions made. I’ve wondered, earlier, about whether learning styles proponents are referring to the mode of input or to the character of the information, whether a “visual learner” is one who processes any kind of information best if the information is fed through the eye, so to speak, or whether a visual learner is one for whom intrinsically visual information (such as a graph, a picture) is much more accessible than other forms of the same information. If a blind person studies a map by tactile means, the person is studying essentially visual information kinaesthetically – but if this blind person prefers the map to a verbal description of which cities are closer to which, is she then a visual rather then a verbal learner? The learning styles concept is, I think, very unclear and ambiguous.

Hi, kind of late with this comment, but in response to Karen’s comment, I used examples that would be quick to describe and easy to understand in the video, but in the real research studies researchers tried to make materials as similar to classroom materials as possible.

Learning Styles. Take it or leave it. Believe it or not. Teaching is teaching. A teacher can be great and great by designing their craft through the paradigm of learning styles. A teacher can teach to the needs of a student, regardless of learning styles.

However, one thing that I would caution against is the thinking that learning styles define the students. That the student is just the one, or a few and incapable of using the other styles.

I had some former students visit me one day after school and tell me that they did a survey in class and found out their learning styles. One student said she was visual and that all of her learning should be visual. I hope this was not the intention of the teacher. True, if you hold to the belief of learning styles, you will have a dominant one (mine would be visual), but that does not mean that you cannot use the others or that the others will not work on you.

In fact, if the others do work, then they are simply compliments to the one main one. In that way, they are all avenues to learning and should not be delineate, boxed, given a nice name, and pushed as the one way.


Check out this post on the same topic.
What do you think?