Friday Round-Up

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Khan Academy: Learning Habits vs. Content Delivery in STEM Education
This piece was written by the principal and math teacher at Oakland Unity High School in Oakland, CA. In 2010 most students needed to take remedial algebra when entering freshman year. Many were also not passing the state examinations. Improvement was made in remedial classes but the school noticed many of the issues persisted because students were disengaged in class and had no interest in their work. (This behavior stemmed from years of struggling in math, eventually students became discouraged. They were still passed through grade levels even though they had not achieved proficiency.) Last year the school began Khan Academy. The results have been very positive. Since implementation the students complete their work and pay attention. The school attributes it to the fact that the Khan Academy videos meet learning needs. Students can’t copy or guess multiple choice responses and they can go back and watch the videos over and over again for understanding. I was really impressed with the results this school is seeing. Khan Academy and ShowMe are two examples of open educational resources, and I really am happy to see what a positive effect these open resources are having on students who have previously struggled.

 The 10K BA Degree – Good, Bad, Worthy?
A few round-ups ago I shared an article on Texas and it’s plan to offer $10,000 bachelors degrees in certain fields. This piece, written by Justin Marquis Ph.D. for onlineuniversities.com, gives a much more comprehensive explanation of how Texas plans to fund these degrees, and the conversations that have sprung out of this decision. Some questions include, can 10k provide a valuable education? And considering the student loan debt crisis, are $10,000 degrees the future of continuing education? I’m excited to see the possibilities this affordable degree can bring to the table.

Do Students Know Enough Smart Learning Strategies?
We all know that students need to understand what they learn in school to excel. But in this article we learn the importance of students understanding how they learn. Australian researchers took a group of students and asked them questions about their metacognition, understanding of how they learn and what strategies they take to learn. They discovered the students that already practiced learning strategies (discussing what they read with someone, asking themselves key questions about the material they learn, etc) did significantly better than students that simply read or listened to material. I really like this article because of the many questions it lists that can help us improve our own metacognition.

Why Bilinguals Are Smarter
This article takes into account various studies done on people of various ages, from infants to the elderly, comparing people who are bilingual to monolingual individuals. There findings are impressive across the board. Bilinguals typically have improved executive brain function, are better at ignoring distractions, and are even more resistent to dementia as they grow older. It’s time for me to learn a new language!

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