Quest-based Learning


Perceval and the quest for the Grail
Quest-based learning (QBL) is an instructional theory that uses elements of game design and learning communities to support student choice while still operating within the context of a standards-based curriculum.

Many educators and many schools at all levels are uncomfortable moving away from a top-down approach to information acquisition. So, QBL may bee seen as moving out of many comfort zones.

Some game-based feedback tools - not games - like experience points, progress bars, badges, and achievements are motivating and meaningful to students.

Rather than design courses via textbook learning and lectures, QBL classes require students to select quests and progress at their own pace through a series of educational activities. This may remind educators of project-based learning or problem-based learning, but the unique element is the self-selection part of the design.

Quests are often online learning activities that address the core of the subject matter. These might be an audio podcast, a short video or collaborating online with classmates in discussion or composing.

For me, the most important thing is not putting the quest-based learning label on the pedagogy, but the inclusion of the QBL elements in course design.

In a white paper by Chris Haskell (Boise State University), he explains that QBL lesson design "focuses on an individualized and flexible curricular experience. In QBL, students can select activities, called quests, rather than assignments in a fixed linear order. Students leverage choice to promote engagement rather than waiting for a due date.”

Hands might be raised immediately to question how autonomy over what and when to learn would have any effect on academic achievement. Haskell and a colleague implemented an experimental QBL curriculum with pre-service teacher candidates in 2010 and they found “93% of students using this approach reached the winning condition, described as receiving a course grade of ‘A’ . . . the average completion time was reduced from 16 weeks to 12 ½ weeks with one student completing [the course] in just four.”

It's interesting that this experiment started in higher ed and is being moved down to K-12, since much innovation in teaching and pedagogy moves up from the lower grade levels.

Will this quest lead to a holy grail for teaching? No. there is no grail. It's all in the journey.

This post also appears at Serendipity35

To Retweet or Not To Retweet


I read a post titled "Preserve Peace of Mind on Twitter by Disabling Retweets" and started to wonder how much peace of mind I might preserve by doing this tech tweak of tweets.

I have a few friends who have been trying "no tech days" or "no social media" weekends. I don't do any longterm unplugging unless I'm on vacation and have lost the connection. I do deliberately leave the phone behind sometimes on walk in the woods or dates with my wife. But sometimes I want the phone camera to record things and sometimes I upload those pictures or announce my location or activities.

Retweets (RT) on Twitter (to repost someone else’s tweet to your own followers) and Shares and Likes on Facebook and other social networks are a big part of the social experience.

As the article points out, retweets can promote community and boost the reach of stories (including your own) and point you to new people.

But there are people who seem to retweet a lot more than say anything original. To be kind, I could say that they are helping to filter things of interest for you from the landslide of things out there. But retweeting is also a spammish way to try to gain followers (along with following everybody you can find).

You can disable retweets from a particular account without unfollowing the account and still get their original tweets. Some people do that using a Twitter client (like Tweetbot) and you can do it in Twitter (more details in that article).

But should you?

MOOC: The Seven Year Itch


I am looking forward to speaking at NJEDge.Net's 15th Annual Faculty Showcase on March 28, 2014.

Last year, I spoke about Massive Open Online Courses just ahead of teaching one myself. That was "Academia and the MOOC" which was offered with NJEDge.Net through Canvas Network last spring.

This year I will be back as the lunch plenary and I'm calling my talk "MOOC: The Seven Year Itch" since the MOOC is now 7 years old.

If 2012 was the "Year of the MOOC", then what happened in 2013 - and what will become of the MOOC in 2014?

I will give an update on the past year in Massive Open Online Courses and a sense of how they are really impacting education and training.

The morning speaker is Dr. Erin Templeton an Associate professor of English at Converse College and a fellow lover of poetry. But for this audience, it is more that she is a regular contributor to The Chronicle of Higher Education blog, ProfHacker.

The Faculty Showcase is all about best practices from member institutions and is targeted to educators from K-12, higher education, institutional research, and healthcare-related teaching as an opportunity to show their work to NJ colleagues. The event features presentations and posters on technology-mediated instruction.

Event information at njedge.net/activities/facultyshowcase/2014/ 

"Jersey Shore" Gone Wilde


What if the characters of Broadway's The Importance of Being Earnest (2011) traveled through a time warp and woke up on the beach with Snooki and the gang of MTV's Jersey Shore?

The cast puts 'Jersey' in the mouths of Oscar Wilde's famed Britons. Think of it as a comedy of bad manners.

Part 1 in a multi-part series is this video, "Jersey Shore" Gone Wilde presented by cast in this video series created for Playbill by 'Earnest' stars Santino Fontana and David Furr.