Learning on the Edge: Classroom Activities to Promote Deep Learning.

The explosion of educational technologies in the past decade or so has led everyone to wonder whether the landscape of higher education teaching and learning will be razed and reconstructed in some new formation. But whatever changes might occur to the learning environments we construct for our students, the fundamental principles according to which human beings learn complex new skills and information will not likely undergo a massive transformation anytime soon. Fortunately, we seem to be in the midst of a flowering of new research and ideas from the learning sciences that can help ensure that whatever type of approach we take to the classroom—from traditional lecture to flipped classes—can help maximize student learning in our courses.

One fascinating implication of this growing body of research for me has been a greater awareness of the edges of a traditional class. Environmental biologists have dubbed landscapes that sit on the edge of two different ecosystems (such as a forest and a grasslands environment) an ecotone. These spaces are known for having rich biological diversity, because they can support creatures from both sides of the ecotone, and encourage mixing between the bordering zones. The especially rich nature of the ecotone has also become known as the “edge effect.”

The ecotone of a traditional college class would be the first and last few minutes of the class session, when students are walking in the door from their busy lives outside of the classroom—coming from meals with friends, from exercise or sports activities, from socializing either in person or through their phones—and entering this more formal learning space. Too often these first and last minutes of class are frittered away with administrative details, hurried reminders about due dates or admonitions about upcoming assignments. But what if we saw those ecotones of the classroom exactly as we saw them in the natural world—as especially rich and fertile periods, ones in which we can begin and end the process of promoting deep learning for our students?

by : James M. Lang, PhD

Read more @: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/learning-edge-classroom-activities-promoting-deep-learning/#sthash.HjPAAj6F.dpuf

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