Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Beginning of the New Year: A Learning Discovery Escapade


The holiday break was very well needed and appreciated, and allowed for me to personally and professionally take a break from my education strategist job and relax with some amazing educational research articles to read- as they have been sitting on the back burner for a few months. Some topics of interest that have caught my interest and full attention is the most recent case studies on our student learning population of Generation Z. Yes, these are the kiddos born from 1995 -2010, and these are the young adults now entering the majestic years of college for the first time or are deeply engaged in a full-time job as their new career.

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Did you now that these Gen Z students are completely different than Gen Y? Yet many of our k12 educators, and university professors are still teaching to the knowledge base of Gen Y, and have not caught up to the new learning needs and student interest of this dynamic population. Everything they are learning is through a multi-sensory and multi touch interactions focused on snackable chunks of content broken down into bite size pieces. The learning experience is immersed in touch if not multi-touch with smaller devices, 8 second attention spans, tinkering and making to discover through a new way of learning. And best yet, they want to own it- they want their voice to be heard- they want to explain their reasoning of understanding, they want choice in their learning experiences, and they will not settle for the standard quo.

Most Gen Z students are dedicated to the learning process, persistent in finding a new solution, and are ok with failing, as they realize they will have another chance of trying a gain and making the end results so much better. They are the true pioneers of their time- and I am an active observer to soak up this learning moments from their experiences. Yes, I can truly learn from this younger generation of students to forge ahead, challenge my thinking, change up my facilitation style and delivery to better prepare our future educators and veteran educators for this dynamic learning journey. CHANGE IS GOOD!
To showcase my new adventures and new gained understandings, I kicked off my new year with diving into some new opportunities of online and face to face workshops. Currently I am immersed in the new Apple Teacher Digital Badge Program with refreshing my Apple and Mac skills while rediscovering new learning opportunities to meet the iOS need of educators and students that I work with daily. I am also very curious to see how the every changing face of the iOS and creative app deployments and devices are capturing student and adult learners attention with personalized learning opportunities with a student-centered approach. I am also particularly interested in the new Swift Playground that Apple is providing with a STEM approach which focuses on coding and programming, and can’t to see how this will jump start and revitalize the focus of STEM in the K12 teaching and learning space.

I also attended and actively participated in a Design Thinking face-to-face workshop at Standford University the first week of the new year, to strengthen my background knowledge on design thinking strategies to better prepare me personally and professional of how I approach solving problems, being more observant and present as an empathetic listener to focus on a human-centered approach to actively place myself in another person’s shoes, to better understand when they are explaining their reasoning. Many tips and strategies were shared from IDEO facilitators of how to be a more empathetic
listener and active reflector- loved it! Then as we continued - we ultimately brainstormed ideas as a collaborative quad team to solve a problem while designing a new creative solution that focused on improvement, efficiency, productivity and high creative- using the “and” not “but” strategy. These savory bite size chunks of learning in this course resonated with me as a perfect fit to meet the needs of today’s Gen Z students and many of our adult learners. My brain dendrites were truly firing off in my head like a July fireworks show. MY brain was happy with this type, style and work flow of learning.
Many of you know I am very passionate about STEM in K12 education. Through my professional deliveries with my own Innovative Educator Consulting company (IEC Network) these past 8 years I have designed and delivered a multitude of STEM related courses and workshops with my IEC teammates, and edtech focused keynotes. STEM is the game changer for Gen Z. It provides our students of today the opportunity to critically think, problem solve, verbally reason, try and fail again and again through multiple learning opportunities. It truly meets the demands of those short attention spans with instant engagement and challenging motivation activities, while filling the learning hunger pains of perfect bite size snackable content chunks.
This STEM inquiry led me down a virtual path of research during my past few weekends by finding the most interesting STEM, mobile learning tools and creative assessment strategies for today’s students. Here are my most recent discoveries of learning to inspire more opportunities for choice and voice in your classroom while igniting learning passions with your students and colleagues.

Baamboozle - game based learning
DocentEdu  - creating snackable content chuck activities
Edji - emoji writing and reflection engagement
        Lets Recap - personalized video assessment tool/feedback
        What’s Your Learning Style                                             
        What Kind of Educator Are You?                                            
        What Kind of Super Hero Are You