The power of creative explanations

The Higgs Boson Explained from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Just take 8 minutes out of your busy day and watch this awesome explanation of The Higgs Bosun and what they’re up to over at the Large Hadron Collider. For those of us who are constantly trying to find ways to celebrate clever-endeavour and the joy of intelligent curiousity, this creative and engaging animation is a pretty good way to start.

Just imagine the discussions that could stem from this…

Joyous!

Enhancing the flow of learning through ‘Phased Disclosure’

(https://foursquare.com/sachab/list/northern-line)

Those of you who know me will know what a hopelessly visual-biased learner I am.  I adore the way we can communicate complex ideas in a multi-layered way through a simple illustration, shape or diagram. The popularity of info-graphics and data visualisations reflect an increased interest in communicating ideas and messages in an easily accessible format.  More on this in a post to follow, but visual representations or pictorial short-hand are by no means new or unfamiliar.

I was watching the BBC documentary series ‘The Tube’ recently and episode 5 included a great piece on the work of Paul Marchant who is Head of Product Design at Transport for London.  He gave a fascinating explanation of how the signage throughout the whole London Underground system is designed.  The signs are deliberately designed so as to give just the right amount of information at the right time as you travel through the system to get to the right train.  Not only that, but the information is deliberately designed according to the best distance to be able to read it, so the size of the lettering (the ‘X heights’) is meticulously calculated to give people enough time to read the information whilst still keeping them flowing through the system.

In his piece to camera, he explained that without the signage, the commuter wouldn’t be able to make their individual decisions at the specific point that they needed which would result in an interruption to the flow of the system, which would then start to back up.  The signage enables the system to work more efficiently.”People think this just happens…” he said, but the process that underpins how to increase the efficiency in the flow of commuters through the system is very deliberate indeed.  As you would expect, this made me think about learning design…

He used a great phrase for the design principles he uses, “Phased Disclosure”.

It made me think that if we were to apply theses same principles to how we deisgn learning, I wonder if we could increase the flow of learning in lessons?

So here’s an enquiry question: “How do I increase the flow, and therefore quality of learning through my lesson design?”

And my initial thoughts on what success could look like…

1. More opportunities for quality reflection and reduction of interruptions (by teacher and learner)

2. Greater autonomy for learners to make choices (select from the 4 T’s of Autonomy: TEAM: who they work with; TIME: when they get the work done, TECHNIQUE: how they work and TOPIC: what they work on) that will lead to an increase in choices offered and improved decision-making

3. Higher levels of sustained engagement by all learners, working at their own pace and leading their own learning

I’ve had a first go and aligning the ‘flow’ of a commuter through the underground system that Paul Marchant explained to the flow of learning.  I’d be interested to hear what you think:

(1) ALL OPTIONS DISPLAYED: Go through the gate line – graphic representations of all possible travel options that are available to you (BIG PICTURE & the WHY, HOW and WHAT of learning*)

*See Simon Sinek’s great TEDx Talk about this model and his website and book “Start with the Why?”

(2) DECISION MAKING POINT: colour coded, suspended signs indicate the route to follow for the desired choice of tube line (AUTONOMY & INDEPENDENCE: 4 T’s of CHOICES: TIME, TECHNIQUE, TEAM, TOPIC*)

*Daniel Pink talks about the ‘Four T’s’ in his brilliant TED Talk (also well worth a watch in animated form in the RSA Animate series) and he has written about motivation in “Drive”

(3) REASSURANCE: as you move down the escalator, there are larger suspended signs that everybody moving down the escalator can read as they descend towards the platforms. These reinforce the information you already have and reassure you that they you moving in the right direction (QUESTIONING & FEEDBACK: LEARNER-TO-TEACHER)

(4) DECISION MAKING POINT: colour coded again and suspended, these provide you with options of northbound or southbound pltaforms (REFLECTION & RESILIENCE: PROGRESS & INTELLECTUAL RISK-TAKING)

(5) BIG PICTURE: as you walk onto your platform, you can check that you are heading the right way for this part of your journey by looking at large static ‘maps’ of the tube route on your desired line, in the direction you have opted. (REFLECTION, ADAPTATION, AMENDMENT & SUCCESS CRITERIA)

This is all very early days in my thinking, but I wonder if this gives us another way to look at how and why) we need to personalise and differentiate?

Perhaps we should be thinking about learning as ‘phased disclosure’? But exactly who gets to do the disclosure is the next challenge…

Harnessing learning power through video


We (a collection of ambitious educators including the marvellous Jim Smith author of “The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook”) ran a student conference in 2008 with 100 students from 10 secondary schools. Their task over the two day residential was to ‘RE-BRAND LEARNING’. Above is just one of the outcomes from one group. Bear in mind, this was a group of learners who hadn’t met each other before the conference and came from very different schools and backgrounds. Yet when it came to learning, they were pretty clear about what they wanted…

The new site launched earlier this month by TED-ED has a call-out for videos to inspire learning and learners in the true spirit of www.TED.com. As you know, I’ve put together TEDucation which attempts to use the wealth of ideas from all the TED talks to reflect on and adapt to learning contexts. This project is a natural next step for TEDsters across the globe. There’s a place to engage through the TED-ED forum and a growing number of questions to respond to.

So, if nothing else, the TED-ED video opportunity could be a fabulous student project, and it could be very naturally linked to the amazing work of the #purposed team (@purposeducation).

“Make your own short film about what YOU think is the purpose of education.” and upload it to a global audience. Now THERE’S an opportunity for some awesome learning.

How we learn (VIDEO) from www.born-to-learn.org

I read John Abbott (@21learn)’s book, “Over-schooled but undereducated” a while ago now and have kept up with the 21st Learning Initiative (@iwasborntolearn) with interest. This animation (the first of a series) is the latest in a new suite of projects they’re launching. It’s definitely worth a watch and sharing with staff and parents and carers to generate discussion. They are launching a website on 28th March at www.born-to-learn.org to accompany the video projects. 

 

Blooming marvellous!

I love Twitter! I have so much to thank it for. Not least, for the fact that it has connected me with so many amazing people, their inspirational ideas, resources and on-going support. Today, I am particularly grateful for my connection with Cristina Milos @surreallyno and her wonderful blog “ateacherswonderings”. Cristina teaches in an IB school in Romania and she is whole-heartedly committed to engaging her own creative powers to grow the creative powers of her pupils.

Today, after Cristina had commented on a TEDucation post I’d just published, I followed a link to her blog, and came across this great book that she had come across on Storybird by the amazing janeh271 (if you click on her name, you’ll get to see her other great works – well worth a read!). It  explains Bloom’s taxonomy in the most engaging & accessible way. I hope you enjoy it and can use it. Thank you Cristina, thank you Twitter and my Personal Learning Network. A good day to be connected today.

It’s all about learning…

Every link is a new idea (New video from Michael Wesch)

Not only applicable to university, but to all phases of education. Michael Wesch (@mwesch) is the originator of “A Vision of Students Today”, which went viral a few years ago and if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a watch as a staff meeting.

Here are six minutes of his latest insight worth reflecting on…enjoy. I love the concept of  ‘peer production’ as a ‘movement’, resulting from Web 2.0 opportunities for knowledge construction.


Creatively, science needs to catch up with art

I’ve been doing a load of work on creative learning and thinking and, parallel to this, some research and development into the inter-relationship between curriculum subjects. If you ever want to demonstrate the absolute need for cross-curricular projects and for collaboration between subject experts, external visitors from professional fields, here’s a fantastic TEDx video from Charles Limb for you. (thanks to @limeandginger for tweeting it to me)

The questions he ends with (as all good scientists should end with questions rather than answers, shouldn’t they?!) are as follows:

What is creative genius?

Why does the brain seek creativity?

How do we acquire creativity?

What factors disrupt creativity?

Can creative behaviour be learned? 

Now there’s some excellent enquiry questions to get stuck into…