Yesterday I received an excellent post from SHIFT E-Learning. The illustration really stood out to me. Perhaps I’m a little bit biased – it backs up my previous post perfectly.
Click the image to check out the article for yourself.
We can give students random points of information or knowledge, but until they make connections between these points they will not be able to apply them efficiently. The post on SHIFT suggests that teachers need to provide experiences for their students that will help them to make these connections.
Applying this idea in your classroom
You may be teaching an online course or be in another educational setting but this concept applies to all of them. I showed in my most recent post how I support my students to activate their prior knowledge. This is one step towards helping my students connect old and new knowledge. There are other strategies for achieving this and often getting your students to move between the first image (random seemingly unrelated and completely unorganised points) to the second (various facts and information linked to experience). Here are a few strategies that help students to make these connections and you will probably find you are already using some of these.
- Use Google Your Brain at the beginning of the lesson to see what students already know about a topic and revisit the “Google” questions to help students to use the new knowledge to fill in any gaps they had at the beginning of the lesson.
- Provide some information to solve a problem and then ask the students to have a go at solving the problem. Once students have had a chance to apply this information, debrief and help students to reflect on the experience.
- Create a game/ activity that involves matching different ways of presenting the same information OR matching real world examples/ situations to the new knowledge they have.
- Present a problem first and ask students to solve it using their current knowledge and skills. After a short time – whether the problem is solved or not – provide students with the new knowledge/ skills that could be applied to the problem and then give them another chance to tackle the problem using what they have just learned.
- Use role plays at the beginning and end of a learning activity which allows students to tune in to a new concept and then reflect on what they have learned.
- Ask students to create something using the new knowledge or skill and explain the process they used.
- Outline two very different situations and ask the students to apply their new knowledge of skill to both situations. Alternatively, you could ask students to compare these situations using attributes that are relevant to the new concept.
See, I told you that you were already doing some of these things.
Experience (learning through doing) is better than Lectures (learning through listening or even reading) when you want students to both remember and apply your topic. Reading and Listening are important tools for learning but whatever is read or listened to needs to have an application or experience linked to it for it to be easily accessed later.