Online Learning: Why Libraries Could Be the Key to MOOCs’ Success

Some studies found that about five percent of those enrolled in massive open online courses (known as MOOCs) completed the course. And those who took the courses tended to be more educated already – 70 percent of survey respondents had bachelors degrees and 39 percent identified as teachers or former teachers. Online courses can be a helpful tool for self-sufficient, highly motivated learners with reliable computers and internet at home, but others may need a little more support. For those who haven’t found success using free online courses, Learning Circles might be an answer.

Learning Circles add a social element to what is otherwise a solitary learning experience by bringing people together in person to take an online course together over six to eight weeks, with the help of a facilitator. Librarians at Chicago Public Library (CPL) partnered with the nonprofit Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) to make online education more accessible through this program.

Libraries are a perfect setting for Learning Circles for several reasons: they already serve the local community; they are equipped with meeting spaces; many have computer stations, and most importantly, librarians know how to help people find answers.

“Most people take online classes in solitude and that’s when you put on the headphones,” said James Teng, a CPL librarian at who facilitated a course on public speaking. “Sometimes you feel alone. Learning Circles bring people together to work together and develop teamwork.”

Learning Circles aren’t for everyone; some people prefer a more traditional lecture or feel more comfortable having a content expert who has all the answers. But Learning Circles give participants a community, which does a lot to help with motivation. Librarians said it was important to set expectations at the outset, so they developed a Learning Circles contract.

“You come up with this contract: no cell phones, you’ll pay attention, be respectful of your fellow learners,” said Edson “so it gives them a sense of accountability in that first week. How serious they take it, it depends, but I feel like setting some ground rules in the first week is helpful.”

“Public libraries are often referred to as the people’s university,” said Mark Anderson, director of Learning and Economic Advancement of CPL, at the SXSWEDU conference. Library patrons traditionally come in, find resources, and are left on their own to learn the material. But with the P2PU partnership, funded by a Knight Foundation News Challenge on Libraries grant, Anderson said librarians were able to take a more active role in facilitating learning.

“The idea of working and creating these Learning Circles really helped us move closer to that ideal of being the people’s university to help people progress, with some facilitation on our part,” Anderson said.

Original source – Mind/Shift

Literature, Ethics, Physics: All In Video Games At This School

Two years before the school opened in 2010, principal Lin Holvik was mandated to build a school for the future, and she focused on creating both the physical and curricular space for teachers to experiment with video games.

Video Games at Norwegian SchoolWe have a sociocultural view of learning,” explained Holvik, “and believe in sharing and constructing knowledge together. We also strongly encourage innovation and believe that freedom to fail should be much more emphasized.” And so fittingly, video games have been used to help foster collaboration and an appreciation for the art of failure.

“We have been well aware of and interested in the potential of games in school for a long time,” Holvik added, describing how video games were part of the school’s DNA.

Original Source: MindShift – How we will learn

Coding in the Classroom

One need not look to superstars such as Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates to justify reasons for using code and programming logic in the classroom. There’s plenty of literature that illustrates its positive learning outcomes. Coding in the classroom is linked to improved problem solving and analytical reasoning, and students who develop a mastery of coding have a “natural ability and drive to construct, hypothesize, explore, experiment, evaluate, and draw conclusions.”

But there are other compelling reasons for integrating code in the classroom.

Reasons to Teach Coding

1. Coding is a new type of literacy.

Wired Magazine reported that reading and writing code is the new literacy. Those students who master it are better prepared for a technical revolution that spans cultures and language boundaries. That’s because coding isn’t just a language. It’s a way of thinking about problem solving.

2. Coding is a tool to improve educational equity.

Coding in the classroom is a means of bridging the digital divide. That means more than granting technological access — it’s a way for all students to use technology for creative engagement. Without coding in the classroom, many students in lower socioeconomic communities will miss the opportunities it affords. In fact, Holfeld et al (2008) found that schools in poorer neighborhoods restricted computer use to rote learning rather than using technology for creative engagement. Discouraging a more creative use of technology in the schools creates a butterfly effect. In Washington State, where 93 percent of high schools don’t offer AP computer science, a 2012 study found that out of 1,200 AP computer science students, just 48 were black or Hispanic. By making computer science a required course for high school, especially in lower socioeconomic schools, educational equity and opportunities improve.

3. Coding offers inclusion.

Temple Grandin, author and professor at Colorado State University and an autistic adult, said, “Without the gifts of autism, there would probably be no NASA or IT industry.” Non-profits such as nonPareil are acting on those talents. Created by two parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the organization actively recruits high school students with ASD, trains them in software development, and then places them in IT jobs. The environment, a cross between a school and a company, is a natural segue between high school and the adult workplace.

Knowing there are programs for kids with ASD is good news for parents who shoulder the responsibility. Of those children with ASD who do enter the workforce, nearly 80 percent will be unemployed or underemployed. By teaching coding to students with developmental disabilities, teachers aren’t merely harnessing and developing innate talents. They’re better preparing these kids, making them more marketable and employable in a high-tech economy.

4. Coding can improve neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity, a term that essentially means the brain can change, has assumed a pop-culture status, and any activity linked to it takes on a magical, brain-promoting aspect. While not all activities genuinely classify, in the case of foreign language acquisition, there is evidence. Researchers in Sweden observed visible brain changes in those children and teens who learned a foreign language. Over a three-month period, the brain structure in those who acquired a second language grew, specifically in the hippocampal area (which is involved in learning new material and spatial navigation), and in three areas in the cerebral cortex. Students who “had better language skills than other students, who put in more effort in learning, experienced greater growth.” In another study, Mechelli found that children who acquired a second or third language, even a computer language, showed functional changes in the inferior parietal cortex.

5. Coding improves STEM proficiencies.

Analysts suggest that by 2020, there are expected to be one million more computing jobs than students in the U.S., which could leave an untapped market of $500 billion. Currently, the U.S. is ill prepared to fill these jobs. In one international study across 65 countries, the U.S. ranked 23rd or 24th in most subjects and 27th in math and science. Girls were particularly at a deficit. Forbes Magazine reported, “Women hold nearly half of all jobs in the U.S., but less than 25 percent of all STEM jobs.” By making coding a classroom requirement, educators are better equipping students for this market.

Despite the documented benefits, coding in the classroom is offered in only a smattering of U.S. schools. Less than ten percent offer AP computer science, and students who have access aren’t necessarily being encouraged to pursue programming.

Why the Lack of Emphasis?

Teacher Shortages

Hadi Partovi, founder of, cites lack of trained teachers as the biggest obstacle to getting computer science into the classroom, and software developers have little motivation to shift from the private sector into education. Why teach if the corporate world is far more lucrative? Partovi feels that policy makers and private funders must come together and fund training for teachers in computer science. In the interim, TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) is placing computer scientists in high school classrooms across the country. Their goal is two-fold:

  1. Get computer science education to the students.
  2. Educate teachers in code literacy to make them technically proficient to teach coding.


A report by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows a bias in how teachers perceive abilities of male and female students when it comes to STEM subjects. Researchers found that “when teachers knew the children’s names and identities, they graded the girls lower in math than the outside grader, while scoring the boys higher.” The trend had long-term ramifications. Those girls tracked in the study were less likely to sign up for advanced math, science, and technology courses in high school.

Other Priorities

If computer science isn’t a requirement, why bother changing policies? Currently, 15 states allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation. Private schools have an easier time implementing curricular changes. The problem is in federally funded schools. With tight budgets, public schools are mired in layers of decision making that makes it hard to change curriculum. The key, with the help of corporate sponsors, is to help policy makers see that computer science merits the same weight as math and science prerequisites.

Educators and parents who agree should write to their state’s department of education, and get involved with non-profit organizations such as and companies such as Microsoft who are working to improve digital literacy in the schools. For digital initiatives with the developmentally disabled, nonPareil can partner with schools, and organizations such as TEALS can expose students and teachers to the opportunities that coding in the classroom provides.

Is coding part of your school’s curriculum? Please talk about it in the comments below.

How Teachers and Parents Can Transform Mathematics Learning and Inspire Success

Singapore Maths Tuition

Recently, Professor Jo Boaler released her new book What’s Math Got to Do with It?: How Teachers and Parents Can Transform Mathematics Learning and Inspire Success.

The minute it came out, it became an instant best seller on Amazon. Currently, there are some issues on Math education in the United States, due to the very controversial syllabus called Common Core. Professor Jo Boaler attempts to address these controversies and give suggestions and advice to parents.

I totally agree with Professor Jo’s viewpoint that the first step to engage students in math learning is via practical means and showing them how mathematics is useful and relevant to their lives. Next is to always adopt a “growth mindset”, that no matter how weak or strong a child is in math, it is always possible to improve. Just having this mindset makes a huge difference. I took Prof. Jo Boaler’s online…

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8 Pathways to Every Student Success

Teachers who transform lives understand not only how to teach curriculum, but also how children develop into capable, caring, and engaged adults. They see beyond quantitative measurements of success to the core abilities that help students live healthy, productive lives.

The world has changed dramatically since the early 1900s, yet the same goal remains: scaffolding children toward self-sufficiency. How does this occur today, particularly when test results often seem more important than the development of a child ready to tackle career-life challenges?

TStudent Sucess Compasshe Compass Advantage™ model is a visual, research-based, engaging way for families, schools, and communities to apply the principles of positive youth development. A framework for understanding why kids need these interconnected abilities and how they’re nurtured in different contexts, it’s also a call to act on behalf of children who deserve to live full, meaningful lives beyond external measures of success.

Original Source

Education For Our Generation


I believe its safe to say our generation of youth in secondary schools experience a lack of understanding for respect, discipline, culture, literacy, direction, preparation and guidance. I’m sure people have their own ideas and beliefs within the education system, teaching is a personalised profession. You may choose to be the quiet high expectations type, or the loud assertive type, or just a get the job done to get a nice pay packet at the end of the week.

I can happily say, our current youth have not been brought up to work towards goals. Not to be overly one sided, I speak from a holistic perspective. Many students who attend school have an idea for occupation, or have a goal to work towards tertiary education…Great. I am talking about the other 60-70% of secondary school enrollments. I was laying out my classroom rules, one consequence being “official incident reporting’. Students were…

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