Closing the Loop – Bloom’s Taxonomy and Service Learning at Malone University

Many in academia are familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy of learning. If you are not or need a refresher you can follow the link to wikipedia for a review.

One of the goals of higher education, and more so a liberal arts education, is to move our learners from mere book knowledge into substantive understanding, evaluation, and application of knowledge. In terms of Bloom’s taxonomy we want to move them from the lower levels (knowledge, comprehension, and application) to the higher levels (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation).

Another term (and the title of this post) which can be applied to this concept is “closing the loop” on a learner’s education. We do not settle for just jamming a bunch of facts into your brain. We want our learners to ask, “How does what I am learning affect how I will live and work after I leave Malone?”, “What can I glean from my in class experiences and out of class experiences that shapes who I am and what I am to become?”.

While we, as a university, accomplish “closing the loop” (and since I am mixing metaphors I will also say moving people “up” Bloom’s taxonomy) in a number of ways. I wanted to highlight a specific method that we employ as both a liberal arts school and as a Christian school with a heritage in the Evangelical Friends Church. Our “Service Learning” program begins with the “Into the Streets” program where freshmen go out and help people in the local community. It continues throughout the year we send our students out to minister to local, state, national, and international fields. We keep several people on-staff whose jobs include facilitating these encounters.

Ok, this is a technology blog and I haven’t talked much tech yet so here it comes. Our University Relations office in conjunction with our office of Service Learning has set up blogs for many of the service learning encounters happening this summer. These blogs contain reflections of our students as they are in the field. Here is a listing of the blogs set up for this summer’s trips:

I encourage you to take some time to review them. Some trips are active as I write this post and others have already returned. Think about ways in which you can close the loop for the learners whom you get to work with.


Liver and Onions – Learning from each other through personal success stories

The premise of this post is that people learn easiest/best? from trusted peers telling personal success stories versus “sage-on-the-stage” workshops or classes.

For the many learners who also happen to have terminal degrees on campus, the question can become: “Where and who do I learn from?” One answer to this is from your peers. The community of professional learners which surrounds you on this campus and in the larger circles (Communities of Practice) of which you are each a part.

See the Youtube video (its actually audio only) from Maureen Greenbaum of Union County College in New Jersey about Liver and Onions in England during WWII.

Online Presentation Tools Mashup

This isn’t your father’s PowerPoint. There are a variety of new presentation tools available to learners nowadays. You might even run across some of these in the classes you attend or teach. There are a variety of services which allow a presenter to share their content online. Here are a few of my favorites as well as a couple which are on my “try out someday” list:

  • Google Presentations (this is part of the Google Apps family and can be found in your Google Docs (Malone link | Others)
  • Prezi.com (this is a Flash based presentation tool and is not so much slide based as it is concept map based)
  • officelive.com (cloud service provided by Microsoft which allows you to publish your PowerPoint presentations and other Office documents online)
  • iwork.com (cloud service provided by Apple which allows you to publish your Keynote and other iWork documents online)
  • Slideshare
  • LMS-based sharing of presentations. At Malone this is eCollege/eCompanion. At other places they might use Moodle or Blackboard.

Many of these tools allow you to share to the world or selectively share your presentations to others. Often permissions schemes are set up in three tiers:

  • Share to specific individuals. This is usually done by email address. If they do not already have an account at the service you have chosen, they can sign up for one. This can be a barrier for your presentees for accessing your content.
  • Share with world but only if they have a link. This is limits access to the presentation to only those who have the link to the presentation. I find this level of sharing is good for small presentations or when I am asking for review (RFC: Request For Comments) of a presenation before I publish it to my larger audience.
  • Share with world. This makes your presentation visible and searchable on the Internet.

What is your favorite presentation tool? Why do you like it? Where do you use it?

Other resources:

Use of Cell Phones in the Classroom

There is a very interesting conversation which is taking place in the realm of K-12 about the use (or anti-use) of cell phones in the classroom. It seems many of their, and subsequently our, learners would rather text than talk to one another.  The following post from The Innovative Educator blog over at blogspot cites some strategies for effective use of cell phones for things like backchannel communication, polling, dissemination of information, etc.

Here are George Engel, Rob Griffith, Scott Newcomb, Lisa Nielsen, Jason Suter, and Willyn Webb’s 10 Proven Strategies to Break the Ban and Build Opportunities for Student Learning with Cell Phones. How can these be applied in the realm of Higher Education? How can they be applied at Malone?

If you decide to click through to the blog entry, pay special attention to items 2-6, in my opinion they are more relevant to the conversation in higher ed. Lisa Nielson, the owner and curator of the Innovative Educator blog, has a lot of interesting things to say about other educational technologies.

Seven Principles for Effective (Undergraduate) Education

This might be old news to some readers but I base a lot of my work at Malone on Arthur W. Chickering’s “Seven principles”. Chickering and Gamson first wrote about these in 1987 so they have been around longer than current “traditional undergraduate students” have been.

My current-favorite version of these comes from an article by Maria Puzzifero and Kaye Shelton (2009). Good practice in undergraduate education:

  1. Good Practice Encourages Contact
  2. Good Practice Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation
  3. Good Practice Encourages Active Learning
  4. Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback
  5. Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task
  6. Good Practice Communicates High Expectations and
  7. Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Above is the learner-centric version of the original seven which are (Chickering & Gamson 1987):

  1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3. encourages active learning,
  4. gives prompt feedback,
  5. emphasizes time on task,
  6. communicates high expectations, and
  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Modern educational technologies can be used to increase ALL of these seven. EdTech can also be abused in aspiration towards these principles. Let us all advocate for effective use of technology for learning.

Questions for you

  • What ways do you already implement the seven principles in the classroom?
  • What role does technology play in enhancing learning in each of the seven areas?
  • What ways to you leverage technology to help you get your work done?

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. The American Association for Higher Education Bulletinhttp://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/7princip.htm

Puzziferro, M., & Shelton, K. (2009). Supporting online faculty: Revisiting the seven principles (A few years later). Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(3). http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall123/puzziferro123.html

Welcome Learners of all Shapes, Types, and Sizes

I love the possibilities that modern technology can bring to learners in and out of the classroom.  I am starting this blog to discuss the ways in which technology can expand the influence and resources of learners.

What is a learner?
You are. Well… you probably are. Students are obviously learners but faculty and staff or any information professional are too! Malone University is a learning community. We teach and we learn through sharing our own ideas and the ideas of those people whom we’ve come into contact and read about.

I believe that all learners have the opportunity to be a resource to the communities to which they belong.

What content can you expect from this forum?
This will be a mix of original content from me and links to resources which I’ve read. Expect to see ideas about using technology in the classroom, strategies for consuming web content effectively, talk about Information Literacy, effective strategies for student collaboration, managing online identities and much much more.

Post Frequency
Like so many blogs, I have a lot I think I have to say. At this point I want to post something at least once a week but I need motivation! Let me know if you are reading and what you think about what I am posting! Knowing my writing is getting read and that it is useful to you will keep the posts coming!

Expect regular posts every Monday morning with the occasional smattering of time-relevant posts throughout the week. You can subscribe to my and other blogs using an RSS Aggregator (my favorite is Google Reader). Expect a post on what RSS and RSS aggregators are and WHY and HOW you should use them. You might also want to follow me on Twitter. That will contain links to this blog as well as other “stuff” which I have found and like on the web. I use my twitter feed for personal and professional items I ‘like’. Subscribe to that feed expecting everything from cool tech to devotionals that struck a chord with me to stories about a guy sending a balloon in space with a camera and iPhone on it.

Welcome! Come back and comment often!

Hello World

The purpose of this blog will be for me and guests to post about interesting educational technologies and their applications in the higher education classroom (online and brick-and-mortar).

It is important for us to realize that for ANY technology to be successful in the classroom, that we do not just understand the what and the how, but that we understand the WHY. In other words, the process of implementing the technology is as much or more important than the technology itself.

I will often cross-post from other educational technology blogs that I follow. Expect posts from “The Innovative Educator“, David Warlick, and a host of other experts in the field.

Here we go…