Bloom's Taxonomy

I was reading a post on Michelle Martin's Bamboo Project blog which highlighted her readers' responses to learning through blogging.

There were many positive responses which reinforced my own thoughts about learning and blogging. I like what Catherine Lombardozzi said:

The act of writing has a way of crystallizing your thinking on a topic.  As I have worked on this blog - and other journals more private than this one - over the last year or so, I have come to appreciate how much clearer my thinking becomes as I try to put my musings into sentences and paragraphs.... I have found that writing forces me to coral nebulous thoughts into something coherent, to name and own what I really think on a subject, to bring together ideas from several sources, and to consider how a potential audience might react.

Having made a commitment to posting here on the Learning Journal blog at least once a week, I also notice that when something piques my interest, I store it away as a potential topic for an entry.  Knowing I may want to write about an idea causes me to mull things over that may - in the past - have come and gone in my head without ever finding a place to settle.  Even if I don’t actually write about something in the end, I find myself thinking about these interesting ideas more thoroughly.

The other thing that caught my eye was the mention of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I know I've come across this before. It turns out that my friend, who is a secondary school teacher, has mentioned this. According to her, teachers have to indicate which of the six categories each learning activity aims to achieve.

Looking at the diagram (you can click the one above for a bigger version, the original can be found here), I thought that it should be more of a pyramid, similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In Maslow's hierarchy, lower order needs must be fulfilled before progressing on to the next level of needs. Similarly in Bloom's Taxonomy, you need to have knowledge before comprehending, comprehend before applying and so forth.

Later, I realised that there is a spiral in the middle of the diagram which represents this flow. Seen three-dimensionally, it should be an continuous upward spiral, implying that the final stage - evaluation - necessarily creates new knowledge. Then the whole process repeats itself. This is very much the story of learning, in a macro sense, throughout human history.

And that's what I learnt from looking at the diagram.

Oh yes, if you are interested in Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), Michelle's Bamboo Project blog is the one to follow.

Bloom's Taxonomy - Learning in Action graphic
by K. Aainsqatsi
published under CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported license

Wikipedia in the classroom

Wikipedia is usually a dirty word in educational circles. While some educators realize the value of Wikipedia as a starting point for research, others uphold a blanket ban - Wikipedia articles should not be cited - which results in Wikipedia being ignored despite useful references in the more robust articles and the possibility of using it as part of an assignment being discounted.

The latter idea holds many possibilities. A few educators at the University of British Columbia have set Wikipedia assignments for their students. This involves students editing articles in their subject area to improve the quality of the article. The improvements, in several cases, were dramatic:

Remarkably, at the end of the project, Beasley-Murray’s students ended up producing eight “good” articles and three “featured” articles, whose designations recognize them to be the most unbiased, well-written, and accurately cited entries on the site. Before receiving the elusive “featured” title (less than 0.1% of all Wikipedia articles obtain this designation), one of the entries had undergone over 1200 revisions - a number significantly higher than what an average academic article typically receives.

You can read more about the UBC experiences with Wikipedia assignments. Wikipedia also has a page dedicated to school and university projects and a list of suggested projects.

Google Earth Blog

This week's light bite is not a video. Instead, I want to highlight Google Earth Blog's post about 10 games you can play with Google Earth.

Did you know, for example, that Google Earth has a built in flight simulator?

For someone like me (colour blind and not willing to spend on flight simulator software), it's as close as I'm going to get to flying a aeroplane.

But Google Earth (and the web-based Maps) is fascinating enough on its own. Besides the many things you can do with the maps and satellite images, there's also Google Sky (virtual stellar observatory), Google Moon, Google Mars...

The title is a tad sensationalist, but that is Becta's conclusion (via Ewan McIntosh). Becta is a UK government agency spearheading the effective use of technology in education. Their research has shown that among students of secondary school age:

  • Web 2.0 helps to encourage student engagement and increase participation – particularly among quieter pupils, who can use it to work collaboratively online, without the anxiety of having to raise questions in front of peers in class – or by enabling expression through less traditional media such as video.
  • Teachers have reported that the use of social networking technology can encourage online discussion amongst students outside school.
  • Web 2.0 can be available anytime, anywhere, which encourages some individuals to extend their learning through further investigation into topics that interest them.
  • Pupils feel a sense of ownership and engagement when they publish their work online and this can encourage attention to detail and an overall improved quality of work. Some teachers reported using publication of work to encourage peer assessment.

Closer to home, Brad Blackstone has been using blogs in his ES2007S classes. I had the pleasure of meeting him and other educators at the Centre for English Language Communication yesterday. I was at CELC to give a brief overview of blogs and wikis as possibilities for eLearning Week (presentation embedded below).

Brad has come to similar conclusions about blogs, which he highlighted in a short paper: Blogs in English language teaching and learning: Pedagogical uses and student responses [pdf].

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: blog wiki)