Keep IT Simple!

Bob Reuter's Web

Big Trend: Free online learning & assessment resources

I’ve got the impression that many companies are investing in offering free online learning and assessment resources and tools.

I recently discovered these two:

They can be interesting for learners, looking for self-paced revision and for teachers wishing to make their jobs easier (and spend their time on more meaningful activities)…

What do you think about these two tools?

4 June 2014 at 16:28 - Comments

What can schools, teachers and learners learn from implicit learning research?

Here is the slideshow of my oral presentation “What can schools, teachers and learners learn from implicit learning research?”, that I just gave at the Fourth scientific symposium of the Association for Research in Neuroeducation, at the Université de Caen, in Caen, Basse-Normandie, France .

27 May 2014 at 15:42 - Comments

New membership to a professional association – ARN

I just signed up for regular membership at the ARN – ASSOCIATION POUR LA RECHERCHE EN NEUROÉDUCATION / ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH IN NEUROEDUCATION, 1) because I’ll present a poster at their conference in may 2014, and 2) because I like being networked with other researchers eager to better “Understanding the Brain to Improve Teaching”.

I’m looking forward to the new opportunities this new membership will allow me to explore…

26 February 2014 at 17:30 - Comments
Bob Reuter at 13:04 on 14 March 2014
and my proposal to orally present a paper at this year's meeting in Caen (May 26-27) got accepted...

DNLE – Assignment #4: Learning Classification Chart using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Our 4th assignment was to use Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Objectives and find an educational technology (I suppose they should be digital tools) that would allow teachers to design a learning activity for their students, which aims at the corresponding learning objective. Even though the assignment only states that we should give one tool per learning objective, I included an explanation as to how the use of each tool would allow learners to develop the corresponding learning outcomes described by the taxonomy.

You may find my submission here:

I’ve been giving a very similar assignment to my Bachelor in Educational Sciences students in the past years… so this task was a no-brainer for me… a priori… but having to do it myself, made me aware of the fact that the educational tools themselves are not directly conditioning the learning objectives that they can serve… it’s all in the tasks that you design for your students…

18 November 2012 at 13:08 - Comments

DNLE – Assignment #3: Prescription for a Learning Problem

Our 3rd individual assignement was to take another student’s Educational Challenge Scenario (from assignment #2) and try to write up a way to find a solution to the challenge described.

I’ve chosen to suggest a solution to this challenge scenario:

Training for unmotivated teachers to use technology Click to vote up 1

Submitted by Siew Kee Chong

Last modified 7 days ago by Siew Kee Chong
As part of the business continuity plan for a vocation training school in Singapore, the 800 lecturers need to be trained to design and deliver home based learning program. For new lecturers who just joined the school, they will be trained in various aspects of teaching and learning, including the use of technology to enhance their lessons. This group of lecturers will be able to design and deliver online lesson when school closes due to emergency. However there is a critical mass of lecturers who are above 40 years old  and are used to the traditional ways of teaching and are resistant to learn new things. If school closed due to emergency,  they will just take a break and make up lessons when school reopens. The school management wants this group of lecturers to be minimally able to put their lecture content online. E.g. They can record their lecture and put them online. The school have several rooms equipped with lecture recording facilities and desktop screen capturing software are made available to all lecturers as well.  Every lecturer is also provided with a personal laptop and high speed Internet access and wifi network services are available in school. However, the more senior lecturers are still skeptical about putting their content online even though the new lecturers have set good examples of conducting home-based learning.
And this is the prescription that I wrote:

Training unmotivated teachers to use lecture recording: finding compelling arguments together Click to vote up 0

Submitted by Robert Reuter

Last modified less than a minute ago by Robert Reuter
A vocational training school in Singapore having difficulties to train their senior lecturers (over 40 years and trained in traditional teaching methods) at using digital technologies to enhance or supplement their lessons. The difficulty seems to arise from these lecturers being skeptical about “putting their content online” even though younger lecturers seem to produce “good examples of conducting home-based learning”.

I think this challenging situation needs to be understood before a good solution can be elaborated. My prescription here would be to develop such an understanding before thinking about potential solutions, and to develop a solution together with the persons concerned.

There are a lot of different solutions that could be implemented, but some of these solutions may be more adequate than others; and this may be due to the fact that the different solutions are not in line with the deep causes of the problem and only seem to be good solutions “on the surface”… like paying the reluctant lecturers to do the required lecture recordings, or fire those who are unwilling to apply the new methods of teaching.

I would therefor really put major efforts into meeting those reluctant and skeptical teachers and honestly ask them to explain their reasons to be skeptical and reluctant... This must be done in a protective climate of trust. Often their skepticism is based on very good reasons, not always fears of change, per se, but more on fears of loosing their “power positions”, on fears of becoming obsolete or being reduced to roles they don’t want to play.

I would, based on their “good reasons” to resist the changes that the school wants to implement, then try to elaborate, together with them, a plan on how to work out a compromise between their “good reasons” not to change and the “good reasons” of the school to change… so that they have the feeling of being in charge, of being masters of their own destiny… this feeling should of course not be a mere illusion, the elaborated compromise should be something they see themselves as a valid and valuable solution to the challenge.

One interesting strategy here could be to explain and show them how the desired changes in teaching methods will give them the means to be in a better “power position” within their peer group, to be seen as valuable and cherished members of their community, by building upon their strengths instead of stressing their weakness. Experienced lecturers may not be so good at using lecture recording software, but they surely like to be flattered about their explanation skills and their knowledgeability.

Another potentially successful strategy could be to help those senior lecturers understand how their online videos can be password protected so that they are able to better control who has access to their lecturers.

Yes, my prescription may sound like a “coward’s answer”… because I refrain from making “authorative prescriptions” and giving “good advices” that can be directly tested… but I really do think that this is the kind of educational challenge that needs to be tackled by meeting the persons concerned and finding a solution or solutions TOGETHER with them… because they need to be the authors of such a solution to make it a sustainable solution! Otherwise, they will somehow be able to boycott the externally proposed solution…
10 November 2012 at 11:53 - Comments

DNLE – Assignment #2: Educational Challenge Scenario

Our 2nd individual assignment was to write an “educational challenge scenario”:

Write a description that tells a story of a real or hypothetical educational challenge or problem scenario. You can research and describe a real learning/training challenge facing a school or organization, or you can make one up of your own. Describe the learners, the learning needs, the ecosystem, infrastructure and resource factors that influence implementation, and any existing learning program (if applicable).

I chose to describe a real-world challenging situation, which I’m directly involved with.

Teacher students as reflective practitioners

Submitted by Robert Reuter

Last modified 7 days ago by Robert Reuter
Since September 2005, initial teacher training (preparing students to become teachers in a variety of schools settings, ranging from kindergarten to grade 9) is organized as a vocational bachelor in educational sciences at the University of Luxembourg (

The study program aims at developing “reflective practitioners”, i.e. teachers who are able 1) to integrate scientific knowledge about learning, teaching, educating and schooling into their teaching, educating and schooling practices, 2) to analyze and evaluate their own teaching practices in terms of valid scientific knowledge and 3) to accordingly optimize their own teaching practices.

Students are, more specifically, supposed to develop the following competencies: work in collaborative and autonomous settings, critical thinking, teaching in multilingual and multicultural contexts, create meaningful learning sequences, create interdisciplinary learning activities, use multimedia and digital ICT tools to support learning and teaching, teach in a variety of school contexts, think like an educational researcher, act like a small-scale educational researcher, reflective thinking. Students should be able to show mastery of these competencies after 4 years of training.

In order to be able to enroll in the study program, candidates need to be holders of a secondary school diploma allowing access to university studies and they need to pass an admission exam assessing their text comprehension competencies in German, Luxembourgish, French and English, as well as their knowledge and understanding in elementary Mathematics and Sciences. Most students feel that they want to become “good teachers”, based on their personal experiences of “good teachers” and on their socially constructed definition of “good schooling” when they were in primary school, some years ago.

The training program combines academic courses (lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials) on the university campus with internships in schools. A variety of professionals intervene at both levels, with about 60 people working as university teachers on campus for the program and about 200 people working as internship teachers in schools. On campus the technology infrastructure comprises specialized computer rooms, cross-campus WLAN internet access, a team of 3 IT support people as well as 1 educational technology support person. Most students bring their own digital devices (laptops, smartphones or tablets) to classes. Moreover they can borrow digital video camcorders from our IT department. In internship schools the technology infrastructures are quite heterogeneous, some classrooms have access to one laptop per child and others having access to just 1 desktop computer.

Despite all the efforts put into the training program, many students tend not to use the valuable theoretical and practical knowledge they “received” during university courses 1) when they plan and enact their own teaching activities and 2) when they analyze and evaluate their own teaching activities. As a consequence, few students manage to correclty evaluate their own teaching and to implement more innovative and effective teaching methods.

One reviewer gave me an interesting comment:

Why don’t supervisors insist on compliance for trainee teachers and force them to adopt theory and research?

Excellent question! But I feel that this is exactly what’s so challenging about our situation… even if I did not frame it like that… I always focused on the issues that students “cause”, instead of looking more at the solutions on the teacher side…

10 November 2012 at 11:42 - Comments

DNLE – Assignment #1: Evaluation of 3 Learning Environments or Technologies

In the online course on “Designing a New Learning Environment” (DNLE hereafter) that I’ve started taking on 15th Octobre 2012, we have been given a first (individual) assignment… And I’m currently preparing to address this task, in the next days.

We have to evaluate 3 Learning Environments or Technologies and we will be able to see what our peers have done for this first assignment after the deadline.

What I really appreciate with this first assignment is the very precise instructions coupled with a lot of freedom… I don’t feel like the task is confining to some sort of reception mode of learning… they clearly put me in charge of coming up with an original and creative (knowledge) product.

I’ll keep you posted here about my ideas… and maybe ask you to give me feedback on my preliminary ideas and to tell me which ideas I should develop in my homework…

I’ve also read that we will be doing peer reviewing to assess our peers’ works in future assignments… I’ve already read about the use of peer-review in MOOC (massively open online courses), but have so far not had any experiences with it, in such a learning context… I’m looking forward to discovering what it means to have my work evaluated by my peers and to have to evaluated the work of my peers…

21 October 2012 at 11:40 - Comments
Bob Reuter at 11:36 on 10 November 2012
and here is my answer to assignment #1:

My motivations to take the “Designing a New Learning Environment” course

As a researcher in Educational Technology, I’m interested in the strategic use (or lack of use) of ICT tools in educational settings, the factors that influence (positively or negatively) their strategic use by teachers (of all levels in educational systems) and in the (transformative) effects (or not) that their use has (or has not) on teaching & learning processes and on teachers & learners.

As an educator of pre-service teacher students, I want to know how to empower those future teachers so that they will be ready to make “optimal” use of these tools in their future classrooms after graduating from our study program.

Moreover, as an education activist, I’m currently trying to set up and sustain an informal network of TechnoSages at a national level (of a small country, Luxembourg), i.e., teachers who are “interested in making optimal use of technology for improving teaching and learning” (Thomas & King, 2006, quoted in Watts-Taffe & Gwinn, 2007). The aims of bringing TechnoSages together into a “community of learners” are (1) to encourage informal and formal exchanges between practitioners that already use digital tools in their classrooms (but often “feel alone” or are not sure about the effects or value of their integration efforts) and want to reflect deeper upon their current use together with practitioners, theorists and researchers, in order to optimize it in the future; (2) to raise awareness in teachers for the necessity to adapt their teaching strategies to the manifold external political, cultural, social, economic and technological pressures of “the digital age”, making them thus aware of the fact that, just like the industrial revolution heavily influenced the rise of public education (as we know it today), the digital revolution is bound to shape the sociocultural landscape within which public education will have to find (and maybe redefine) its place (in terms of goals, objectives, processes, methods and structures); (3) to “spread the virus”, trying to convince more and more people about the advantages (and transformative effects) of strategically integrating digital technologies into their everyday learning, teaching and schooling activities; and (4) giving them the conceptual tools to feel “in charge” when integration educational technologies into their teaching, instead of having the impression of being merely forced to by external pressures.

So, for these 3 reasons, I’m very much eager to gain sound knowledge (1) about the factors that (positively and negatively) influence teachers’ decisions to integrate ICT tools into their classrooms; (2) about scenarios, processes and tools that can be successfully put into place to foster strategic integration by teachers and (3) about the (supportive or transformative) effects that this integration of digital tools has (or has not) on learning and teaching in their classrooms.

In other words, I want to know more about the Design (and Evaluation) of New Learning Environments, to be able to make my (humble) contribution to ReThinking and ReDesigning Education, at a national and a global level. I do indeed believe that we need a Revolution in Education in order to help our kids to cope with the big (current and future) cultural, political, social, economical, philosophical and technological changes.

16 October 2012 at 08:30 - Comments
google at 22:28 on 1 November 2012
I intended to post you this little bit of observation just to thank you so much yet again considering the…

Going to class – again! second attempt

I’m currently subscribed to take an online distance course on “Designing a New Learning Environment“, given by Professor Paul Kim from Stanford University. I’m very (!) excited about all the things that I will be able to learn from this unique experience.

I’ll be blogging about it here. So stay tuned!

16 October 2012 at 08:26 - Comments
Bob Reuter at 12:02 on 10 November 2012
So far I've been able to "stay on track"... even if we've got to do (at least) one assignment per…

LightningTalk @HaxoGreen2012 “Adventures in Technology-Supported Running”

I’ll be giving a LightningTalk this afternoon @HaxoGreen2012 on my recent “Adventures in Technology-Supported Running”, and just uploaded my slideshow here:

Of course, you won’t have the voice, but I guess you can may sense of it nevertheless.

Feel free to watch it and give me comments… after that talk… 🙂

27 July 2012 at 12:48 - Comments