Written by Gabo Tse, BSD Education In the current digital era, there is no denying that video games are among the most popular pastimes for people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. For children, many of them will tell you that playing games is one of their favourite hobbies! However, many have only ever experienced games as a player. By attending a camp to Build a 2D Mini Game, not only will kids get to work on a project related to one of their interests, but learning to build a 2D mini game helps foster both tech skills and soft skills that will greatly benefit them in the future – both in school and beyond. Let’s take a look at some of the real-word skills your child will learn if he/she/they enroll for an 2D Mini Game Camp here at BSD Education:
Written by Scott Peterman, BSD Education A growing chorus of employers are voicing frustration about job applicants who are technically proficient, with touted high grades and test scores but lacking in key skills such communication, decision-making, and problem-solving that are necessary to successfully do the jobs they have applied for. In order to effectively address this mismatch, educators are increasingly embracing a combination of project based learning and personalized learning in order to better prepare students for careers in the 21st century. Project Based Learning (PBL) blends content mastery, meaningful work, and personal connection to create powerful learning experiences, in terms of both academic achievement and students’ personal growth. PBL can be transformative for students, especially those who lack access to out of school time educational opportunities such as workplace internships. Project Based Learning offers students the opportunity to actively engage in activities that provide real-world relevance and a direct application for what they’re learning. For example, students can solve problems that are important to them and their communities. At it’s best, PBL leads to deeper understanding and greater retention of content knowledge, with students better able to apply what they know to new situations thanks to a personal connection to their academic experience. Let’s dive a little deeper to better understand how project-based learning leverages technology and how it intersects with personalized student learning.
What is Project Based Learning?Simply put, Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method through which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. It is becoming widely used in schools and other educational settings, with different varieties being practiced because it supports students at all skill levels, meeting each student exactly where they are. Problems can be delivered based on what a student knows and doesn’t know, which customizes the experience to be unique for each student.
What are the benefits of PBL?Project-based learning can be a catalyst for transforming learning, helping students move from asking “what?” to also asking “why?” and “how?” In a traditional classroom, students often focus on memorizing facts to pass a test. However, research has shown that by organizing learning around meaningful goals, PBL can be an effective way to cultivate a “need to know” attitude in students—students are motivated to deepen their understanding in order to solve a problem that is meaningful to them. Concepts are better understood when students see a need for their use, make an authentic connection with them, because that need encourages them to apply what they’re learning to relevant situations, leading to a better sense of understanding. Researchers have also observed higher rates of students staying on task and paying close attention to the teacher and their peers.
Understanding the limits of Project Based LearningHowever, there are key characteristics that differentiate “doing a project” from engaging in Project Based Learning. While PBL has been increasingly embraced by educators in pursuit of ‘personalized learning,’ it is important to remember that without the right tools, it can still be just a buzzword. Preparing students to be lifelong learners capable of partaking knowledgeably in both civic life and a rapidly changing workforce, requires not just focusing on technology, personalization, or even coding, but the broader content and foundation at the heart of these experiences. Put another way, quality curriculum and instructional design is still the key to the long-term impact PBL can have on any student. A vivid example of these limitations is provided in the following passage from a 2017 Edutopia article: “As students learn to read, it is critical that they build a strong and wide foundation of knowledge. A learner’s background knowledge is a key ingredient in her ability to learn and absorb information from what she is reading and consuming. Accordingly, personalizing learning through technology will be most powerful when it is coupled with intentional, coherent and rigorous instruction… Yes, tapping into and developing children’s interests and instilling in them a sense of ownership of their education is important. Yet allowing them unbridled choice of what they learn, especially when they are young, means that in certain cases they will miss building that foundation… If students don’t have a working familiarity with a body of knowledge, a new passage on the topic—no matter how elementary it may seem and no matter how strong the reader’s fundamental decoding skills—will frustrate… Without at least a working familiarity with a topic, Google—where you have to generate the right question to ask—will only take you so far in the moment. That is because, as cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham wrote, “Every passage that you read omits information. All of this omitted information must be brought to the text by the reader.” This passage is an important reminder that how educators incorporate PBL and Technology into their curriculum, will really define the success of their efforts and long-term impact it has on students.
How does BSD use Project Based Learning?One of the best attributes of PBL is it’s versatility to be highly impactful for students in practically every learning context. For example, PBL is not only the foundation of all of BSD’s in-school curriculum, but also our out-of school-time (OST) curriculum as well. We do this not for convenience or even continuity, rather because it has proven itself to consistently be the most effective model for sparking & sustaining engagement for the vast majority of students we work with, regardless of their prior tech experience or interest level. PBL offers us the contextual framework to change students to shift their thinking from, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ to, ‘what problems do you want to solve when you grow up.’ By engaging in project-based learning units that have a strong career focus, students have the chance to see how concepts & lessons that may have previously seemed abstract directly apply and can be used in the working world. This offers students the chance to experience education through the eyes of artists, entrepreneurs, tech professionals and more. These clear connections to contextually relevant career opportunities creates excitement by encouraging students to strive to learn more in a subject and ultimately changes their experience of education from learning as a task to learning to achieve bigger and better outcomes.
Written by Rachel Brujis, BSD Education Technology activities should always focus on having three things:
- Competency – you learn something new about technology and the world
- Context – the activity is relevant and interesting, not a worksheet
- Collaboration – it connects you to your peers or the world around you
InteractionYoung children thrive with hands on, sensory experiences. At early ages we start with hands on activities – many of which are offline – to build their computational thinking. Rather than worksheets we encourage them to 3D print objects, enhance their shoes with technology or build circuits with their hands. Many of these projects continue work for older students but we extend them to create useful and genuinely functional everyday objects, full fashion shows or entire robots with advanced skills.
Risk-TakingTeenagers love to take risks. This is how they learn – by trying something new, learning to accept feedback, and focusing this to improve or take an even bolder step. Rather than trying to limit risks, we encourage teenagers to take more risks. To try something harder. To build a project that is more daring. To share their ideas about how to change the world with more people. We create a safe space for teenagers to take risks and dare to do something greater as result.
AutonomyYoung students love to have support from their teachers. They want to be engaged directly and are often happy to learn something new from their peers or an adult. Teenagers prefer a bit more autonomy – to be challenged, make mistakes themselves and learn from it. As students age, in BSD’s online platform, we use machine learning to provide real time feedback in a safe way. How do you adapt your lessons for different ages? Let us know!
Written by Charlotte Brearley, BSD Education Enrichment programs are after school activities designed to give students the opportunity to try new things and explore and develop interests outside of the classroom. Activities can range from sports to cooking, from drawing to coding. All you need is a passionate teacher or external instructor, who can run an activity that aligns with the interests of your students. Another option you can consider is to challenge your students and get them to run their own activity. For example, we have worked with a student at the South Island School in Hong Kong to start an after school code club. It’s been incredibly successful and he now has a waiting list! Enrichment programs are not just something that fills time between school and home though. They have a huge number of benefits and provide opportunities for students to further their interests from the classroom or to try something totally new. They help students develop a love for learning in their own time, expand their mind and gain skills that will help them in their academic and professional careers. Learning outside the classroom also gives students the opportunity to experiment and take risks with no implications. They are not being graded or compared to their peers and so students can try things out and learn from their mistakes. This in turn will build students’ confidence as they learn new skills and immerse themselves in new experiences. Although activities may take place outside the classroom, their benefits will follow your students into their studies. According to “After School Programs in the 21st Century: Their Potential and What It Takes to Achieve It” published by Harvard Family Research Project, many studies “repeatedly underscore the impact of supporting a range of positive learning outcomes, including academic achievement, by affording children and youth opportunities to learn and practice new skills through hands-on, experimental learning.” These benefits are all true of our experience at BSD. We offer programs at our own space in Hong Kong and at a large number of schools in both Hong Kong and Philadelphia. As after school programs are in a student’s own time, we know it’s important to provide an educational but also fun and sociable environment. We particularly focus on collaboration and teamwork as our programs often bring together students from a range of different backgrounds and age groups. As a result, we have found that students participating in enrichment activities not only build technical knowledge, but also develop vital future skills such as working collaboratively with new people, problem solving and presentation skills. You can found out more about what we offer here. Enrichment programs are a great way to encourage students to follow their passions, develop new interests and build new skills. You should think about the activities you can offer and inspire your students to try something different.
Written by Scott Peterman, BSD Education What are Technology “Enrichment” or “After School” Programs? Technology focused after school enrichment programs are geared towards kids mastering the key skills and competencies of technology like computational thinking, design thinking, problem solving, and communication skills in an engaging, fun and team oriented environment. Absolutely no prior experience needed! What makes a great Enrichment Program? Rather than a lesson in the school day, in after school or enrichment time, enrichment classes are in the students’ time. So while they are taking their first steps into the world of technology through e.g. computer programming and applying digital skills to be creative with technology, they need to really be immersed in experiencing first-hand the incredible world of possibilities that tech provides in a way that is fun and exciting. How do you select a theme for Enrichment Programs and how long should they last? The best themes for Enrichment Programs spark student’s imagination around the possibilities of Tech with contextually relevant applications in their everyday life. While you should always be careful not to misrepresent the activities and outcomes in a program, there is no reason why real world themes can’t be fun and engaging for students and connect to their interests! Similarly, the duration of an after school program should balance the minimum time needed to create intended projects, with the constraints and potential unforeseen changes that sometimes come up during the course of the school year calendar. We’ve found that after school programs should run between 1 to a maximum of 2 hours per session and need a minimum of 5 hours in total for students to have an ideal experience and really create something they can take away and be proud of. When scheduling, it is important to be mindful of potential conflicts in the school calendar that can disrupt and/or impact students experience negatively. An example of this is winter break over the calendar new year which while a relatively short, is still long enough of a break that it can derail student’s progress and learning in a weekly program. For situations like this we instead try to schedule a program to wrap up prior to the winter break (even if it means shortening a program) and then start a new session in mid-January when students have already gotten back into the swing of school. There is all sorts of technology out there, how do you balance between the latest thing but providing something that is accessible? Tech themed after school programs should always prioritize equity and access over the latest thing. The latest craze is also often expensive to deliver and becomes obsolete very quickly. While media coverage may portray new Tech breakthroughs as life altering, the reality is often that ‘the latest things’ typically take years at best to deliver an educative experience for k-12 students. An example of this paradox are 3D Printers, which despite coming onto the market more than 10 years ago are still rarely utilized in school settings because there is no coherent curriculum for them and it’s hard to see how their value can maintained on a long term basis. Finally, we find the best balance is also to incorporate tools as the focal point of learning that are also free of affordable to buy at home, as these allow students the opportunity to continue learning and creating on their own should they wish. What type of people make the best teachers for Enrichment Programs? Contrary to popular belief, the most important aspect for technology enrichment program instructors is not a strong background in CS or Technology. Instead, we have consistently found that experience and confidence teaching, coupled with an open mind for learning new ideas are the two most important traits when looking for a tech program instructor. Regardless of a candidate’s age or background, it is much easier to train someone how to teach Tech curricula than it is in how to effectively manage a classroom, build inspiring relationships with students and empower them to strive towards their full potential. What about parents? What is the best way to keep them informed and help them understand or be excited about what is being created? While students are not the primary target audience for the content taught in after school programs it is Important to always make sure parents or guardians are kept in the loop throughout. BSD keeps parents updated with a series of email updates prior, mid-way and at the conclusion of programs that provide information about instructors, project themes and instructions on how they can see their child’s work, as well as how their child can share his or her work with them. Finally parents are always invited to attend the second half of the final class to see what their child has been creating in the end of course demo.
Written by Xyra Sace, BSD Education Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! We have found that it’s a great day to remind our students and ourselves about the value of recognizing the people around you that make life a better place, and sharing “love” and messages of appreciation. But how do you share “love”? As a fun Valentines Day read, we wanted to show you responses we’ve received when we asked our students what love was:
“Love is sharing my last piece of candy for my sister”Nicole, 9
“Love is being able to trust someone, more than you trust yourself”Leo, 12
“Love is going to the carnival with Mommy and Daddy”Ella, 6
“If I were going to say it like in the books, love is going to the ends of the earth for the person you love”Ellie, 11
“Love is kissing and hugging a lot”Olivia, 7
“Love is feeling happy and light”Claire, 8
“Love is when everyone gets the same respect and trust”Eric, 13
“Love, is peace and honor!”Jason, 8
“Love is JT’s class” (referring to BSD’s Innovation Academy)James, 10
“Love is anything that makes you laugh”Shaurya, 11 What do you think of their answers? Aren’t they great! What do you think your students will answer if you asked them the same? We’d love to hear it! Tag us at #BSDLove2019 and get a chance to be featured in our upcoming newsletters.
Written by Rachel Brujis, BSD Education A wise 6 year old once said “Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” (Disney Baby) In case you might not be able (or want!) to share your French fries, we came up with a few creative digital ways that you can show you care.
1. Online CardDesign your own Valentine’s theme online card complete with pictures, graphics and of course your own views about love. Read our step-by-step project breakdown of this project here.
2. 3D Printed CreationsFor the people in your life that you just can’t live without, you can design them their own 3D printed creation. Give them a piece of your heart (literally), a special design about a place you visited together, or maybe something about their favorite hobby or that represents the ways they help others by designing and printing it yourself.
3. Poem WebsiteDesign your own custom website complete with a loving or appreciative poem for that special person in your life. Perhaps combine your technical skills with a little “iambic pentameter” to show off your inner Shakespeare to the one you love. How else do you show people that you care?
Written by Rachel Brujis, BSD Education “… I do not publish nor divulge [methods of building submarines] by reason of the evil nature of men who would use them as means of destruction at the bottom of the sea, by sending ships to the bottom, and sinking them together with the men in them.” – Leonardo da Vinci Our aim is to give students the confidence and skills to work with the most powerful technology tools of their generation. And as Spiderman teaches “with great power comes great responsibility.” This is a lesson that every inventor learns. Early inventors were often tied to military purposes. Leonardo da Vinci famously focused on defensive rather than offensive technology, and went as far as destroying some of his advanced designs to avoid what he believed would be the inevitable human destruction. This responsibility expanded to scientists focused on chemical warfare – the wife of the German inventor of chemical warfare ultimately committed suicide when she couldn’t convince her husband not to publish his results – and even DNA – as scientists feared their recombinant DNA experiments would lead to accidentally incurable pathogens. As we have seen around the world in the last few years technology is not only ubiquitous, but more powerful than ever. A power at the hands of everyone. From a young age, then, we want to equip students not only with the technical skills to use tools but also the moral compass to use them for good. We call this teaching students to CARE – to be curious, adaptable, resilient and empathetic to the world around them. We work with students to use technology in ways that benefit their communities. We have students that are building connected scales to measure and reduce waste at their schools and others creating websites to donate to people in need. Even something as simple as making virtual Valentine’s Day cards to show people some love can have a positive impact on others. In each case, our students look around themselves to see real problems and create solutions that really work for people in their communities. Ultimately, we’ll measure our success by the impact that our students have and we want to give them every chance to make that a positive one. Our moral compass guides BSD and we aspire for it to guide the projects, tools and movements our students create too. Source: Less Wrong
Written by Charlotte Brearley, BSD Education Conferences are a great way to learn about the latest trends in edtech, connect with like-minded educators and discover ideas you can quickly implement in your classroom. We’ve selected three upcoming conferences you should consider attending. 21CLHK 8-9 March, Hong Kong A smaller conference with 120 sessions and 650 attendees, but it’s one of our favorites. 21CL brings together like-minded educators and speakers in a dynamic and intimate environment. The number of attendees means you can easily network and collaborate with enthusiastic and inspiring educators and attend smaller workshop sessions where you can discuss and explore your ideas with experienced speakers. CUE 14-16 March, Palm Springs CUE is the longest running edtech conference in the United States and has been a must-attend event for educational innovation for almost 40 years. With over 6000 educators attending, it is the place to find new ways to integrate technology seamlessly into your teaching. It particularly focuses on using technology in the classroom to advance student achievement. ISTE 2019 June 23-26, Philadelphia With over 550 companies, 1000 sessions and 16,000 educators attending, ISTE is at the heart of edtech. Attend the conference and you’ll have the opportunity to: share with and learn from top leaders in the field; test new learning strategies with resources that can transform learning and teaching; and learn about the hottest trends in education, innovation and the future. ISTE’s standards and teacher professional development are widely adopted in schools around the world, and so this conference pulls a large crowd that tend to be focused and well versed with a lot to share. Being in Philadelphia, ISTE 2019 is right on the doorstep of our BSD US office. So, if you are reading this and plan to attend ISTE, give us a shout we would love to show you round. If you want to find out about more exciting conferences happening this year, you can find a great, very comprehensive list compiled by EdSurge here.