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Neuroscience + Learning Psychology + Education Technology = Education 3.0

Submitted by on April 24, 2014 – 9:00 amNo Comment

Sloan-CThe Sloan Consortium’s 7th Annual International Symposium on Emerging Technologies for Online Learning hosted a plethora of unique and innovative sessions sharing tips, tricks, and new technologies available to enhance online education. One such workshop was Jeff Borden’s “Neuroscience + Learning Psychology + Education Technology = Education 3.0.” This session was particularly intriguing, as Dr. Borden (Director of the Center for Online Learning, Pearson) presented research findings on how neuroscience and psychology can inform, and reform our approach to designing and delivering online education.

Dr. Borden began his talk with a clip from his short film series “School of Thought,” followed by a series of intriguing rhetorical questions. How can we redesign learning spaces? What can geolearning become? How can we facilitate simulated learning through technology? He then quotes Brain Games author John Medina, “If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom.” A clever quip, but more importantly a thought provoking insight.

Advances in neuroscience (the study of cognitive and metacognitive brain processes) can direct learning (education) psychology to better inform how we present online education. One such example is the traditional view of “intelligence” and aptitude. Research findings indicate that acknowledgement of early childhood ‘intelligence’ can be prohibitive of later learning; Dr. Borden attributes this to a ‘static’ view of intelligence that dissuades embracing challenge and change (in the ‘intelligent’ learner.) These learners avoid challenging learning scenarios because their intelligence becomes inextricably tied to their self-concept, and a challenge to their ‘intelligence’ can become an affront to their identity. A more constructive approach is to alternatively adopt a “growth mindset” wherein the understanding of intelligence becomes a site of development instead of a static capacity, thus encouraging persistence and challenge.

Traditional learning psychology has long advocated a five-stage pedagogy – Tell, Show, Do, Review, and Ask. Lecture with examples, have students do exercises and activities, review the content and ask or assess. Neuroscience is helping to ‘flip’ this model, as we have been told to ‘flip’ our classrooms. According to the findings, students don’t learn by listening, viewing, doing, reviewing and testing – at least not effectively and efficiently. Instead, we should have our students DO first, followed by showing, then telling, finally reviewing and asking. Do. Show. Tell. Review. Ask. This approach encourages students to confront the conceptual challenges of the material first; instead of being coached beyond these hurdles initially, they must struggle and adapt to them, only then to be instructed.

These are just two of the exciting examples Dr. Borden presented in his Neuroscience + Learning Psychology (Education 3.0) workshop, but by no means are they comprehensive. Dr. Borden shared how our brain processes specific smells, sounds, and colors – processes that if incorporated effectively can increase and strengthen learning. For more information you can visit Pearson’s (and Dr. Borden’s) website at

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