OK, New Year's Resolutions, Here We Come With New Ideas On Revolutionary STEM

Remember our RE@L New Year Resolutions from January 1, 2017? Well, we do….so here’s what we resolved to do even better:

Our New Year’s RE@L resolution is to continue to bring you: 

  • An array of topical, timely RE@L blogs on EdTech and STEM, 
  • Reviews of other insightful bloggers and pioneering leaders, 
  • Helpful Case Studies and Results from experienced, passionate educators 

So, here we present a brand new year’s Blog excerpt from TheEdAdvocate.org on a topic dear to our RE@L hearts:

“How to revolutionize STEM education amongst millennials via social media channels,” by Guest Blogger Dahlton Grover.

Her interesting blog addresses our first two RE@L resolutions of “Topical STEM” from other “Insightful Bloggers.’

Read on:

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Dahlton Grover

“Millennials grew up in a unique era of transition as the Internet began to flourish and social networking was born. They were the first generation to have seemingly unlimited resources to learn from, which altered the way they learn, think about and feel about knowledge. The result is a world of visual learners craving digital content. With this unique disposition, millennials don’t learn the same way baby boomers did, so our education techniques must grow and change accordingly.

Educators have the opportunity to utilize a plethora of new technologies in order to increase student engagement, and encourage what is known as a participatory culture. For STEM education, this type of culture optimizes results.

When it comes to STEM education, people are starting to really take notice. STEM certainly had merit 20 years ago when the term first came into use, but recently it has taken seed and grown enormously. Why now? Social media is certainly one force driving awareness. Some experts believe the exorbitant use of social media has effectively created a culture of instant gratification and lessened learning, but is this really accurate?

As the millennial generation grew up with social media in a fast paced information-age, they also helped to transform it into something more useful. The first social sites such as MySpace were out of style as soon as millennials had their fun and were ready to move on. Next on the landscape was Facebook, which statistics now indicate is also on the decline in terms of millennial usage. So what have millennials moved onto? Fast-paced, information-rich sites that incorporate bite-sized pieces of data coupled with visual stimulation in the form of either photo or video.

Instagram and Tumblr are exploding because of the seamless flow of information they have created, which also satisfies the craving for visual stimulation amongst millennials. How are these new sites revolutionizing the way people see STEM? Not only do they easily connect people with like-minds and interests, but it also allows the world to see innovation in action. STEM-based hash tags like #EdChat, #STEMEd and #Dronestagram are proof that social sites are creating a world of participatory culture by showcasing STEM in its raw, honest form. Sites like Reddit are encouraging this on an even grander scale.

Reddit is a community news forum.  Unlike Instagram and Tumblr, Reddit does not allow images or visuals in the posting system, but it still delivers a continuous stream of information on a variety of topics.  With Reddit, the world is getting smaller, meaning getting information and finding a community with similar interests is becoming increasingly easier. For example, Reddit hosts what are known as AMAs or Ask Me Anything forums. Click on the graphic to the right for their website

Many of the hosts in these forums are STEM professionals ranging from NASA astronauts to geologists. Students of all ages have the opportunity to question them about the work they are doing and their profession in general. This type of forum is exactly what STEM students need to get them excited about learning, and encourage STEM dialogue to become a part of their daily lives. It has been proven that people gain the majority of their science knowledge outside of formal classroom, and social sites like Reddit are helping to encourage this more and more….

Water-Capture-1….So what does all this mean for STEM educators around the world? How can they utilize this information within their unique teaching methodologies? The answer to this is not black and white. Creativity is needed and student input is extremely helpful. If students have a lot of fun learning through organic Reddit feeds, researching STEM feeds could be a potential project. If students are Instagram-lovers, encourage them to find some of the most popular STEM-based accounts and put together a compilation of their top posts and explain the STEM content each illustrates.

Or, if students want to learn computer coding, open-source software can be easily used in classrooms to encourage student-driven learning. Whatever the project may be, social media and learning go together hand-in-hand. Social networking is so much more now than where it began, and has generated a world of self-taught, lifelong learners. Even more important is that many of these sites encourage dialogue, which reinforces the idea of a participatory culture and fosters confidence in student’s abilities. Social media can be used in so many different ways within the classroom, and often inspires students to continue actively seeking information outside of school, which many STEM educators work to achieve.”

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Those are some mighty fine STEM insights from Ms. Grover. Social media is one of the big keys to spreading STEM far and wide and deep!

UnknownOur last resolution on STEM Case Study will be forthcoming very soon and from one of our previous Guest Bloggers, Tami Brass, a STEM teacher dedicated to pushing the boundaries of more and better STEM.

Here’s a link to her previous guest blog on Mrs. Mead’s Magic Seeds, a fascinating read. Stay tuned!

 

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.