VC7 – Brain Based Learning Techniques

James Tapankov: The VC7 – Brain Based Learning Techniques in VC
At Elevate 2008

This session will explore the use of brain-based learning techniques in the videoconferencing environment. The VC7 is a list of seven approaches that are guaranteed to enhance the level of interactivity and value to every VC, regardless of its focus. The session will involve the history of the development of the VC7, from its beginning roots to the current project with the VCRLN (Videoconferencing Regional Leads Network) to develop an online multimedia reference to highlight effective aspects of learning via VC.

I’ve been really looking forward to this session since I read the blurbs for the sessions at Elevate. I’m so interested in what the 7 things are!! James doesn’t have this information online anywhere that I could find, but last night at dinner he gave me permission to blog his session, so you too, can learn about the VC7.

James’ work is influenced by that of Marcia Tate of Developing Minds and Stephen Covey, and Viktor Flankl – Man’s Search for Meaning. I’m impressed with the connection and grounding in theory.

His handout has room to write down the 7 things, room to scribble and draw. He does this session via videoconference as well.

Keys to Brain-Based Learning

  • Relaxed alertness
  • Orchestrated immersion in complete experience
  • Active processing

#1. Make it meaningful.

Get everyone involved ASAP. Give meaning right away. Why are we here? Allow input into the “how”. Have everyone to something in the first 5 minutes instead of listening. Aim learning at solving problems together. Process learning in multiple ways. Connect life experiences. Build in reflection.

#2. Get them active.

Build in reasons and opportunities to: move. talk. draw. role play. play games. sing/dance. SHARE. “The last thing you want is a videoconference that could be recorded and sent out and it would have the same effect.”

#3. Keep it fresh.

Chunk it up, change it up. Take timely breaks. Give things to do OFF camera. Do unexpected things. Plant a “mole”. Change participant perspectives. Use new tools.

Marcia’s rule – maximum length of an activity: average age – up to 20 age/minimum. Grade 5 students who are 10, then chunk 10 minutes. Adults, 20 minutes max.

Example of unexpected things. He had some “moles” to pull out this snack that he likes – and everyone would taste it. Garlic sauce covered pretzels.

#4. Engage the senses.

Use A/V cues. Involve peripheral learning. Provide physical props. Use music. Use smell/taste. Use touch.

Visuals around and behind you but you don’t actually reference. This goes along with my idea to crunch MysteryQuest to an hour and change some of the clues to being nonverbal – like the climate and human environment interaction clues.

How do you convey the other senses when VC only conveys sight and sound?

He talked about the project he did with Santa and how they used clues. One of the squares in a multipoint is a sign that said “everybody scream” and after they did, Santa came on screen. When the grinch came on that same screen they hand to ring their bells and sing a song to make him go away. They used a green screen to transport Santa in & out of the different places. Like Santa got stuck in the dungeon and they had to answer questions to get him out.

#5. Make it personal.

Connect a camcorder. Tell (appropriate) personal stories. Give things to do OFF camera. Do unexpected things. Plant a “mole”. Change participant perspectives. Use interactive digital tools.

He thinks the robotic movements of the camera are impersonal, so he likes the camcorder instead hooked into the aux ports. You can really quick zoom in on what is going on that you want the other site to see. Of course you have to have enough bandwidth to handle all the motion.

When you build relationships with people, you want to see their reactions. Kids love to be behind the camera running it. Hmm. I wonder if a camcorder plus PVX plus Promethean is where I should be heading with my “every classroom” project

#6. Engage their emotions.

Use music to direct/adjust mood and focus. Create opportunities for empathy. See first five points. James wants us to contribute too so that these don’t repeat quite so much.

#7. Celebrate the experience.

Encourage/reward risk. Enjoy your time together. Be silly when you can. Highlight progress made. Provide opportunity afterwards.

Celebrate what happens at the end of things – like the big bang finale in Jazz.

Low threat / high challenge for brain based learning.

So many “one-offs” happen, so provide an opportunity to keep connecting.

Presentation Tips

  • Play music while the people talk. When the music stops, everyone stops talking.
  • Use a parking lot to write down questions and comments for afterwards.
  • “I’d love to hear 3 comments.” and he gave away 3 pens.

James has set up a wiki to continue the conversation and wants us all to contribute and extend these ideas. Gotta add this to the Read Around the Planet materials for this year!

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