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The 90-million teacher SOLE

Today is April 19, 2020. The universities where I teach responded to the Coronavirus crisis 2 weeks ago. Like most universities in Japan, all courses will go 100% online, starting late April to early May. It’s a muddled, panicky situation. By the time it was clear that students could not take on-campus lessons as planned, […]

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Three reasons you should try SOLEs in your English classes

The image above shows a group of Meijo University freshmen on July 16, 2016, the first time I used Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) as a supplemental activity in a university English class. At the time I had little confidence that it would work, but it turned out to be a hugely successful experiment for […]

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SOLEs – spirals, and how to chop an onion

Self Organized Learnng Environments (SOLEs), and institutionally organized learning environments (schools) can teach the same things. They can both teach math, history, sciences, philosophy, and so on. While SOLEs are generally less directed than schools, both can be used to tackle specific lessons. For example, when I was a university undergrad back in the 1980s, […]

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Where SOLEs fit in theories of learning

Some of the most popular and successful modern learning theories are listed above in the HoTEL (Holistic Approach to Technology Enhanced Learning) diagram. These are the theories that are effecting new approaches to education, and many of them shed light on how Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) work. I won’t bore you by going through […]

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What is the purpose of my SOLE sessions? Are they a new take on English lessons, or something more?

A few weeks ago a new student came to SOLE Japan’s weekly high school session for a trial. We introduced ourselves and chatted for a bit, mostly in English. I explained the SOLE method to her: A Big Question (BQ) is presented to the students. The students work in groups researching answers to the question […]

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What is a “Big Question”?

For my purposes, Big Questions here are for inquiry based and self organized learning. First I’ll put down some notes on what I think a BQ should be. Then I’ll look at some other definitions I cherry-picked off the web. In my experience, a good BQ:- is for practical purposes open ended. Students should not be […]

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Issues involved in promoting collaborative learning

A teacher’s challenge in a modern well-run classroom is to encourage situations where the students participate and communicate with each other and interact with the course materials. However there are problems in course design; what works for some students might not work for others. Consider some of the reasons: lingusitic differences. In many western universities, […]

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The ethics of using behaviour management software in schools

There is an excellent education application called Classdojo which could, but perhaps should not, be used in your classroom. According to the ClassDojo website (2018), “ClassDojo is a communication app for the classroom. It connects teachers, parents, and students who use it to share photos, videos, and messages through the school day. They use ClassDojo […]

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Smart cities

Vancouver (pictured right; the Digital Orca is an acclaimed sculpture by Douglas Coupland) is  joining the Smart Cities Challenge: “The City of Vancouver is competing for $50 million in the Government of Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge . The competition recognizes Canadian cities that use data and connected technology to address local issues. Smart cities have […]

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Back at it

After a few years enjoying the comfortable feedback environment of Facebook, I  have returned to blogging. Fellow students in my Master’s program helped me put together a list of requirements for blogging. *** Blogging requires patience.  I’m not patient. I’ve started several blogs over the years, usually with great enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm dwindled and […]