Minds Online by Michelle Miller book review

Educating Minds Online by Michelle Miller – A Reflection

Educating Minds Online by Michelle Miller

by Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin CowinJasmin

Educating Minds Online was written by Michelle Miller, a Professor, teacher and cognitive scientist. The book’s focus is on weaving her broad knowledge of the field together with a roadmap for truly effective teaching with technology.

Miller discusses in-depth cognition, online learning, mental processes and the cognitive resources needed to transform online content into concrete learning outcomes for students. Her focus on how attention works from both neurological and psychological perspectives has implication for classroom and online design. She states: “Attention is the complex and somewhat mysterious process of allocating limited cognitive resources across myriad competing demands. It is intimately tied up with consciousness, perception and memory, involving multiple structures within the brain, ” Her findings are backed up by multiple sources, research and experiments.

One key factor is her description of attentional limitations crossing all sectors of intelligence and personal ability. The Inattentional blindness effect demonstrates how narrow personal focus can be in learning. Much of chapter four is devoted to experiments focusing on divided attention and the negative learning outcomes of the participating subjects. A key fact pertinent to teachers is that “attention is limited.” Generally, there is a personal disconnect between perceived and actual capacity handling multiple tasks at once. Most people think they can juggle multiple tasks at once when really they can’t.

However, scaffolded, repeated practice can lead to automaticity and working memory. Students with a strong capacity to access needed information and filtering out irrelevant information are more successful in retaining and synthesizing information and content. Miller then analyzes selective attention abilities and how they relate to learning and academic achievement.

As stated by Miller, courses, therefore,  need to provide interleaving scaffolding and formats with several learning opportunities and repeated practice for all students, including those with ADHD, to manage students attentional limitations. Her strategies for successful online learning design are fourfold: Ask students to respond. Take advantage of automaticity. Assess cognitive load. Discourage divided attention. Therefore, important concepts in scaffolding online courses and delivering in-class modules “include repetition, organizing new language, summarizing meaning, guessing the meaning from context, and using imagery for memorization.”

 

Author: drcowinj

As an Assistant Professor for TESOL and Bilingual Programs at Touro College, Graduate School of Education Dr. Cowin’s focus is on the Responsibility to Touro Students (Teaching), Responsibility to the Discipline (Scholarship), Responsibility to Touro College and Community (Service). Dr. Cowin strives to inspire students to be creative and to model the love of lifelong learning by inculcating the habits and attitudes that create agile mindsets. 21st-century learning extends well beyond the classroom, and Dr. Cowin incorporates takes full advantage of online learning technologies for L2 language acquisition and current global trends in teaching English as a Second Language She represents high levels of scholarship and participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publication, presentation and participation in academic conferences, articles in Education Update, blogging and other scholarly activities, including public performances or exhibitions at conferences and workshops such as the Plekhanov University of Economics keynote address in 2018. Of special interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education, Current Global Trends in Teaching English; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English – Methodology; E-learning & Micro-Methodology in Teaching English; and E-Resources Discovery and Analysis.

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