Patrick Dickson
Michigan State University

W. Patrick Dickson is a professor of educational psychology with interests in human development, multimedia learning environments, and cross-cultural research. His teaching and research activities focus on applying lifespan developmental perspectives to the design of new learning environments. He is also exploring how the internet can be used to create links among students and teachers around the world, as well as links between schools and out-of- school settings, including homes and science museums.
Ph.D., Stanford University

Thank You for Helping Dr. Dickson By Taking His Survey

Please complete this short, optional survey about showcasing student work:
Your responses will be shared with everyone as food for thought and discussion.
Video keynote notes:

Here goes! Five points in five minutes. Emily will give you a pop quiz to see who can write down the five points.

1. Online learning is the future... your students future, your future... and the future is coming at us faster and faster. You all are ahead of the curve in both technology and in learning to learn online. Most teachers have not had these valuable experiences, so you have an obligation to lead.

K-12 online is growing rapidly, yet most of us in education have little awareness of this trend. A national organization, iNACOL, hosts an annual conference and the website has links to resources on this trend.

Take a look at Emily Stone's portfolio.. she graduated from MSU four years ago and is now teaching a fifth grade class completely online. Her website is an excellent example of how to use your "web presence" (of which the capstone portfolio can be a part or a start) to convey your passion for teaching. In the new global interconnected world, every person... all of your students... need to learn how to harness the Web to advance their careers and as a tool for personal expression.

2. Out of school hours are the greatest as yet untapped resource for enhancing your students' learning. Most teachers and schools are not giving enough attention to how to have students learn more outside the classroom ... afternoons, nights, weekends, and summers.

The resources on the Web for students to learn on their own are vast beyond dreaming in years past, and yet we as educators are rarely coaching our students on how to educate themselves... the essential lifelong learning skill.

Tools like Blackboard automatically gather data on time of day and day of week students are online. I did a study at the Michigan Virtual School and found that in some courses, students were active nights and weekends, sometimes after midnight.
bar graph of time of day
In other courses, not a click was to be found outside school hours.

By design, we can encourage students learning outside school day. You can download this study at:
    Toward a Deeper Understanding of Student Performance in Virtual High School Courses

Summer Vacation: Prime time for learning and prime time for forgetting. Many U.S. schools have eliminated summer programs due to budget cuts. These summer programs once provided enrichment and creative experiences. And for low achieving students, the evidence is clear that their skills decrease during the summer while educationally privileged students' skills increase. The Web offers wonderful opportunities for schools (and teachers) to support student learning during the summer.

How many of you attended summer camp?  How many attended a virtual summer camp?

Robin Dickson's work with about a thousand middle school students this summer using math and science Gizmos (TM) in Virtual Summer Camps is an example of extending the reach of schools into out of school hours. (Robin, by the way, was the first student to ever earn a completely online masters degree from MSU's College of Education.)

3. Learning from conferences you do not attend. Conferences like the one you are holding for your colleagues today are great. I've looked at your program and wish I could attend. But conferences are bound in time and space, expensive, and you often cannot get to every session. A few years ago I assigned some undergraduate students to see what they could learn from a conference they did NOT attend... by going to the conference site, reading the program, downloading presentations, and especially looking up the websites of the keynote speakers. (All the famous people on the rubber chicken circuit have terrific resources on their websites... except me.) The students came back bubbling over with excitement at what they found... free and explored at their convenience.

    History of this idea showing how we learn from our students: The idea for learning from a conference you do not attend came up in CEP 416 in Spring 2006. This was the first time this course had been taught in five years. I taught it as an experimental class and it has led to the regular offering of this course. Emily Stone (then Merrill) was one of the dozen guinea pigs in this class.  I wanted them to attend MACUL, but at $115 plus travel to Detroit, and it being held at spring break, none really wanted to attend. So I came up with this assignment to learn from a MACUL they did NOT attend. I think they learned more than if they had attended and they learned an approach that will work for them in the future.  Here's that original assignment: Your Information Strategy: Mining Conferences.

I recommend this as a powerful strategy for your professional development... learning from conferences you do not attend.

I hope that the work you present today at your PLATE conference does not vanish into thin air when it is over. We all... individually and as schools and programs ... need to realize the value of preserving and sharing good work over time and space.

Which brings me to my fourth point... saving and sharing good work.

4. Portfolios are powerful ways of enhancing learning by sharing good work. I could talk for hours* on this point, but I hope you've all seen the power of this idea by virtue of your being able to see the portfolios of other students. Imagine none of those portfolios were shared... that all these creative examples had disappeared as soon as the capstone seminar was over.

* Reading: Portfolios on the Web: A Shared Resource for Personal & Institutional Improvement.

I find that very few teachers keep and share their students' good works. The Web makes it possible and essentially free, but at the end of every school year, the good work often goes home with the students.... work that could help you teach well next year.

Showcase of Your Students' Work. So I strongly recommend that all teachers have a "showcase of students' work" as part of their portfolio. This is a newer requirement for the capstone portfolio and the teachers seem to view it as a valuable . I'm working on a paper about this that I'll try to share with you all in the fall.

5. Don't waste your time giving feedback that doesn't make a difference! I've been mulling a lot lately about time and how we use our time. I've written a little piece* about this that you can read. The crux of it is that we should all focus on "Return on Investment" of our time. If we are going to spend our time giving feedback filled with suggestions for improvement, we should only do this if we give it to our students at a time and in a way that our students really have to take it seriously and make revisions.

    * Reading: Ruminations on ROI on Your Time Spent Giving Feedback to Your Student.

Well that's it... Five minutes, five points. I wish I were there with you and I wish you could all be here with Robin and me. Enjoy your conference and your colleagues." (end of video)

Thank you all for your patient watching of the video. I hope these notes are interesting and I'd welcome any comments or suggestions.  Patrick.