Navigation North is proud to receive recognition for the research-based work we have conducted with our colleagues at the Smithsonian in developing and shaping the Smithsonian Learning Lab. Digital Promise convened experts at Teachers College, Columbia University to review and selected one exemplary company and two honorable mentions in each category. EdSurge reported on the findings, identifying Smithsonian Learning Lab for its work with extensive nation-wide teacher testing and prototyping to inform development and design.
While many teams lean heavily on marketing trends reports or committees of experts to understand classroom needs, we have found the need to balance those types of approaches with regular work directly in classrooms with teachers and students. Here is a recent snapshot of this work around digital tools and resources designed specifically for teenage learners.
Working in coordination with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) researchers, Navigation North examined strategies, processes, and tools that engage students and promote deep, sustained inquiry.
Persistent scaffolding and questions, student notation and annotation of resources, visual indicators of student progress, and peer to peer collaboration, were a handful of the elements we observed as generated from both a survey of over 120 pieces of contemporary literature and studies on teen-use of digital learning tools and systems, and an inventory of the features contained within the top 10 predominant learning management systems and social media platforms actively used by teens across the U.S.
Distilling this information down allowed the Navigation North team to create a specific testing regimen using the Smithsonian Learning Lab as the primary environment for organization and distribution of learning resources and content for the student-testers.
All information collected is being organized into a report coming out soon as part of a Smithsonian Youth Access Grant in which Navigation North is contracted to lead and complete as part of their ongoing work as the lead design and developer of the Smithsonian Learning Lab.
As is usually the case, students delighted us with their intuition, instinctive aptitude for exploration and discovery, and direct feedback on what worked and what did not:
“I like all the information connected to what I’m looking at so I can add my own notes to understand later.”
“I prefer to have a way to type up what I am finding or even what I don’t fully understand when looking at the online videos. Then I can check that against what I’m reading later in the lesson.”
“If I could take what I typed directly on the picture and then use that in my answers on the test at the end, that would be what I would change.”
“I was hoping to find more information on light sabres… I mean, come on man.”
One activity had students selecting contemporary applications for some of Emerson and Thoreau’s quotes, so it was fitting when we saw one student select the following Thoreau adage, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Whenever we go into the classroom, we always see more. A big THANK YOU goes out to the teachers who opened their classrooms to us and our colleagues from the Smithsonian, and the willingness of the students to expose their thinking, their processes, and candid feedback so we may learn from them.