by Stephen Downes
[Sept] 10, 2014
Are Laptops Really Bad For Learning?
In this good summary of the results of the recent study comparing note-taking with pen and laptop Darren Kuropatwa also points to the underlying reason to be sceptical about the conclusion. In the three studies students performed better on tests after taking notes with the pen, rather than the laptop. The study authors suggest "laptops may be doing more harm in classrooms than good." But that's not what the results show. Rather, Kuropatwa notes, "laptop is highly correlated with verbatim note-taking," which is not an effective way to take notes. A broef oral warning would not be enough to change that tendency. "Students don't automatically know how to take notes; it's a learned skill, one we have to teach." Moreover, he says, "we have to ask, is taking notes in a lecture hall what we mean by "learning"? Surely what we mean by 'learning' is a far richer experience than that." Correct, on both counts.
Why can't you comment on this post? #indieweb
OK, so I've played around with this a bit and think I've figured it out. It's what I think my Referrer System, which I built in 2002, would have become had it grown up (it peaked at 800K hits per day, and I didn't have the resources to sustain that). The idea here is that, if you read something and you want to comment, you comment on your own page, not the page you're reading. Then what happens is that your system sends the other system a notification saying you've added a comment (you can also send it manually). The other system can then do whatever it wants with that notification (a typical use would be to list your comment along with others under the article). None of the documentation I've seen so far is particularly clear (and as usual there us no Perl reference code). Here's an explanation and code from Ben Werdmuller, here's more from Indieweb, and here's a service that (confusingly) supports it called Bridgely. I hope it's successful, because it creates a distributed web, not one centralized on social networks.
Personal Health Data: It’s Amazing Potential and Privacy Perils
It's hard to underestimate the potential to improve both health and learning through the analysis of personal data. I think of my own experience with Runkeeper to track my cycling. But as Beth Kanter writes, "one can’t help to wonder the consequences of giving your data over to a private company without a clearly defined policies that protects us." The same questions apply in education - and in some cases run more deeply, because unlike in the case of personal apps, education providers aren't even telling us when they're aggregating and analyzing data. Good article, with reference to sources like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "path towards responsible health data research" and Lucy Bernholz's The Why of Data Ethics.
Mute the Messenger
Walter Stroup offered evidence to show that standardized tests measure test-taking ability more than they measure knowledge, and that the teacher has only a small impact on the final assessment. "According to Stroup’s initial calculations, that constancy accounted for about 72 percent of everyone’s test score." A later recalculation suggests it's more like 50%. But still, that's pretty significant. "Regardless of a teacher’s experience or training, class size, or any other classroom-based factor Stroup could identify, student test scores changed within a relatively narrow window of about 10 to 15 percent."
The publishers and testing industry, of course, struck back - not in open debate, but in the shadows. "Stroup had picked a fight with a special interest in front of politicians. The winner wouldn’t be determined by reason and science but by politics and power. Pearson’s real counterattack took place largely out of public view, where the company attempted to discredit Stroup’s research." *sigh* See also. Photo: University of Texas.
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe,
Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own,
you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.