by Stephen Downes
Dec 26, 2014
Can a Child’s Creativity and Persistence be Assessed by a Game?
A 'stealth assessment' is "seamless and ubiquitous, providing important feedback to the student and creating a model of the learner that can help teachers tap the individual needs of each student." Consider, for example, the Physics Playground, where the laws of physics act as a pervasive force in the background, silently determining whether the scenario has been correctly constructed. Katrina Schwartz observes, "The key is to create a game that teaches the concepts students need to learn without messing up the unique engagement that good games provide."
Education Should Step Away from Apple Devices
Authentic 21st Century Teaching & Learning,
This is a conclusion I have already reached and is behind my decision to ditch my MacBook Pro, my iPod, and the horde of other knickknacks that go with an Apple purchase (because the spending on these things never ends). "After examining iPad implementation across the province, country and abroad over the last six years I have come to determine that it is simply not designed for shared use in education. This contradicts the very idea of what it means to collaborate – a 21st century skill we can all agree upon. It would seem that Apple’s philosophy when it comes to education is share less buy more."
'If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Manage It': Not True
Of course the sentiment expressed in the title has always been false. It is even somewhat surprising how many people act as though it were true. One thing I like about this article is how easily it transfers to education. The author writes, "Teachers are actually managing something far more important than test scores. They’re managing, massaging, inspiring, reinforcing and jollying along the only thing that helps a kid learn, which is the energy and trust in the classroom." Via Harold Jarche.
I Will Not Post This
Subtitled "the coming age of self-censorship" this article discusses the way the internet critics pile on when you tweet or write something inappropriate - or, as in the case of Donald Sterling, get recorded tirading through a racist rant. The conclusion, writes Dave Pell, is that "these new realities will lead us down path towards self-censorship." He writes as though this is a bad thing. But let's think this through. The examples he raises are actually all pretty despicable. If by "self-censorship" he means "not launch into racist tirades," then my response is, bring on self-censorship. Students are always taught "be careful what you pur on Facebook." But a much better lesson is, "be careful what you do." Not because it might end up on Facebook, though it might. But because, if it's wrong when it's all over the internet, it was wrong when you did it in private too. This and the next item via Doug Peterson.
Outside the Skinner Box
Independent School Magazine,
Gary Stager reprises his restatement of Seymour Papert's educational philosophy in this article touting learning by creating and by programming. "The satisfaction, personal efficacy, and knowledge construction resulting from the act of making something is well established," he writes. "Schools embracing the energy, tools, and passion of the Maker Movement recognize that, for the first time in history, kids can make real things - and, as a result, their learning is that much more authentic."
The moos you can moo
This article looks at news reports that anthropomorphize elements of scientific reports and, as a consequence, misrepresent their conclusions. In this case, scientists examine how cows use distinctive calls to communicate with offspring. The news media adds a human element to this behaviour by saying these are "names" for the calves. What's happening is that the news media, by describing cows as though they were human, are essentially making stuff up. Geoff Pullman writes, "They actually print what are obviously lies, even when the text of the same article makes it clear that they are lying."
I think the same thing happens in educational writing. If this article, for example, we are told about "the brain’s danger detector, the amygdala, being down-regulated, trading energy normally spent on vigilance for heightened focus and enhanced recall." But the brain is doing no such thing; that is an interpretation of a set of neural phenomena. Or this: "the human brain locks down episodic memories in the hippocampus." Or this, "the eyes and hands of children save memories for them." Assigning cognitive functions to things that do not have cognitive capacities is pernicious anthropomorphism, and it imposes a theory of self on the evidence that has no basis in reality.
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.