by Stephen Downes
Jul 04, 2016
The rise of free thinking (and free love) in the United States the 1960s came as a surprise to many people. In retrospect, it shouldn't have. After the second world war the American government unleashed a propaganda effort to make sure it didn't happen again. This video is one part of that effort. But even more pervasive were the radio advertisements that defended 'the American way' (you can listen to one here; or another; read more about the campaign here) and fueled the demand for an education. These campaigns influenced an entire generation (who also smoked, loved cars, were obsessive about fresh breath, and believed in better living through chemistry). The content of the radio programs reinforced these values. This campaign was for the most part beneficial. But we know that the effect works both ways, that media can promote hate and racism and incite populations to genocide. So it's relevant to ask what media are saying to people today, and more importantly, how society can resist the relentless pull of propaganda. It's hard - the messages get you while you're you and listening to Superman serials, waiting with a willing mind to follow examples and meet expectations.
Good post on the basics of gamification that begins (as it should) by distinguishing between game-based learning and gamification. "Gamification isn't new, it is based on the nature of human learning. Since the beginning of our species, challenges and threats have propelled us to learn. These are the basis of gamification, just to create an environment in which realism and motivation are used to engage and empower a student." Note that the Spanish language version probably reads more smoothly.
The Guardian has not had a good few weeks, and this article continues the trend. The thesis is simple: Sugata Mitra "brushes aside all established thinking about education." Why, "Even Jean Piaget’s supposedly immutable stages of child development – familiar to every trained teacher – now need a rethink, according to Mitra." But there is no research supporting his position. "His claims need to be tested by properly controlled experiments that allow for the galvanising effects temporarily created by any new idea, which will lead to papers published in reputable, peer-reviewed academic journals." So, "to convince us of that, I fear, he needs far better evidence than he has or seems likely to get."
So I ask: why should Mitra be concerned about convincing an editorialist for the Guardian, particularly one that still believes Piaget? Why is Mitra right only if published in certain journals? He's right if the evidence says he's right, no matter who writes it, who it convinces or where it's published. As for the suggestion that "he needs fully independent evaluation, including a means of measuring long-term results after the novelty effects wear off," I say "Fine. You pay for it. You conduct it. It's not up to Mitra to do this, and not a failing of his that he hasn't."
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