I have several issues. I will order them by importance:
- Lack of time
- Personal memory curve
- Organization (or lack of...)
Now your turn!
If the task is a challenge or not. If not, no need to bother.
I'm giving a talk to a group of learning advisors in a few weeks. I've done a sort of guest provoker spot for them before. This year the topic is "Technology tool or toy - what technologies are learners using to help them learn?"
as opposed to what teachers use to try to help (make?) learners learn.
I've been asking around: Google, EBSCO, the photocopier, M$ word have all come up.
Evernote is common in some mindsets. One student suggested Google calendar and sms was his friend, that just organisation was critical.
One adult student said "Form,y real stuff, you can't beat youtube, especially if it is cooking"
What technologies do you guys use? And any links to helpful stuff, I'd be interested.
Also suggestions for a catchy title.
About technology, I've heard there is a new file format especially developed for educational purpose.
It's called Smart Book.
It's not released yet. Let's see if it comes out before your presentation. I'll pass you the link as soon as I can.
About the title: please don't start with numbers, I like: "5 new stuff about... "
Great Adrian, re smart book, thanks, Hope it is an open standard - I've Googled, it is very well hidden out there.
OK. No starting with numbers. I don't do this anyway. What if I find out something new before I speak?
Your question about Learning. Probably nothing much stops me from learning. (Discussion and debate about the word aside). I did have a pretty frustrating time trying to join a MOOC yesterday to find it was no longer offered by Harvard, and the Edx offering was "starting" in September. I returned to YouTube.
I'm ________ to brew beer at the moment. (Somehow discovering and inventing doesn't quite fit there Steve!!, although arguably 'discovery' is possible) My problem?? Time.
I don't remember saying anything about open standard. So it might not be.
a bit of hype for you... :0) might be useful....gamification....eh....concept/hype or reality....am toying with that here....well thinking about it anyway
5) How about use of the term "learn"? It always bring back that statement to "Go home and learn your times tables..." not to mention that damaging mantra "Life Long Learners". How about using Discovery and Invention? Personally, I have totally stopped using the L word with my students.
Good point. Let's change "learn" for "study" or just "read".
Let's here some more difficulties. Personal or from your students...
OK, I was going hold of on this but here goes it anyway:
6 ) Educate students what "To Study" really means. In my reminiscence, I recall "Now go home and study your Earth Science". These words have been corrupted so much that students are turned off by them. I never use the "S" word in my classes either.
We have to find ways for students to help them break the drummed in definitions into actually being able to do a study and, believe it or not, enjoy it for the rewards of discovery. Invention and Discovery are kicked out by wording and result of the "core curriculum" for the need to get grades on exams. In my classes, I totally down play all assessments and focus on the adventure of the course. "You won't pass my course just by getting good grades on exams."
I have been starting my first day with something like "You are not going to study or learn anything in the is class..." I pause for at least 30 (long) seconds to let that sink in. "Now that I have your attention, what I hope you do in this course is educate ME about HTML". (Algebra, VisualBASIC, or MS office depending on the course).
I learn a lot from my students.
I know I am diverting here: see this abstract from 2013:
Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping
"Educators rely heavily on learning activities that encourage elaborative studying, whereas activities that require students to practice retrieving and reconstructing knowledge are used less frequently. Here, we show that practicing retrieval produces greater gains in meaningful learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. The advantage of retrieval practice generalized across texts identical to those commonly found in science education. The advantage of retrieval practice was observed with test questions that assessed comprehension and required students to make inferences. The advantage of retrieval practice occurred even when the criterial test involved creating concept maps. Our findings support the theory that retrieval practice enhances learning by retrieval-specific mechanisms rather than by elaborative study processes. Retrieval practice is an effective tool to promote conceptual learning about science"
I'm writing some material on how we recognise good teaching in classroom observations. I have not thrown out the L word quite yet. I try not to use the T word however.
I have a fundamental question. Your original question assumens that learning - or discovering, or inventing, or whatever we are going to call it - is something we all want to do.
May I ask: Why?
N.B. I hate to disrupt this exciting discussion. But I believe, why a person is motivated is necessary information in deciding how he should proceed.
Maybe it is like what I tell my students when they ask "Do we have to do the homework?" I say "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do..." After all, is it not that the only people with whom we are dealing are those that want to improve themselves? The question is asking what prevents that improvement. They are already motivated, no? Why ask why?
> They are already motivated, no?
This one is even more fundamental than my quesion. The counter question at the end sounds like, you are not so sure.
> Why ask why?
Good question. The only, admittedly general, answer I could give is that it is always better to ask rather than assume things. I hope we are talking of learning processes which need some time. It is not good if the foundation buckles during that time.
Maybe I should have said "Initially motivated" since they are here in the classroom. Some may be there by rote as if it is just the next step in a pattern while others have an awareness that there is a task/career driven process. Maybe is it that differentiation to what you refer. From either camp, they are probably not going to see the other pattern(s) and it is our job to explain the difference. In that tone, we can only hope that they become inspired. (Can motivation be taught?)
I still contend that a lot of this is dependent on their perception of (aversion to) the use of the "Study" and "Learn" among other abused words and clever alliterative slogans. For me, it was not until I trashed the K-12 applications of the terms and realized that we are developing architects of knowledge not "students".
In short: "I really don't care what you study or learn. I want to see what you can cultivate."
you have my full-stop on that.
Unfortunately, it was thinking like that that got me kicked out of a Tech Ed high school position near the New Haven CT. I guess I was a bit too progressive for them. The University seems to accept it though....
A popular way to categorise learning is (Benjamin) Bloom's (revised) taxonomy in order of depth and complexity:
- 4.1 Analysing, 4.2 Evaluating/Criticising, 4.3 Synthesising/Creating (some put these on the same level, others put them hierarchically)
Bloom's taxonomy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_taxonomy#Cognitive
Or adapted from Jean Piaget's concept of the stages of cognitive development in infants and children, the SOLO taxonomy attempts to categorise the stages of forming concepts and hypotheses:
- Unistructrual: one relevant aspect
- Multistructural: several relevant independent aspects
- Relational: integrated into a structure
- Extended Abstract: generalised into a new domain
John Biggs' SOLO taxonomy: http://www.johnbiggs.com.au/academic/solo-taxonomy/
I think these are useful as an introduction to the concept of different levels, depths, and types of learning and knowledge but ultimately misleading because, as Vygotsky and Leont'ev pointed out, we're dealing with concepts within concepts, systems within systems, and complex, interconnected, fluid, dynamic relationships between them that adapt to our experiences and needs, i.e. complex adaptive systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_adaptive_systems
Yeah, learning and teaching theory is complex. No doubt about that.
Have you ever explored Carnegie? He designed the classroom we use to day for the purpose of creating a working society to run the factories. We have never advanced from that structure. Now there is a motivational factor....
You maybe correct from the administrative side but but it still strips away any form of creativity and inspiration. Does Bloom or Piaget ever discuss motivation? These Clockwork definitions kill the Orange.
I wonder what would Alex and his droogs have to say about all this?
They're for helping to understand different types of learning rather than prescriptions of how to teach or develop curricula. Simply for us to be better informed when we make teaching and designing decisions.
So I have heard. Have you seen all those TED talks about how these taxonomies only there to appease the admins? They talk about how the more we apply the BT structure, the more we get BT structured answers from the students. (... and they are all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same...)
I, and the TED Talk lecturers wonder if herein lies the problem with structured education and maybe contains the explanations in "What keeps you from learning? What is your greatest difficulty?"
I just love this! Superb post Steve, really funny. Reminded me of a poem I used to share with trainee teachers.... forgive me- I just had to post it here:
NURSERY SCHOOL - FLOWERS
Yes, people's purposes, reasons, and motivations for studying are many and varied. In surveys, learners frequently don't have a clear, concise explanation of why but can give some rationalisations, "standard answers" (e.g. "to get a degree/diploma"), and some vague ideas about self-improvement. Then again, I'm not a big fan of relying too heavily on surveys, interviews, and self-reporting in general.
Perhaps it'd be helpful to be more explicit about what we mean by the terms we use. Rather than shying away from the word "learning", I think we should define what we mean by it. I think that we learn all the time and that it's an instinctive activity for us. The difficulties arise when we try to manipulate learning to a specific goal/end, AKA education and training.
I think there's also different types and levels of knowledge, understanding, and skills. For example, when we talk about training, we typically mean knowledge, understanding, and skills that are domain specific, e.g. for some kind of professional practice, and that we don't expect to transfer to other domains (although this can happen), whereas when we talk about education, we usually mean developing higher cognitive functions like literacy skills, analytical and critical thinking, logic and reasoning, and problem solving (although we're increasingly finding that training benefits greatly from developing these skills too).
Most people's ideas of training tend to revolve around behaviourism and the Skinnerian model of operant conditioning, i.e. punishments and rewards, sticks and carrots.
I heard the best explanation of the difference between education and training from Stephen Krashen in one of his highly entertaining plenaries: If your 12 year-old daughter comes home from school and tells you she had sex education today, you'll more than likely think it's a good idea and be pleased. However, if she comes home and tells you she had sex training...
On the subject of literacy skills, they're one of the strongest predictors of academic and professional success and Jim Cummins identified literacy engagement as one of the chief indicators to look out for in learners. I think this article puts forward a strong (psycholinguistic) case for developing literacy skills across curricula: Writing To Think: When a Student Can't Write It, Can She Think It? What High Achieving Students Have In Common http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/writing-to-think/
From what I've seen and what I've read, I'd say the biggest barrier to learning in education systems today is summative assessment, i.e. grades. Yes, it's necessary at some point but more often than not, it's used inappropriately. Even worse, some people have started calling summative assessment formative assessment, i.e. feedback. Rule of thumb; If it's a number, percentage, grade, letter, row of stars, a bag of sweets or anything like that, it's summative assessment. If it's meaningful, supportive, feedback that gives you personalised advice about what you can do next, it's formative assessment. BTW, the meaningful and personalised bits mean pragmatic meaning which computers don't have a clue about (most people's ideas of AI are based on SciFi movies and TV shows than on actual AI research and knowledge).
Anyway, Alfie Kohn laid out why summative assessment, used inappropriately is harmful and counterproductive to learning:
- Grades tend to reduce students' interest in the learning itself.
- Grades tend to reduce students' preference for challenging tasks.
- Grades tend to reduce the quality of students' thinking.
- Grades aren't valid, reliable, or objective.
- Grades distort the curriculum.
- Grades waste a lot of time that could be spent on learning.
- Grades encourage cheating.
- Grades spoil teachers' relationships with students.
- Grades spoil students' relationships with each other.
For explanations of these points please see the article here: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/fdtd-g.htm
BTW, Finland has made it illegal for a state school teacher to give a grade to their learners up to university entry age. They also spend less time in class and start school around the age of 7. Their scores in the OECD's PISA tests consistently appear around the top of the list (but there's lots of other reasons why that happens too).
Well stated Matt Bury! I have divorced the 100 point grading system for quite some time. Some grading is needed by order of the system but I find that it needs to be motivational instead. When I tell students that they do exactly what the book or assignment says, then they get 50% of the points or a C. Go beyond the assignment by looking ahead or being imaginative, they can be in the B range or 75% of the points. Go beyond the course and teach me something, then you can get up to 100% of the points.
You can certainly imagine the argument but I tell them that this is the way it is in the real world of work. You do average and you blend in with the rest of the production line workers and will not be noticed for promotion, special projects or even a raise.
It takes about 25% of the course to realize that they cannot just wait it out for me to give in and they start enjoying the course through Discovery and Invention (My key words for my courses) when they realize how easy it is "make the grade". As a result, I get very interesting projects because the students own them.
As a summary, until now we have:
- Lack of time ||
- Personal memory curve
- Organization (or lack of...) ||
- Motivation |||
- Summative Assessment ||
I see Motivation is in the top. What about "concentration" or "Infoxication" (too much information in too many places, hard to select and read interesting information)?
goodness, this has rocked up some noise....I need to read through...as there are many interesting tangents....and I do stick with my original 'personal' declaration....for me it is about degree of challenge and if there is a lack of challenge-of which I perceive-then I am not interested-yet, my point is that many authentic learning oppts exist...which may not stretch me in the ways I expect but still have value...so I guess we can add perception of task/motivation-as Visvanath suggested and self-efficacy/self belief....and a dearth of other psychological elements....p'rhaps :0)
Oh come on all ladies out there.....your thoughts? Tis lonely here all on my own :0)
Do you think that lack of time and lack of organisation are very similar in most people's cases?
Re: tiredness, yes, fatigue, especially from irregular sleep habits and/or lack of sleep, seems to have strong negative effects on cognitive function, especially executive function: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_function Deliberate, purposeful learning is possibly the most cognitively demanding activity we do.
Perhaps one we can add to the list is multitasking. Here's my favourite video on the topic:
Had a look through this thread, really interesting. There are lots of concepts (e.g. learning) and stuff- yep I would agree, need to be unpicked in more depth, otherwise tis all a bit general...but general is cool eh :0)
One concept I want to address here, is that of Exec Function. While it is interesting to read the links between lack of sleep and effect on related cognitive activity-what is also noteworthy is the fact that developmental variances can exist (delay and highly sophisticated), which in turn can impact on the learning process/outcomes.
An interesting text by Prof Simon Baron Cohen @Cambridge sheds some light on the biological/neuro differences that can exist
The Essential Difference: Male And Female Brains And The Truth About Autism
Here is the blurb:
We all know the opposite sex can be a baffling, even infuriating, species. Why do most men use the phone to exchange information rather than have a chat? Why do women love talking about relationships and feelings with their girlfriends while men seem drawn to computer games, new gadgets, or the latest sports scores? Does it really all just come down to our upbringing? In The Essential Difference, leading psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen confirms what most of us had suspected all along: that male and female brains are different. This groundbreaking and controversial study reveals the scientific evidence (present even in one-day-old babies) that proves that female-type brains are better at empathizing and communicating, while male brains are stronger at understanding and building systems-not just computers and machinery, but abstract systems such as politics and music. Most revolutionary of all, The Essential Difference also puts forward the compelling new theory that autism (and its close relative, Asperger's Syndrome) is actually an example of the extreme male brain. His theory can explain why those who live with this condition are brilliant at analyzing the most complex systems yet cannot relate to the emotional lives of those with whom they live. Understanding our essential difference, Baron-Cohen concludes, may help us not only make sense of our partners' foibles, but also solve one of the most mysterious scientific riddles of our time.
I'll vote for:
1, 5, infoxication and 2 in that order.
I'll also toss in intoxication. There's always a point late at night after one too many glasses of merlot when I should just stop.
As an aside and in light of the conversation about learning/training/study/etc. I like to think that learning is taking place at all times. You might not be learning about what the topic/subject on the table is but learning is going on. Sleep is a very important part of learning, it's when the brain sorts out everything. I'm a strong advocate of doing nothing as a way of learning and not just because that suits my purposes either ;)
Sam, I like reading your posts.
Ummmm....a very obvious gag on its way...but couldnt resist....tis ever so rude!
When you say:
I'll also toss in intoxication. There's always a point late at night after one too many glasses of merlot when I should just stop.
Do you mean stop tossing at that point-late at night! He he.
Sorry, as I said tis a bit rude. (But, come-on very funny