My wife sent me this video from John Bennett, a math teacher. This was posted to YouTube back on 11/8/11.

In fact, if it were up to me, I’d would no longer require math to be taught…in middle school and high school.

NOTES:

  • 300 million people in the U.S. (as John mentioned back in October 2011)
    • 1.5 million engineers
    • 1/2 of a percent; and you can add another 1/2 of a percent for other kinds of jobs that require that kind of math
    • That leaves 99% of us in the United States who don’t use what we learned about in middle school and high school math classes. But the problem is, math has caused major stress for people in the last 40 years.
  • John Bennett had some major cognitive dissonance to the reasons WHY he was suggesting his students know the math concepts that he was trying to relay.
  • He came to ask, “When do most of us use math in real life?”
    • Money. Financial stuff. Balancing checkbook. Tipping. Cooking and carpentry.
  • Why are we still teaching algebra? Because it teaches us about inductive and deductive reasoning. Math helps us develop that kind of reasoning.
  • So a better plan would be to:
    • Let people who want to take math in middle school and high school take it.
    • For the rest of the students, provide strategy games and logic puzzles that help develop those cognitive reasoning skills.

From DSC:
When this math teacher meets people out in society, people confess how much stress math brought to them in school….and they’re aren’t joking.

Given that we are all required to be lifelong learners these days, I love what John Bennett is saying here…because we really aren’t serving society at large by requiring math be taught in middle school and high school.

  • It causes stress and very negative learning experiences for many people.
  • We don’t use it. (By the way, I could plug and chug ok, but I had no idea what I was doing. No real understanding. I haven’t used algebra and/or calculus since my youth.)

What does it take to change our curricula like that?! Is it possible? I sure hope so.

 

Healthy looks different on every body...and learning looks different with every mind.

From DSC:
What I mean by this is this:

While I certainly agree that research has produced excellent, proven, effective pedagogies that work with many students (the majority even), the fact is, learning is messy. When a child walks into a classroom, there isn’t even one other child with the exact same neural situation.

Nor is there even one other student with the exact same experiences, background, passions, motivations, interests, etc. I’ve experienced this with our daughter who isn’t a part of the 80% that the typical education train addresses. Look out if you are part of the 10% of either side of the bell curve! As your learning experiences are too costly to address and likely won’t be addressed in many cases.

All that said, I still agree that the teaching and learning strategies are still highly relevant across the masses. My point is that there is still a lot of diversity out there. They say that learning is messy for a reason. If you doubt that, go sit in on an IEP sometime.

 

Play is disappearing from kindergarten. It’s hurting kids. — from edsurge.com by  Joe Martin

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In an increasing number of schools, teachers of very young students are pressured to pack every moment of the day with structured, academically rigorous tasks. One recent whitepaper linked the practice to preparing kids for the long road of schooling ahead, in which progress is measured through standardized testing starting in third grade.

Friedrich Froebel, a pedagogue of modern education, coined the term “kindergarten” in 1840 after recognizing the importance of play in the development of young children. Inspired by the idea of a garden, he designed a classroom where the teacher presented children with objects, which they were allowed to play with in any way they could imagine. When they lost interest in one object, they would be presented with a new one to spark curiosity and creativity. Children were encouraged to grow and flourish in this free form, play-based environment.

From DSC:
Given that we are all into a lifelong learning situation now, I vote for more importance being placed on whether someone enjoyed their learning experience. That said, I know there is struggle in learning…and learning in the struggle. But we focus so much on grades and standardized testing. This robs the joy from the teaching and learning environment — for the teachers as well as for the kids.

Also see:

 

From DSC:
When I saw the learning space as pictured below, I couldn’t help but ask a couple of questions:

  • Doesn’t this look like a colorful, fun, engaging active learning space?
  • One that encourages communication and collaboration?

The natural light is wonderful. And the physical setup seems to let the students know that they will be collaborating with each other the second they walk into this learning space…and it does so without saying a word. 

This type of learning setup seems like learning could be very fun and collaborative!

 

Guides to help kids learn coding — from educatorstechnology.com

Excerpt:

Below is a collection of some of the best books to help your kids learn coding. Kids will get to learn the basics of computer coding through a wide variety of interactive visuals, engaging games and project-based  activities. They will also get to experiment with different softwares and programming languages such as Python, Java, Scratch and many more. Links to the books are under the visual.

From DSC:
I don’t subscribe to the idea/expectation that every student should become a programmer and have extensive exposure to it. Why? Because:

  1. It’s been my experience that programming requires a different kind of passion, a different way of thinking and processing information, a different way of problem-solving, a different disposition/makeup that many people (including myself) don’t have. This is one of the reasons why coders are often in such demand and are often paid so much — because the vast majority of people don’t want to do it (at least as programming exists today).
  2. I’d like to see our students enjoy their learning. In fact, I’d like to see more emphasis on students enjoying their learning, and far less on grades. Given the new reality of lifelong learning, folks’ quality of life would increase if that were the case. To expect everyone to be able to code applications of some significance is an entirely different matter.

All that said, I do think it’s helpful for students to at least have some exposure to how to program — a basic understanding of coding and what are some of the things that are involved in that space. To have an appreciation of the process, some basic syntax, what’s possible, etc. would be helpful. 

Introduction to programming classes should explain why programming is relevant, list some of the various languages out there, list some different kinds of applications that we use today, and provide some basic elements of programming. Perhaps students could create some very basic, fun things. This could wet some students’ whistles big-time, while helping other students come to the conclusion of, “Well, I tried it, but I don’t want to do this for a living.”

 

Measure for assessing how investing in spaces for learning results in a robust return for students, for the institution, & for the community beyond the campus — from pkallsc.org

Excerpts:

How do you make the case that the investment in institutional investment in the physical environment for learning makes a difference? How will you know? What evidence makes that case? From the LSC spaces that work collection II, some potential measures of success can be distilled. These stories about recent projects embrace but go beyond attention to impact of learners while students and alumni; they set forth project goals that are measurable, returns that will be benefit the institution in the future—in regard to increased enrollments and graduate rates, of collaborative research between campus and community and more.

 

Launch of NUVU Innovation School in Scotland — from cambridge.nuvustudio.com by Saba Ghole

Excerpt:

NuVu Innovation School, which officially opened its doors on October 10, provides a unique learning environment designed around creativity, innovation and enterprise. The new school is designed to face up to the challenge of a fast-moving jobs market and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

 

 

DC: In the future…will there be a “JustWatch” or a “Suppose” for learning-related content?

DC: In the future...will there be a JustWatch or a Suppose for learning-related content?

 

How augmented reality will overhaul our most crucial industries — from singularityhub.com by Peter Diamandis

Excerpts:

Healthcare
(1) Surgeons and physicians
(2) Assistance for those with disabilities
(3) Biometric displays

Retail & Advertising
(1) Virtual shopping
(2) Advertising

Education & Travel
(1) Customized, continuous learning

Within the classroom, Magic Leap One’s Lumin operating system allows multiple wearers to share in a digital experience, such as a dissection or historical map. And from a collaborative creation standpoint, students can use Magic Leap’s CAD application to join forces on 3D designs.

In success, AR’s convergence with biometric sensors and AI will give rise to an extraordinarily different education system: one comprised of delocalized, individually customizable, responsive, and accelerated learning environments.

(2) Training
(3) Travel

Manufacturing
(1) Design
(2) Supply chain optimization
(3) Quality assurance & accessible expertise

Transportation & Navigation
(1) Autonomous vehicles
(2) Navigation

Entertainment
(1) Gaming
(2) Art

 

Alexa Skill Blueprints Publishing Now Available in Australia and New Zealand – Create and Publish a Skill, No Coding Required— from developer.amazon.com by James Ang

Excerpt:

We are excited to announce that now anyone can create and publish an Alexa skill on the Australian Alexa Skills Store using Alexa Skill Blueprints. Skill Blueprints enable you to create and share customised Alexa skills simply by filling in the blanks to one of the dozens of easy-to-use templates, with no coding required. Now you can publish skills created using Alexa Skill Blueprints to the Alexa Skills Store in Australia for customers to discover and use. We have also built new Skill Blueprints specifically for content creators, bloggers, and organisations so they can reach anyone with an Alexa-enabled device.

Create Fun Learning Tools
Whether you are a parent helping your child study or want to teach something you’re passionate about, Blueprints are easy tools to create new ways to learn. Use the QuizFlashcardsFacts, and Listening Quiz Blueprints to help teach new concepts, retain information, and prepare for the next exam. Add your content into the Skill Blueprint template without the need for any coding and make learning fun for everyone.

 

 

From DSC:
In reviewing some of the learning spaces I ran across out at inventionlandinstitute.com/innovation-labs

 

An example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

…I wondered…why can’t more learning spaces look like this!?!

 

Reflections on “Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale” [Christian]

Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale — from philonedtech.com by Clay Shirky
[This was a guest post by Clay Shirky that grew out of a conversation that Clay and Phil had about IPEDS enrollment data. Most of the graphs are provided by Phil.]

Excerpts:

Were half a dozen institutions to dominate the online learning landscape with no end to their expansion, or shift what Americans seek in a college degree, that would indeed be one of the greatest transformations in the history of American higher education. The available data, however, casts doubt on that idea.

Though much of the conversation around mega-universities is speculative, we already know what a mega-university actually looks like, one much larger than any university today. It looks like the University of Phoenix, or rather it looked like Phoenix at the beginning of this decade, when it had 470,000 students, the majority of whom took some or all of their classes online. Phoenix back then was six times the size of the next-largest school, Kaplan, with 78,000 students, and nearly five times the size of any university operating today.

From that high-water mark, Phoenix has lost an average of 40,000 students every year of this decade.

 

From DSC:
First of all, I greatly appreciate both Clay’s and Phil’s thought leadership and their respective contributions to education and learning through the years. I value their perspectives and their work.  Clay and Phil offer up a great article here — one worth your time to read.  

The article made me reflect on what I’ve been building upon and tracking for the last decade — a next generation ***PLATFORM*** that I believe will represent a powerful piece of a global learning ecosystem. I call this vision, “Learning from the Living [Class] Room.” Though the artificial intelligence-backed platform that I’m envisioning doesn’t yet fully exist — this new era and type of learning-based platform ARE coming. The emerging signs, technologies, trends — and “fingerprints”of it, if you will — are beginning to develop all over the place.

Such a platform will:

  • Be aimed at the lifelong learner.
  • Offer up major opportunities to stay relevant and up-to-date with one’s skills.
  • Offer access to the program offerings from many organizations — including the mega-universities, but also, from many other organizations that are not nearly as large as the mega-universities.
  • Be reliant upon human teachers, professors, trainers, subject matter experts, but will be backed up by powerful AI-based technologies/tools. For example, AI-based tools will pulse-check the open job descriptions and the needs of business and present the top ___ areas to go into (how long those areas/jobs last is anyone’s guess, given the exponential pace of technological change).

Below are some quotes that I want to comment on:

Not nothing, but not the kind of environment that will produce an educational Amazon either, especially since the top 30 actually shrank by 0.2% a year.

 

Instead of an “Amazon vs. the rest” dynamic, online education is turning into something much more widely adopted, where the biggest schools are simply the upper end of a continuum, not so different from their competitors, and not worth treating as members of a separate category.

 

Since the founding of William and Mary, the country’s second college, higher education in the U.S. hasn’t been a winner-take-all market, and it isn’t one today. We are not entering a world where the largest university operates at outsized scale, we’re leaving that world; 

 

From DSC:
I don’t see us leaving that world at all…but that’s not my main reflection here. Instead, I’m not focusing on how large the mega-universities will become. When I speak of a forthcoming Walmart of Education or Amazon of Education, what I have in mind is a platform…not one particular organization.

Consider that the vast majority of Amazon’s revenues come from products that other organizations produce. They are a platform, if you will. And in the world of platforms (i.e., software), it IS a winner take all market. 

Bill Gates reflects on this as well in this recent article from The Verge:

“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets.

So it’s all about a forthcoming platform — or platforms. (It could be more than one platform. Consider Apple. Consider Microsoft. Consider Google. Consider Facebook.)

But then the question becomes…would a large amount of universities (and other types of organizations) be willing to offer up their courses on a platform? Well, consider what’s ALREADY happening with FutureLearn:

Finally…one more excerpt from Clay’s article:

Eventually the new ideas lose their power to shock, and end up being widely copied. Institutional transformation starts as heresy and ends as a section in the faculty handbook. 

From DSC:
This is a great point. Reminds me of this tweet from Fred Steube (and I added a piece about Western Telegraph):

 

Some things to reflect upon…for sure.

 

Belief in Learning Styles Myth May Be Detrimental — from apa.org
Many people believe learning styles predict academic and career success, study finds

Excerpts:

WASHINGTON — Many people, including educators, believe learning styles are set at birth and predict both academic and career success even though there is no scientific evidence to support this common myth, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Previous surveys in the United States and other industrialized countries across the world have shown that 80% to 95% of people believe in learning styles. It’s difficult to say how that myth became so widespread, Nancekivell said.

 

Also see:

  • Maybe They’re Born With It, or Maybe It’s Experience: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Learning Style Myth — from apa.org by Shaylene E. Nancekivell, Priti Shah, and Susan A. Gelman
    .
  • Learning Styles are NOT an Effective Guide for Learning Design — from debunker.club
    Excerpt:
    The strength of evidence against the use of learning styles is very strong. To put it simply, using learning styles to design or deploy learning is not likely to lead to improved learning effectiveness. While it may be true that learners have different learning preferences, those preference are not likely to be a good guide for learning. The bottom line is that when we design learning, there are far better heuristics to use than learning styles.
    .
  • Learning styles: Worth our time? — from Cathy Moore
    .
  • Learning Styles Debunked: There is No Evidence Supporting Auditory and Visual Learning, Psychologists Say — from psychologicalscience.org
    .
  • Learning Styles FAQ — by Daniel Willingham
    Excerpt:
    How can you not believe that that people learn differently? Isn’t it obvious?
    People do learn differently, but I think it is very important to say exactly how they learn differently, and focus our attention on those differences that really matter. If learning styles were obviously right it would be easy to observe evidence for them in experiments. Yet there is no supporting evidence. There are differences among kids that both seem obvious to us and for which evidence is easily obtained in experiments, e.g., that people differ in their interests, that students vary in how much they think of schoolwork as part of their identity (“I’m the kind of kid who works hard in school”) and that kids differ in what they already know at the start of a lesson. All three of these have sizable, easily observed effects on learning. I think that often when people believe that they observe obvious evidence for learning styles, they are mistaking it for ability.

 

From DSC:
While I’ve heard and read through the years that there isn’t support for learning styles — and I’ve come to adopt that perspective as well due to what I’ve read, such as the items listed above — I do think that each of us has our learning preferences (as the debunker club mentioned as well). That is, how we prefer to learn about a new subject:

  • Some people like to read the manual.
  • Others never pick up the manual…they prefer to use the trial and error / hands-on method.
  • Some people prefer to listen to audio books.
  • Others prefer to watch videos.
  • Others like to read about a new topic.
  • Others like to study in a very quiet place — while others prefer some background noise.
  • Some people love to learn in a 100% online-based mode…some people hate it, and that delivery method doesn’t work as well for them.

Along these lines…in my mind, offering learning in multiple media and in multiple ways maximizes the enjoyment of learning by a group of people. And now that we’re all into lifelong learning, the enjoyment of learning has notched waaay up in importance in my book. The more we enjoy learning, the more we enjoy life (and vice versa).

In fact, I’m getting closer to the point of putting enjoyment of learning over grades in terms of importance. Grades are a way to compare people/school systems/colleges/universities/etcetera…they are the currency of our current systems…and they are used to “incentivize” students. But such systems and methods often produce game players, not learners.

 

 

A giant book-shaped library — from fubiz.net

 

 

Cambridge library installation gives readers control of their sensory space — from cambridge.wickedlocal.com by Hannah Schoenbaum

Excerpts:

A luminous igloo-shaped structure in the front room of the Cambridge Public Library beckoned curious library visitors during the snowy first weekend of March, inviting them to explore a space engineered for everyone, yet uniquely their own.

Called “Alterspace” and developed by Harvard’s metaLAB and Library Innovation Lab, this experiment in adaptive architecture granted the individual control over the sensory elements in his or her space. A user enters the LED-illuminated dome to find headphones, chairs and an iPad on a library cart, which displays six modes: Relax, Read, Meditate, Focus, Create and W3!Rd.

From the cool blues and greens of Relax mode to a rainbow overload of excitement in the W3!Rd mode, Alterspace is engineered to transform its lights, sounds and colors into the ideal environment for a particular action.

 

 

From DSC:
This brings me back to the question/reflection…in the future, will students using VR headsets be able to study by a brook? An ocean? In a very quiet library (i.e., the headset would come with solid noise cancellation capabilities build into it)?  This type of room/capability would really be helpful for our daughter…who is easily distracted and doesn’t like noise.

 

 

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