Every fortnight (two weeks) our editor sends along a few links with the most noteworthy quote from each article, a way of keeping our team abreast of what’s going on in the world around peer-learning, collective learning and knowledge sharing. We decided to share them alongside the magazine.
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The one to read: Adios Ed Tech. Hola something else.
Both Udacity and Knewton require the human, the learner, to become a technology, to become a component within their well-architected software system. Sit and click. Sit and click. So much of learning involves decision making, developing meta-cognitive skills, exploring, finding passion, taking peripheral paths. Automation treats the person as an object to which things are done. There is no reason to think, no reason to go through the valuable confusion process of learning , no need to be a human. Simply consume. Simply consume. Click and be knowledgeable.
(And pay attention to his framework, following that quote.)
In some ways, it seems Ms. Brainmocker’s moment may be on the verge of arriving. Last week, Knewton announced the creation of an artificial intelligence program that automatically delivers content to students based on how they learn. Similar programs have begun to spring up, offering ways to automate at least some of the practices of a teacher. But as the market grows, the focus seems to be less on all-out replacements like Ms. Brainmocker and more on the blackboard, the books, and the homework she assigns. In short, many of the so-called “smart” technologies are intended to aid, not replace, teachers (at least in the U.S.). But making sure they do will require examining exactly how they fit into schools.
Pair with Kasparov’s advanced or freestyle chess. (Human chess player playing with a computer against another human/computer combination.)
The engagement level cranks up a notch when the topic is not just a concept or a new best practice, but a real challenge presented by a peer. Rather than leaning back in student-lecture mode, passively listening and occasionally taking notes, we were listening carefully because we this was a fellow Circle member sharing something meaningful and we knew she wanted our best ideas to help her. That a powerful motivator to stay focused during this virtual meeting.
I heard (former Seton Hall CIO and current Robots-n-Pencils CEO) Phil Komarny say it quite a few years back and it often echoes in my head: “Think Mobile First or Mobile Only”. It’s so true – mobile is changing everything and education is no exception. This is surely an area where we are going to continue to see big changes as the world slowly gets its head around the way the powerful devices so many of us have in our hands can seriously change how we communicate, connect, reach out, access content, research, learn, think, act, … and the list just keeps growing.
If learning really can take place any time, any where, shouldn’t we encourage it? This is yet another change that is happening whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. More teachers are embracing the power of this device as an instructional aid.
Yet, alongside the existence of democratized efforts like study circles and hackathons, we have open badges, a newer form of micro-credential that offers the possibility of democratized credentialing. It is only a matter of time before people figure out how to combine these two strands of education. It will happen, and it doesn’t require oversight from government or regulatory agencies. The emergence of open consortia that help define or regulate badges may well be part of this development, but I remain hopeful that this can and will be a system that is far more open and democratized than what we see in most other educational systems that include credentials valued by employers and others in society.