How can we make school a joyful experience without sacrificing rigor? What's the best way to measure true learning? What's the purpose of school? The founders and teachers at the PlayMaker School, an all-game based school in Los Angeles, are asking those big, abstract questions that all teachers grapple with. And they’re trying to find their own answers through their constantly morphing, complex experiment....
lebanon-unicef-kids 1 Singularity University has a mission—use technology to positively impact the lives of a billion people in ten years. That's easy enough to say, but you don't make big changes without big ambition.
Why education needs to embrace new design patterns for learning spaces.
If one looks at the classroom from a design perspective, some things are directly evident. It is clear that the design of the classroom is that of a learning space. But what learning does the classical classroom imply? What kind of activities does the learning space support? Who is the room designed for? What type of tools are the room designed to support the use of? When is the activity supposed to be carried out in the room? Who should be active, and who should be passive within the space?
In many schools where technology has entered the classroom, it is used to support the single function model.
“We’ve got an obsession in believing that literacy and numeracy and content acquisition are the principal objectives of school systems,” said Andrew Bollington, Global Head of Research and Learning at the LEGO Foundation. “We do have a world that, in reality, has a mismatch between what we know is important for us as human beings and for taking a full place in society versus what our education systems are optimized and set up to produce.”
More teachers are using digital games in the classroom, and they're using them more frequently, according to a new teacher survey just released by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. But more surprisingly, the study reveals that teachers are finding that one of the most impactful use of games is for motivating and rewarding students, specifically those who are low-performing.
There are a few key buzzwords floating around the education world and mediascape that drive some educators nuts--“standards,” “data-driven alignment,” “value-added.” But last Thursday in one area of the world, teachers came together to chat with some new terminology, namely “bottom-up” and “subversive."
In two remote villages in rural Ethiopia, a team of literacy and technology experts from Tufts and MIT launched a grand experiment with a simple gesture: they dropped off a handful of tablet computers for 40 children who’d never seen anything like them before—they hadn’t ever attended school or seen electricity or paper. The tablets contained specially designed apps to help illiterate children learn the basics: letters and sounds and, eventually, reading fundamentals.
Within minutes of receiving the tablets—with no instructions or explanations—one boy figured out how to turn on the computer. Within a week the children had all the apps up and running. Was it possible that this kind of instinctual learning, outside the realm of a formal classroom, could help reverse widespread illiteracy around the world?
Music was integral to their creative mastery and something they each saw as essential to the fulfillment of our highest potential as human beings.
While I'm not advocating for video games, nor technology, over other methods of musical and creative expression, the potential of highly engaging interactive experiences that can be created through game play and technology is starting to reveal itself in new and inspiring ways. I was recently introduced to one such experience in the next evolution of Walt's classic film -- an Xbox Kinect game calledFantasia: Music Evolved. I found it to be one of the most inspiring game platforms I have seen for kids to unleash their power of creative expression using music and animation.
What if classroom learning was a little more active? Would university instruction be more effective if students spent some of their class time on active forms of learning like activities, discussions, or group work, instead of spending all of their class time listening? A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences addressed this question by conducting the largest and most comprehensive review of the effect of active learning on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Their answer is a resounding yes.
What's in a game? MaltaToday “The pedagogical scenarios followed are already interwoven within the games we propose, and the interface allows the educator flexibility and control over the game content experienced.
I read your article in The Globe and Mail (Saturday, Jun. 28 2014) with dismay. In the article, you assert that “21st century learning is nothing more than warmed-over romantic progressivism” with absolutely no evidence to support its efficacy. And while I agree that, like most movements for change, there is a fair amount of bandwagoneering, I do disagree fundamentally with your conclusion that “twenty-first century learning zealots” are engaged in some kind of groupthink that bears no questioning and has no merit.
The core reason for my disagreement is that you mention that there are no measurable advantages to twenty-first century learning approaches. The problem with this is that you (like many academic researchers – specifically those who found 'no merit' in teaching kids to their preferred learning styles) are predicating this aspect of your argument on measuring the ability to recall and regurgitate facts. Implicit in this is the belief that education is tantamount to memorization.
Susan Einhorn's insight:
Sean, thank you for writing this excellent response. Definitely worth reading.
Papert poses this question: Why is it that "megachange'' has occurred in such fields as telecommunications, medicine, entertainment, and transportation, yet the modern elementary school classroom has evolved very little since the early part of the century? "The education establishment,'' Papert believes, "including most of its research community, remains largely committed to the educational philosophy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and so far none of those who challenge these hallowed traditions has been able to loosen the hold of the educational establishment on how children are taught.''
Forget those little headaches. There are some more fundamental problems rumbling underground, most of them triggered by the onward march of the digital world.
For a start there's the question of how to respond to the dinner-party truism that we're educating kids for jobs that haven't been invented yet. For 20 years smart folks like Ken Robinson have been saying there has to be much less emphasis on passing on knowledge and skills – much of which will be redundant by the time a student graduates – and much more on creativity, flexibility, teamwork and learning to learn.
I do stick by the overarching and original argument that motivated “The Audrey Test” – one that several folks have pointed out on this thread: that there’s a dearth of knowledge about and experience in education among many in ed-tech, particularly among the latest surge of ed-tech entrepreneurs and among those who are suddenly interested in boosting technology education
Nobody likes high-stakes testing. The problems are well documented. But maybe games can help to change the way we approach assessment.
At least since John Dewey, educational theorists and scholars have been clear about the inherent shortcomings of thinking about education in terms of standardized, quantifiable outcomes. In order for instructional strategies to be successful at a large scale, they need to take individual differences under consideration. Not all students are the same. They don’t learn in the same ways and it’s a fantasy to believe we can accurately assess them all using identical rubrics. Likewise, a great many of our widely accepted developmental theories are only accurate in a vacuum; they fail to take all the subjective cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic factors into account.
Our society uses the computer as its central tool for communicating and creating knowledge. Public schools do not. Most public schools misuse computers, and some cannot use them at all. Three significant obstacles stand in the way of the technological revolution schools desperately need: inappropriate teaching methods, stereotyping of students, and obsolete facilities.
"We have to teach children about computers. After all, computers are the future." The teacher's voice trembled slightly, and for a minute I was afraid she was going to cry. We were sitting in her fifth-grade classroom in an elementary school in Queens, finishing an interview for a PBS documentary on technology. Her emotion notwithstanding, her comments were misguided in two important ways.
Susan Einhorn's insight:
Note the date this was printed. What has changed (and, sadly, what hasn't)?
When computer science was first taught in some American and European schools in the 1970s, generally as an optional subject for older pupils, computers did little unless given instructions in a specialist language. So classes focused on programming. But the advent of ready-made applications and graphical user interfaces in the 1980s saw a shift to teaching “ICT” (information and communications technology): how to use computers for word-processing, creating presentations and the like. The result was that pupils left school with little idea how computers work. England’s ICT curriculum has come in for particular criticism. It “focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it’s made,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman (and a director of The Economist’s parent company), in a lecture in 2011. “That is just throwing away [England’s] great computing heritage.”
Our current education system is ill-prepared to educate the next generation of creative leaders.
Traditional education gives little room for students to develop their creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking beyond predetermined, standardized boundaries. The next generation needs to be prepared to tackle not only the known, but also the unknown problems our world will face.
Assuming the whole education system will need to make a radical transition in many countries around the world, I have asked more than 100 creatives and futurists in 35 countries, to inspire the development of an innovative framework for 21st century education. As such, this research focuses on a new organizational design, learning culture and role of the teacher as well as new teaching methods and a new assessment model.
Game-based learning forces students to apply knowledge in a contextualized way, it creates an interdisciplinary learning experience where subject-specific knowledge is used in a context that requires diverse applications. The borders between disciplines become fuzzy and ambiguous.