I love my smartphone. It provides immediate information I need to run my busy life. But, there is a downside to constant connectivity for me and for society: the death of reflection.
Being hyper-connected—and agitated when not—means losing those precious moments when disparate ideas merge, when pleasant memories bring joy, and when pondering a problem leads to innovation. Accessing and using too much information all the time stifles reflection and all of its benefits.
Fitness, I believe, offers the solution of listening to one’s body, which is the antithesis of the quantified-self movement in which everything is tracked. When I run, I can feel last night’s overindulgence at dinner or, equally, last night’s eight hours of sleep. But all the devices to track where I am, my pace, or the comparison to my “friends” or my last run, distract me from the reflective process that often leads to great work after my run.
It’s not just when I run. It is all those moments waiting for an elevator or standing in line when I check my email, see if anyone has mentioned me on Twitter, or make my next “Words with Friends” move.
Letting one’s mind wander and reflecting on both one’s internal thoughts and feelings and the external world leads to great ideas—and by that I don’t mean just new and better devices.
There is an issue, which may or may not be a problem for universities around the world, but that is certainly gaining a lot of attention in Britain and the United States—namely, attention itself.
Students increasingly arrive at university having grown up in a world in which their habits of study are heavily influenced by new media. They are used to media acting as a continuous stream of content that is more like a river of images than a page of text. According to one account, that means much shorter attention spans, much greater attention to visual modes of understanding, greater modulation of time, more and more reliance on interfaces, and so on. (See, most recently, Stephen Apkon’s The Age of the Image.)
I’m in the final week of a Coursera MOOC, Sports & Societythat for the most part has been lackluster and disappointing. I expected a university level course that would provide learning and perspectives into the social and cultural dimensions that affect sports participation and perceptions across different cultures. It missed the mark. Granted, the majority of Coursera courses are ‘lite’ versions of the real thing [full college course] – few mimic the workload or rigor of the face-to-face counterparts, which is fine [even preferred when taken for personal development] given the courses are not promoted as such.
Though a lite version does not mean that meaningful and deep learning cannot occur. I’ve completed two other Coursera courses, Introduction to Sociology, and E-learning and Digital Cultures. Both courses provided rich learning with scholarly materials, challenging assignments and opportunities to gain knowledge beyond the course site. Though the Sports & Society course wasn’t completely inadequate, in fact some things were done well, but for all the effort and resources that went into the course, it missed the mark quite significantly in terms of providing conditions for meaningful learning to occur. I see an opportunity to share here with readers what contributed to a mediocre MOOC learning experience. To provide an illustrative framework for this review, I’ve created a MOOC quality scorecard review, that is [loosely] based on a quality scorecard approach and my course design experience.
When I first started in Instructional Design, the process was pretty top down: instructors gave the designer all of the content and they went to work in their secret bat caves to get it all ready to go online. That model worked for the time, but it took quite a while and instructors were often unable to help students with some issues simply because they were not part of the design process. As time went on, more control was given to instructors in the design phase and the role of instructional designer shifted from producer to guide or teacher. This gave rise to the Do-It-Yourself Designer/Instructor. In some places, this was always the case, but in other places this is becoming more of the norm. But as a trained ID, I see many flavors of DIY IDs committing the same basic design mistakes. Here are my top five – although this list could easily expand past these.
We’ve certainly come a long way but some things seem hauntingly similar to many years ago. For example, Thomas Edison said in 1925 that “books will soon be obsolete in schools. Scholars will soon be instructed through the eye.” I’m pretty sure this is exactly what people are saying these days about the iPad.
Sorry for the light posting here, but I’m immersed in writing my book – Teaching Machines – which is due out late 2013/early 2014 (I hope).
However, the news of this past week has been fairly distracting from that project: revelations about the US government’s massive spying programs that include the monitoring of all our telephony metadata, as well as our usage of many popular technology sites. Verizon. Google. YouTube. Apple. Microsoft. Skype. Yahoo. Facebook.
My worries here aren’t simply about the sanctity of the US Constitution (although, god yes, there’s that). Nor are my education-related concerns that schools have been outsourcing many of their IT functions – hardware and software – to these very companies (although, god yes, there’s that too).
My book examines the history of education technologies and our long-running drive to automate teaching and learning. Pressey’s teaching machines of the 1920s. Skinner’s teaching machines of the 1950s. Radio, television, and YouTube broadcast of lectures and lessons. Intelligent tutoring systems. Khan Academy and its millions of lessons delivered. Adaptive learning tools. MOOCs. Massive student data collection. Artificial intelligence.
MOOCs are, and will be, big business, and the way that their makers see profitability at the end of the tunnel is what gives them their particular shape. … the MOOCs which are now being developed by Silicon Valley startups … aim to do exactly the same thing that traditional courses have always done -transfer course content from expert to student - only to do so massively more cheaply and on a much larger scale. … MOOCs are simply a new way of maintaining the status quo, of re-institutionalizing higher education in an era of budget cuts, skyrocketing tuition, and unemployed college graduates burdened by student debt. … the California legislature proposes to solve a real systemic crisis - collapsing public resources, diminishing affordability, and falling completion rates in the state’s higher education system - by sending its students to MOOCs. … If this bill passes, the winners will be Silicon Valley and the austerity hawks in the California legislature … To put it quite bluntly, MOOCs are a speculative bubble, a product being pumped up and overvalued by pro-business government support and a lot of hot air in the media. Like all speculative bubbles—especially those that originate in Silicon Valley—it will eventually burst.
The dramatic increase in online education, particularly Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), presents researchers, academics, administrators, learners, and policy makers with a range of questions as to the effectiveness of this format of teaching and learning. To date, the impact of MOOCs and emerging forms of digital learning has been largely disseminated through press releases and university reports, with only limited peer-reviewed research publication. The proliferation of MOOCs in higher education requires a concerted and urgent research agenda.
The MOOC Research Initiative (MRI) will fill this research gap by evaluating MOOCs and how they impact teaching, learning, and education in general.
Issue number 33 of eLearning Papers focuses on the challenges and future of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a trend in education that has skyrocketed since 2008.
Among other topics, eLearning Papers 33 explores whether MOOCs may be a viable solution for education in developing countries and analyses the role of these emerging courses in the education system, especially in higher education. Furthermore, valuable examples from the field are presented, such as the quad-blogging concept and a game-based MOOC developed to promote entrepreneurship education.
The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (www.irrodl.org) is a refereed e-journal that aims to advance research, theory and best practice in open and distance education research.
IRRODL special issue - Open Educational Resources: Opening Access to Knowledge." Contents are mostly from authors working in three of the world’s leading open universities, namely the OU UK, Athabasca University, and the Dutch Open University
Coursera describes itself as a "education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free." … If Coursera is selling courseware to universities, what exactly are they selling?
15 Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Technology In Learning
While it clearly is able to provide access to peers, audiences, resources, and data, it also can be awkward, problematic, distracting, performing more strongly as a barrier to understand than anything else. Why this happens also isn’t clear, but there are some common patterns and missteps to look for while designing or evaluating a learning process.
The other big advantage of Scoop.it is that discussion is based around content, which can help to give the interaction more depth. It also helps user to escape much of the banality that appears on Twitter as it tends not to attract the celebrity or 'what I had for lunch' postings as it isn't principally about conversation, but as more of a focus on content sharing.
The point of any pedagogy is not the length of the course, size of the classroom, the headcount, or the completion or attrition rates. Pedagogy is unfazed by numbers; it is never outweighed by scale. Good pedagogy can be enacted in a room with one or two students, or in an online environment with thousands. This is because pedagogy is responsive, able to grow to the space it must inhabit, and its goal is a shift in thinking, which is spreadable by a single learner or by ten or by tens of hundreds.
When edX first formed, its president Anant Agarwal emphasized that one of the core reasons driving the consortium’s initiative was research— the platform would be used to analyze and share results of new educational methods afforded by technology. Up until this point there has been little discussion about courses and/or results from the edX platform, Coursera and Udacity have dominated the headlines. Yet edX should be taking a different path given its not-for-profit premise. And this week we did [finally] get a glimpse into what appears to be extensive research going on behind the scenes. The Open Access journal, Research & Practice in Assessment released the paper Studying Learning in the Worldwide Classroom Research into edX’s First MOOC.
Over 90% of the activity on discussion forums resulted from students just viewing /reading what others students had written—these students did not post, or comment or contribute in any way to discussions threads. Perhaps we need to change our way of thinking about how students use discussion forums, since students that do contribute can enhance and deepen learning and comprehension for students that don’t/or are unable to contribute. Though these silent students may be considered passive, this may not be the case, nor should they be considered lurkers. These students may very well be learning and making sense of course material on their own terms.
The demographics of the student body are notable. Over 155,000 students enrolled from over 194 countries, yet the the country that provided the largest percentage of students was the U.S. with 17% of the 155,000, followed by India at 8% of the total, the UK at just over 5%, followed by Columbia (4%) and Spain (2%). Only 622 students from China enrolled (less than 1%). These numbers suggest that language and culture are potential barriers to MOOC participation. The paper provides further details and data.
Hybrid Pedagogy is not just an academic journal, it is a journal of praxis. Rather than simply talk about pedagogy, we prefer to tamper with it and try it out on every conceivable scale. In the last year, Hybrid Pedagogy brought you the original MOOC MOOC, Twitter vs. Zombies, Digital Writing Month, and THATCamp Hybrid Pedagogy, all of which set the stage for our next experiment: the MOOCification MOOCathon. MOOCification is really a kind of pillaging. You take what works about MOOCs, the best pedagogy they open up, apply it to more traditional classes, and then politely (or not so politely) spit out the rest.
When students lose sleep, their performance suffers.
Does that extra study time help performance in school?
This question was explored in a studying the January, 2013 issue of Child Development by Cari Gillen-O’Neel, Virginia Huynh, and Andrew Fuligni. They tracked a group of high school students in 9th, 10th, and 12th grade. At each grade level, students filled out a daily diary for 2 weeks.
Every evening during the study, the students rated the amount of sleep they got the day before, the amount of time they spent on homework, and they answered questions about any academic problems they had the previous day (like doing poorly on a test and having difficulty understanding new material).
Overall, there was a tendency for high school students to sleep less as they advanced in school. So, the 9th-grade-students slept an average of 7.6 hours a night, while the 12th-graders slept only 6.9 hours per night. Students experienced fewer academic problems as they advanced in school. That means that students are actually learning better school skills over the years.
The most important result, though, was that when students lost sleep because they spent extra time doing schoolwork, they had significantly more problems the next day than when they got their typical amount of sleep. This negative effect of extra study time was strongest for 12th-grade-students and weaker for the 9th- and 10th-grade students.
What does this mean?
First off, this study reinforces the general observation that teens and young adults are not sleeping enough. Getting even an extra 30 minutes of sleep a night would be a huge benefit for this group.
Second, it means that students need to try to spread their work out over longer periods of time. It is an age-old tradition to cram for exams and to finish papers at the last minute. There are lots of good reasons to want to avoid cramming. For example, cramming for an exam may help a student pass that particular exam, but information learned the night before the test is not remembered in the long-term as well as information that is studied over several nights. If cramming for a test also reduces the amount of sleep a student is getting, then that just adds to the problem.
In a world of information overload, Is Organisational Learning about learning with the database?
There are lots of database out in “space” and organisation. They offer learning affordance and opportunities for us. But the learning actually won’t be “activated” unless you interact with them (artifacts, machines) and even human within organisation who are behind those database. If the argument that learning can reside outside of ourselves is true, what does it mean to individuals? The database “learnt” as we “teach” it through Q/A. However, would such be AI based on algorithms and or would it involve human intervention and recurrent updating of the database? Quora is a good example where it acts like a database, where people posts questions and responses there. How does it differ from individual human learning (cognitive & affective) and social learning, and organisation learning? Have we tried to blend all three levels (neuro and biological, cognitive (conceptual) and social) into the connective learning based on connections (George) (Connecting to (adding) nodes and growing the network (social/conceptual/biological), and network phenomena & recognition of such patterns (Stephen)?
From Web-enhanced face-to-face courses to MOOCs, flipped, blended, and fully online courses, videos are an integral component of today’s educational landscape—from kindergarten all the way through higher education.
But there’s a big difference between watching a video and learning something from it. Videos are great for presenting visual information and emotional appeals, but not particularly effective at diving below the surface of non-visual theoretical or abstract topics or for driving critical thinking. What’s more, any video presented in class must compete for attention and memory with the five-plus hours the typical student spends outside of class watching television programs, movies, and other onscreen entertainment. (Nielsen, 2013)