6 Responses to “Video – Rethinking education”

  1. This video is a poignant reminder to me that our high schools are still caught in a time-warp. Just the other day, I watched a teacher sitting at his desk grading essays. He would love to be responding to student blogs, but higher level administrators are afraid of blogs. Fear of the unknown still rules the day.

  2. Cool video, with some good points. But it’s important not to let enthusiasm displace the hard, detailed work of figuring out how to meet learning goals.

    Suppose the goal is to help students learn skills, like math. We know from learning science that there are good ways to do this. For example:

    * Deep learning. Cover fewer topics. Replace rote learning of formulas with learning how to use skills in the world.

    * Provide fast, frequent, formative feedback. Feedback doesn’t have to be just about grades. It can help students learn.

    Notice that there is no tech in this description of a good math course. Tech helps implement these guidelines. But it is not a guideline itself.

    Now consider the video. Someone says, “links are enough.” No, they aren’t. Not for deep learning. You need integrated, outcome-focused lessons. To reduce cognitive waste, the lessons should be written in the same voice, at an appropriate language level. You won’t get that from a bag o’ links.

    Imagine a different video. Here’s the script. Well, a summary.


    [Deep voice, like that “In a world…” guy.]

    Students need new skills if they are going to thrive.

    [Show people doing awesome tech things.]

    We know how to help them learn these skills, so they can use them to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

    [Show students working in teams on problems.]

    But we don’t use this knowledge about learning.

    [Students look at camera with a quizzical expression.]

    Instead, we make students memorize formulas, without knowing how to use them in the real world.

    [Show students at desks watching a lecture.]

    We give them grades, without helping them learn.

    [Show students taking an exam on a scantron, that use-a-2B-pencil-to-fill-a-bubble thing.]

    But we can do better.

    [Start the power chords. From a sports movie training montage. Fade music into the background.]

    We can use what we know about learning. We can make courses that help students develop the skills they need.

    [More awesome tech work shots.]

    We can mix technology, the Internet, and personal teaching to create good learning environments.

    [Shot of group at computers, fade into group with computers and a teacher.]

    We can choose learning goals FIRST, THEN choose learning methods, and THEN choose tech.

    [Overlay text and arrow diagram on students-and-computers shot.]

    But – will we?


    [Students look at the camera, in breathless anticipation.]

    Probably not. Politics, institutional change, it’s too hard.

    [Students dejected.]

    We doom them to lives of squalor and despair.

    [Shots of students begging, shooting up.]


    …You’ll have to make this ending up yourself. I’m a depressed cynic…

    The End

    A Mutant Enemy production


    You may be saying to yourself, “Self, that’s not what the Rethinking Education video is saying at all! It’s just trying to get me excited about the new tech.”

    You’re right. But it’s easy to get carried away with that. That won’t help.

    Why not be excited about the new learning science? How it can help us use tech appropriately? We can use this knowledge to make sure that tech investment actually pays off.


  3. I have an observation based on experience with evaluating and using textbooks: The Quality of the Text is inversely proportional to the number of authors. The texts with as many authors as chapters fails to establish a narrative that sets up for later chapters or material that reflects back on previous materials. While that’s fine as a reference work (like an Encyclopedia), it is awful to attempt to teach or independently learn a topic or field.
    If you want a good example of the problems that the information without context (or proper introduction) look at discussions of “Climate Change”. People will link material, cherry-pick data, and document their points without having any actual understanding of the underlying back concepts of things like Energy Balance, Atmospheric Composition, causes of natural climate variation, or even the difference between climate and weather.

    Having a “Native Guide” through the 21st Century Jungle of Knowledge is still necessary, and probably always will be.

  4. In the video someone says, “Are you against the discussion of quality of knowledge?” It is spoken with the tone that gives the impression “what a ridiculous notion that people wouldn’t want this.” I believe he is saying this in retort to the common bias against Wikipedia as an un-credible source. I want to say “no!” lets have the discussion and grasp the high tech cross cultural collaboration, but, sadly, this discussion does not happen with students. I know that teachers would love to have these discussions and create projects to teach and demonstrate the point, but perhaps someone could offer a time between the high stakes national testing that connects to teacher salaries to do this. Maybe someone could also add important topics like this to the Common Core standards, too.
    Love the video, just really frustrated.

  5. Bill: Hmmm, good point. Maybe applies to the textbook review process as well. Having to satisfy a dozen people with their own foci, is a little like having authors-by-proxy.


  6. @Kieran I support your call to focus on learning theory before thinking about the technology and there are already good examples of this happening. Have a look at the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) run by George Siemens and Stephen Downes called Connectivism and Connected Learning. A course about pedagogy that uses digital tools to disrupt what we think of as a (university) course. Regular fee-paying students participate alongside any other interested individuals using blogs, wikis, twitter, cloud based classrooms etc.

    For me this well constructed video is likely to pull more educators and students to towards the disruptive use of technology and that is a good thing, as long as we are not simply reacting to what exists now and instead, as you call for, building systems based on a sound theory of learning.

    Colin Campbell

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