Tag Archives: learning

Most educational games teach skills, not thinking

Jordan Shapiro said:

The majority of [learning] games fail because they attempt to teach skills rather than thinking. They focus on retention rather than understanding. They miss the whole reason we should be excited about game-based learning in the first place: because it offers the potential to change the common way we approach teaching and learning. Games can help students improve their critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities while offering clear assessment data that could eliminate our dependency on regurgitation and memorization-based evaluations.

Expressing a similar concept, mathematics learning experts often make a distinction between “procedural fluency” and “mathematical thinking,” or “number sense.” Procedural fluency is just what it sounds like, being competent at executing mathematical procedures – like a human calculator. Mathematical thinking has to do with conceptual understanding. . . . simply put: computers can now do most procedural mathematics and individuals need to focus on learning number sense.

via http://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2015/04/27/stanford-study-shows-dramatic-math-improvement-from-playing-video-games-just-10-minutes-per-day

How many of our questions can Google and Siri answer? [SLIDE]

Google and Siri

How many of our questions can Google and Siri answer?

Download this slide: .png .jpg .key .pptx

See also my other slidesmy Pinterest collection, and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

Are they learning or just parroting? [SLIDE]


Are they learning or just parroting?

Download this slide: .png .jpg .key .pptx

Image credit: Parrot’s portrait, Patrick Bouquet

See also my other slides, my Pinterest collection, and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

The problem with ‘any time, any place, any path, any pace’

Any time, any place, any path, any pace

In most online courses and/or ‘adaptive learning systems’ …

  • Students do low-level work at times that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work from places that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work on their own, unique path.
  • Students do low-level work at their own, unique pace.

But it’s still low-level work. 

Digitizing, chunking, and algorithmizing worksheet-like learning tasks doesn’t move them out of the domains of factual recall and procedural regurgitation. The modality doesn’t change the substance of the learning task. Until we are willing to address the kinds of work that we ask students to do on a day-to-day basis, not just the delivery mode, the any time, any place, any path, any pace mantra isn’t going to change a thing…

The U.S. has more memorizers


Jo Boaler said:

data from the 13 million students who took PISA [math] tests showed that the lowest-achieving students worldwide were those who used a memorization strategy – those who thought of math as a set of methods to remember and who approached math by trying to memorize steps. The highest-achieving students were those who thought of math as a set of connected, big ideas.

[wait for it…]

The U.S. has more memorizers than most other countries in the world.

via http://hechingerreport.org/memorizers-are-the-lowest-achievers-and-other-common-core-math-surprises

Image credit: maths, Sean MacEntee

Filling up versus drawing out

Pouring water

Geoffrey Cohen & Sara Goldrick-Rab said:

Many people think that educating a child is akin to filling a cup. Open heads and pour in knowledge, skills, and virtues. This metaphor is seductive because it calls on deeply-held stereotypes that paint poor and minority children as not having enough drive and smarts.

But the original meaning of education is “to draw out,” not to “fill up.” . . . [we] need to create classrooms that draw out what students already have inside them. Often times, current performance underestimates potential.

[We need to address] the dearth of opportunities for teenage students to feel like [they are] respected and valued in the asylum-like settings of many middle and high schools

[We need to address] curricula that prioritize busy work over reflective thinking that awakens students’ curiosity

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/19/what-psychology-tells-us-about-student-achievement-and-how-it-is-ignored

Image credit: mandykoh

The backwards bicycle [VIDEO]

What a backwards bicycle can teach us about learning… Fascinating.

Hat tip: Will Richardson

When not to extend the school day


Howie Knoff said:

I am not in favor of extending the school day (or year) when students need the extra time to learn things they should have learned earlier in the day. . .  for example, when students did not learn because of:

  • Disruptive or inefficient school schedules (including excessive numbers of transitions, and the constant flow of different groups of students in and out of the classroom during the day);
  • Ineffective (initial) instruction (including when teachers are poorly trained, inexperienced, unprepared, or have too many different student skill levels to teach at the same time);
  • Poorly designed curricula (including curricula that are not developmentally well-matched to the students, or when teachers are teaching students who do not have the prerequisite skills to succeed in the core curriculum); 

and/or because

  • The students are unmotivated or disengaged (including when engaged students are in classrooms with disengaged students who disrupt instruction or create a negative learning environment). 

When these situations are present and the school day is extended to give students more hours of instruction, the additional time is basically compensating for gaps, weaknesses, or ineffective practices. This is inexcusable and should never occur as (a) it tacitly condones these debilitating conditions; and (b) will be unproductive if the same conditions persist during the extended hours.

via http://conta.cc/1DuoYHM

Image credit: timlewisnm


Shifting the focus


Starr Sackstein said:

How can we shift the focus away from how much a student does to how much they can apply to new tasks?

What can they do now that they couldn’t do before? How do they know?

via http://starrsackstein.com/category/its-not-about-productivity-its-about-learning

Image credit: Enfocando / Focussing, Magec

We have to stop pretending

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending…

  • that short-term memorization equals long-term learning
  • that students find meaning in what we’re covering in class
  • that low-level facts and procedures are a prerequisite to deeper learning
  • that analog learning environments prepare kids for a digital world
  • that what we’re doing isn’t boring

I’m going to try to turn this into a challenge. I’m tagging George Couros, Sylvia Martinez, Wes Fryer, Vicki Davis, and Steven Anderson.

Please join us. When it comes to education, what are 5 things that we have to stop pretending? Post on your blog, tag 5 others, and share using the #makeschooldifferent hashtag. Feel free to also put the URL of your post in the comments area so others can find it!

** Check out the responses from everyone who has participated. Awesome! **

Make school different

(feel free to use this image as desired)


Since it’s hard to impart nuance in 5 short bullet points, I thought I’d explain my thinking behind what I blogged above (particularly given the thoughtful replies below from Keith Brennan)…

1. Too many teachers cover stuff for a week or two, the kids regurgitate it for a week or two, and then they’re off to the next thing. If you ask the kids six months later, much (most?) of what they ‘learned’ is gone. But we call this process ‘learning.’ And while that may be true for the short term, it’s not very true for the long term. Memorization isn’t the concern, it’s the overemphasis on short-term memory without concurrent attention to long-term memory.

2. My understanding from the cognitive psychologists is that we remember what we attach meaning to. If it’s not meaningful to us (i.e., we don’t find internal reasons to hang on to it), we might keep it for a little while (particularly if we’re forced to) but sooner rather than later it starts to fade away. The challenge is that it’s hard to find meaning in decontextualized fact nuggets and procedures, which is why students have been asking the same questions since time immemorial: ‘Why do we need to know this? Why should we care? What’s the relevance of this to our lives now or in the future?’ We give those questions short shrift in most classrooms and then wonder why students disengage mentally and/or physically.

3. The key word here for me is ‘prerequisite.’ I don’t know anyone who thinks that factual knowledge and procedural knowledge aren’t essential components of robust, deeper learning. What inquiry-, challenge-, project-, and problem-oriented learning spaces seem to show us is that so-called ‘lower-level’ learning doesn’t always have to occur FIRST and often can be uncovered or discovered rather than just initially covered. What needs to come first and what can come later is dependent on the interplay between the individual learner and the surrounding learning context. Coming at learning from larger, more holistic, perhaps real-world-embedded, applied perspectives often can help students attach meaning (and motivation) to factual knowledge and procedural skills. If schools did a better job of eventually getting to deeper learning, this sequencing issue might be less of a concern but too often what should be a foundational floor instead becomes an actual ceiling and students rarely get to go beyond and experience deeper learning opportunities.

4. If I want to learn how to lift boxes, cut down a tree, or lay tarmac, I can only get so far with a digital app or simulation. Similarly, if I want to learn how to be functional and powerful in digital knowledge environments, ink-on-paper learning spaces only get me so far. Schools are supposed to be about knowledge work and nearly all knowledge work these days is heavily technology-suffused. It’s difficult to adequately prepare students for digital information landscapes without regular immersion in and use of digital tools and environments.

5. Kids are bored out of their skulls with much (most?) of what we have them do in class, particularly as they move up the grade levels. Just ask ’em… Our biggest indictment as educators and school systems is that we don’t seem to care very much and simply accept this as an inherent condition of schooling.

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