Posts Tagged ‘ted’
Sir Ken Robinson’s most recent TED Talk was one of those talks that you could watch ten times and get ten different takeaways each time.
When I watched it the first time, I liked SKR’s analogy that teaching is like dieting.
The student in the video below had a less articulate (but more honest) critique about teaching not leading to learning.
His peers would probably agree that he “schooled” his teacher about the importance of meaningful learning over prepackaged, delivery-oriented teaching.
Whether teachers like it or not, we need more students who think like him. If we teach better, then they may not act like him.
I could probably watch this TED Talk of Rita Pierson and find a different inspiration each time.
I liked the part where she mentioned twice in succession that, despite less than ideal circumstances, teachers teach anyway.
She could have meant teaching anyway (whatever the circumstances), any way (whatever worked), or both. We need teachers that do both.
Daphne Bevelier shares research on the impact of games on learners and game-players.
Myth: Staring at the screen worsens eyesight.
Her research: The vision of action gamers is actually better than those who do not play video games. Gamers can make out finer details and are better able to distinguish more levels of grey (better able to tell contrast?).
Myth: Gamers are more distracted because they develop attention problems.
Her research: Gamers are actually faster at resolving conflicts and can pay attention to more discrete objects or instances.
Myth: Gamers can multitask better than non-gamers.
Her research: The ability to multitask varies with the choice of media or game, not with the individual.
Myth: The effects of experimental game interventions are not long-lasting.
Her research: In one study on spatial cognition, the effects of a total of 10 hours of video-gaming were not only immediate but also present five months after the intervention.
Bevelier concludes that “general wisdom carries no weight” in the light of research.
I also loved her example of how educational games are like chocolate-coated broccoli. They are meant to be good for you, but you do not buy it because you will not swallow it.
Parents and teachers might buy the chocolate-coated broccoli games. However, the kids and learners will know better.
The trick then is to create games that kids really want to play and are also good for them. It is about creating good, really healthy chocolate.
I think there is a simpler solution. Show teachers how to take advantage of existing chocolate and get both students and teacher to consume and create at the right times.
This strategy is not about the technology. It is about the pedagogy. Good games are already well designed so you need not redesign or recreate. You just need to facilitate creative and critical use of the games.
If you listen to and laugh with Eddie Obeng, you might agree that the world seems to be changing at a rate that is sometimes difficult to understand.
Rules and principles that we learnt and now follow do not seem to be valid any more. Or as Obeng said more articulately in this TED video:
We spend our time responding rationally to a world which we understand and recognize, but which no longer exists.
I took two things away after watching and reflecting on this TED talk:
- We run the risk of allowing the pace of change to overtake the pace of learning.
- We learn and innovate by failing in smart ways.
We have a first world problem of having access to university education and then a choice of where to get it. Other people in the world are not as fortunate.
Daphne Koller tells a story of a stampede for university places in a South African university that left one woman dead. She also told of how the cost of a tertiary education is increasingly getting out of reach.
Other than providing opportunity and access, courses hosted by these systems might offer flexible e-learning (learning at one’s own pace and place), active practice, and immediate feedback.
More importantly, some of these online courses also break away from “one-hour monolithic lectures” and provide more powerful bite-sized and personalized learning.
What I found illuminating were the technological options in grading more complex assessments. It is now relatively easy to have computers evaluate short answers and even non-verbal answers.
Just as interesting was the research presented on how such courses could rely on peer and self-grading. The study that was cited showed how peer and self-grading was closely correlated to teacher grading.
Having participants from all over the world in different time zones also was a boon for feedback. In one example, the estimated median response time for courses was 22 minutes. Some face-to-face sessions do not even offer that quick a response time!
I also enjoyed the quote that Koller attributed to Mark Twain:
College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either.
She argued that the issue was the tried and tired old lecture format. The alternative might be more active learning experiences, some of which were offered by redesigns led by online courses.
How do you make a good TED talk even better? This is one way. You animate it.
Sometimes the things we cannot see (gravity, atoms, our genes) are what really matter.
Sometimes the things we cannot measure (character, humour, creativity) are also what matter.
If you are involved in any type of educational change, this TEDxNYED talk by Tony Wagner is worth 15 minutes of your time.
Here are my takeaways from the video.
Knowledge is a free commodity so one cares what you know. Instead what you can do with what you know is more important. To quote Wagner, having the skill and the will to do is more important.
Wagner does not say this explicitly, but I think it is implied: Tests that only measure what you know are irrelevant. I would also argue that tests that make you apply in only test conditions or non-authentic contexts are increasingly irrelevant.
Wagner also outlined some skills that various key stakeholders identified that every student today should master to be “a continuous learner and an active and informed citizen in the 21st century”:
- Being able to ask good questions
- Collaborating across networks and leading by influence
- Being agile and adaptable
- Having initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit
- Having effective oral and written communication skills
- Being able to access and analyze information
- Being curious and imaginative
Does this sound like a laundry list to produce lots of Jobs and Zuckerbergs? It is because the demands of the world’s economy are shifting. It used to be about products but is now also about services and timely information.
So what promotes innovation among learners? One common factor from Wagner’s research is the type of mentors (not necessarily teachers) that innovative students had. These mentors were all outliers when put against the backdrop of what constitutes normal teaching.
Wagner then highlighted five elements that focused on innovative learning over outdated schooling:
- Measuring accountability in team-based work
- Focusing on cross-disciplinary work and problem-based learning
- Taking risks and even creating trouble
- Creating real products for real audiences/consumers
- Nurturing intrinsic motivation by play, passion, and purpose
The last item is complex and needs to be deconstructed.
Wagner interviewed parents of innovative kids. They indicated that unstructured play was crucial to creating passions. I need no further convincing as I see that happening with my son’s play with LEGO and Minecraft.
A passionate individual is one who is driven intrinsically to do something. It might start with a question like “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and evolve to “How might you give back?”.
So does a schooling system need reform? Like Wagner, I think not. I think that most efforts at piecemeal change just re-form the school to do much the same thing.
Schooling needs to be reinvented (razed down and rebuilt based on a different model) to see the innovation Wagner described. But that takes a lot of time and time we do not have.
Innovation lies in those outlier mentors who can be teachers, parents, or experts in the community. As long as we recognize those outliers as essential, we keep that lifeline viable.
Biology teacher, Paul Anderson, applied some video game strategies to his classes. He worked on the premises that:
- School can be fun
- Failure is OK and part of the learning process
- Learning can be structured like game levels to be challenging
The elements of his Biohazard Five class included lots of activities, a large question pool designed around mastery learning, a leaderboard, and iPads for access to Internet resources.
Best of all, Anderson shared what he learnt from his classroom experience:
- He did not provide enough scaffolding
- He did not require his students to read independently enough
- He added elements of socialization to drive the learning
Here is the blurb of this short TED talk on YouTube:
Oops! Nobody wants to see the 404: Page Not Found. But as Renny Gleeson shows us, while he runs through a slideshow of creative and funny 404 pages, every error is really a chance to build a better relationship.
Though not as bad as the Windows blue screen of death (BSOD), getting a 404 error message page while surfing the Web can be a bummer. It means that someone failed somewhere at something.
But that does not mean that you cannot have fun with the page and even help the person who stumbles upon it to learn something about you, your organization, or even what you stand for.
Failure is an option. It is also an opportunity. After all, when you fail is it is just the First Attempt In Learning.
How do you solve a first world problem that was a solution to a much simpler problem?
The simple problem: Wet hands after washing them in a public restroom. The solution: Paper towels. The larger problem: Paper wastage.
This short, funny, and useful TED talk shows us how to shake and fold to reduce paper towel use.
My takeaway is that sometimes a solution to a problem is not adding another person, resource, or element. The solution is a change in mindset or behaviour.