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I enjoyed this critique of a journalist’s article on “personalised learning”.

If you read the critique and think that it sounded mean, you should also note that the blog is called Curmudgucation — a fusion of curmudgeon and education.

That said, the critique was not an empty or angry rant. I agree with Curmudgucation’s main critique: Journalists need to go beyond interviewing people and blindly putting a positive spin on edtech claims. Most edtech providers already do selective “research” and tout the effectiveness of their wares. We do not need journalists to amplify when they can help scrutinise.

Edtech is my field — I have a Masters and Ph.D. in it — and it is a mine field. The part of field that the journalist tip-toed though was how technology helps personalise learning.

I have processed articles that try to unpack what personalised learning means or looks like [my curated readings in Diigo]. At one end of the spectrum are reports that come across as panaceas for schooling and educational ills. At the opposite end, personalised learning is a dirty word because it is linked to data-driven methods gone wrong.

Thought leaders have proposed alternatives “personalisation of learning” or suggest what personalised learning is NOT. These do not clarify already muddy waters.

The clearest view of “personalised learning” is that the process is actually about personalised teaching. For example, collecting copious data on every learner to (theoretically) provide them with just-in-time instruction and assessment is not the same as learning.

Learning is not about what we do TO the learner; it is about what the learner DOES. It is about the evidence of each person’s change in knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills. The driving factors in learning that is truly personal revolve around learner agency and self-directedness.

In short, you can try to tailor instruction or coaching, but if the child does not internalise or own the process, there is no personalised learning.

If the learner does not internalise or own the process, there is no personalised learning.

A few days ago, I found out that SmugMug had acquired Flickr. I received email from Flickr confirming this.

Yahoo acquired Flickr in 2005. Yahoo was then acquired by Verizon, combined with AOL, and put under the umbrella of Oath.

I was worried that these moves would affect the photo storage, display, and sharing service. It turned out to be mostly service as usual. However, the latest move has me worried about how this affects the photos shared under various Creative Commons (CC) licenses.
 

 
Flickr is a wonderful source of CC images. I use ImageCodr almost daily to search for images to illustrate my blog entries. ImageCodr also provides the HTML for attributing the images.

According to the Verge article, SmugMug “intends to keep Flickr as a standalone community and give it more resources and attention than Oath did”. Neither that article or the one by TechCrunch has information about the sharing and use of CC-licensed images. SmugMug’s FAQ does not address this issue either.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that this acquisition is as seamless and uneventful as the ones before it.

I'm at Level 40 and currently walking Metagross for candy.

Recently I reflected on reaching Level 40 in Pokémon Go (PoGo). But I did not address all the reasons why I keep running even though I have reached a “finish” line.

My short answer: I keep playing to keep learning.

As the game os location-based, this requires me to occasionally visit new places. As I do, I meet new people and gain new perspectives.

If those new places and people are overseas when I hunt for regional Pokémon, that is the ultimate bonus! Case in point: This was a virtual souvenir from The Netherlands.

Mr Mime from Amsterdam.

I am currently watching a National Geographic documentary series, One Strange Rock. It is narrated by the actor Will Smith and helmed by filmmaker and writer Darren Aronofsky.


Video source

I have watched two episodes so far, Gasp and Storm, and they have left me breathless.

The series combines non-linear storytelling and beautiful cinematography to illustrate why life exists on Earth.

Good things can happen when Hollywood types and astronauts collide, just like what happened to our planet when asteroids and another planet hit it. Under the right Goldilocks circumstances, when the conditions are just right, we got planet Earth and this excellent documentary series.

This teacher’s generous sharing is a good example of an open classroom practice.

It is also an example of Cuban’s description of practitioners often being experience or practice rich but theory poor.

The teacher shared some excellent ideas on how to go “gradeless”:

  • Poll students to see where they are at
  • Empathise with the mindsets of students
  • Stick with policies and model practices of going gradeless
  • Get buy-in and support from school leaders and peers
  • Communicate clearly with students and their parents

However, there are areas where experience, practice, and experimentation are not enough.

What the teacher describes are “gradeless” is actually a type of formative feedback; the former is somewhat intimidating while the latter is more mainstream. It is important to lower or remove barriers when trying something new. That principle is fundamental in managing change.

The teacher also had poll responses that puzzled me. For example, what is the difference between “learning biology and also getting a good grade” and “both learning and getting a good grade”? Is the latter about learning in general? If so, how is that option relevant?

Options in a poll or quiz should not be ambiguous or overlap conceptually. This is fundamental to poll and quiz design if you are not to confuse students and if you want to get a clear idea of where the learners are at.

No teacher or teaching is perfect. We need to take the roses and rotten tomatoes thrown in our direction in equal measure.

This is a quick follow-up to shower thoughts 1.

One reason we might have deep or profound thoughts while showering is because our minds make connections when we are relaxed. This is why sleep is more important in the run up to exams than cramming.

A shower thought is also an example I sometimes bring up in workshops where we practice station-based learning. The design for such sessions is that there are different tasks at each station, all of which help learners attempt and achieve learning outcomes.

I emphasise to participants that when station-based learning is repeated and becomes a culture of practice, students learn to associate different parts of a room — the different stations — with different tasks, e.g., consuming content, making connections, considering contrasts, reflecting.

The shower story starts with a question: Have you ever had a good idea while showering only to forget it once you towel dry and get dressed? Most participants say yes.

Then I ask them what they do or need to do to get the idea back. Some reply that they need to take the shower again. The idea comes back when they do.
 

 
I call this learning-in-place. We associate certain concepts, ideas, and issues with cues that are visual, aural, tactile, odorous, etc. It is as if a thought bubble remained where we once stood, and we have to return to where it was to get it back.

That is why students associated different concepts or types of learning with different stations. That is also why I need to step back into the shower to recapture my thoughts. It is either that or I am just getting old.

 
The tweeted “shower thought” below led me to a few questions:

Was the tweet a statement about how “outside” children created tools that encouraged “inside” children?

Or was the statement more about how we create change whether we intend to or not?

Or better still, how about the fact that some of us are always playing and inventing?


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