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Posts Tagged ‘learning


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The second episode of CrashCourse’s AI series focused on how AI learns: Reinforcement, unsupervised, and supervised.

  • Refinforcement learning: AI gets feedback from its behaviours.
  • Unsupervised learning: AI learns to recognise patterns by clustering or grouping objects.
  • Supervised learning: AI is presented objects with training labels and associates the two. This is the most common method of training AI and was the focus of the episode.

Examples of supervised learning by AI include the ability to recognise your face over others and distinguishing between relevant and spam email.

Understanding how supervised learning happens broadly is easy. Doing the same at the programmatic level is not. The AI brain does not consist of human neurone analogues. While both seem to have just two actions (fire or not fire; one or zero), AI can be programmed to weight its processing before firing.

The last paragraph might not be easy to picture. The video made this clearer by illustrating how an AI might distinguish between donuts and bagels. Both look alike but an AI might be taught to tell the difference by considering the diameter and mass of each item — the diameter and mass being the weights that influence the processing.

The video then went on to illustrate the difference between precision and recall in AI. This is important to AI programming, but not so much in the context of how I might use this video (AI for edtech planning and management).

This episode scratched the surface of how AI learns in the most basic of ways. I am itching for the next episode on neural networks and deep learning.


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Yay, here is a preview of a YouTube series on artificial intelligence and machine learning by CrashCourse.

Even more yay, it might be another resource to add to the Masters course I facilitate.

While blended learning seems to still be the rage, it is often touted largely as a combination of online and face-to-face experiences. This is the fault of edtech vendors who simplify this broad concept in order to sell their platforms and products.

Steve Wheeler hinted at the nuances of blending. This involves the mixing of pedagogies, content, contexts, tools/platforms, modes, etc.
 

 
This is why I prefer to use a term favoured by an ex-colleague of mine — seamless learning. An experience so well blended is one where the constituent parts are not apparent.

A learner might start with a think-pair-share activity, identify a gap in knowledge, and pursue information to fill that gap. This might involve collaborative discussion, individual investigation, or both. The knowledgeable other might be a fellow learner, her teacher, or an online entity.

All this time the learner does not feel like she is transitioning from one state to another. She is just learning. Seamlessly.
 

 
One more good thing about using seamless over blended: It has not yet been overused and abused by edtech vendors, administrators, policymakers, or trainers. The educators who learn about seamless learning might just start with a cleaner slate that embraces possibilities, complexities, and nuance.

This tweet reveals a battle we rage in education. It is not the text or the link in the tweet; it is the image.

What is the battle about? Learning styles and the ignorance it perpetuates.

Why battle? Learning styles are very much alive and even celebrated. This despite research that has debunked it and the APA that recently made a statement against it.

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently posted an article about how many people still believe in learning styles even though these have been debunked.

A cognitive psychology educator posted five-tweet thread to see how commonly accepted learning styles were in the top ten schools of education in the US.

He followed up with a blog entry to show how he discovered that eight out of ten of them had information about learning styles on their website. This information was supportive of or neutral about learning styles. Only one, the
“Teachers College of Columbia University produced an article which portrayed learning styles as a myth or in a negative manner”.

I agree with him. We should stop beating dead horses. The learning styles horse is very much alive. Where is my stick? Ah, here it is.

 
I have grabbed every opportunity to run courses or workshop series like studio sessions.

If you need to know what studio teaching and studio-based learning are, I recommend these resources:

My most recent ventures with this approach were a series of academic writing workshops for teachers and a postgraduate course on educational technology.

Both groups enjoyed a small number of participants: Six teachers and seven Masters/Ph.D. students. In terms of content, both were roughly even on theory (knowledge), practice (skills), and praxis (theory informed and authentic practice).

One way to imagine studio-based learning is to picture novice painters. Learners armed with prior knowledge and previous experiences bring those to the studio to learn from a master and their peers. They learn in. They learn information and skills just-in-time and level up by working in groups and individually.

While in groups, they share (peer teach) and provide feedback to one another (critique). Their processes and products are made as open and available to others as much as possible.

A studio also affords individual alone time to be with their thoughts. This allows students to practice or reflect on their own, or to consult the facilitator.

Like a painter, a student in a studio must have choice in a project for evaluation of learning. The project must meet standards established early on and agreed upon. Like a painter, such a student needs to showcase their thinking (processes) and work (products) during studio sessions.

I have found it easy to conduct studio sessions when the circumstances align — class size, course coordinators who are hands-off or trusting, nature of topic, etc. I can do these even in the most traditional of institutions. However, it is the assessment that is challenging. I will reflect on one or two pragmatic issues next.

 
As I strive to be a lead learner, I have to be reminded and learn about learning. Real learning.

Real learning creates discomfort. Sometimes it can even be painful.

Real learning takes effort on the part of the learner — effort that is focused, concerted, and practiced.

Real learning results in changes to what we know, believe, and do.

Real learning rarely, if ever, results from tests. Yet tests are the standard on which alternatives are compared.

How did we get to test-based “learning”? Real learning is difficult to do and measure. Tests are easy by comparison. We take the easy way out. In the process we learn about who we are and what we value.

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