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Posts Tagged ‘learning

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.

Despite the doubling of tweet length, this one (archived version) needs more context.

The sharing session might focus on WHAT the context is and HOW the supposed system auto-magically does this.

But I wonder if it will explore the WHY of doing this. Answering this question explores the ethics of incorporating such technology. This might include what data is collected and how algorithms run to make summary decisions.

Let us not forget where others have gone or are going before, i.e., how Facebook and Google are under the microscope for not being more careful with student data.

 
This article reported that “around 80 percent of instructors around the world teaching or training others in flipped learning are three to five years behind current best practices”.

If their estimate is close, then that is an alarming statistic because teachers are not staying current with research-informed practices.

That said, I am just as alarmed with the use of “best practices”. What is best or good in one context is not in another. Here are my other objections to the blind adoption of this corporate term.

I am also worried that an article that claims numbers and standards of practice does not link properly to evidence. For example, at the time of my reflection, there was a sentence: “The standards were developed by a team of international academics from the U.S., Spain, Turkey and Taiwan”. The link leads to a non-existent page about the experts.

Strangely enough, the article took a twist about halfway through. It quoted Robert Talbert, a mathematics professor and author of a book on flipping:

Talbert noted, however, that the FLGI’s Global Standards Project is primarily about setting standards for flipped learning training, and not for flipped learning itself.

First, I was concerned that the group thought it could train adult learners.

Second, if you asked the question “Are You Flipping the Wrong Way?” (the title of the article), then why were the standards not for the implementation of flipped learning per se?

While my reflection might come across as an argument about semantics, it is not. Words hold meaning and their meanings stem from the beliefs and mindsets of the people who speak and write them. If they cannot get terms right, who are they to tell others that their practices are right or wrong?

All that said, there is value in the latter half of the article. If the premise had been better stated as teachers were not keeping up with research-informed practices, then the article did a good job of illustrating wasteful practices like investing in redundant LMS and providing every student with thumb drives.

It also had this to say about the emphasis on pre-class work:

“Using video for preclass work is still by far the most common approach, but more instructors are using some interactive activity instead,” said Talbert. Some instructors are reverting to assigning students a text to read with structured questions before class, he said. “Making a video is very time-consuming, and it’s not clear if video provides benefits to students commensurate with the cost of making those videos.”

Emphasis has also shifted in recent years from what happens before class to what happens in class, said Talbert. “In the early days, instructors tended to put a great deal of emphasis on students’ preclass work and then do nothing particularly special for class meetings. Now there’s a much broader understanding that the in-class activity needs to be designed first.”

Ultimately, the problem is not that teachers are not researchers and do not have the bandwidth for reading research:

“There are lots of common pitfalls, and it’s likely that in almost two decades somebody has tried what you’re thinking of and failed,” said Bowen. But finding out what hasn’t worked can be difficult, because positive results are more likely to get published than negative ones. Access to journal articles is also expensive, he noted.

The issue is that journals tend to favour positive results and are walled-gardens with premium access. The academic publishing system is flipping wrong. Teachers need to rely more on connected communities of practice, not just on central “training” bodies or pay-for-access journals.

Hot on the heels of Apple’s recent education event came this tweet from @AppleEDU:

Here was a critical response:

I agree. The equation of fun = engaging = learning is flawed.

Something that is fun might be engaging, but does not mean that the right gears are in play.

For example, a teacher might introduce a mobile or online game to teach a math skill or language concept. A student might play the game — typically a quiz in disguise — to get a high score, but learn little, if anything at all.

This happens when the teacher focuses on the game or content instead of factoring in the learner’s prior knowledge and cognitive schema. Doing the latter activates the right gears in the learner before they start a meaningful learning journey.

Something engaging still does not guarantee learning. When a teacher tries to engage learners with iPads or Chromebooks, this is an external hook or lure. The stimulus comes from without.

Empowerment comes largely from within. It might start with an engaging hook, but the teacher must also provide learner choice and agency. A teacher teaches; only a learner learns.
 

 
Entire school districts might commit to Apple’s new offering. They might also opt for the technical training it offers for teachers. But all these are pointless if there is no socio-technical professional development (PD), i.e., one that focuses on both pedagogy and technology. Such PD is about activating schema and empowering learners with technology. It is not about putting one above the other, i.e., pedagogy over technology, or technology over pedagogy.


Video source

Here is some free PD: The video above and the one embedded in the AppleEDU tweet hint at what empowered students look like. They learn by doing and they create.

However, neither video shows the teacher’s role in all this. Neither video shows what the gaps are, how wide they are, or how to bridge those gaps. This is PD that school administrators and policymakers need to plan and pay for. This is PD that teachers must demand. This is PD that people who live in the nexus of pedagogy and technology — people like me — can provide.

Here is an unoriginal thought: You can get into a state of flow no matter what video game you play.

My wife, my son, and I play very different games on our phones. My wife likes tile-matching puzzle games — she started with games like Bejeweled and now plays Simon’s Cat Crunch Time.


Video source

My son plays a variety of games and seems to favour multiplayer inline battle arena (MOBA) games now. He is currently playing Mobile Legends.


Video source

My main game is Pokémon Go. This is a location-based game that requires me to leave home to catch Pokémon, spin stops, battle rival gyms, and coordinate raids.

One more level to go!

Whatever game we play, we get into a state of flow. This is an almost zen-like state of focus, quick decision-making, and honed movements.

Different games and gameplay result in the same outcomes while allowing players choice of game based on their interests or strengths. If this sounds familiar, it is because the tenets are built on the same foundations as personal learning.

It does not take an external vendor, elaborate proposals, or a king’s ransom to implement personal learning. It takes actual gameplay and a willingness to reflect and try something new.

Yesterday I started Niantic’s second Pokémon Go Community Day (PGCD) on a high, experienced a low, but ended on another high.

PGCD is a monthly event that encourages players to explore the outdoors to find special Pokémon and rewards. February’s Pokémon was Dratini that could “evolve” to Dragonites with the draco meteor charge move.

There were other bonuses: Every catch was rewarded with three times as much stardust, and if you struck the lottery, you might catch the shiny variant of Dratini.

In Singapore, the event was scheduled to start at 11am and end at 2pm yesterday. I made my way to a park and activated a Lucky Egg and Star Piece to boost the XP and stardust gains.

First of five shiny Dratini caught on Community Day (24 Feb 2018).

My day started with a high when my second catch — and first Dratini — was a shiny. Things were looking up, but things started going downhill from that point.

At first, I noticed that the multiplier effect of the star piece I activated was not working. Each first stage Pokémon normally nets 100 stardust once captured. This was boosted to 300 stardust for the event.

As star pieces have a 1.5 multiplier effect, each catch should have been worth 450 stardust. However, the amount of stardust remained at 300 even with the star piece.

I provided video evidence to Niantic that this was happening. BTW, star pieces are items that I had to purchase, and this game error meant that I was wasting my money and effort.

Soon other players and I noticed more trouble within an hour of play. The game lagged, we kept getting error messages, and we could not catch or manage our Pokémon. Eventually the game logged me out and I could not get back in despite trying several times.

Just as well. I had to stop for lunch.

After lunch, the performance of the game improved. Other players and I could log in and we could play normally. Niantic extended the event by another three hours to compensate.

I moved from the park to a nearby mall that had a row of Poké stops. The density of stops meant that Dratini sometimes spawned faster than I could catch them.

This increased my chances of catching a shiny Dratini so much so that I eventually caught a total of five. One of the five was a strong Dratini that I evolved to a Dragonite.

I thought that I had already hit mini lotteries.

Then about 15 minutes before the event was to end, I heard someone say that there was a perfect IV Dratini nearby. A small group of us rushed over to where it was.

Along the way, I did a quick search to confirm the rumour and I realised that I knew that area well. When the group peeled off in the wrong direction, I told them to follow me.

I found the perfect IV Dratini first and beckoned the group over. I had to do this as some from the group opted to follow someone else in the wrong direction.

We caught the perfect IV Dratini just five minutes before the event ended. I hope everyone there remembered to “evolve” their catches immediately to get a perfect IV Dragonite with the draco meteor charge move.

What was the serendipitous learning?

First, seeing for myself that the rumoured shiny Dratini was true by encountering it in the wild.

Second, I had to quickly create videos to send to Niantic to clearly describe a problem and provide indisputable evidence of a problem.

Three, bumping into other players open enough to share critical information, sharing new information on the run, and getting rewarded for cooperating.

The last was a good example of serendipitous cooperation. The group had information about the Dratini that I did not. I knew where exactly to go to catch it, but they did not. If we did not share what we knew, we would not have caught and evolved it on time.

Ah, serendipity.

 
Here is another example of why propagators of “learning styles” do schooling and education a disservice.

An NBC correspondent highlighted a quote from a WaPo article:

For some context, here is an excerpt from the article

Trump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day, according to three people familiar with his briefings. 

Reading the traditionally dense intelligence book is not Trump’s preferred “style of learning,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Say what you want about “learning styles”. If you are a teacher and what you say is not informed by research, then you dig you and your students into a hole. These “learning styles” become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you do not like reading words, here are lots of pictures instead. If you cannot listen attentively to someone, go outside and do something that somehow teaches you the same thing.

“Learning styles” can become an excuse to label yourself or someone else so that you or they do not have to try to learn something else some other way.

Do you and your students a favour and educate yourself on the fallacies of “learning styles”. Read this tweet storm — a response to an uncritical and irresponsible vendor — for a start.

You do not even need to read the research. Just question your conscience and logic — is it right and helpful for any learners to grow up with a limited set of tools and skills?


Video source

The video above highlights how “learning styles”:

  • have no research evidence that show that they improve learning
  • waste the time and effort of teachers who try to cater to different styles
  • label and limit people into believing they learn only or best in certain ways

Admit your bias, take the first difficult step of learning what research tells us, and unlearn “learning styles”. Your first step is any of the resources I have shared in Diigo, the articles mentioned in the tweetstorm, or the TED talk embedded above. Read, watch, or listen; choose your learning preference, but do not call it a learning style.

Learning is often difficult. If it was easy, it probably is not learning. Giving in to your uninformed bias that kids have “learning styles” may be easier, but that does not make it right.


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