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Posts Tagged ‘qi

Anyone who might have red my reflection about edutainment might think I dislike fact-based shows. Not true.

Video source 

I like QI. I like it even more that I have insights into their people and processes thanks to the video above. I would normally use such a video to emphasise the importance of “processes behind product”.

But I link it to my previous stream of consciousness instead. Edutainment is not helpful if it is done only to get attention, to compensate for the lack of a teacher’s imagination, or for some short term gain. 

It can be powerful if it is part of a larger strategy. For example, something from popular culture might be an initial hook for a think-pair-share activity, subsequent whole class discussion, and a consolidation by reflection. 

The point is this: An entertaining video has little or no educational content until an educator facilitates thought and action around it. This might seem like an unnecessary statement to make, but I have observed far too many teachers use YouTube videos as fire-and-forget missiles. 

Like most synchronous learning resources, YouTube videos do not hit targets on their own. They need to be guided as do the students.


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I have been catching up on old episodes of the UK panel show, QI, for the last few weeks.

This segment of one of the panellists, comedian Romesh Ranganathan, responding to host Stephen Fry, caught my attention because of the mention of “interactive” white boards.

I have a clear disdain for these white elephant boards because they serve little pedagogical purpose and only help technology companies fatten their wallets.

Ranganathan used to be a mathematics teacher and he is only an anecdotal sample of one. But his answer is symptomatic of how much technology is used to replicate what can already be done more efficiently or effectively.

If we are to move forward, we need to operate outside the box (and board in this case). How might we do this? Collect enough anecdotes like these so that they become valid and reliable data to provide that push.

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I like watching clips of QI because what the panel discusses often straddles the line of entertainment and education. The clip below was an example of game theory.


Video source

If you were in a “truel” — a duel with a total three people, each with a gun loaded with one bullet — which person would you shoot first? The conditions were that you had a 10% chance of hitting your target, the second person was good shot with a 60% chance, and the third person was an excellent shot with 90%.

If you followed the numbers, you might play by the rules and take your chance. Even if you hit either one successfully by slim chance, the remaining shooter is even more likely gun you down.

The seemingly illogical option would be to miss on purpose and make it obvious. You would likely be ignored because you are not perceived as a threat and the other two would take each other out. You remain alive as a result.

It can be tempting to follow the numbers and the rules that seem to accompany it. However, the numbers should only guide what should be logical and forward thinking.

Such game theory not only applies in the truel scenario, it could apply in policymaking in schooling and education. Administrators and policymakers cite numbers, build walls with them, and enact plans. But if they rise above those numbers and think about the people — the students and the teachers — that are create those numbers, they might build bridges instead.


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