Education, Technology

Abundance in Education – This Time it’s Personal

My mother is reading this book called “Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. She marked a chapter titled “Education” starting on page 174 and told me I would be interested in this. I am. If you’re interested in education, not just teaching, I think you would be too. In the last few posts, I summarized the sections in this chapter so I can remember them and hopefully you will likewise find it interesting and provide your own insight on each section.

“This Time It’s Personal” (186-188) is the last section in the Education chapter. It emphasizes the fact that everyone has different learning preferences and with technology being the educator, every student can have their own personalized learning experienced. They quote James Gee talking about the superior testing method of video games to standardized tests. Video games are constantly testing a student’s ability to solve the next problem, and until they do they can’t continue the game. Games can also collect a lot of data on each student as they progress. Personally, I don’t like standardized tests because the who class becomes focused on teaching to the test instead of just teaching. It means that information must be presented in a way that would help a student pass a test rather than really learn the material. It discourages hands-on learning because that’s not how tests work, but when I tested my students on what type of learner they were (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic), the majority were kinesthetic (hands-on learner). This means that the standardized tests are a poor method for assessing their learning.

What do you think about the future of education and technology? What vision do you see for our future classrooms? I see students getting a personalized learning experience with games, reading and writing activities, video lessons, and virtual labs.

 

Education, Technology

Abundance in Education – The Wrath of Khan

Image is from the Khan Academy Facebook Page

My mother is reading this book called “Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. She marked a chapter titled “Education” starting on page 174 and told me I would be interested in this. I am. If you’re interested in education, not just teaching, I think you would be too. In the last new and next few posts, I am summarizing the sections in this chapter so I can remember them and hopefully you will likewise find it interesting and provide your own insight on each section.

“The Wrath of Khan” (184-186) talks about the start of Khan Academy and it’s mission to provide free education to anyone with an internet connection. Salman Khan was tutoring his younger cousins via short videos that he posted on YouTube. His cousins prefered the videos to in-person tutoring because they could pause, rewind, skip ahead, and re-watch. They could learn at their own pace.

Khan Academy’s mission is incredible to me and I had no idea that they basically have full on courses you can take on so many different subjects. I usually just use it to show me how to solve complicated math problems in higher college math courses. According to the book they partnered with the Los Altos School District in California to basically create a flipped classroom. Assigned homework was in the form of Khan videos and class time was utilized to solve problems on the Khan site, which the students received points on the site for doing.

Students would get merit badges for every so many points and getting the points and badges became addicting to many students. This hones with an earlier section in the book that said that learning needs to become addictive. I have always found that getting points and showing percent complete has made me want to strive for perfection in video games. This sounds like it can create a similar desire. It promotes mastery-based learning if the students are striving for 100% on one skill in a subject before moving on to the next. This is something I absolutely want to look into more.

Have you used Khan Academy to learn anything? What was it and did it work for you? I would love to read about your experience implementing any aspect of Khan Academy in your classroom.

Education, Technology, Video Games

Abundance in Education – James Gee Meets Pajama Sam

Image from here.

My mother is reading this book called “Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. She marked a chapter titled “Education” starting on page 174 and told me I would be interested in this. I am. If you’re interested in education, not just teaching, I think you would be too. In the last few and next few posts, I am summarizing the sections in this chapter so I can remember them and hopefully you will likewise find it interesting and provide your own insite on each section.

“James Gee Meets Pajama Sam” (182-184) is my favorite section so far. It’s about video games and learning. Apparently, video games actually teach stuff – who knew. Dr. James Gee got into research of video games and learning because he wanted his six-year-old son to develop better problem-solving skills. He got him a game called Pajama Sam. It was more difficult than expected, but very engaging – like many video games can be.

Video games aren’t as relaxing as watching TV. Many of them provide a constant learning curve or creative outlet. He explains how Pokemon can help teach young children to read because the game is designed for 5 year olds, but the reading involved is at a 12th grade level, requiring that a parent read allowed for the child until s/he gets the hang of it. “World-building games like SimCity and RollerCoaster Tycoon develop planning skills and strategic thinking,” (183).

Games can be incorporated into learning to teach fact-based subjects, visual coordination, creativity, collaborative skills, and more. They take students through the scientific method as a student is presented with a new problem, has to analyze and develop a hypothesis to deal with said problem, then test it out and take mental note of the cause and effect.

Some teachers have been using video games in the classroom. For example, “Jeremiah McCall…makes his students compare the battle depictions in Rome: Total War against the historical evidence,” (183-184). Lee Sheldon decided to use a game-based grading system where students come in on day one as level 0 characters and work to achieve level 12. This means that everything they do in the classroom gives them experience points to help them level up – just like in a video game. I actually had this idea when I was considering teaching middle school instead of high school. It kind of got shot down by a few peers (mostly because I shared it as a grain of an idea and not a full, thought-out plan), but this has certainly renewed my interest in that concept. I still think it would work better in middle school or lower, but maybe it would work with high school students. I could also ask my kids next year what they think about the idea and then share the idea with my peers here (who are a lot more supportive than my previous ones).

The book also mentions a school called Quest2Learn in New York. It is a public school founded by Katie Salen and it has a “curriculum based on game design and digital culture,” (184). I wonder how I can incorporate video games into chemistry and algebra. We have virtual labs that have “games,” and those do get some of the students more engages, but they’re not the same as an actual video game. This is certainly something I will want to look into more as the school year goes on while I lesson plan, but probably won’t be something that gets fully developed in my second year of teaching.

What do you think about incorporating gaming in the classroom?  What game-themed things would you be interest in trying or seeing in a classroom? Have you introduced any games as part of your lesson? How did it go?

Education, Teaching, Technology

Abundance in Education – One Tablet Per Child

My mother is reading this book called “Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. She marked a chapter titled “Education” starting on page 174 and told me I would be interested in this. I am. If you’re interested in education, not just teaching, I think you would be too. In the next few posts, I am going to summarize the sections in this chapter so I can remember them and hopefully you will likewise find it interesting and provide your own insight on each section.

“One Tablet Per Child” (177-179) talks about the importance of students having access to technology and the internet, especially in higher poverty areas where students are less likely to get a good education. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is an organization that attempts to get a laptop, chomebook, or tablet in the hands of every student. The program has been very successful dropping truancy to zero, which means that students are feeling that what they are doing in school actually matters.

They quote a book called “The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need – And What We Can Do About It,” by Tony Wagner. It talks about how half of the students that drop out of high school do so because they don’t feel like what they are learning is relevant, not because they didn’t have the ability to finish. I’m with them. I came close to dropping out because I felt like high school was a waste of my time. Luckily my parents would not let me and I had a lot of support to stay in school.

Having technology and teaching students to use it to learn whatever they need to learn is a transferable skill that applies to today’s world.  Maybe I should work harder to have more technology in the classroom. We have access to chromebook carts and ipad carts as well as the computer room. But it’s all first come first serve. I’m also not sure how to utilize it in a way that would make content more meaningful. Just more computerized. How do you use technology in the classroom to make the content more meaningful?

Do you agree that providing a laptop, chromebook, or tablet for every child would benefit their education? Why or why not?

Education, Teaching, Technology

Abundance in Education – The Hole-in-the-Wall

My mother is reading this book called “Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. She marked a chapter titled “Education” starting on page 174 and told me I would be interested in this. I am. If you’re interested in education, not just teaching, I think you would be too. In the next few posts, I am going to summarize the sections in this chapter so I can remember them and hopefully you will likewise find it interesting and provide your own insight on each section.

“The Hole-in-the-Wall” (174-177) talks about a man who was concerned about students in areas that were higher poverty and where good teachers didn’t want to go. He mainly carried out his experiments in India, but his methods can be applied all over the world. One thing he did was have a computer station (theift-proof) out where children could get to it. Children that have never seen a computer or browsed the internet before. Children that didn’t even speak English. They played with the computer and even taught each other how to click on things and get on the internet and look things up.

In one of these towns, he challenged a group of students to learn biotechnology in English. These children were using a device they have never seen before to learn a subject they have never heard of in a language they didn’t speak. They did it. With two months of unsupervised study, this group of kids was able to get a 30 percent score on a test about the subject in English. Over the next two months they had an older girl act as a “tutor” even though she didn’t know any biotechnology. She just encouraged them and asked them questions to further their own learning. Their scores rose to 50 percent.

After doing more experiments to refine his method, he determined that schools could install computer stations – one computer for 4 students to collaborate on – give students specific questions to look into (ie “Was WWII good or bad?”) and offer Skype with older ladies who would encourage the students. When students were tested on what they learned, the average score was 76 percent. Even better, because they figured everything out on their own, the information was retained. When the students were tested again two months later on the same material, even though they had moved on to learn new material, their scores were about the same as the first time.

I love this. It uses the natural curiosity of children to get them to learn without a teacher. They have someone asking questions or giving them specific topic and someone occasionally encouraging them along the way, and they are able to educate themselves. I really like how this concept can be used with any group of students, no matter the location or the language. Of course, I don’t love the idea of not having a teacher, but the point of this method is to use it in places where there are no teachers, or there aren’t many teachers. I think, though, it could still be beneficial in the classroom. Many teachers give a group of students specific research topics with questions for them to answer and have them figure out how to find the answers online. I know I have done this. Have you? What are your thoughts and observations on this concept? Do you think this could be an effective method to bring education to students who don’t have access to good schools or teachers?