23 March 2015

Items to Share: 22 March 2015

Education Focus
  • What might be a good proxy for learning? | David Didau: The Learning Spy 'As I’ve mentioned before (at tedious length) learning is invisible. Or at least, other people’s is. It happens inside our minds and, as such, we tend to believe either that everyone else behaves pretty much as we do, or that certain visible signifiers that we associate with learning must, in fact be learning. The proxies Coe has identified do not preclude learning – at some level we are probably always learning something – just these conditions may be present without students learning anything a teacher intends them to learn.' (via The Echo Chamber, also the proximate source of several other links)
  • Causation and Correlation in Education - HuntingEnglish 'When presented with evidence we should question the correlation and causation. When setting up evaluations of our own we need to be mindful of this too. Setting up a new time-consuming intervention, that costs teacher time and students’ curriculum time, must be evaluated better if we really want to go some way to having robust evidence. We all have a long way to go. [ ] Now, I’m off to straighten my bedsheets and to hide the margarine.'
  • Marina Warner · Learning My Lesson · LRB 19 March 2015 'The correspondence [I received after my resignation from the University of Essex] reveals a deeper and more bitter scene in higher education than I had ever imagined. I had been naive, culpably unobservant as I went about my activities at Essex. Students, lecturers, professors from one institution after another were howling in sympathy and rage; not one of them dissented or tried to justify the situation. I had thought that Essex was a monstrous manifestation, but it turns out that its rulers’ ideas are ‘the new normal’, as the Chinese government calls its present economic plan. Cries also reached me from other countries, where the new methods have been taken even further: from New Zealand and Australia, above all; from Europe, especially the Netherlands, and from certain institutions in the US.
  • Donald Clark Plan B: Finland to scrap subject teaching 'Teaching by topic, or phenomenon teaching, is not an new idea but no state has adopted it nationwide. In Helsinki this has already happened for 16 year olds. A ‘topic’, such as the European Union would be used to bring in knowledge and skills around history, geography, maths through the interpretation of stats, writing skills, politics and languages. A real business problem, such as running a cafĂ©, would be an opportunity to bring in maths, nutrition, as well as languages for foreign customers and soft-skill, such as communications. [ ] Structurally, there will be a lot less chalk and talk, less sitting in rows, less ‘hands up questioning and much more project and group work. It involves a complete rething and redesign of the delivery methods.'
  • Fixing Engineering Education: Engineering Educators: You're Doing it Wrong! '[T]hose greatly influential in the content and delivery of engineering degrees do not understand what engineers do, or how they do it. Many of them have never practiced the discipline, and often think of real engineers as their social and intellectual inferiors. [ ] Many think that the "purer" subjects in which they have first degrees are more intellectually demanding than real engineering. Perhaps they think that teaching abstract theory irrespective of its relevance to engineering practice is "an education", but teaching practically relevant material is the vastly inferior "training", fit only for technicians.'
  • Bloom's Revised Taxonomy Action Verbs infographic - e-Learning Infographics 'Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom, and David Krathwohl revisited the cognitive domain in the mid-nineties and made some changes. This new taxonomy reflects a more active form of thinking and is perhaps more accurate. Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy improved the usability of it by using action words. The Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy Action Verbs infographic includes some action words that are useful in writing learning objectives.' Yes, but even the blurb shows how this ain't indisputable truth—it's just another heuristic.
  • Stripping the Ideology from Differentiation | Stepping Back a Little 'In my opinion, there are fundamental flaws with the idea that the more we seek to personalise schooling then the better we educate our children. Nevertheless, this idea seems to exert a stranglehold on the otherwise important concept of differentiation, and push it beyond being a learning enhancer into being a stressful pressure on teachers of dubious educational benefit.' Useful counter to the conventional wisdom.
Other Business
  • "The first crack in the wall of significance testing" | Big Think 'Significance testing is one of the most important, yet most widely misunderstood definitions in science. [...] Yale clinical neurologist Steven Novella sums up the problem well: "the p-value was never meant to be the sole measure of whether or not a particular hypothesis is true. Rather it was meant only as a measure of whether or not the data should be taken seriously". Novella's account refers to an absolutely beautiful guitar-hero-meets-space-invaders-meets-tetris-meets-roulette statistical demonstration of the problem by Geoff Cumming, dubbed "The dance of the p-values". If it is not the most inspired stats less[on] you've ever had, then I'll eat my hat!
  • Nigeness: What would Captain Mainwaring say? 'This morning I stepped into my local branch of Barclays bank to get some cash, and I am still aghast at what I found there. This branch has three indoor 'hole in the wall' machines, each with a different function, as was hitherto apparent at a glance. Now, however, the notice above each machine carries not an indication of what it does but a name. The machines are now 'Sally', 'Jake' and 'Mike'.  

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