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Graduating with Technology

An interesting infographic on the changes in the classroom because of technology.

“The proliferation and sheer breadth of accessibility that the Internet offers has in many ways redefined the process of “growing up” — this graphic explores this redefinition and provides insight into not just how we learn stuff, but also what we learn from a young age now that we have computers.”

Recoding the Classroom

Nice article from ThinkGoogle on what is going to bring about change in the classroom.  “Though our world is changing, the spaces in which we teach are stuck in a time warp. According to some forward-thinking experts, only by embracing new technology and ideas can twenty-first-century schooling stay up to speed with the kids.”

Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web

Gates believes that in five years time you’ll able to find the “the best lectures in the world”. You can now, but its “unevenly distributed”!

“One particular problem with the education system according to Gates is text books. Even in grade schools, they can be 300 pages for a book about math. ‘They’re giant, intimidating books,” he said. “I look at them and think: what on Earth is in there?’”

On education

Dennis Littky writes about a new approach to education in the lastest issue of Interactions magazine. (Subscription required).

“The school was broken down into advisories, with a teacher and a group of students who spent four years together. Each adviser, parent, and student developed an individual learning plan. The school had broad goals of reading, writing, applying math, empirical reasoning, communication, and personal qualities. Every student would have his or her own way of reaching those goals with high standards. The teacher—also acting as adviser—would help the student identify his or her interests and then find a mentor and workplace to help make the learning real.”

Sounds like “Gurukul” to me.

Dan Mayer shows ho to teach math

Great piece on teaching math that is fun and memorable by Dan Mayer. His blog has more.

Making teaching stick

After reading Switch (highly recommended) by Dan and Chip Heath I headed to their website to get more resources. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of resources they have there. From a short summary of the book to how-to guides on using the principles in different settings. The one that caught my eye was Teaching that Sticks, a resource from their previous book, Made to Stick. It is a wonderful article-length read that gives a handful of strategies that you can try immediately, such as using the unexpected to create focus and interest.

Primary 1 math paper - cruel usabilty problems

I came back from work today to find my 6-year-old daughter in a bad mood. She was upset because Mommy told her that she got low marks in a math test! Surprised? Yes, in Singapore, reality hits early! I find it surreal that tests are given so early but I’m going along with it to see how all this works. So I’m biased over here. But that is not why I’m writing this post. I decided to write this post after what happened next.

I picked up the math paper and it took me a while to figure out how to do the sums. I’m pretty sure it will take you a while too. Here is part of the math paper.

Primary school math

Were you confused? I was. The instructions are too complex and there are just too many distractions on the page. The sums are numbered, the options are numbered and then the answers too are numbers! And did you find the “brackets”? They are on the right hand side, a trick I guess to test the range of the eyes!

See my daughter’s first answer in the brackets. Now see her second answer. Do you blame her for putting in the right answer in the bracket? Read the instruction, which number do I put in the bracket? The option number or the correct answer?

The point of this test I gather is to help the student better ‘see’ math in abstract and concrete terms. That’s fine, but where does trickery come in to play?

So, I took a shot at redesigning the paper and this is what I came up with in 5 minutes.

Schoo math paper - redesigned

I gave the same paper to my grumpy daughter and asked her to try the sums out. She looked at the paper and knew exactly what to do. She had a smile across her face. That is when I decided that I should share my concerns with the world.

We live in a scary world where 6-year olds are asked to do such math sums. The least we can do is to motivate and encourage them to take on this challenge. Giving badly designed papers to these kids is such a cruel thing to do. So, if you come across papers like these then please do something about it.

Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

When will this infection catch on worldwide? These are the small pockets of hope that we have left. Brilliant stuff Kiran!

iPhone + Book = Phonebook

Now this is interesting. The video does look very impressive.

Libraries and Readers Wade Into Digital Lending

NY Times reports on the emerging trend of borrowing e-books from libraries. It’s all nice but there are some cracks—e-books are treated as physical books. “Most digital books in libraries are treated like printed ones: only one borrower can check out an e-book at a time, and for popular titles, patrons must wait in line just as they do for physical books. After two to three weeks, the e-book automatically expires from a reader’s account.”

Clive Thompson on the New Literacy

Clive Thompson discusses the new literacy in Wired Magazine. He uses a study by Andrea Lunsford of Standford University to base his claims that the Internet is providing a new ground for literacy development.

“Of course, good teaching is always going to be crucial, as is the mastering of formal academic prose. But it’s also becoming clear that online media are pushing literacy into cool directions. The brevity of texting and status updating teaches young people to deploy haiku-like concision. At the same time, the proliferation of new forms of online pop-cultural exegesis—from sprawling TV-show recaps to 15,000-word videogame walkthroughs—has given them a chance to write enormously long and complex pieces of prose, often while working collaboratively with others.”

Compare this post with the previous post where another Standford study finds that the fast-paced literacy confuses the decision-making process. We’re living in interesting times!

Stanford d.school has a blog

The Stanford d.school blog -- d.news -- is now live. The Aravind Eye Clinic story continues to shine.
[Via Bob Sutton]

Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0

Brian Benzinger over at Solution Watch has published his 3rd installment on Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0. This Web 2.0 factor is becoming so pervasive that its going to become increasingly hard for traditional courseware management systems to catch up -- in the right form, not in an assembled hotchpotch fashion.[via SoulSoup]

Video games have ‘role in school’

From The BBC:

"The survey found 59% of teachers would consider using off-the-shelf games in the classroom while 62% of students wanted to use games at school."

Top Innovation & Design Schools

BusinessWeek has a special report on the best design schools around the world. Great read.

Concept Maps Go to School

I use concept maps regularly in my work to gather requirements, problem-solve, explore design options, etc. I find it a wonderful consensus-building tool when used collaboratively. I use OmniGraffle for building my concept maps. This Wired article reports on the use of another free concept map building tool called Cmap, which is available on many platforms (yes,OSX too).

Virtual Schools for Jocks

More high school athletes are taking online classes. Does electronic ed work?

Ten or so years ago, budding athletes only had an "either-or" option when it came to considering education and sport. As this article reveals, e-learning has empowered such people by giving them an "and also" option. This is exactly the type of change we need in developing countries where for many the very existence of only the "either-or" leads them to a path of inaction.

Mobile Learning Attracts High School Students

This was just waiting to happen: "Starting this month, high school students preparing for the college entrance exam will be able to use personal gadgets to study instead of textbooks on the bus or subway." [via SmartMobs]

Sketchy Grades for Cyber Schools

Wired reports the failure of cyber schools in meeting quality issues: "In Pennsylvania, students who attended the state's six cyber schools scored below the state average in a majority of proficiency tests, according to 2003 test results."

Asia-Pacific Perspectives: e!-Schools in Japan

Asia-Pacific Perspectives: e!-Schools Japan

Here's an interesting report on the role of IT in Japan. I like the way IT projects are related to the real-world. Here's one example from the e!-School project: "In a social studies class at the Third Municipal Elementary School in Mitaka City, Tokyo, 28 third graders are earnestly typing out e-mails on laptop computers. Equipped with the latest systems such as a wireless LAN (local area network), this progressive school is leading efforts to incorporate information technology into education. The purpose of this particular class is to teach students about real-world social interactions by having them communicate via e-mail with local shop-owners as part of the task of creating posters for the stores."

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