Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Education and Technology

Today continues my coverage of "education" as a topic.

First, another TED talk: This one is by Salman Khan of Khan Academy, talking in March 2011 about the advantage of putting lessons into videos and how the material can be used to "flip the classroom". The talk is just over 20 minutes long.

Let's Use Video to Re-invent Education

The 2nd talk today is a non-TED lecture from one of Udacity's professors, Jörn Loviscach, talking at a May, 2012, conference in Switzerland about where he thinks education is being driven by the availability of MOOC's and video-on-demand lessons. The talk is about 40 minutes long, and is delivered in an accented English.

MOOC's and Other Faster Horses

I'm curious to see how "teaching until mastery" really works out with real students. It seems to imply a level of self-motivation that doesn't seem to be common-place. Perhaps the problem is that the self-motivation has been trained out of the children by the traditions of education where wrong answers are a bad outcome??

I also note that the dashboard Khan shows is far more slick than the guidance that the infrastructure of Udacity provides for tracking a class. Maybe Udacity needs more time and demand to come through with additional tools to support a role for a "local teacher" in the courses. The existing Udacity software doesn't really offer any overview of who is stuck and who is moving through the material with ease, not even identifying who isn't even putting in the time to try.

If you've had experience with MOOC's and/or "flipping the classroom", I'd sure like to hear about how that went for you. Please contribute some comments, even if you just contribute a link pointing to your own blog where you talk about this stuff.

Back in my time with a major industrial research and development organization, one of my frustrations was that so little attention was paid to failed projects. To this day, I strongly believe that there's lots to be learned by thinking through the reasons a project didn't succeed. Surely, if every project succeeds, that is evidence that you are setting the bar too low and need to try harder. So, failures are to be expected, but why did the project fail? Were the implementation requirements wildly mis-estimated? Was it a technical problem or was it a management problem? Surely there's value in figuring things out to maximize the chances of not repeating exactly the same mistake next time. But I was there long enough to see that rewards did not go to people who learned from mistakes. Pity.

And now with MOOC's there is a high enough drop-out rate that surely there is stuff to be learned from talking with the folks who didn't stick around long enough to cross the finish line, but I've seen little evidence that the MOOC organizations are making an effort to contact for "exit interviews" the folks crowding the exits. Seems downright unscientific.