Monday, June 19, 2017

what will schools look like in 50 years time?

You have all see the same ppt slides. A photo of a classroom circa 1900 or earlier side by side of a photo of a contemporary classroom (especially in the post-school sector). Both will show pretty much the same arrangement of desks, facing a board and a teacher.

In this article, posted last year on the Australian Business insider, Jonathan Rochelle who is product manager for Google Apps for Education, provides some insight and direction.

The headliners in the article are - collaboration will be the norm, leveraging off 'machine learning' to provide for differentiated learning opportunities and the importance of teachers to lead.

So, the apps availed through Google, are developed to enhance collaborative learning at all levels - early childhood through to tertiary and lifelong learning. Learning analytics require better understanding by teachers, especially to use information on individual student's learning to help them proceed through individualised learning pathways, and teachers need to be enabled to learn how to best use technology to enhance learning.

The two products promoted on Rochelle's website are Jamboard and GSuite for education

Jamboard is part of the overall Gsuite. US$4999 provides 1 display, 2 stylii, a eraser and wallmount. There is a US$600 annual support fee. Therefore, the product is pitched at the corporate market and an alternative to other types of smartboards currently on the market.

Gsuite for education is free and includes core services for organising class activities etc. through 'classroom', sort of a learning management system, gmail, google drive, calendar, vault - which archives emails and charts, sharing of docs, sheets, forms, slides and sites and google hangouts for video conferencing.

There is a version for higher education with case studies of universities who have adopted Gsuite and an emphasis on security plus links to the Google research tools.




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SEED - Sharing Experience in Educational Design - Ara tutors presenting teaching practice


Bernadette Muir on ‘Design Jam’. On project-based learning in architecture to assist students to complete authentic learning project with vertical integration of the students from all 3 years of the Architecture degree.
Revolves around the living building challenge – whereby sustainable buildings are designed. Small one day event whereby students have to find solutions based on relationships between the place, availability of energy and water. Industry experts and people working in the sustainability area were invited to support the student teams. Provided rationale, details and feedback from students. Students appreciated the authenticity of the project and the experience provided them with the opportunity to learn not only from the experts and tutors, but from each other. Also important to follow up beyond. Third year students now build a scale model of an exemplar contemporary timber building and then present the feature as if they were the architect. Students also visit recently constructed buildings in Christchurch to connect theory to practice.

Cheryl Stokes on ‘To Kahoot or not to Kahoot’. Provided a practitioner’s point of view and how she uses the app to engage students. Cheryl has always used a series of apps to help students learn. Ran a Kahoot to show examples. Provided rationale and learning advantages for using from both tutor and student perspectives. Also detailed the various ways Kahoot used, their advantages and disadvantages. Important to reinforce the learning that has occurred while students use Kahoot. Important to help students become aware of the learning potential of using Kahoot, so they are able to leverage off the learning achieved.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Sensemaking: the power of the humanities in the age of the algorithm - book overview

Worked through a short book last weekend, which was wet and non-conducive to outdoor activities of any kind.

The book, by Christian Madsbjerg, is published in 2017.

The main argument of the book cautions on relying too much using quantifiable data to make decisions for solving complex problems. There is a need to ensure humans retain their uniqueness and ability to draw on tacit knowledge, acquired across life experiences. Machines, artificial intelligences and robots do not have the biologically sourced ability to tap into individuals’ idiosyncratically acquired knowledge, to make decisions requiring creativity and insight.

Some parts of this book do not quite work and most of the argument is well laid out and sound. Madsbjerg heads ReD Associates, a strategy consulting company which uses social researchers (anthropologists, sociologists, art historians and philosophers) to assist corporates to attain better attuned information to eventually improve their company’s reach. There is some irony in this.
Humans’ sensemaking is not just based on quantitative data. We are embodied beings. We collect, collate, evaluate and act on multi-modal inputs. All of these, end up being drawn on when we intuit insights which are sometimes at odds with what quantitative data recommends.

The five principles of sense making are detailed:
Culture – not individuals – focuses on the need to understand the socio- historical -political arena we live in. So consumer surveys based on surveys of individuals, requires reading within the larger social framework various consumers spent their lives in.
Thick data – not just thin data – uses George Soros, at the time of the early 1990s as a case study to unpack the need for data beyond what is provided by formal means. That is, the data coming from individual’s life experiences combined with collaborations with each other. Therefore, the socio-cultural. Understanding not only the numbers, but how the individuals who make decisions (politicians, bureaucrats etc.) make decisions which in turn affect entire country and world economies.
The savannah – not the zoo – again brings in the need to see the big picture beyond data streams. Heidigger’s concept of ‘being in the world’ is used as the main framework in this chapter to explain the importance of a thing and understanding its position in the world.
Creativity – not manufacturing – encourages the need to not just make something for its own sake, but to make it well. In essence, this chapter argues for the need to adopt precepts of craftsmanship, although the word ‘craftsmanship’ is not used. In particular, this chapter critiques the move in many corporations to ‘design thinking’.
The North Star – not the GPS - uses three stories to support the need for human input into meeting complex goals. How a facilitator draws on her finely honed EQ to get the most out of participants when they are in workshops to improve their ‘managing’. The need of a negotiator who works in international hostage crisis to understand deeply, the ethos and culture of his adversaries. The embodied understanding of a winemaker, at one with the terroir, working towards making the best wine from the grapes she grows.


Overall, the book advocates for the need to better appreciate what humans bring to the world. Machines are constructed and developed by humans. They should be tools, not oracles. Education, especially a humanities-based education, assists humans to better understand the diversity, complexity and challenges inherent in our world. Technological innovations require balancing with the needs of humanity. Our lives maybe enriched and enhanced by technological tools, but in the end, humans are here to make a difference - not all of which can be measurable.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The meaning of work - article summary

Here is an article discussing the need to rethink the meaning of work. The article was originally written in Dutch by Rutger Bregman and the translated English version is on the World Economic Forum webpage. The article may be read as a promotion for Bregman's book - Utopia for realist: How we can build the ideal world.

The paragraph on 'what is work' is worth looking through. In short, many highly paid and usually sought after jobs do not stack up as being fulfilling, interesting of worthwhile!! In large surveys carried out recently, over 70% of the respondents - who are consultants, bankers, managers etc. do no like their jobs and / or think their jobs are useless. All in, a really worrying statistic.

Then, only work which pay money are deemed to be count towards GDP. This is not a new concept. In the 1980s, my emergent interest in finding more about the world found me reading the book - Counting for Nothing - by Marilyn Waring - now a Professor at Auckland Institute of Technology. This book set me on the path I now walk - one in which it is important to question expectations and look beyond the norm. The book also influenced by nascent inquiries into feminism, sustainability and the need for individuals to take responsibility and to play a role - no matter how small - in trying to ensure we leave the world a better place for others who will follow us.

The article then sets up an argument for a universal basic income - UBI - similar in slant to the investigations taken up by the NZ Labour party and summarised in recent blog. The byline at the end of the article is apt - jobs for robots and life is for people.