Category Archives: Trends

A lecture by and a conversation with Steven Pinker: why we should be happier with the world today

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How do teachers react in class to the Trump-presidency

The past 2 months I have been slowing down a bit on reading new research because too much work. Sorry for that. This study raises some interesting questions related to what people on the old continent would describe as pedagogy. Does a teacher need to political neutral in the classroom or not, and is being neutral an effective teaching tactic. Teaching in Trump times made teachers feeling immense pressure from school leaders and families to respond in a certain way — or not at all — in their classrooms.

From the press release:

“There were many teachers who said they wanted to talk with students about the election and related issues but were also afraid of backlash,” said Dunn, who conducted the nationwide questionnaire of more than 700 educators.

In the survey, some teachers said they felt election-related topics weren’t appropriate in schools or weren’t relevant to their subject. Others felt they shouldn’t, or couldn’t, share their political affiliations or feelings.

But the idea of neutrality, as this research indicates, doesn’t always work in schools, because “education is inherently political,” Dunn said.

She and her co-researchers argue that by remaining neutral, teachers are enacting the opposite of neutrality by “choosing to maintain the status quo and further marginalizing certain groups.”

Dunn and her colleagues, Hannah Carson Baggett of Auburn University and Beth Sondel of the University of Pittsburgh, say the election is just one example of a renewed call for all teachers to consider the ethics of neutrality in the classroom.

“Midterm voting and the impact of results are an opportunity for them to say, ‘I’m not going to be neutral,'” Dunn said. “Knowing what neutrality means, and how it can be a disservice to students and to themselves, teachers can think about how to adapt their curriculum leading up to and after the midterms and other major events.”

Dunn said many educators and administrators believe that because something is happening “outside of school,” it isn’t relevant in the classroom. But that mentality is an injustice, she argues, and undermines the fact that the classroom is part of the real world.

In a separate study using the same data, the scholars studied what teachers did – or didn’t do – in the days after the election. In that study, teachers reported their students were experiencing political trauma.

Abstract of the study:

Guided by perspectives on the sociopolitical contexts of schooling, control of teachers’ curriculum and instruction, and teaching of elections, we use findings from a national questionnaire to explore the contexts that shaped teachers’ pedagogical decision making following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Our findings reveal that classroom, school, district, state, and national contexts often manifested in pressure from colleagues, parents, the administration, the district, and the public. This pressure is reflective of the lack of trust, autonomy, and professionalism for teachers in our current climate. The days immediately following the election revealed new understandings about teachers’ views on neutrality, opportunities for agency within control of teachers’ work, and a call for justice-oriented pedagogy. Implications for teacher education, practice, and research are discussed.

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Again: more young people are choosing not to drink alcohol

It’s something often overlooked but what can be found in many countries: young people are drinking less alcohol. But a news study shows that young people in England aren’t just drinking less alcohol, more of them are never taking up alcohol at all, and that the increase is widespread among young people.

From the press release:

Researchers at University College London analysed data from the annual Health Survey for England and found that the proportion of 16-24 year olds who don’t drink alcohol has increased from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015.

The authors found this trend to be largely due to an increasing number of people who had never been drinkers, from 9% in 2005 to 17% in 2015. There were also significant decreases in the number of young people who drank above recommended limits (from 43% to 28%) or who binge drank (27% to 18%). More young people were also engaging in weekly abstinence (from 35% to 50%)

Dr Linda Ng Fat, corresponding author of the study said: “Increases in non-drinking among young people were found across a broad range of groups, including those living in northern or southern regions of England, among the white population, those in full-time education, in employment and across all social classes and healthier groups. That the increase in non-drinking was found across many different groups suggests that non-drinking may becoming more mainstream among young people which could be caused by cultural factors.”

Dr Ng Fat said: “These trends are to be welcomed from a public-health standpoint. Factors influencing the shift away from drinking should be capitalised on going forward to ensure that healthier drinking behaviours in young people continue to be encouraged.”

Dr Linda Ng Fat added: “The increase in young people who choose not to drink alcohol suggests that this behaviour maybe becoming more acceptable, whereas risky behaviours such as binge drinking may be becoming less normalised.”

Increases in non-drinking however were not found among ethnic minorities, those with poor mental health and smokers suggesting that the risky behaviours of smoking and alcohol continue to cluster.

The researchers examined data on 9,699 people aged 16-24 years collected as part of the Health Survey for England 2005-2015, an annual, cross-sectional, nationally representative survey looking at changes in the health and lifestyles of people across England. The authors analysed the proportion of non-drinkers among social demographic and health sub-groups, along with alcohol units consumed by those that did drink and levels of binge drinking.

The authors caution that the cross-sectional, observational nature of this study does not allow for conclusions about cause and effect.

Abstract of the study:

Background
Non-drinking among young people has increased over the past decade in England, yet the underlying factor driving this change is unknown. Traditionally non-drinking has been found to be associated with lower socio-economic status and poorer health. This study explores among which sub-groups non-drinking has increased, and how this correlates with changes in drinking patterns, to identify whether behaviours are becoming more polarised, or reduction is widespread among young people.

Methods
Among participants aged 16 to 24 years (N = 9699), within the annual cross-sectional nationally-representative Health Survey for England 2005–2015 datasets, the following analyses were conducted: 1) The proportion of non-drinkers among social-demographic and health sub-groups by year, and tests for linear trends among sub-groups, adjusting for age were calculated. In pooled analyses, an interaction between year and each variable was modelled in sex- and age-adjusted logistic regression models on the odds of being a non-drinker versus drinker 2) At the population level, spearman correlation co-efficients were calculated between the proportion non-drinking and the mean alcohol units consumed and binge drinking on the heaviest drinking day, by year. Ordinary least squares regression analyses were used, modelling the proportion non-drinking as the independent variable, and the mean units/binge drinking as the dependent variable.

Results
Rates of non-drinking increased from 18% (95%CI 16–22%) in 2005 to 29% (25–33%) in 2015 (test for trend; p < 0.001), largely attributable to increases in lifetime abstention. Not drinking in the past week increased from 35% (32–39%) to 50% (45–55%) (p < 0.001). Significant linear increases in non-drinking were found among most sub-groups including healthier sub-groups (non-smokers, those with high physical activity and good mental health), white ethnicity, north and south regions, in full-time education, and employed. No significant increases in non-drinking were found among smokers, ethnic minorities and those with poor mental health. At the population-level, significant negative correlations were found between increases in non-drinking and declines in the mean units consumed (ρ = − 0.85, p < 0.001), and binge drinking (ρ = − 0.87, p < 0.001).

Conclusion
Increases in non-drinking among young people has coincided with a delayed initiation into alcohol consumption, and are to be welcomed. Future research should explore attitudes towards drinking among young people.

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Oh, I missed the new Hype Cycle for education. Well…

It’s a yearly tradition for Gartner to publish a string of hype cycles, including one for education in July. And I admit: I didn’t pay attention to it.

So, there is a new one, but besides the many issues one can have with the hype cycle by this company, I do think this time it’s pretty bland as if everybody with a bit of knowledge about EdTech could have written it.

  • On the Rise
    • AV Over IP in Education
    • Social CRM: Education
    • Li-Fi
    • Emotion AI
    • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Applications in Education
  • At the Peak
    • Blockchain in Education
    • Artificial Intelligence Education Applications
    • Design Thinking
    • Exostructure Strategy
    • Classroom 3D Printing
    • Digital Assessment
    • SaaS SIS
  • Sliding Into the Trough
    • Education Analytics
    • Competency-Based Education Platforms
    • Bluetooth Beacons
    • Semantic Knowledge Graphing
    • Citizen Developers
    • Digital Credentials
    • Alumni CRM
    • Master Data Management
    • Adaptive Learning Platforms
  • Climbing the Slope
    • Student Retention CRM
    • IDaaS
    • Enterprise Video Content Management
  • Entering the Plateau
    • Integration Brokerage

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Learning to realize education’s promise – a look at the 2018 WDR

This is a new relevant report with a strong emphasis on learning – but underneath I would suggest also a strong emphasis on effectieve teaching.

https://youtu.be/RP1a8WoWw_I

In this summarizing video – and in the report – there is one thing that maybe will scare educators off: the proposed element of measuring. I know this isn’t popular with large groups of the educational world. At the same time: it’s indeed deeply wrong if schooling doesn’t mean learning and it’s important to know if something is learned.

I do think that measuring and monitoring the learning process doesn’t need to mean what Pasi Salhberg has coined as GERM, global educational reform movement.

I also very much agree with this part of the blogpost:

Similarly, there is ambivalent coverage of teachers. Despite the WDR’s resounding conclusion that “education systems perform best when their teachers are respected, prepared, selected based on merit, and supported in their work”, it then draws attention approvingly to the idea that replacing the least effective 7–12% of teachers could help bridge the gap between student performance in the United States and Finland. Treating education as a production process with substitutable inputs is not a good starting point.

I do think there is another, better option. Making sure that the least experienced teachers aren’t getting the most difficult classes to teach (cfr TALIS-report by the OECD) would be a great start.

World Education Blog

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 18.43.18For the first time in forty years, the World Bank’s World Development Report (WDR), released on Tuesday, focuses exclusively on education. We are pleased to see its core messages resonating so well with our past reports, especially the 2013/4 EFA Global Monitoring Report on teaching and learning. The WDR is a welcome addition to the Bank’s flagship series. It shows that many changes have happened in the past 40 years in education, not least in the Bank’s thinking about it.

With its crisp presentation and clear threads of argument, the report is aligned with the Bank’s 2020 Education Strategy, which marked a strategic shift to learning over schooling when it was published in 2011. The WDR reiterates that the benefits of education are poorly linked to years spent in school and urges countries to engage in system-wide commitment to improve learning outcomes. Its main messages are to assess learning…

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Funny on Sunday: this is a Generic Millennial Ad

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Everybody should read this: The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools

This is a truly must-read article in the NY Times. Do you remember the letter by Bill Gates acknowledging that his impact on education was a bit dubious to say the least? It didn’t stop him from having a new idea for educationalthough personalized learning hasn’t much evidence backing it up yet (no, not really).

And the experiences by Bill Gates didn’t stop other Silicon Valley Billionaires for trying their own piece of solutionism for education. If you wonder what solutionism is:

  • The belief that all difficulties have benign solutions, often of a technocratic nature. (source)

So we have Hastings from Netflix trying to use algorithms in education, Marc Zuckerberg aiming at education with less emphasis on the teacher but rather having pupils teach themselves, … Stuff that they probably think:

  • that it will work,
  • that it hasn’t been done before.

Take the example of the present emphasis on coding in education to learn e.g. general problem solving skills. The sad thing is: a lot of this actually has been done before and often failed. We bought the t-shirt and it didn’t fit.

The sole reason these people have their big influence is not because they are smarter than anybody else. Or that they have newer insights. It’s because of two things: a) they have a lot of money and b) they want to do something for the community. Oh, and often you can add a third thing: they are parents and want the best for their own kid(s) and all the other kids. Nothing wrong with these reasons and I have nothing against billionaires, but it can be both undemocratic (my opinion is more important because I’m wealthy) and dangerous (by reinventing square wheels).

In the article in the NY Times you’ll find more info and there is one paragraph I really needed to share, quoting Larry Cuban:

Captains of American industry have long used their private wealth to remake public education, with lasting and not always beneficial results.

What is different today is that some technology giants have begun pitching their ideas directly to students, teachers and parents — using social media to rally people behind their ideas. Some companies also cultivate teachers to spread the word about their products.

Such strategies help companies and philanthropists alike influence public schools far more quickly than in the past, by creating legions of supporters who can sway legislators and education officials.

Another difference: Some tech moguls are taking a hands-on role in nearly every step of the education supply chain by financing campaigns to alter policy, building learning apps to advance their aims and subsidizing teacher training. This end-to-end influence represents an “almost monopolistic approach to education reform,” said Larry Cuban, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford University. “That is starkly different to earlier generations of philanthropists.”

These efforts coincide with a larger Silicon Valley push to sell computers and software to American schools, a lucrative market projected to reach $21 billion by 2020. Already, more than half of the primary- and secondary-school students in the United States use Google services like Gmail in school.

But many parents and educators said in interviews that they were unaware of the Silicon Valley personalities and money influencing their schools.

Hence the undemocratic…

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Funny on Sunday: what is Grand Theft Auto like in Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality is great, but maybe some games can become a bit too real…

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What PokemonGo could learn from education

Hypes come and go and while I do hope to remember this summer as also the summer of PokemonGo – besides the summer of terror -, it seems that this popular game is already losing a lot of its appeal. At first the servers couldn’t handle the success, but now even the biggest fans seem to get more and more disappointed. And as those users have the feeling that every single update makes the game worse, the same users have suggestions to make things better for Niantic, the company behind PokemonGo. But that will probably be in vain as a user notes on Reddit:

I see a lot of very interesting suggestions constantly popping up in this sub and it breaks my heart to think that Niantic will probably thoroughly ignore them. At least if they keep behaving like they did with us Ingress players.

As you already know, Niantic is very bad at communication as well as interacting with the fans. They follow their own agenda and don’t really give a shit about what the players really want. When they were developing Ingress, it always felt as if nobody in their team was actually playing the game seriously; for example it took them about a year to give us a simple item count in the inventory.

Oh, but wait. I recognize this. That’s called bad education. Great teachers never ignore their students. It doesn’t mean that they only do what their students want – no please -, but that they explain why if they won’t. We call this interaction and communication. Or to put it more blunt: they care about their students. And yes, I know there are still teachers around who don’t act like this, but they are seldom used as a good example for others in education. PokemonGo was used several times as a great example for education.

Maybe Yang Lui is correct when he thinks Niantic and PokemonGo is all about profit and money, and I want to add: it’s also probably all about the quick win.

Anybody surprised? Didn’t you see the stock exchange when the hype started, incorrectly booming because people thought Nintendo would make huge profits straightaway because of the game?

It’s great that it made people move (literally), but…

Education is never about the quick win. Education is not a hype.

We’ll never see or think back about a ‘summer of education’.

We are still growing in the consecutive decades of education for all.

Maybe this makes education sound a bit boring, but that’s because education is meant to last.

PokemonGo probably isn’t.

But if Niantic wants to be in it for the long run, maybe they could have a look at education…

 

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Funny on Sunday: try to catch the PokemonGo-catchers

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