I think there is a way to do edtech software properly — it just typically isn’t.

Not the best treatment of the subject, but it’s current: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/11/08/the-cases-against-personalized-learning.html?cmp=RSS-FEED

Note: In this context, personalized education is technology-based — i.e. students run drills on 1-to-1 devices (usually laptops) via software like Khanacademy, et. al.

Quick nuance point: Not all edtech software is created equal. The models of the developmental stages of expertise employed by nearly all such software platforms are misguided. E.g. Successful completion of drill exercises is conflated with mastery of the intrinsic concepts. That is simply not the case. A metalworker can run a press brake operation without understanding much about the metal or the machine. Similarly, a student can “run” an equation like F = ma without understanding its history, its area of validity — or even what the symbols (F, m, and a) represent conceptually.

I think there is a way to do edtech software properly. The key is to embed indirect assessments of misconceptions. The Force Concept Inventory of 1987 is an early example. It is a distillation of the essential understandings of a first-year physics course into a set of 30 puzzles. How the student responds to each puzzle is a probe on their existing conceptual understanding.

The idea of the concept inventory did see a period of high-interest — work was done to initiate CIs for a number of other domain areas — e.g. Thermodynamics, Signal Processing, and Strength of Materials: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/963689/… as well as the bio sciences, etc.

However, it is very common for good ideas to die on the vine before they are cultivated into technologies which can be propagated into the system.

My view of the future of US education and an incomplete, expeditious introduction to the work needed:

First and foremost, the propagation of a model of education as a means of increasing the freedom of the individual and his or her capability to bear freedom’s requisite responsibility, within a context of civil cooperation. I.e. Education is not fundamentally about college & career readiness.

Some follow-on assertions

Seeking symmetry in the employment market (i.e. Present Jobs match present Skills, while Skills-in-training match best models of future Jobs) is a worthy objective, achieved by understanding the nature of human capability, in the context of future (5-10-20 years) technology and daily living.

Public overseers (read: government) aiming to increase individual freedom and responsibility would necessarily rely primarily on the efforts of individuals and groups working on their own behalf, as well as that of their children and their communities. The key, then, is to shape that action such that it is effective and convergent toward an eclectic set of success models, contextualized to each locale.

The collective education context must be re-conceived entirely — beginning with models for how the individual best benefits from time in a group context vs time alone (as well as the success factors for those groups). Each community forms its own micro-society, which in turn requires its own contextually-defined design patterns. I think the leadership gap at the micro-society level may be one of the most critical areas for innovation.

Preventative behavioral correction by cultivating bonds of human connection and constructive limbic expression. I.e. Hugs and handiwork.

More later…

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