Nice video, shame about the song

I recently came across this link about Social media and Game theory.

Now I react very positively to the para:

‘Social media and online games have the potential to convey 21st century skills that aren’t necessarily part of school curricula — things like time management, leadership, teamwork and creative problem solving that will prepare teens for success in college and beyond. Making the transition between a highly structured environment in high school to a self-driven, unstructured environment in college can prove a huge challenge for many kids.’

But then when I read:

‘Updates like “Christina just checked into quadratic equations” could show her peers what she’s working on, encourage participation, and allow others working on a similar subject matter to pitch in.’

I start to get worried. This seems terribly evasive. It’s like right now someone is receiving a message that says: ‘You really ought to be aware that All Change Please just checked its current blog stats and is currently writing a new post about social media and game theory – feel free to interrupt.’

Then there are ‘Leaderboards’. I’m not against competition, but being towards the bottom of the board can be incredibly de-motivating.

Some games (and not necessarily the ones described as being ‘educational’) are great for children to play (in some sort of moderation) – for the reasons given in the first quote above. But what seems wrong is to then apply them to academic education in the hope that they will boost student’s ‘scores’. If I’m the sort of person who is likely to have a career involving solving quadratic equations, then I probably don’t need Checkins or Leaderboards to motivate me.

As always, it’s not how kids learn that’s the problem, it’s what we currently want them to learn? That’s what worries me about the Khan Academy – it’s using new technology to deliver old learning.

And so on to what is apparently the latest sensational educational online revolution in app-based learning:  (view the ‘Tell It Help’ video)

One day, maybe I’ll actually get excited by something like this? OK it’s great that it’s available anywhere, anytime, to anyone. But all it’s essentially doing is automating – ie making quicker and easier – the process of  accessing a video and a text and to take, or rather ‘copy and paste’, notes – something that was previously achieved by visiting a library armed with a notebook and a pencil.

Developers and publishers need to start thinking afresh about the sort of content and processes of learning that are most appropriate and most suitably enhanced for our ‘new’ media. At present it’s a bit like we have 3D HD widescreen, colour, surround sound interactive TV, and all we use it for is watching someone else read a book out loud to us.

Nice app, shame about the content?

3 comments on “Nice video, shame about the song

  1. Great post! It’s good that a different voice has developed when it comes to discussing the ways in which we hold on to old learning styles due to the integration of new tech. New tech is an opportunity to get better teaching and enhance learning (opportunities) whether it’s formal or unformal (self directed) or informal (didactizied).
    I see similar problems as you describe with Kahn in IWBs and podcasts. Both can be great in enhancing flexible teaching and learning tools. But both can also be conform to the way teachers have taught for ages. (I’ve tried to cover some of this in my blog: and other posts).
    I’m disturbed when Khan Academy is described as the answer to the challenges education faces in 21th century. Partly because of the form and partly because of its content. But then again: students can benefit from Khan and other OERs in repetition and collaboration whit problem solving if it is seen as supplementary to other forms of teaching where new skills and competencies are addressed.
    Thanks for your post.

  2. Total agreement!
    My team and I spend our lives building educational tools, resources, sites so are obvious fans of allowing learners and teachers to engage with content in new and digital ways, but the more we do it, the more it is crystal clear that there is no easy formula. Khan may be fun for a heavily structured drill and practice area like maths, but would be useless for many other subject areas. Forcing curriculum content into a cheesy game might improve motivation over paper based worksheets, but perhaps a shared class blog exploring the issue, and a few online projects would cost a fraction and yield dramatically better results.

    I am not at all against automation. We use automated screening and diagnostic assessment tools to profile hundreds of thousands of college entrants each year saving tutors vast amounts of time. But it needs to be applied where it works, not just where it is hyped.

  3. I’m sure this is something that has occurred to everyone else a long time ago, but I am a slow thinker who has come late to the wonderful world of online video: the last two thousand years, with its reliance on writing to communicate and preserve what other people have to say to us, have marked a necessary but heavily compromised diversion from what humans like doing best – talking to each other. Now we have the technology to record ourselves talking for other people to watch and interact with, we are back on track again. I am finding it increasingly difficult to follow written instructions for practical tasks – I now need to watch a video of a bearded American shouting enthusiastic instructions in simple steps. Therefore I think the option of reading a transcript of what someone is already saying on an accompanying video clip, a la Tell It, is a backwards step. WHy not just make a really good video? Although the option to copy what someone else has said and paste it into your own written report is an obvious winner for educationalists everywhere!

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