Archived entries for big data

The old new ideas

Addendum, 3.8.14:  Just so you know I’m not the only one disappointed by SXSWedu, check out the edu firebrand Audrey Watters’ thoughts on the matter.


So everyone is frolicking at SXSWedu and I’m snowbound here in the Northeast, keeping tabs on the action via twitter and Facebook.  The information that I’m seeing coming off the wires (or intertubez), however, is making me glad I didn’t have to put up with an airline security check en route to Austin.  OK, some of this may be sour, frozen grapes.  But I’m wondering if SXSWEdu has jumped the shark in terms of disseminating cutting-edge education ideas.

Grumpy Cat is not feeling SXSWEdu, either

Flipped classrooms. Games as learning tools. Adaptive learning. Big data. BYOD. Gamification. Students presenting on panels. Moving beyond the four walls of the classroom.  Engagement. Interactivity. And so on.

Mostly good ideas.  Most unproven on a large scale.  Most ignoring the elephant in the room of inequity, a broken global economy, a disappearing middle class, the unspoken agreement that arts and humanities are a waste of time. Is it education’s responsibility to address these?  Not per se.  But without rigorous educational opportunities for everyone, they cannot and will not go addressed.  And as corporations focused on profits and startups (gold) rushing to capitalize on the promise of digital education, a concerned educator (me) can’t help but feel that we are just monetizing ways to preserve the status quo.

Big change over time is possible.  One word, people: The Renaissance. (OK, that’s two). But not when companies meekly nibble on what they imagine is the safest idea in the marketplace that promises quick returns. I don’t mind the small bytes approach to education, it’s just that too often the big picture gets lost in the shuffle.

There was one tweet I particularly liked from SXSWedu: this existential gem that takes YOLO as a rallying theme.

@dperkinsmsu: #LAUNCHedu Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask what they want to do…and now! Move from content to skills #SXSWedu

Is this a move in the right direction, or a cry for help? You be the judge.

How Play is Changing

The site Games and Learning has a rich review with the Institute of Play’s Robert Gehorsam on how gaming has changed over time.

* First, he cites games have become more of a “medium of experience and expression” of games over time from when he ran Prodigy back in 1985. (I should hope so.)  What we consider a game is also expanding to include things like virtual gardening (Farmville) and masogames like Flappy Bird that bring very little satisfaction.

* Game learning has been transformed from a mostly offline experience to a very much online one, across multiple platforms and accessible 24/7, a big change from the day of nerds huddling around an old Commodore 64 (guilty).  Today, being a game designer is akin to being a rock star in the 1980s, albeit with more stable income.

* Games have integrated new learning relating to cognitive science, learning science and the like, and better than paper or offline games.

I’ll add another one.  Digital games now allow us to quantify and track elements of learning like never before, and also pose serious questions related to privacy.  FYI The Institute of Play recently collaborated with GlassLab to produce a paper on how to better adapt games to assess learning.  (They kindly include a relatively brief Executive Summary (PDF), perfect for blog post readers with limited attention and too damn much to do.)



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