Daily Bookmarks 01/24/2008

eLearn: Predictions for 2008

tags: change, e-learning, instructionaldesign

Predictions for e-learning for 2008 from a number of authors and e-learning professionals

Visible Body | 3D Human Anatomy

tags: 3d, e-learning, science

Interactive 3-D model of human anatomy. Free registration required.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

tags: change, education, k-12, orgculture, technology

Explains how TTWWADI (That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It) affects decisions. One example is how modern rail widths are based on ruts from Roman chariots from 2000 years ago. Any real change in education (or any organization) has to fight against TTWWADI.

7 thoughts on “Daily Bookmarks 01/24/2008

  1. I shared it with everyone on my team too. The SME for one of my courses found it; we’re using it as an assigned reading for a topic on changing schools. The examples in that article are so good at making the point and shaking up expectations.

  2. Christy, while Ian has some points to make, the railroad-gauge analogy is a myth, as Snopes among other sites points out.

    Varying railroad gauges were widespread in the U.S. throughout the 19th century. In Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow, Dee Brown describes “compromise cars,” rolling stock with wide wheels intended to run between lines with slightly differing gauges.

  3. Dave, thanks for pointing out the Snopes article. The opening of the Snopes article is a bit less harsh than you: “This is one of those items that – although wrong in many of its details – isn’t exactly false in an overall sense and is perhaps more fairly labeled as ‘True, but for trivial and unremarkable reasons.'” It definitely oversimplifies the history of railroad tracks and the role of the Civil War.

    The paper airplane analogy is quite vivid though too, and makes the same point.

    The core concept of TTWWADI still seems quite valid for education reform though. Is there a better analogy than the train track one to make that point, one that doesn’t require oversimplifying history?

  4. Sorry if I seemed overly harsh. Sometimes the starting facet of an analogy (railroads and Romans) gets overemphasized, and its details detract from ending facet (institutional inertia). Other examples are the endless stories about Inuit words for snow, or all those frogs slowly boiling to death.

    Jukes’ argument about education has some merit, though I disagree that “we have an educational model that can produce students with the same efficiency and consistency as Henry Ford was producing Model Ts.” (Maybe that’s a quibble about “can.”) I don’t think even the schools in Fairfax County VA, where my children went, are all that efficient or consistent.

    One thought might be to highlight two or three examples of actual learning taking place as a result of some change to the classroom paradigm. Assuming you were talking to educators or parents, the starting point would be the grabber (“eighth grade astronomers observe stars by computer”), with details to show how the setting and the instructor/facilitator helped create the conditions in which learning happened.

  5. You’re right about the efficiency and consistency. That might be what some schools try to do, but it isn’t that consistent in real life.

    This article is one of the readings for a MS science methodology course I’m developing; the participants in the course will be MS science teachers. It’s one of about 5 readings for that topic looking at change in education. There are examples of inquiry-based science and effective technology throughout, so I guess we are already sort of doing what you suggested.

    My SME (Subject Matter Expert) for this course found this video of an activity using Google Earth to learn in ways that wouldn’t be possible without the technology. I love examples like this that aren’t just about doing the same things with technology as you could do without it, but about doing more. Is this more of what you had in mind?

  6. Christy, I’ve been reading and puzzling a lot about what this article (by John Seely Brown and Richard P Adler) calls open education. Inquiry-based seems to be going in that direction.

    And certainly doing more (or different) thing with technology than you could without makes sense. I’ve recently read accounts that students who use blogs (to report on their work and comment on the work of others) write more and produce better results — presumably because of the interaction, the differing points of view, etc.

    Having taught high school many years ago, and having had school-age children, I do wonder how to address the risk/reward tradeoffs. Not to say that current elementary and secondary education in the U.S. is working all that well — more to wonder (without a hint of an answer) how willing as a parent I’d be to experiment with the education of my children.

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