Random musings

  • Most edtech startups focus on helping the teacher or rely on the teacher for product discovery, can we turn it around? Presumably edtech co’s for K-12 (or even at higher education) don’t target students directly because purchasing power is limited and/or more learning is not their top extracurricular priority. Can we build stuff that rethinks the relationship/model of learning, that students don’t even notice it’s for learning? What does this look like—I think it depends on the subject. Kindergarten & elementary school kids will probably be hard, but maybe middle school/high school?
  • Ed Startup 101 is full of voices. I try to read many of the posts but it’s difficult to digest all of them. Why isn’t there a voting system to see which posts have gained traction? People are not always ready to dole out likes but votes imply something different.
  • I appreciate many of these voices (above). They are genuine and terribly human. I have never been a fan of corporate-speak.
  • I asked myself what exactly is my goal in education technology. What do I hope to create or see it from it ultimately? I realize then that my interest is not confined to technology but to design more effective learning experiences with the incorporation of such. The fact is digital media in the rest of the world is evolving so quickly, it doesn’t make sense that the classroom is not. But this doesn’t mean throwing iPads or eBooks at it. This means rethinking our learning environments holistically, entirely.
  • I am starting to get a better sense of what type of education tech I’d like to get involved with eventually. I am not so interested in products that drill skills or specific sets of knowledge. I am interested in technologies that help learners discover new learning possibilities (new ideas, more effectiveness in their learning) as well as technologies that help them create. I am interested in technologies that allow learners to take control of their learning processes— rather than a top-down dictation of what to learn.
  • The e-textbook gets a bad name, but there is still something to be said about using an interactive medium. Perhaps they are just the start, or the stepping stone, to some grander experiments that we’ll eventually embark on (hopefully before students are forced to buy access codes en masse). The fundamental problem with textbooks is that it is still trying to teach from a position of rigid, constricted authority— okay, I get it, there is a need for standards / material / etc. But textbooks might be the number one culprit that teach our children that knowledge exists without context and is dictated by authority, that it is a set of summarized points to be tested in an exam. How can we recreate the textbook so that it still passes on knowledge, but does not dictate invisible constraints?
  • When I get to build my own product/company (someday!), I want to incorporate sound cognitive science research.
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One comment

  1. The question of how to bring about more effective learning experiences is key, something that can be thought of through the lens of “experience design.” As you point out, edtech companies tend to focus on the priorities of schools, and maybe teachers, and don’t take students’ immediate experience, or longer-term outcomes, as much into mind. This is something I’d like to change.

    “I am interested in technologies that help learners discover new learning possibilities (new ideas, more effectiveness in their learning) as well as technologies that help them create. I am interested in technologies that allow learners to take control of their learning processes— rather than a top-down dictation of what to learn.”

    I think this is incredibly important and often lacking in traditional learning environments. Part of what’s needed for this is conscious decision-making and helping learners to think about and discuss their mental states and processes, and the context in which they occur. Often, if a student is bored or disengaged or frustrated, it’s taken as a behavioral problem to be remedied through carrots and sticks, rather than something to be explored collaboratively. Part of this is even teaching cognitive science as part of the basic educational process.

    Ed Hallowell, MD: How Brain Science Can Save You From The Wrong Job
    http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-04-04/strategy/30097927_1_tommy-peak-performance-cycle

    The question, “what would I like to see from it ultimately” is a good one. I think of that in terms of how learners are equipped to deal with ongoing and future situations. One way to look into that is have a range of people dig through their learning experiences and see what they found to be of value and where they were left behind, and gets into the general question of education research, and of how one person’s experiences or beliefs are relevant to designing learning experiences for others. If nothing else, surely some value could be gained from exploring the question.

    Another thing to think about is how these many voices and viewpoints can be summarized and discussed more effectively going forward, and maybe the ideas can be adapted to a format that can be shared with a wider audience.


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