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Marielle Lange's discussion posts

  • Marielle Lange 19 Mar 2013 1:34pm () in Do you use MinecraftEDU with your students?

    If you are after a cheap solution, apparently, you can serve minecraft edu from a raspberry PI - https://github.com/EduMake/RPi-WaterbearNodeJS.

    I recently played with a raspberry PI but haven't tried that.

  • Marielle Lange 05 Mar 2012 2:17pm () in Are Learning Management Systems getting the job done...what are your thoughts?

    I know that was in the blog article. But I have seen other Core staff refer to Connectivism as a theory of learning.

    What prevents connectivism from gaining mainstream adoption is not his focus on social it is the fact that:

    1. It is not original. The ideas are very loosely based on connectionism, which is an accepted theory of distributed learning introduced in the field of cognitive psychology in the 80s (Downes got rejected for a PhD on connectionism, having read his proposal, not for the reasons given in his blog, more to do with very liberal interpretations of the underlying ideas). 
    2. It is not a theory (it is a movement; the fact that the authors called it a theory in a blog post doesn't make it one).
    3. It has nothing to say about learning
    4. It cannot be tested because it is defined in far too loose terms (it makes no predictions and cannot be proven wrong, which is the reason it cannot claim to be a theory; a scientific theory is one which can in principle be falsified). Can anybody read this "What connectivism is" and decide how you could establish that it does or not lead to any positive or negative outcome (whatever they may be)?  

    I followed a MOOC. Much of it is one way. You listen to a video / presentation. That 100+ persons listen to it at the same time doens't make it any social. If lucky, you may have a few conversations. But, for the most part, it's exactly like a comment on one of your photos. Immediate gratification but not really augmenting your knowledge. Instant gratification without real substance only keeps you around so long.Check the stats. Participation in their "Open Courses" dips dramatically over the weeks. I gave up after week 3. I personally found that the knowledge build-up was negative (a lot of false information, personal views presented as proven facts, no mention of reliable sources). Propagating vague information through random connections simply isn't conductive to any learning. Connectionist (in the cognitive field) models have established that in the 80s.

    Not that it is not possible to capture social / cultural influence on learning in a more scientific way. In the field of Cognitive Psychology, this has been done in 1990s. Distributed Cognition and Cognition in the wild by Edwin Hutchins.

  • Marielle Lange 05 Mar 2012 1:41pm () in Are Learning Management Systems getting the job done...what are your thoughts?

    About "they are not getting the job done"? What job? Boosting learning or constructing knowledge?

    Sites like Facebook and Twitter are designed to be adopted by the users. LMS are built to be adopted by the school's administration. 

    There is no doubt that social validation is great for engagement, for motivation, for support. All of them can help boost learning.

    A  difficulty with social tools is that they are a bit of a black box when it comes to evaluating the learning. Some knowledge is being built, but you don't have any easy way to know what mental representations are being used, what processes are being followed. Does it matter?  It does, if you have to assign grades to each student. Could you give your students a mark that is function of the number of friends they have, of the number of Like they made, of the number of comments they posted? Does it correlate in any way with their level of skill or ability at curriculum tasks?

    Another issue to consider is whether social tools do more than boost the building of knowledge and build knowledge themselves?  Yes, it can, in some contexts. As a programmer, I often use the stackoverflow website. You ask questions, the community answers. It's built in such a way that the more reliable replies (the ones contributed by trustworthy members of the community; the ones voted on by other members) become more visible. It's great to become more advanced on any topic. It's not too useful if you don't know anything yet about the subject. Schools tend to have more of the latter and less of the former. 

    It is also important to be careful about how you go about it. Adopting set ups where you encourage immediate gratification for small actions can get your kids focus too much on the reward instead of the goal. With disturbing consequences how students can get obsessed about khan badges more than actual learning which can later evolve into the rise of the brogrammer. Compare with this: Don't eat the marshmallow yet, a landmark experiment on delayed gratification -- and how it can predict future success. 

  • Marielle Lange 01 Mar 2012 9:55pm () in iBook Author and interactive activities

    I had a bit of a play with iBook Author recently. I wanted to check whether it could be used to create interactive content (not just pretty PDFs).

    As the best way to learn is to experiment, I wrote an iBook and iBook widgets about using iBookAuthor to write interactive content. 

    Information at: iBook Widgets

  • Marielle Lange 08 Dec 2011 11:10am () in Game-based learning: Are you playing?

    For a rapid introduction to gamification

  • Marielle Lange 08 Dec 2011 10:52am () in Game-based learning: Are you playing?

    "game-stuff/concepts for sneaky educational purposes". 

    Gamification is the buzz word of the day. Tread with caution! Gamification is traditionally defined as : "The use of game play mechanics for non-game consumer applications, products and other related services. (Source: Margaret Wallace, The gamification of everything)".

    One aspect of it, of interest to education is that it is about "Using game techniques to make activities more engaging and fun." In many instances, however, the strategies involved tend to remain at the level of basic behaviourist strategies. The issue here is intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation

    With learning, intrinsic information tends to have more long term benefits than extrinsic one. That doesn't mean that gamification mechanics cannot help boost intrinsinc motivation. It depends on how you approach it. 

    As a rule of thumb, XP, progress bar as Hamish proposes tends to promote more intrinsinc motivation than a leaderboard. 

    Khan academy, for instance, does quite a good job at using game-like mechamics to encourage intrinsic motivation. It is worth reading the lead designer's blog. In particular Khan Academy Profiles: You are what you know and Your challenge, if you choose to accept it…, that explains how exercise analytics are used to drive motivation and bring success. It mostly focuses on encouraging you to master a level before moving to the next. They focus on constant personal progress, not on leaderboard ranking.

    Lee Sheldon is another famous success story. There is a page on building your own Sheldon syllabus (more links).

  • Marielle Lange 08 Dec 2011 10:12am () in Game-based learning: Are you playing?

    The technology you want to use really depends on whether you want to display your content in the browser (no need for the application to be approved) or as a native application (easier for the user to access) or as both.

    If you are after a native application, then flash remains the easier technology to use to deploy across devices (iOS included). 

    If within the browser and no more than a xp bar, then there isn't much programming involved and simple javascript could do the trick. I have provided examples on how this could be done with as little as a google spreadsheet for data storage and javascript for data display, published in a freely hosted wikispaces environment - http://widgeds.wikispaces.com/Scoresheet (or leaderboard).

    You can experiment with it by forking the gsheet leaderboard demo on jsdo.it.

  • Marielle Lange 18 Aug 2011 11:45am () in QR Codes: How do you use yours?

    Other ideas captured in the cards shown at educamp wellington - QR codes in education

  • Marielle Lange 27 Jul 2011 5:42pm () in How are schools dealing with the issue of access to ICT resources?

    Would involving students help their learning (construction or solidification) and increase quality? There is plenty of evidence on the web that it can if well managed.

    For instance, schools that get their students contribute to wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:School_and_university_projects

  • Marielle Lange 26 Jul 2011 2:03pm () in How are schools dealing with the issue of access to ICT resources?

    One issue is access to devices. Another is access to content. 

    More specifically at secondary level, for schools opting for iPads, do you start teaching US Geography and History because more iApps can be found on these topics? 

    As a 21st century teacher, is it okay to be no more than a user of digital content or should you also learn how to create interactive content? Probably not to be expected from every teacher, so as a school, should you care about adding a digital expert to your staff?. (Technicians tend to focus on setting up computers, manage broadband; the management and creation of digital content is a different type of expertise). Is it important to organize yourself as a community of practice to plan the design of custom digital/interactive resources? Or is it better to follow the US model and give access to e-learning a courses offered by external providers?

Marielle Lange

Cognitive psychologist (PhD) and software developer involved in education projects.