I'd still love to supervise a comparative study into the use of learning styles vs use of astrology or phrenology to pick a teaching strategy. I strongly suspect there'd be no significant difference. It would be equally good fun to invent a plausible but totally unfounded learning style theory and compare that. Maybe something based on the big 5 personality types so that it seems sciencey.
Your comment on personalization is spot on. In some ways it would actually be worse if it worked. Even if a system does increase the speed/efficiency of learning as a result (as measured in tests) the assumption that the teacher-specified outcome is the one and only point of the learning process describes pretty much everything that is wrong with our educational systems today. Not a recipe for cognitive flexibility, not transformative, not life-changing, just a better form of indoctrination.
Jon Dron March 15, 2017 - 10:18am
Interesting article Jon. I can believe that 80% of teachers in the UK and the Netherlands believe that student learn best in their prefered style. (I wonder what the percentage would be in Canada.)
I used various learning style inventories for quite a few Septembers for a couple of reasons. They gave me a chance to learn a lot about students and their approaches to things like following directions in a way that engaged them - who doesn't like thinking about themselves? It also gave me the opportunity to introduce the concept of metacognition and using strategies for learning. I was also curious about the whole idea and noticed that although I had inventories that were designed to be age appropriate, students didn't develop preferences until they were 10 or 11. Until then their profiles were flat.
In the end, if they prompt teachers to accept learning strategies that are different from their own and encourage students to think about how they learn, there is some good in them, but they're a long way from science.
Mary McNabb March 15, 2017 - 10:30pm
Hi Dr. Dron,
Interesting topic. Your comment about having reserve if this was automated reminds me of Linus Torvald's concerns when his lieutenants wanted to use automated code merges. He resisted for a while and then wrote Git. It's become common place to just trust code merges now with high degree of confidence.
What concerns you with an automated system for detecting and responding to attacks when there are known patterns? Assume of course that there these changes still hit the Wiki history and there is some way to appeal. (I'm not enticing you to write this tool though ;-) )
Daryl Campbell February 15, 2017 - 12:57pm
Machines might be very good at *identifying* problems, and that's great, but humans are needed to react to and deal with them: there are infinite possible ways to do that, and there are always vastly many opportunities to heal rifts, and make things positive again. It's about humans socializing with humans and the smartest AI in the world does not yet (and likely never will) know what it is like to be a human, so will not be able to respond creatively or appropriately to that unique social context.
Jon Dron February 15, 2017 - 1:54pm
Thanks Viorel, thanks Shauna!
Indeed, it all comes flooding back. Amongst other things, I had almost forgotten how, as a new parent, so much of your world revolves around the quality and frequency of your baby's poops :-). I must say that these two are so much readier and more capable than we ever were, but I don't think any parent can be fully prepared for the seismic upheaval it brings to everything. So nice as a grandparent to just get the good bits and not have to deal with that again.
Jon Dron February 2, 2017 - 10:07am
For sure! It seems more these days than when I was a kid that kids really enjoy spending time with their grandparents. My kids see their grandparents as buddies, they call my mother-in-law to come over and tell them jokes at bed time just when I am trying to shut the house down for the night! You will have fun!
Shauna Reckseidler-Zenteno February 3, 2017 - 10:25pm
I sure hope so, Shauna! Sometimes, when my kids were being difficult, I used to console myself with the thought that, one day, they would have children of their own, and I would be the grandparent that spoiled them rotten. My hour has come around at last :-)
Jon Dron February 4, 2017 - 12:53pm
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