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Jon Dron

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  • A straightforward and briefly reported study that supports the rather obvious hypothesis that quite young (15-month-old) children can and do learn from observing adults, at least in the short term. The twist here is that adults in the study were...
  • Jon Dron commented on a bookmark Amazon helps and teaches bomb makers 2 days ago
    As in all things, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it. Having worked on recommender systems, especially adaptive ones, for my PhD and for some years afterwards, I do see that there are many ways they can have a place. But there are...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked No, you aren't a 'visual' learner September 21, 2017 - 7:16pm
    It's a damning indictment of our collective resistance to truth that the point of this article still has to be restated, yet again. Amazingly, 93% of the general public and 76% of educators still erroneously believe that we should be taught in ways...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Amazon helps and teaches bomb makers September 19, 2017 - 5:30pm
    Amazon's recommender algorithm works pretty well: if people start to gather together ingredients needed for making a thermite bomb, Amazon helpfully suggests other items that may be needed to make it, including hardware like ball bearings, switches,...
    Comments
    • Jon,

      I agree with the points you are raising here.

      There is a pervsuasive (and generally inaccurate) notion that learning is the acquisition of simple sets of skills. We seem to believe that out of that acquisition of skill sets that higher order thinking and problem solving simply emerge magically.

      If that were the case then the recommender engine model would work great. Students would have the much heralded (of late) playlists of lessons to build those skills and viola!

      However, this model excludes the most basic truth about learning which is that it is labor intensive, experience dependent, and therefore not realy programmable in the way that Sal Khan and other ed tech gurus seem to believe. 

      Gerald Ardito 2 days ago

    • As in all things, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

      Having worked on recommender systems, especially adaptive ones, for my PhD and for some years afterwards, I do see that there are many ways they can have a place. But there are also enormous dangers and, as you suggest, having them drive a teacher-determined learning agenda is not smart. Collaborative filters of the sort used by Amazon, Netflix, etc, turn out to be less promising than you might at first think, sadly: either too crude to work (it's not about relatively static preferences, as in books or music, but about evolving learning needs that change as you learn) or too difficult to use (e.g. my PhD systems!).

      I find small chunks of stuff to learn from (YouTube videos, StackExchange dialogues, etc) can be immensely useful when used by learners to achieve goals they have set for themselves: I have learned a great many skills that way, which are a necessary part of (but only part of) learning. And there is great value within a small, known community to sharing and ranking stuff that the group uses - the objects the bind, the ideas that connect, the shared cognitive artefacts - which can be greatly enriched with added visualization, analytics, and rich qualitative metadata, as long as these simply support, rather than drive learning, and reflect rather than dominate the group's dynamics.

      As an interesting addendum to my post, Amazon's recommendations turn out to be far more benign than the media at first suggested: the recommendations come about as a result of people making backyard fireworks and doing science experiments. Context is everything, and context gets lost in large-scale recommender systems whose purpose is to sell stuff, not to support learning!

      Jon Dron 2 days ago

    • Jon,

      I think that recommender systems can be good (and I know yours were/are). I was responding to the corporate instantiations in education in particular. 

      Mike Caulfield had a nice piece about Netflix recommender engines not really recommended things for you, but rather recommending things you might like that they have rights to.

      I also agree that I have sought out YouTube and Stack Overflow and other similar places to support my own learning, and they have been immensely helpful. The difference there is the self-directed piece I think. 

      Gerald Ardito 2 days ago

  • 'Suggests' is the operative word in the title here. The title is a sensationalist interpretation of an inconclusive and careful study, and I don't think this is what the authors of the study mean to say at all. Indeed, they express caution in...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Highly praised children are more inclined to cheat September 15, 2017 - 3:27pm
    The title of this Alphr article is a little misleading because the point the article rightly makes is that it all depends on the type of praise given. It reports on research from the University of Toronto that confirms (yet again) what should be...
    Comments
    • This post was interesting to me as I consider my use of praise multiple times a day as parent and teacher. Jon Dron's comments bring attention to the differences in praising who a child is vs. what they do, in extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation.

      The value of teaching mindset, our beliefs about success, is becoming more understood in and out of school systems. Fixed mindset is the belief that success is based on innate ability whereas with growth mindset success is based on hard work, learning, and training.

      As kids, we tend to grow up with fixed mindsets labelling ourselves  'good' or 'bad' at things. Carol Dweck has contributed to social psychology with theories of intelligence and has devoted her life to studying fixed and growth mindset.

      I wonder if we can begin to shift the next generation of thinkers, if, as young parents and educators, we focus our efforts on specific behaviour - directed feedback.

       

      Jehane Johnson September 16, 2017 - 1:21am

    • Jon,

      I found this really interesting as well, particularly given my recent forays into Self Determination Theory. I also just shared the article, and your comments with my students in a Learning Environments course I am teaching this semester.

       

      Gerald Ardito September 18, 2017 - 9:12am

  • Today is the final day to get the discount rate if you are planning on coming to E-Learn in Vancouver this year (US$455 today vs US$495 from tomorrow onwards). It promises to be quite a big event this year, with an estimated 900+ concurrent...
    Comments
  • Jon Dron commented on a bookmark Reddit no longer (quite) open source in the group Open Source Software September 5, 2017 - 5:12pm
    Indeed - a nice metaphor. Open source needs patrons! All software is pretty much like art (or at least craft) and, like art, there are some pretty draconian laws in place about what you are allowed to do with it.  Though I do like Reddit and...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Reddit no longer (quite) open source in the group Open Source Software September 5, 2017 - 4:31pm
    Reddit has released its underlying software as open source since it began but is now stepping away from it - a bit. The reasons are interesting: "Open-source makes it hard for us to develop some features "in the clear" (like our recent video...
    Comments
    • It's comes down to how much money they want to make vs how needed their product is. Some projects operate based on donations, while others start offering additional services or training. I've never used Reddit much, it just never appealed to me. On the other hand I will continue supporting the GPG and Enigmail project, for example. There are plenty of open source projects that continue to thrive 20 years later. In some ways open source is just like art.

      Viorel Tabara September 5, 2017 - 4:45pm

    • Indeed - a nice metaphor. Open source needs patrons! All software is pretty much like art (or at least craft) and, like art, there are some pretty draconian laws in place about what you are allowed to do with it. 

      Though I do like Reddit and use it for serendipitous discovery quite a bit, I don't resent Reddit's decision. It probably makes good business sense and, anyway, there aren't that many people that actually want to run a clone of a pretty rough-and-ready system (Reddit's value is its communities, not its software), especially when there are vastly superior open source tools performing a similar job like Discourse available. It's just a bit sad that something vibrant has been taken out of the system and that the world has become a bit more closed as a result. The Reddit algorithms are (currently) not particularly great but it is really important to know what they do and how they do it, and useful for those seeking to build better variants. That information may be hidden in future, and that's not a good thing in what is, by some measures, the most popular open discussion site on the Internet. 

      Jon Dron September 5, 2017 - 5:12pm

  • A Quartz article that claims (accurately) that p-learning bootcamps dominate for those learning programming and other technical skills and (inaccurately) that the reason for that is that e-learning is much less engaging. In fact, there's a sneaky...