Video gaming makes better surgeons
A new study from the Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York has shown that surgeons who play video games at least 3 hours a week made 37% less errors, were 27% faster and scored 42% higher than those who had never played these games. In fact there was a direct correlation between assessed skills in gaming and laparoscopic surgery. The very best game players made 47% less errors, were 39% faster and scored 41% better overall than those in the bottom third. Impressive improvements.
Stephen Johnson’s book Everything Bad is Good for You, pointed the way for further research on video games and human activities. We are now seeing some fledgling research that shows positive results.
Real expenditure on libraries has increased for the seventh consecutive year to over a billion (£1097m). One could expect that money to be spent on books and resources. In fact, over half is spent on salaries (55%) with a mere 8.7% spent on books.
Lending, stock and visits down
Despite the population having grown by 2.5% over the last ten years, over the same period we’ve seen borrowing fall by 38%, active lending stock down by 18%, and visits have fallen by 13%.
Libraries as downmarket Blockbusters
One could claim that the collapse of book borrowing is being replaced by electronic media, and this is true. The worrying thing is that audio (music) is also in sharp decline, with DVD hires showing the sharpest increase (160%).
But is this serving any useful educational purpose? Are libraries becoming downmarket Blockbusters? What will happen when this market changes and, as is already happening, movies are readily available on demand. As expenditure increases are libraries driving themselves into the rump-end of a crowded and doomed market?
It strikes me that public libraries are indeed a dying breed. The website’s own comment bravely predicts, and I quote from the sites own statistical report, “if the present rate of decline continues, the adult lending library may become a thing of the past in 15-20 years.”
They see the Digital generation, born in the 90s, falls into four types:
1. Digital pioneers: early adopters of anything new
2. Creative Producers: build sites, share photos, video, music
3. Everyday communicators: texters and MSN users
4. Information gatherers: google and wikipedia
The findings from surveyed parents are particularly interesting with six myths identified:
Internet too dangerous for children
Junk culture taking over kids’ minds
No learning through digital technology
Epidemic of plagiarism
Kids disengaged and disconnected
Kids becoming passive consumers
Learners need to be not lust literate but multiliterate across a range of technologies. ‘Looking in a book just takes ages’ says a 13 year old. Look how self-motivated they are with technology. They feel ownership, purpose and learn from each other in ways schools can’t imagine, yet alone deliver.
Schools need to learn
Schools need to embrace and build on informal learning with technology. They need to fully understand the relationships with parents, families and wider social networks outside of school and ‘bridge’, not subsume, this enthusiasm into their structures. This starts with people
The world has changed so why haven't we?
Here the report strikes gold. The flow of knowledge is both ways to and from school. It requires capacity building with parents. Far too little contact is made through parents so that they can help build bridges. Bringing homework and coursework into the 21st century is an obvious example. Reverse IT training is another excellent idea – use the skills of the kids to teach others, including teachers, as is peer-to-peer technology tuition and a cool tools monitor.
Constant references to BBC Jam as an exemplar are odd – it's not. Words such as creativity and creative portfolios are also used without real grounding. The old ‘digital divide’ debate is also misleading. At one point the report says that 82% of kids had access to a computer at home in 2002. This is much higher than with access to books but we don’t hear the phrase ‘book barrier’ being bandied about. The suggestion that schools should take responsibility for getting the hardware to kids is also plain wrong. This is a parent thing.
I’ve spent some time recently on YouTube, Google Video, Revver etc. and boy, even though it’s in its infancy, it’s getting good. I’ve seen the best speakers in the world deliver fantastic talks on the subjects I love. I can pause, fast forward, repeat and take notes. It’s been a series of intense learning experiences.
(They also made me reflect on why Gagne and his crew are so wrong on the creation of educational content. These short talks are very powerful yet don’t conform to any over-engineered idea of ‘9 steps of instruction’. The internet, thankfully, is killing Gagne, and outmoded instructional design, stone dead.)
The TED talks are among the best. Every year some of the best brains in the world get together in Monterey in the US. These are fantastic.
Here’s a couple of my favourites:
Marketing at Google by Soth Godin (an insider talk at Google – fascinating)
Education doesn’t work by Ken Robinson
It cost $4000 to go to a TED conference – these are free.