Friday, October 10, 2008

Computer games - astounding improvements in numeracy

Here's to you Mr Robertson
Brain Training did more for e-learning than any government campaign or product. It took e-learning mainstream.
The wonderful Derek Robertson has been using this sort of stuff in schools for ages but we now have an excellent piece of research from Learning and Teaching Scotland.

  • 600 pupils from 32 schools
  • 20 minutes at start of class for nine weeks
  • control group did normal class stuff
  • pupils tested at start and end of study
Brain Training group:
  • 50% better test scores than control!
  • 13.5 minutes to do test, control 18.5 minutes
  • more improvement in less able kids
  • no difference between boys and girls
  • reduced absences
  • reduced lateness
These results are outstanding. If replicable, they have huge implications in terms of a potential solution for our low numeracy standards.
While Derek is wrong in claiming that this is the, 'first independent, academic evidence that this type of computer game could improve attainment when used in an educational context', it's a damn fine piece of work.
Get these things into primary schools now! Better still, simply encourage parents to buy them for their kids. Perhaps we can see the politicians and educational establishment stop whinging about poor numeracy and doing something simple to solve the problem.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Edupunk - more ponytails than punk

It has its own Wikipedia page, and bloggers have been punking it up, but as a movement it’s more ‘dippy-hippy’ than’ punk’.

Armchair anarchists

I’m all for punking up conference presentations and learning experiences. But when grey-haired teachers take on these terms, they’d better look at themselves first. This so-called punky attitude is coming from well paid teachers and academics, in the comfortable context of largely tired old institutions. If they want to peddle punk then do what punks did – free themselves from the cosiness of the establishment. Why don’t they do this? Because they ARE the establishment. Stephen Downes offers up Alice Cooper’s School’s Out as the Edupunk anthem. OK, then get out of school. Armchair anarchists are ten-a-penny, and when they get on a bit, tend to mistake punk for ponytails. Worst example: Johnny Rotten doing Butter ads on TV. What a rotter!

Use, don’t abuse, technology

It’s merely a bit of a rant by old teachers who are fed up with the job or having to use Blackboard, and want a little bit of excitement in their lives.  In other words, it’s all about teachers, not learners. If they were really interested in punking up education and training, they’d use, not abuse, technology. The punkier side of learning is all YouTube, Facebook, games, gadgets and fringe technology. To drag learning back into the classroom with anti-technology rhetoric is simply a backward step. School ain’t punk. Staffrooms ain’t punk. Teaching ain’t punk. Teachers ain’t punk.

Dancing dads

As my two fourteen year old keep reminding me – there’s nothing sadder than 40 and 50 year old teachers high-fiving the kids. Let’s leave it to the young turks who are already punking it up, independently of the dancing dads. The Edupunk video typical. After a confusing montage, to the Ian Brown’s superb Keep What Ya Got, Martin Weller of the OU narrates, perhaps the most boring video I’ve ever seen. Martin wants to ‘turn us all into Broadcasters’ – then trots out a series of obvious and ordinary  ideas, such as using YouTube videos, chat, podcasts and so on. This is more Edujunk than Edupunk.

I’m now off to work up my next big idea – education with a groove – Edufunk.