[IAEP] changes in outlook with Sugar (was Re: Comments on David Kokorowski, David Pritchard and "Mastering" Educational SW)
martin.langhoff at gmail.com
Fri Jul 3 03:50:07 EDT 2009
On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 8:05 AM, Erick Lavoie<erick.lavoie at gmail.com> wrote:
> The high level roadmap I would suggest to end up with a mentoring system
> would be:
Excellent post - thanks! While Alan's posts are inspiring, my hands
can help with something like your roadmap more effectively than with
raising 19B USD :-)
> A partial answer to the motivation problem Alan talked about in mastering a
> skill like reading would be in my opinion to provide constant feedback on
> the progress of a learner in pursuit of a goal. Such feedback seems to be
> the key behind the success of a system like Nike+ and the addicting effect
> of video games. I think it could be replicated for a learning environment by
> showing the mastership level of different skills needed to achieve a goal
> and their evolution in time.
I find this part problematic, however. Been working in software
related to e-learning for ~9 years, and the computer is really limited
(ie: stupid) at measuring whether the user can achieve interesting and
Games do provice the continuous feedback you mention, but they work on
things the computer can understand. And the computer cannot understand
Attempts to make the computer assess complex things are usually based
on very creative use (by the designers / programmers) of simple rules;
and these attempts impress adults... but when you see kids using them,
they _immediately_ figure out that the "real game" is to "play to the
mechanics, as implemented".
In other words, they learn to trick the computer. And they learn it fast!
The roadmap you outline works towards a very important toolset --
building tutorials on how to use things is a powerful thing. And
getting kids to build tutorials themselves on skills they just
acquired is a great tool to work on the skill and deepen it.
But it is not a tool to develop non-computer skills.
Clearly, we have strong hints on how to build effective self-learning
tools for a specific subset of skills (ie: computer-use skills, and
computer-assessable-skills), but these techniques don't apply well to
topics outside those specific areas (as far as I can see, glad to be
I naturally worry about this leading to a heavily biased set of tools;
tools that help with that narrow slice we know how to deal with...
and leave a huge, glaring gap.
I guess there are two ways about this. We can embrace the narrowness
of our help, and perhaps even reinforce it by making explicit the
narrow focus, so nobody thinks we're out to cover much. Or we can work
on approaches that cover a wider area, and I am thinking very
specifically about social constructivism here.
My preference -- as you can guess now -- is to understand how can we
aim for wider tools and approaches that take advantage of social
dynamics. These will be perhaps less directly effective in their
feedback loop (addictiveness, stickiness, etc), but will be able to
deal with the kind of skills that computers can't help with.
For all the fascination that computer games (solo and networked)
cause, the behaviour I see in game players is that past the initial
exploratory stage players are _always_ playing to the mechanical
rules. If they don't know the "metaphor" that those rules stand in
for, they don't actually learn it.
martin.langhoff at gmail.com
martin at laptop.org -- School Server Architect
- ask interesting questions
- don't get distracted with shiny stuff - working code first
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