Sunday, September 6, 2015

I just completed another MOOC, "Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology" from MIT

I was a bit of a rebellious student in the fourth MITx class on educational technology: MITx: 11.133x Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology.

This course was less interesting to me than the previous two on educational games because it focused on traditional classroom management and government school administrators and evaluators. I'm not that hopeful about trying to enhance the current system with technology.  And, I'm biased against central planning.  I'm more interested in the use of technology to allow kids to do self-directed learning.

Anyway, I watched all the video lectures, did the readings, did some assignments and participated in the student discussions to see what I could glean.

Much of the material seemed irrelevant to my interests. And, I saw evidence of many things I already knew: Technology is not a magic bullet. Change is slow and painful in U.S. government school systems. Childrens' curiosity and initiative get squelched in schools.

But, I was surprised by some new information. Also, I participated in specific discussion groups on game design, math teaching and homeschooling.  Beyond these groups, I was delighted by the many intelligent viewpoints and projects of the other participants who live all over the world. Many of them were dedicated teachers.

My top 10 tidbits from the  course:

10. A new position in some U.S. schools is "Educational Technologist".  An Educational Technologist helps teachers find good technology to help them teach and checks to see that it will work with the school's computers and connectivity. This position is often held by the geekiest teacher in the school for no extra pay. They may also be responsible for maintenance and repair of the equipment.

9. In the state of Massachusetts (for example) there are hundreds of entities that must sign off on any technology proposed to be used in the public schools.

8. A computer game for use in a classroom doesn't have to be very well designed for kids to want to play it. As one prof said, It just has to be "better than jail".

7. Homeschooling parents are actively interested in computer games and debate their efficacy.

[The four above affirmed my focus on the consumer market for my games.]

6. My questions about the development of logical thinking in children may be better answered by Vygotsky than Piaget. We'll see. I've acquired two thick books to study. And, the reason I'd never heard of Vygotsky when I studied development psychology in the 70s? He was considered "Soviet" at that time.

5. You-tube is a fabulous technology for learning just about anything.

4. The public library is probably a better place to facilitate self-directed learning than the public school.

3. In a case study a grant-funded iPad learning app needed to be tested in preschools. So it was put in the iTunes Store for free. The kids (inner city) mainly had iPads and so did their teachers. But, the preschool teachers couldn't download the free App because they didn't have credit cards, which are required by iTunes.  [This speaks to the advantage of easy access to HTML5 games on the Web]

2. There's nothing new under the sun in educational technology.

1. Or maybe there is.