Posts Tagged ‘video’

The future of education (with an emphasis on science education)

August 4, 2009

I love where education is headed. This is a weird statement to make as a teacher; my income is currently based on the existence of relatively traditional schools. I could of course switch to tutoring, non-traditional educational institutions, become a consultant, or otherwise use my skills in related areas. But the truth is that I like working with high school students* and find the traditional setting perfectly acceptable. Yet I love the change that I see building up around me to invert some of what we now think of as schooling.

I recently mentioned Dan Meyer’s “Be less helpful” comment. It fits very well with the ideas of Modeling Physics (building from experiences and models of them with a big dose of Socratic Questioning), Peer Instruction, the recent explosion of the podcast (or vodcast) in education whether in chemistry or in general, and the flourishing of free online resources in the form of OpenCourseWareand textbooks (sorry for the physics centric link – follow links to go to the overall sites) or even whole Universities. Moving the basic transmission of ideas into a student centric space and focus the time in the institutional (social) setting for discussion, activities, and assessment (including more informal feedback style assessment similar to Eric Mazur’s Peer Instruction as well as formal tests). Its powerful stuff even if it isn’t really new. As I’m sure many people have noticed its really what a good literature class already does!

There are questions of course.

1. Can this inversion do anything about the smart under-achievers? Can such a switch motivate them to gain something from a podcast, video, or web site that they wouldn’t get a from a lecture, textbook, or teacher led activity?

2. Can this work in a setting with underprivileged students? The quantifiable data seems to say that this group isn’t doing much outside of class. If you combine that with the possible digital divide it might be rough. The flip side is that podcasts and audio are accessible with minimal and ubiquitous hardware. Plus playing them, or even a vodcast, might not seem quite a publicly nerdy as reading a book.

3. If perfect is the enemy of good and many teachers are at a good point right now is the benefit worth it? Purely thinking as a classroom teacher I find this the biggest question. It is not a matter of the amount of work but instead its a matter of having the transition from one style to the other disrupt the learning and lead to a result that is worse then either method. Or, to put things another way, is there enough buy in among all stakeholders that a teacher can safely learn these methods while doing them. Clearly this is a case by case basis.

Dan’s Ignite Presentation

July 28, 2009

Once again Dan Meyer has summed up one of a key insights into teaching in a pithy statement “Be less helpful!” I’m not sure what I can really add to it as its really the same inside as the one behind guided inquiry teaching, problem based learning, and even the ideas expressed by AP workshop presenters. His restatement is terrific and is something that I at least, and possible others, need to reconnect with every so often. If I can get an embeddable link I’m going to put it on my permanent videos page.

On the other hand I think I can usefully comment on the ending of his presentation. His audience is made up of open source aficionados and coders so his ending plea is quite appropriate but unneeded. We already have collaborative spaces for sharing teaching methods, teaching materials, and teachable media. Dan’s blog is a great example. We have blogs, Nings, wikis, forums, mailing lists (how quaint but effective), various social networking sites, and multiple author blogs if the idea is to get away from one person directing the conversation. Do we really need another site or app or communication method? We do need more interactivity between social groupings but that is not a technological problem.

Of course maybe I’m not getting his message. From Dan’s response in one comment I suspect the distinction is that he want’s collaboration on the media itself while I would be satisfied with expanding the use of collaboration about the media and easy access to the media. In particular I see little purpose in editing some media in such a way that the original is lost. If I have an edit that I believe is of general utility I should upload mine with citation to yours as the inspiration and let people compare, contrast, and critic them in context. Again, the value seems to be in building a useful size community not in a new technological fix.

Alternately he might be referring to the fact that most online communication still has to go through a text medium. The idea of being able to easily add comments to a post via audio or video might be terrific. If that’s what you were meaning then my hat is off to you Dan.

The jump

July 16, 2009

I missed this video when it when viral but I think it has now become my intro to projectile motion for the AP students next year. Is it real? How can we tell?

Parkour in Physics

June 17, 2009

I’ve been fascinated with freerunning / parkour since I first heard about it. It look like a blast. As a 40+ year old guy I’m not going to do it but as a physics teacher I would love to use it in class. So I’m embedding a couple of videos below. What would you do with them in a classroom setting?

We could import into a video analysis program but unlike movies there really isn’t a question of did they fake it. Any thoughts?

BTW, if you haven’t seen the Danny MacAskill bicycle tricks video you should check it out (its all over the web as well as in my Great Videos page) for similar amazing body control and skill.