I run a math site for 6-8 year olds & it’s an absolute delight to watch kids challenge each other to be the fastest at fun algebra & geometry puzzles. Several teachers have told me in person that kids who ace the puzzles on my site are ready for college. These are little kids in elementary & middle school! So it makes me very happy to have built something which is so powerful for reinforcing core concepts.
But then, some of the parents ask me how to get their kids to score higher. How to work some of these tests. Which youtube videos to watch. I tell them not to waste their time on tech.
If you want your kid to learn math, the best is one on one instruction. I sit with my kid for a few hours every week and we work problems on a whiteboard. Kids like markers & sometimes they will doodle with red & green markers while trying to think. This is incredibly fun to watch and it’s an awesome bonding exercise. I write a problem with a black marker & each kid has a color marker & they quickly start writing on different areas of the whiteboard and soon we have a solution. The $20 walmart whiteboard is an absolute godsend. We have a ton of markers & 3 whiteboards, one in basement & living room & upstairs, so whenever we feel like it, we can indulge in math. That’s the height of technology I’ve used.
Give your kids time & attention. That’s really all they want.
There was so much research saying all the millions we were about to spend on tech in classrooms wasn’t going to work. Reduce childhood poverty and you’ll improve results. Focus on a knowledge based curriculum and you’ll improve results.
1. Why Knowledge Matters - ED Hirsch Jr
Everyone knows this, but wealth redistribution is opposed by those who can prevent it from happening, i.e. those with wealth.
So we continue wasting taxpayer’s money and instead funnel that into some VC/PE/index fund owner’s pocket.
I don’t see how this can be accomplished without some sort of wealth redistribution, by which I don’t strictly mean transferring dollars from one account to another, but rather forcing all businesses to provide more time off, thereby increasing labor costs and hence reducing income for capital owners.
Current research in edtech is now looking at the transferability of AI models. For example, if I target a specifically low-income / low-performing school and use some type of process to improve their scores, will that model transfer to another school (with hetero- or homogeneous students).
So the statement "Reduce childhood poverty and you’ll improve results." isn't directly referring to how wealth improves intelligence, but rather from a logistical regression perspective each "unit of wealth" is correlated to a higher performance.
The sellers of snake-oil will always win over the denouncers of snake-oil, because very few denouncers of snake-oil are also willing to dedicate their lives to snake-oil.
1. Education takes time. Therefore, evaluating whether an intervention actually improves education outcomes also takes time.
2. Decision makers both in companies and in schools buying their products are not end users, so their interaction with the product is limited.
3. Most learners hate the work it takes to actually learn something, so they'll prefer technology that helps them avoid that work.
In the end you get products that look good in a short demo and are well-received by students, but that don't really help in the long term.
This is nowhere close to true. People love learning things and exploring new ideas, in a context where they have autonomy.
Essentially every human learns a tremendous amount about a wide range of topics and skills between age 5–20 years, with or without any explicit external instruction.
What they hate is being forced by someone else to do (what seems to them to be) pointless busywork.
Products which are marketed to schools as “educational technology” often seem especially pointless from a student perspective.
There are many people who say they want to learn a foreign language or an instrument or some other skill and many free resources for self-study are available. Yet, most of those people either never start or give up halfway. Either they do not want what they say they want, or they're too lazy to put in the necessary work.
I'm a self-taught developer and learned a few languages on my own, but there's still a lot I wanted to learn but never did simply because I didn't feel like practicing and stopped.
Just because someone doesn’t spend every waking moment on deliberately practicing specific new skills does not mean that they hate putting effort into anything.
Most “free resources for self-study” are crap, and only work for people with unusual amounts of motivation and focus. This doesn’t mean that everyone else is just lazy. People lead busy lives and have many distractions competing for their attention.
If you just said “many people claim they want to learn various specific skills and subjects but then never make time for it”, that would be an uncontroversial and easily factually supported claim.
* * *
Motivation is pretty tricky. It would be beneficial to everyone if society spent more effort on teaching meta-skills like how to break large goals into small manageable chunks, how to manage time and focus, how to seek out resources, how to evaluate progress, etc., and more effort on offering people meaningful support for achieving their own goals.
From what I have seen most “educational software”, testing-focused pedagogy, de-professionalization of teachers, etc. are harming rather than helping.
I'm addressing 1 by building time into the core of the product. I have a first-class 'timeline' model, and they span multiple years.
I'm addressing 2 by selling direct to consumers. This will be hard but I agree that 2 is a big problem and so I must start by avoiding it.
3 I'm not really solving. I'm just going to initially target highly motivated people where there's a clear reward for their hard work. Eg. tech students and med students.
I think I have a decent chance at success because I'm building it for myself first, to improve my own knowledge and skills. I'm a motivated learner and I care about having something that respects the hard work and time it takes to educate oneself; most ed-tech feels like fairy-floss instead of porridge.
Whether or not it ever succeeds commercially, it hope to get it to a point where it's a properly good tool to accompany a student going through higher-education and continued professional learning.
And so if at some point you do not step back and say, "You know, I think our problem might be that our current trajectory is fundamentally failing to improve the educational process.", then you can effectively spend an infinite amount of time, energy, and money pursuing a task that is not, and will not, ever provide the results that you're seeking - yet there you are convincing yourself that all you need is a bit more money, a bit more time, or the hottest new tech.
And the view will always be controversial because there is an immense amount of money to be made in providing these tools and that money will fight back. It's also quite intuitive that technology should be able to provide substantial improvements in education, and so those driven by their intuition will also fight back. Unfortunately, something being intuitive and something being correct are far from the same thing.
This is the biggest takeaway I saw from this article. Specifically because measuring improvement in education is difficult. The most used metric for this is through the use of something known as a "learning gain". Typically, this is measured using a pre-test/post-test on a topic, with the intervention method in between. However, because an experiment needs to be strongly maintained, these experiments are often done on smaller scales, like for two to four weeks. Thus, the learning gains are only measured for a single topic. Semester-long or longitudinal studies are more difficult simply because it is harder to measure and control improvement over time while ensuring each student is given a chance to learn the material.
In education research, if the NAEP is the only metric you're using, your findings are probably skewed from the get-go.
Now in 8th grade, at least it is more paper based, but they are still provided laptops. She told me one of the teachers pre-records the lectures, and they watch those in class, instead of live instruction. I suppose the teacher thinks she can record it once and use it for several years.
Now I know why IQ peaked in the 90’s and has been dropping after the introduction of the smart phone.
I encourage my 5th grade daughter to do both. She’ll workout problems with pen and paper or on a white board, and complement her studies with online tools [4,5,6]. Based on this regimen with a sample of one, she’s done very well. ;-)
>> She told me one of the teachers pre-records the lectures, and they watch those in class, instead of live instruction.
That's not flipped classroom, it's some weird cargo-cult hybrid combining the drawbacks of pre-recorded lectures with the drawbacks of in-classroom lectures.
The whole point of flipped classroom is to move mostly non-interactive stuff like lectures out of the classroom by assigning them as homework, while moving exercises that were previously considered homework into the classroom where a teacher is available to answer questions.
I hope OP's daughter at least gets a copy of the video she can re-watch later.
On a different note, the classroom technology that seems really important as the parent of young kids is the parent communication tools. Comparing notes with my parents, we both agree the communication about expectations, curriculum, and homework is really enhanced by technology