Tag Archives: learning

Retrieval Practice and Ed Tech

From July 18,2014 NYT, Sunday Review

From July 18,2014 NYT, Sunday Review

Last month, the NYTimes ran an education article entitled How Tests Make Us Smarter, by Henry Roedigger [July 18, 2014]. The basic idea put forth in the article was that frequent testing begets frequent retrieval of the tested information; the more often we attempt to retrieve information as we learn it, the more sophisticated mental structures we create around it, the better it sticks.

Roedigger’s piece sent me off on a hunt for the original research cited in the article.  That led me to this article authored by Jeffrey Karpicke and Janell Blunt (Purdue University):

Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping, [January 2011]

Their research points to the conclusion that testing provides retrieval practice and, as such, works as a memory modifier – it strengths the information in the learner’s brain, making it more likely to be recalled later. In their article, Karpicke and Blunt cite the researcher, Robert Bjork, a cognitive psychologist at UCLA who has, hands-down, the best lab name I’ve ever heard, “The Learning and Forgetting Lab”. Bjork is well-known in education circles for coining the phrase “desirable difficulties”. His cog psych research points to the conclusion that roughening up the learning path (“desirable difficulties”) leads to greater retention and comprehension. The practice conditions that produce desirable difficulties are spacing (distributing practice over time), interleaving (for example, mixing in equal parts tutorials and practice problems), and testing (retrieval).  Bjork talks about the “study-study-study-TEST” model versus the (preferred) “study-test-test-test” model. I’ve blogged about Bjork’s work previously.  Here is a good explanation of his research, When and Why Introducing Difficulties and Errors Can Enhance Instruction, Courtney Clark and Robert Bjork (UCLA)

The key take-home in both Bjork’s and Karpicke’s work is the importance of using testing as a learning tool instead of just as an assessment tool. Frequent, low-stakes, formative testing, companioned with timely feedback, allows learners to strengthen their retrieval and rehearse the correct information.

With this research base in mind, the next natural step is to address the practical question of how best to provide regular retrieval practice? How to encourage practice that enhances learning in the classroom and doesn’t add to the feeling of being tested to death. To my mind, that’s where educational technology comes in. With tablets or laptops in the hands of each student in a wired classroom, educators can construct lesson plans around frequent, low-stake performances that provide regular feedback.  For instance, reflective blog posts, short student presentations, practice problems, and peer-to-peer teaching in small groups.

The interesting thing about this way of looking at educational technology, is that it doesn’t drive the change – it becomes a facilitating tool.  First you want to improve teaching/learning, next you examine what the educational literature tells us about what works, and then you look for the tools to help drive that change.



Filed under Reflections on Teaching

An Irrigation System Comes with a Teaching/Learning Lesson

New garden installation.

New garden installation.

We’ve recently installed a new front garden – a nice bevy of native and drought-tolerant plants, along with a bit of functional hardscape (I’m learning the landscaping terminology) in the form of a meandering pathway to the front door. In addition to improving the patches on all sides of our home, it’s turned out that this garden project has awarded other benefits – useful lessons in teaching and learning and a well-timed reminder of how incredibly difficult it is to do this education stuff right.

Our guide on this project, Liz Simpson, is an experienced landscape designer, who specializes in native plants.  I’ve worked with her on and off for the last six months, planning, sketching, preparing the soil, etc. and have found her delightful to work with – flexible, clear-thinking, and imaginative. In an attempt to marshall the budget on this project, I volunteered to be the laborer, along with my husband. That meant that we did the sheet mulching (see earlier post), the soil preparation, the digging and planting, and, eventually, the installation of a drip irrigation system.  Needless to say, there was a lot to learn.

The actual installation took place over a three-day period – 197 plants and lots of mulch.  Liz was there the whole time, overseeing the work, making sure we plopped the plants in the right places and heaving the flagstones into place herself, with the help of two, strong-backed helpers. It was all hard work, no doubt about it, but we got it done and were very happy with the results.

Irrigation system parts.

Irrigation system parts.

Then came the irrigation system.  These are drought-tolerant plants, but they do need some water, and given our current complete lack of rainfall in California, the drip system was called for. Liz brought over all the gear – tubing, emitters, brackets, couplers, goof plugs (my personal favorite) – and gave me a thorough tutorial on how to assemble the bits and pieces into a working system.  It’s a bit like a tinker toy operation.  The parts are designed to fit together, snap in place, and be flexibly positioned so that each plant has its own wee stream of water delivered right to its root ball.

Paper plan.

Paper plan.

Liz had carefully assembled all of the components of a productive teaching and learning experience for me.  She would explain, demonstrate, and give me resources – then I would be on my own for the ultimate assessment – a properly installed system.  I listened carefully to Liz’s “lecture”, watched her as she “demonstrated”, consulted the overall irrigation paper plan (“textbook”), and felt confident in my ability to complete the job.

Sound familiar?  Bet you know where I’m going with this.

Two days later, we set out to install the thing. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be harder than I’d thought.  There were elements that weren’t covered in my “lesson”, nuances to the execution that were eluding me. For one thing, the black, mainline hose turned into a serpent creature, taking on unforetold behaviors, roiling in unexpected directions and just generally being a pain in the ass. Furthermore, in what order should we work – should I lay out the hose first, stake it down, and then punch holes for the emitters?  Or is it better to install each emitter as you worked, laying out the hose in small segments? Complicating the whole enterprise was the fact that the “punch and insert” action required to add the emitters was extremely difficult – first, you have to get the hole just right (straight on, not at an angle) and then, when you push in the emitter, the hose sort of collapses on you, failing in the face of all that pressure and pushing (I distinctly heard it mocking me).  What’s more, everything has a proper orientation that must be remembered – right side in, path of water to plant, uphill versus downhill. What had, at first, sounded like a pretty straight-up affair was quickly turning into a Herculian task that I felt less and less qualified to complete. My fingers and hands fatigued quickly and we opted for a tag-team approach, I’d punch the hole, my husband would come along behind and land the emitter (later, it became apparent that was a very bad plan).

By hook or by crook, we finished the first half of the system and decided to call it a day.  Not only were we both wiped out, I thought it wise to ask Liz to review our work, just to make sure we were on track, before starting the second half.

When she arrived to check out our progress, I could tell by the look on her face that our performance had not met the grade. We failed the assessment. In fact, we were destined for remedial work. In addition to improper hose placement, incorrect distances (emitter to plant) we had installed every single emitter backwards. Yup, you heard me, backwards.

Good grief.  Ok, let’s just review for a minute.  Liz had done everything that a teacher should do with a naive student:

1.  Explanation. She explained the content, using language the learner understood, giving clear examples, making helpful analogies.

2.  Demonstrate.  She demonstrated the method for me, then had me do one with her watching (“watch one, do one”).

3.  Reference.  She left me with a detailed description in print for reference, should I need it.

So, what went wrong?  A dissection of this mess-up is kind of interesting, actually (that is, when I can get over the humiliation of being so colossally mistaken).  First, let’s take a look at the emitter:

Drip system emitter.

Drip system emitter.

Liz’s description was to insert the red side into the hose and the black side would face out.  Couldn’t be easier, right? Not only that, but if you look at the structure of the beast, you can clearly see that the red side is fashioned to accept the water flow and the black side is crafted to “emit” water. But somehow, I got it in my head that the black side would go in to the mainline hose …it matched with the black of the hose, it made a continuous color whole, whatever.  That was the model I had in my head.  And even though she left me a correctly completed example and it was written down on the printed irrigation plan (in words, not pictures, I should point out), my misconception was firmly established and I proceeded to install each and every emitter with the black side in and the red side out. Wow.

I suspect that a picture might have made a difference for me.  Either a photograph or a colored diagram, showing insert A to B here, in this way.  Why the actual physical model of a properly completed one didn’t serve that purpose completely baffles me.

It’s also worth taking a moment to ponder why I didn’t more carefully scrutinize the structure of the emitter itself. If I’d studied its functional design and reasoned my way toward a complete understanding of why the red side goes in, I suspect that would have helped. I suspect that understanding the orientation – as opposed to memorizing the color scheme in a garanimals approach – might have worked. But it did not occur to me to do that. Does that have to do with my lack of experience in building/assembling? Or is is a lack of native how-to sensibility?

What’s more, I suspect the number of details to keep track of got in the way; as if my brain could only hold onto so much information and just plowed ahead with its own managerial method. As we worked the logic of my approach felt more and more rationalized.  Of course, this is the way to do it!

Interestingly, when Liz came to inspect the work, undoubtedly taking pity on us, she stayed for the rest of the morning and we finished the remaining circuit all together. This allowed lots of ongoing observation and regular check ins.  “Do you mean, like this?”  “How deep exactly should the hose be buried?”  “Where do you put your thumb when you punch the hole?” The opportunity to watch her in action over a sustained period made a significant difference – wrestling with the main line hose, tapping in the brackets, how she kept her tools nearby, the way she positioned her body in relation to the hose when punching the emitter hole. I gained a much deeper and more practical insight into the proper method, not to mention the hard-to-explain-in-words nuances of the approach. It also allowed me to ask context-specific questions and get the answers when I needed them.

So, bottom line, our little exercise in irrigation underscores a couple of important education reminders:

  • Pictures really make a difference.
  • We hang onto our misconceptions with a death-grip.
  • The apprentice model really works.

Now.  If I can just remember….red in.  black out.

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The Second Time Around

This time around, I know where to sit.

This time around, I know where to sit.

I’m heading out to my ceramics class for the second time.  Because I have a fairly precise idea of my route and how long it took the last time, I leave the house allowing enough time, taking previous traffic patterns into account. When I arrive, I know the best and safest place to park (having been advised at the first class). I make my way into the building, up the stairs, a quick visit to the bathroom, and right to the studio.

I recognize my fellow students, nod hello, store my bag on one of the hooks, and don an apron from the supply nearby. I know where the clay is kept and which board to use for wedging. I pick out an open table area and start to work, applying the procedures demonstrated to us in the first class.

I pause for a moment and realize how much more fun and interesting – less stressful – learning feels tonight.

When learning something new, the second time through gives us such a measurably different experience.  You have a context, you see the whole, you can better estimate the time it will take, you feel less lost, you feel less anxious.

This post from Annie Murphy Hall talks about the added expertise an older adult brings to a learning situation.  Apparently researchers report that older people (as in over 65 years of age) show less variability in their cognitive performance over 100 days of testing than younger people.  The researchers cite “learned strategies” – their problem solving ability, along with a balanced daily routine and stable mood.  I would add that, due to their years of experience, they are more likely to have faced a similar problem and can retrieve a solution (or a partial one) that makes for approaching this new cognitive task as if it were the second time.  Easier.

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What Else am I Learning?

Ride Bike

Think on this a minute.  Can you come up with a scenario where the skills you acquired learning one thing, helped you do another?  For instance, did learning how to ride a bike help you learn how to ski?  Did learning how to tie your shoes help you to learn how to braid your hair?

This week I watched this happen with two people learning to work with social media and virtual worlds.  In one case, the person had previously worked with Blackboard Elluminate (running regular webinars).  I went into the virtual world of Second Life with her and she took to it like a duck to water.  All that pesky troubleshooting around sound issues in Second Life?  Not a problem.  She had the whole “triage” problem solving method down cold.  As in….first check your computer volume (on mute?), then your headset (plugged in the right way?), then your computer sound preferences (set to the right thing?), then SL preferences….and so on.  I didn’t have to explain a thing.  You wouldn’t think that a webinar platform like Elluminate and a 3D virtual world like Second Life would have all that much in common!

In another instance it was someone learning how to use Pixton. She had never used the comic creation tool before but because she was a photographer, she quickly grasped the notion of frames and layout.  In addition to that, Pixton has these somewhat confusing case-sensitive tool buttons where you only see the tool buttons that relate to what you are doing. In other words, you see a different set of buttons if you’ve clicked on a character than if you clicked on a speech bubble. Many people get muddled with these.  But not in this case.  As we worked further, it became clear that this person was transferring an understanding of case-sensitive tools that she earned using Photoshop.

Fascinating. In addition to the pleasure in seeing media skills transfer from one situation/tool to another, there’s another, harder to describe, benefit that seems to come along for the ride. I observed that my friend in the first scenario was just more patient, more resilient with the Second Life technical issues because she’s been there before.  She’d seen similar technical problems through to a positive conclusion, and that gave her the confidence to press on.  She possessed the certain knowledge that, eventually, she’d figure it out.

When I’m working with learners on new skills or concepts, all too often they just seem to give up – abandon ship – before they get to the fun part. Perhaps one way to diffuse this tendency is to reassure them – online tool use and technical problem solving are a cumulative things.  The more you do, the more you can do.


Filed under Reflections on Teaching

A Reflection on “36 Views of Mount Fuji”

My copy of 36 Views of Mount Fuji

I just finished reading Cathy Davidson’s 1993 book, 36 Views of Mount Fuji and its been swirling around in my head ever since. Many of us know Cathy Davidson from her excellent work at Duke University, her thoughtful blog, her recently released book Now You See It, as well as her work cofounding the group HASTAC (“haystack”), a network of learners dedicated to new forms of learning for the digital age. What you may not know is that, long before all of that, Dr. Davidson wrote this incredible book, a reflection on her time in Japan. She’s made a number of trips to Japan over the years, first as an English teacher at Kansai Women’s University (KWU), and then later as a speaker, visitor, and friend.  Through it all she’s developed a deep and abiding affection for the Japanese people and their culture. The book is a memoir, but it’s so much more. The roots of her current work, the pathways of her agile mind, her ability to ferret out subtle truths of human nature, her reflections on learning — these can all be found in the  pages of this book.

I loved the book and found myself going back over key passages, mining them for insights that are as fresh today as they were when she penned them nearly 20 years ago. Take, for example, this excerpt, reflecting back on a whimsical pantomime exchange she had with a Japanese friend who could not understand her broken Japanese.

“For reasons I don’t fully understand, I like wordless communication.  I love the feeling that comes when there is understanding – and even appreciation – without history, story.  There’s both anonymity and revelation, the opposite of what, in psychobabble is known as self-disclosure. The Japanese have a term for this kind of language”  ishin denshin (wordless, heart -to-heart communication).  It’s considered a profound kind of communication.”

The book is full of insights like that.  Bore holes into human nature, careful examinations of Japanese culture, insights into a way of life that fascinated and frustrated her.  And with each page you could just feel her learning, taking full advantage of each new situation to grow and extend her understanding of the human mind and its infinite complexities.

I was particularly fond of the way Cathy describes her ongoing grapple with the Japanese language.  She unflinchingly tells the learner’s tale and does not side-step her struggles. And of course it is language that holds the key to cultural insight.  Subtle shades of meaning, emphasis, formality vs. informality – so many secrets locked into thousands of years of tradition.  What is said and what is not said.  And so she perseveres, against all odds, determined to gain fluency. She learns to write kanji, she practices, she enrolls in an intensive language course at Duke, taught by a much younger, junior faculty member, and fails miserably.  In the ongoing struggle, I couldn’t help but glimpse the masonry behind Cathy’s bold 2003 strategy, as Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, to give all incoming Duke students a free iPod, sparking equal storms of creativity and criticism.

I found her frank revelations about how hard it is to fit in, particularly poignant. “Like most foreigners, I’m pretty good at adapting to a new situation (or I wouldn’t enjoy traveling in the first place) but I’m also a bit of a misfit (or I would never have wanted to leave home).”  She observes that, because she is an obvious foreigner there (a gaijin), she attracted people who like to negotiate cultural differences, who are interested in figuring out and crossing those chasms.  And yet, as Cathy puts it, “every friendship I make in Japan is grounded in the unalterable recognition that, however often I may return to Japan, I will always be going home.”

Though the east and west coasts of the United States hardly present the culture gap that Cathy experienced in Japan, I often have found myself thinking very much like her with regard to my love of both the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston….

“I like both places but I also find myself profoundly critical of aspects of both countries; which ever one I’m in, the other one runs like a counter argument in my head, in a way that always makes me, somehow, fidgety.  That’s the word.  My connection with Japan makes me always anxious for the place I’m not.”

Toward the end of the book, Cathy describes her stay at The Practice House, during a fourth trip to Japan.  The Practice House is a quasi-Victorian KWU residence, furnished in Western style.  The idea was that students could live in the Practice House for a few weeks to master the basic domestic skills and routines of a typical Western homemaker.  Cathy finds it a cheerless and disturbing place – not only the oddity of viewing our Western nature through a Japanese lens but the decor and furnishing of the house had halted somewhere in the mid-1960’s. The magazines, the books, the decor – all trapped in a pre-1970’s time warp.  What an odd thing that must have been – spelunking down into a recreated model of your culture’s recent past.  But in her own unique way, Cathy manages to spin the tale of her time in the Practice House and fill it with interesting observations, helping us – as her readers – to see right along with her.  I loved the notion of the Practice House and could almost paint a picture of it in my mind, right down to the yellowed index card, pinned on the wall next to the telephone that read, “Hello, this is the Practice House.  ______here.  Who would you like to speak to?”

The book’s title is a reference to a series of block prints by the artist Katsushika Hokusai’s, known as Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1826-33).

Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa

The Hokusai prints inspired other writers as well.  The American writer, Roger Zelazny, wrote 24 views of Mount Fuji, by Hokusai in 1985, a novella divided into 24 chapters, each one named after one of the prints, and each the setting for the chapter’s events as the protagonist tours the area surrounding Mt. Fuji.

Red Fuji

Cathy incorporates the prints into her book, with a small image opener on each of her book’s 16 chapters.  She uses the images as a metaphor for how difficult it was to convey a holistic picture of Japan with her book. The best she could do, she explains, was to give her perspective on Japan and Japanese culture, to record an account of her insights and experiences.  She could relate stories of personal encounters, describe scenery, capture exchanges but no matter how intimate and particular these stories were, none of them could ever presume to capture the whole.  So often, when we Americans travel, we’re encouraged upon our return to sum it up, provide a poignant image that tells the tale of our trip  or our favorite moment but, as Cathy says, it’s impossible to do.  “For me, ” says Cathy,”Hokusai’s way is more accurate.”



Filed under Learning

Learning in a Virtual World: Population Dynamics

Population Control: Past Policies and Future Challenges

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research (GFMER) offer courses to healthcare providers around the globe.  Often, their “students” are doctors, nurses, and other practitioners in remote locations with minimal support and limited time.  Consequently, many of their courses are offered online.  Once such course, Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Research is offered each year to over 150 healthcare workers all over the globe, as you can see in this map of their students’ base locations:

Map of GFMER course participants.

In their quest to innovate and offer the best possible learning solutions, Dr. Mario Meraldi, from WHO and Dr. Karim Abawa and Dr. Aldo Campana, from GFMER recently partnered with Dr. John Wiecha, from Boston University Medical School to offer one such course in an online 3D virtual world.  Participants from Ethiopia, Italy, Switzerland, France, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Kenya, Sudan, Afghanistan, and the U.S. came together as avatars for a learning event on Population Dynamics:  Past Policies and Future Challenges.  Those with spotty internet connections joined the event through a synchronous broadcast delivered via Livestream.

The event was one hour in length and took place on the WHO/BU island in the virtual world of Second Life.  Working with the session’s facilitator, Dr. Marloes Schoonheim (a GFMER demographer), we designed a learning space that led participants along a learning ramp, with stops along the way. Here you see an aerial view of the designed space, followed by a diagram showing the numbered learning stops:

The learning space, showing the ramp which bends around a mountain.

Learning stop map.

Dr. Schoonheim gathered the learners at each stop and talked through visuals or an experience designed to illustrate her particular point. In the following picture set, you first see a graph depicting world population growth estimates between 1950 and 2010, followed by a visualization of thousands of babies’ faces on a rotating cylinder to underscore her point.

World population growth 1950-2010.

A visualization effect for world population growth.

The instructional designers and producers for the session were:  Neil and Robin Heyden, Janalee Redmond, and Liz Dorland. We started with Dr. Schoonheim’s PowerPoint slides, which after some discussion, turned into a storyboard. Brainstorming as a team, we came up with ideas for the visual displays and effects. As we designed this learning space, we kept in mind the principles in the Open University article, Designing for Navigation and Wayfinding in 3D VirtualLearning Spaces, by Shailey Minocha and Christopher Hardy (2011). In their article, the authors make clear that the design of a learning space impacts the processing of information and the learner’s grasp of new concepts. For example, we made the route clear by adding a well-worn dirt path texture to the ramps, as seen here:

A clearly defined path.

Stacked, rotating photo cubes provided a good presenter perch.

Each stop was marked by a large visual (photograph, book cover, map, or graph).  The graphics were all created by designer and Photoshop expert, Kate Motter. Additional visuals were displayed on slowly rotating cubes, stacked at the stop.  In a playful touch, Dr. Schoonheim sat on the stacked cubes, to indicate where the learners’ attention should focus, as she gave her remarks. World maps reinforced the location of each case study. Dr. Schoonheim infused her comments with locational language (for example: “to your left”, “in the next gallery”, and “follow me up the ramp to the world map”) to help direct the avatars.

At the halfway point, we offered a short break with virtual snacks served on a platform, overlooking a stunning vista (complete with waterfall).  The learning ramp, bent around to deposit the participants back to the starting point, where they assembled in an open-air seating arrangement for a question-and-answer session.  The chat was lively with questions coming in from the Livestream audience, as well as the in-world learners.

Snack break, with a view.

With 19 avatars in Second Life and 40 viewers in the Livestream audience (many of whom watched in small groups, clustered around one computer), the event reached a significant audience.  In addition to managing the broadcast, Ariella Furman recorded the session so that others could later, asynchronously, review the session.

In our after-session-review we noted the following opportunities for improvement:

– Time between stops, while feeling like natural transitions to the avatars in Second Life, felt like dead air time to the Livestream audience.  In the future, we should design to fill those gaps, and keep our broadcast audience in mind, as well as the avatars.

– Highly visual elements, like the rotating photo cylinder, take a few minutes to rez for most viewers therefore sufficient time must be accounted for in order to achieve the desired effect.

– Rehearsal time was mandatory.  Our crew conducted three rehearsals – the first was a run through of the content with discussion amongst the team at each point.  The second was a technical rehearsal to test the video, livestream, and simulated effects.  The third was a dress rehearsal, conducted in real-time (without interruption), just as the live event would be.  With each rehearsal, the transitions smoothed and the problems lessened.

Marloes’ avatar.

– The facilitator’s comfort in the virtual world was an essential ingredient.  Though new to online virtual worlds, Dr. Schoonheim quickly took to the medium.  She invested many preparation hours in Second Life, getting used to the navigation and the “feel” of being in an avatar.  The avatar’s look was important to her. Liz Dorland helped her with hair, skin and clothes to match her real world appearance. We also gave her a speaker’s animation effect (pacing and gesturing), and added a notepad into her hand.

– It’s difficult to balance the positive impact of interactivity (fielding questions throughout the session) with the importance of keeping on track and sticking to the alloted time. Participants posed questions during the session which the producers acknowledged and queued up for the final question and answer session (given how impossible it is for the speaker to give their talk and monitor a flowing chat window simultaneously).  Marloes led an engaging discussion session in the last 10 minutes of the event by addressing those saved questions. In hindsight it might have worked well to have a second content expert, a sort of teaching assistant, to type answers to questions as they came up in local chat during the session. If the audience feels their questions are attended to, they will engage further.

All in all, the event went smoothly.  Here are additional photographs and here is an Economist article, on the topic of population dynamics and fertility rates that Marloes recommends for further information. Be sure to check back in a few weeks, when I will post Here is a montage video of the event, currently being created by Ariella Furman.


Filed under Virtual Worlds

The Jesus Game

The Wikipedia entry for "Jesus"

We had a bunch of teenaged boys in the house last night who introduced us to “The Jesus Game”.  For the uninitiated, this is a rousing online rendition of “seven degrees of separation”, where the player is challenged to get from some remote, randomly selected topic to “Jesus“, on Wikipedia, in the least number of clicks.

So, here’s how it works.  You navigate to Wikipedia.  I give you a random topic – say, discrete math.  You scan the article, looking for suitable links.  You strategize on your best shot, click, scan the new article for a relevant path, click, and so on. When you finally arrive at the Jesus entry, you’re done.  Then we go back to your browser’s history, count up the number of clicks between “discrete math” and “jesus”, and that’s your number.  Then it’s my turn. Hilarity ensues.

Here’s what I loved about watching these boys play the game last night:  first, they were completely intent.  Focused doesn’t describe it.  If the house had been on fire, I would have had trouble dragging them away.  But the other thing I loved was their conversation around the choices.  They were all looking over the players’ shoulder, making suggestions, shouting out advice, scanning the article for meaning.  Debating whether Catholicism or Protestantism would “get them to Jesus” faster.  OK, so it’s not deep learning, but it’s a darned interesting way to observe their minds at work. It was like game play narration (which I’ve blogged about earlier), they were narrating their thinking, sharing it with others, learing from each other as they carved a path and then, afterwards, reflecting on the their decisions (which paths led to traps, which were the most productive).  And here’s a really interesting thing – once a player made their way to a path previously blazed by an earlier player, they opted to not “cheat” (and mimic that path), but to look for an alternative.  One player announced, “No no, that would be too easy, I’ll look for something else.”

And to complete the metathinking circle, there is a wikipedia entry on The Jesus Game.


Filed under Teaching with Technology