Students learn better from books than screens

Today’s students see themselves as digital natives, the first generation to grow up surrounded by technology like smartphones, tablets and e-readers.

Teachers, parents and policymakers certainly acknowledge the growing influence of technology and have responded in kind. We’ve seen more investment in classroom technologies, with students now equipped with school-issued iPads and access to e-textbooks. In 2009, California passed a law requiring that all college textbooks be available in electronic form by 2020; in 2011, Florida lawmakers passed legislation requiring public schools to convert their textbooks to digital versions.

Given this trend, teachers, students, parents and policymakers might assume that students’ familiarity and preference for technology translates into better learning outcomes. But we’ve found that’s not necessarily true.

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Posted in ICT, Learning, Students | Tagged , ,

Digital media may be changing how you think

New study finds users focus on concrete details rather than the big picture.

Tablet and laptop users beware. Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, according to a new study. The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought.

The research tested the basic question: would processing the same information on a digital versus non-digital platform affect “construal levels”– the fundamental level of concreteness versus abstractness that people use in perceiving and interpreting behaviors, events and other informational stimuli.

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Read also: The rise of social reading

Posted in Digital media, Reading, Social reading | Tagged , ,

100 Education Hashtags for Teachers and EdLeaders

So you’ve decided to start developing your Personal Learning Network (PLN). You’ve created a Twitter account and started following all the key voices in education. Now how do you start getting involved on a deeper level? Hashtags.

When used properly, education hashtags can help you take part in important conversations and make valuable connections whether you’re a teacher, principal or superintendent. Some hashtags are genuinely helpful when you are trying to search for important things like #GOPDebate or #NationalCatDay, while some of them are #completelymadeupandridiculous, either on accident or on purpose.

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Posted in Education, Teachers, Twitter | Tagged , ,

Myths and Facts About Flipped Learning

The combination of rapidly-accumulating research on the effectiveness of active learning combined with improvements in technology has created an ideal environment for almost any instructor to move their courses from a traditional to a flipped model. Many articles on flipped learning contain misconceptions that can lead potential practitioners into error or away from using flipped learning entirely, to the detriment of their students and themselves. This article looks at some of the myths about flipped learning and provides contradictory facts about this pedagogical approach.

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Posted in Flipped classroom, Flipped learning | Tagged ,

Openness and Praxis: Exploring the Use of Open Educational Practices in Higher Education

Open educational practices (OEP) is a broad descriptor of practices that include the creation, use, and reuse of open educational resources (OER) as well as open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices. As compared with OER, there has been little empirical research on individual educators’ use of OEP for teaching in higher education. This research study addresses that gap, exploring the digital and pedagogical strategies of a diverse group of university educators, focusing on whether, why, and how they use OEP for teaching. The study was conducted at one Irish university; semi-structured interviews were carried out with educators across multiple disciplines. Only a minority of educators used OEP. Using constructivist grounded theory, a model of the concept “Using OEP for teaching” was constructed showing four dimensions shared by open educators: balancing privacy and openness, developing digital literacies, valuing social learning, and challenging traditional teaching role expectations. The use of OEP by educators is complex, personal, and contextual; it is also continually negotiated. These findings suggest that research-informed policies and collaborative and critical approaches to openness are required to support staff, students, and learning in an increasingly complex higher education environment.

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Posted in Higher education, Open education, Open Educational Practice | Tagged , ,

How Education Software is Being Designed to Hijack Children’s Brains

The Edu-tech Revolution has begun. At this very moment, new computer games and educational software are being developed to teach children academics one-to-one via computers. Following on the success of the hi-tech gaming industry, the goal is to use technology to transform schooling.

By merging education and entertainment technologies, advocates and investors of these products stress the potential for educating children faster, more effectively and less expensively than schools currently do. Unfortunately, there are a number of potential problems.

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Posted in Educational Software, Educational technology, Teaching, Technology | Tagged , , ,

Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games

In two previous articles (here and here), I summarized evidence countering the common fears about video games (that they are addictive and promote such maladies as social isolation, obesity, and violence). I also pointed there to evidence that the games may help children develop logical, literary, executive, and even social skills. Evidence has continued to mount, since then, concerning especially the cognitive benefits of such games.

The most recent issue of the American Journal of Play includes an article by researchers Adam Eichenbaum, Daphne Bavelier, and C. Shawn Green summarizing recent research demonstrating long-lasting positive effects of video games on basic mental processes–such as perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. Most of the research involves effects of action video games—that is, games that require players to move rapidly, keep track of many items at once, hold a good deal of information in their mind at once, and make split-second decisions. Many of the abilities tapped by such games are precisely those that psychologists consider to be the basic building blocks of intelligence.

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Posted in Cognition, Video games | Tagged ,

The spread of fake news by social bots

The massive spread of fake news has been identified as a major global risk and has been alleged to influence elections and threaten democracies. Communication, cognitive, social, and computer scientists are engaged in efforts to study the complex causes for the viral diffusion of digital misinformation and to develop solutions, while search and social media platforms are beginning to deploy countermeasures. However, to date, these efforts have been mainly informed by anecdotal evidence rather than systematic data. Here we analyze 14 million messages spreading 400 thousand claims on Twitter during and following the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and election. We find evidence that social bots play a key role in the spread of fake news. Accounts that actively spread misinformation are significantly more likely to be bots. Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users. Humans are vulnerable to this manipulation, retweeting bots who post false news. Successful sources of false and biased claims are heavily supported by social bots. These results suggest that curbing social bots may be an effective strategy for mitigating the spread of online misinformation.

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Posted in Fake news, Networks, Social network | Tagged , ,

Hipsters on Networks: How a Small Group of Individuals Can Lead to an Anti-Establishment Majority

The spread of opinions, memes, diseases, and “alternative facts” in a population depends both on the details of the spreading process and on the structure of the social and communication networks on which they spread. One feature that can change spreading dynamics substantially is heterogeneous behavior among different types of individuals in a social network. In this paper, we explore how \textit{anti-establishment} nodes (e.g., \textit{hipsters}) influence spreading dynamics of two competing products. We consider a model in which spreading follows a deterministic rule for updating node states in which an adjustable fraction pHip of the nodes in a network are hipsters, who always choose to adopt the product that they believe is the less popular of the two. The remaining nodes are conformists, who choose which product to adopt by considering only which products their immediate neighbors have adopted. We simulate our model on both synthetic and real networks, and we show that the hipsters have a major effect on the final fraction of people who adopt each product: even when only one of the two products exists at the beginning of the simulations, a very small fraction of hipsters in a network can still cause the other product to eventually become more popular. Our simulations also demonstrate that a time delay τ in the knowledge of the product distribution in a population has a large effect on the final distribution of product adoptions. Our simple model and analysis may help shed light on the road to success for anti-establishment choices in elections, as such success — and qualitative differences in final outcomes between competing products, political candidates, and so on — can arise rather generically from a small number of anti-establishment individuals and ordinary processes of social influence on normal individuals.

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Posted in Networks | Tagged

Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice

Cognition Beyond the Brain challenges neurocentrism by advocating a systemic view of cognition based on investigating how action shapes the experience of thinking. The systemic view steers between extended functionalism and enactivism by stressing how living beings connect bodies, technologies, language and culture. Since human thinking depends on a cultural ecology, people connect biologically-based powers with extended systems and, by so doing, they constitute cognitive systems that reach across the skin. Biological interpretation exploits extended functional systems.

Illustrating distributed cognition, one set of chapters focus on computer mediated trust, work at a construction site, judgment aggregation and crime scene investigation. Turning to how bodies manufacture skills, the remaining chapters focus on interactivity or sense-saturated coordination. The feeling of doing is crucial to solving maths problems, learning about X rays, finding an invoice number, or launching a warhead in a film. People both participate in extended systems and exert individual responsibility. Brains manufacture a now to which selves are anchored: people can act automatically or, at times, vary habits and choose to author actions. In ontogenesis, a systemic view permits rationality to be seen as gaining mastery over world-side resources. Much evidence and argument thus speaks for reconnecting the study of computation, interactivity and human artifice. Taken together, this can drive a networks revolution that gives due cognitive importance to the perceivable world that lies beyond the brain.

Cognition Beyond the Brain is a valuable reference for researchers, practitioners and graduate students within the fields of Computer Science, Psychology, Linguistics and Cognitive Science.

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Posted in Brain, Cognition, Computers | Tagged , ,