Education Evolutions #68

The future of books flickr photo by Johan Larsson shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Select Readings and Thoughts on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

No overarching theme this week. Back to the hodge-podge selection of articles this week. It was even a little trickier this week, as I discovered I hadn’t marked as many as I normally do. I chalk that up to the holiday and the fact that the school year’s close is nigh upon us. Things always get a little tense at the end of second semester and there are a few weeks where almost everything but suffers a bit in an effort to get to the final day. I am sure that many can relate to that.

If there were some kind of theme it might involve the questioning of what and how we know what we think we do, which I start to scratch a bit in response to the first item. It is an itch that has been absorbing a lot of my peripheral thinking recently. It is one of those things that I think as an educator should be a little more central to our everyday work than it probably is, actually.

The choice for “If you read only one article…” is completely up for grabs too this week. It kind of all depends on particular preference since they are all quite a bit different. They are also all pretty similar in length too, so reading all three is far less challenging than it is other weeks. So, give them all a look if you get a chance.

Have a good week as the curtain on this year has begun closing.

Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

Why Rich Kids Are So Good at the Marshmallow Test – The Atlantic –  Jessica Mccrory Calarco (8-minute read)

This is a fascinating read for a number of reasons. One, the marshmallow test has been held up as a keystone study in all kinds of ideas about child development. Two, while psychology may be in the midst of “replication crisis” referenced in this article, we all may be finding ourselves in a bit of an epistemological one. Three, standardized test scores have somehow become de facto metrics for anything involving children in this country even when they are as suspect as any test being more carefully scrutinized.

On some level, the marshmallow test is one of the most significant victories of public relations in our time. Since its publishing, it is one of the most repeatedly referenced and used studies around, especially in education. I can’t even count how many classes I have taken in my lifetime where it has been mentioned and practically considered gospel. Yet, these new efforts in the field of psychology force us to questions what we think we know which is almost always a good thing. While I haven’t read the new study, how are standardized tests, with their own deeply skewed results regarding class and wealth, considered by anyone as a valid metric in a study like this or almost any other for that matter?

How Technology Is Changing Visual Art – The New York Times –  The New York Time (6-minute read)

I love this series in The New York Times and have included other installments. I am definitely a sucker for the behind-the-scenes, how-things-are-made pieces, especially when they involve jobs or workflows that already interest me. The whole idea of asking professionals about the tech they use is interesting on its own and a clever concept by the Times to be sure. This one seems a much more organic instance than some of the others, as tech has always profoundly impacted art and how it is created.

One of the cooler things about this piece is how it manages to work on two levels, the specific and the general. I really like how using the development of the one story serves as background for the wider conversation about how Uong uses tech in his work on a daily basis. It provides genuine insight and the pictures used are fantastic in supporting the text of this article. I almost wish that they made short three or four minute videos that accompanied these stroies too. That would be even cooler.

Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018 – Pew Center for Research –  Monica Anderson and Jingjing Jiang (10-minute read)

With the latest findings from Pew arriving recently, this is an almost required entry in a newsletter like this. The findings are not as interesting as I might have liked. They are obviously different from the last major study Pew did with teens but there is not a lot of surprising information here. It seems like the biggest takeaway is that Facebook is not as big a deal with teens. Anyone that spends any significant time with teens would already probably know that. When it comes to platforms teens can be a fickle bunch and wholesale abandon one for another seemingly almost overnight.

Upon closer look, the things I found most interesting is the divide around Facebook in terms of class. Not long ago MySpace appealed to almost the same demographic that is the current strength for Facebook, and we all know how MaySpace endured. Different companies to be sure but interesting connection nonetheless. Also, I wonder what the exact questions were to elicit the responses because I am not sure how many teens think of “platforms” as such. Also, in my experience, teens can be remarkably good at compartmentalizing their tech usage. So, I am not altogether sure that a teen would mention or even think of their usage of YouTube essentially as a de facto search engine. If they were asked about searching, they would likely respond with Google. Yet, the number of kids that default to YouTube when looking for just about anything is pretty significant and I am not sure they think of that as “searching.”

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