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The phrase ‘online learning’ is alluring and misleading: the site of learning is the mind

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 May 2020

Farid Panjwani

 

A plethora of packages, platforms and information sources have flooded the Internet to help locked-down children learn from home and advise parents on how to help them. There is no going back on this trend.

 

With screens increasingly competing with face to face learning (and currently taking over from it), we can be sure that in the coming years students will be exposed to even larger swaths of information. Is this a good thing? Not necessarily. Without knowing how to swim, jumping into a bigger pool of water may bring more harm than good.  Unless we recognise that learning requires much more than the provision of hardware and software, resources and technical know-how, we are in the danger of confusing ‘process and substance’, as was noted by Ivan Illich. In this sense, the phrase ‘online learning’ is alluring but misleading. The site of learning is the mind. 

The freer pathway between students and information will mean that the triad of teacher-student-content will become heavily loaded on the axis of student and content. This will significantly transform relationships between teachers and students. The idea of teacher as (more…)

The home schooling quagmire: it’s about more than laptops

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 May 2020

Jennie Golding.

The move to ‘home schooling’ has, quite rightly, triggered a storm of commentaries about how the gap between the disadvantaged and the middle class will widen.

Last week the House of Commons Education Select Committee conducted a session on the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. Several MPs, particularly from more economically challenged northern constituencies, expressed their fears about inequity of access to education during school closures. The answer to many of their questions was ‘We don’t yet know’ – whether there is a correlation between pupils’ time studying and their socioeconomic position, how many disadvantaged learners are not eligible for free laptops – or when and how schools will re-open to more young people.

Committee chair Robert Halfon warned that the UK could be facing a ‘wave of educational poverty’ as a result of the lockdown – and of course there is a moral imperative to prioritise the needs of those who are already disadvantaged. However, emerging evidence suggests the picture is complex, and there are serious challenges across all social groups.

My own current research with primary schools and A Level providers has serendipitously (more…)

Education neuroscience: giving teachers smarter information – not just tomorrow but today

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 June 2018

Michael Thomas.
I could perhaps have been forgiven for viewing with some trepidation the invitation to address a gathering of artificial intelligence researchers at this week’s London Festival of Learning. At their last conference, they told me, they’d discussed my field – educational neuroscience – and come away sceptical.
They’d decided neuroscience was mainly good for dispelling myths – you know the kind of thing. Fish oil is the answer to all our problems. We all have different learning styles and should be taught accordingly. I’m not going to go into it again here, but if you want to know more you can visit my website.
The AI community sometimes sees education neuroscience mainly as a (more…)

The future is Super Intelligent, not Artificially Intelligent and education must respond

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 June 2018

Rose Luckin
I love teaching and I love learning and I hope that I will be doing both of these things for many years to come. I know that learning is something I need to do every day to keep myself up to date and to help me understand more and different concepts. As we live longer and with the knowledge that many future jobs do not yet exist, it seems pretty clear that we are all going to need to learn for much more of our lives than we currently do. Therefore, the demands on educators must surely be set for a huge increase?
However, before we feel too comfortable about the continuing demands for our profession’s expertise, we need to make sure that we are able to prepare our students (and ourselves) for a super intelligent world.
Super Intelligence is the result of blending the best of human intelligence and the best of artificial intelligence (AI) and it is what will increasingly drive our lives at work and at leisure. It’s a topic explored in my new book, to be launched at the London Festival of Learning, which starts tomorrow at the UCL Institute of Education. (more…)

The moving image: a new journal explores how young people watch it and create it

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 June 2018

Andrew Burn. 
The media arts, including film, are more important than ever before in the media-rich world of the twenty-first century. Just as we believe young people should be educated in the fine arts, music, literature and theatre, so they should be educated in these newer art forms, and learn to represent themselves and their world through film.
Governments around the world have universally seen education about film culture and heritage as a good thing. Yet little is invested in it either in funding or in curriculum time. Nevertheless, film educators have worked for many years to build on young people’s interest in this important medium, both by watching and analysing film and by making it, preparing the audiences and film-makers of the future.
Figure 4
Alongside this international effort, the research community has worked to understand how young people engage with the moving image, what new meanings they can make with it, how it fits with their wider cultural landscapes. Yet no international journal so far has represented this work, at least since the demise of the journal Screen Education in the 1980s.
Now, UCL IOE Press is launching the Film Education Journal. It will be a fresh (more…)

Educators: are you ready, willing and able to meet the ‘perfect storm’ of AI?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 April 2018

Rose Luckin
Today the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence launched their report with a question: AI in the UK:  ready, willing and able? Their answer is a classic cocktail of yes, but not really. We are certainly blessed with world leading artificial intelligence (AI) research teams and commercial innovators. That is without doubt, and these experts are ‘ready willing and able’ to drive the AI revolution in what we hope will be the ethically rigorous manner this report demands. However, it is everyone else beyond these experts, and in particular our education system, where there is much work to be done for us to be as ‘ready, willing and able’ as this report demands.
We are facing a perfect storm of big data, sophisticated AI algorithms and vast amounts of cheap computing power and storage. Much of this data is currently freely available and unregulated and many companies are making a great deal of money by using AI and computing power to process this data in ways that most of us know nothing about and without (more…)

A tale for today: how much is a free lunch at the 'Koob Café'?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 March 2018

Rose Luckin
Chris walked into a London cafe. It had a strange name: ‘Koob Cafe’, but Chris had been attracted by the sign over the door saying “Free Lunch here all day every day.” The cafe staff explained that all Chris had to do to enter the cafe and get a free lunch any day, was to press a small button on the cafe to agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the café, which was actually a bit like a club. Chris had no worries about doing this because copies of the rules and regulations were freely available in several volumes lined up at the side of the café counter, and the cafe staff, invited all their customers to browse any of these volumes at their leisure.
(more…)

Ofsted's use of Artificial Intelligence: how smart is it to automate risk assessments?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 February 2018

Melanie Ehren.
Ofsted has come under attack for its collaboration with the Behavioural Insights Team for using machine learning to identify failing schools. According to several sources (BBC and Matthew Reynolds), BIT has been trialling machine learning models that can crunch through publicly available data to help automate Ofsted’s decisions on whether a school is potentially performing inadequately. The algorithms use information on number of children on free school meals, how much teachers are paid, the number of teachers for each subject, and particular words and sentiments in reviews of schools submitted by parents on the Ofsted-run website Parent View.
As Ofsted’s head of risk assessment (Paul Moore) explains: (more…)

The sweet smell of success: how can we help educators develop a ‘nose’ for evidence they can use in the classroom?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 February 2018

Mutlu Cukurova and Rose Luckin
A good nose for what constitutes solid evidence: it’s something a scientist is lost without. This finely tuned ‘nose’ is not innate, it is the result of years of practice and learning. This practice and learning through constantly questioning and seeking evidence for decisions and beliefs is something that we academics apply equally to our teaching as to our research. However, recent headlines cast doubt on the belief that other practitioners are able to make good use of research. An article on the TES website argues that “Teacher involvement in research has no impact on pupils’ outcomes”. Can this really be true? If so, what can we do to ensure that the billions of pounds spent on educational research are made accessible to, and used by, our educators?
The realisation that this evidence-informed ‘nose’ is not necessarily shared by many of those involved in education, and in particular those involved in the design and use of technology for education, has also became starkly apparent to us through our development of a training course to help entrepreneurs and educators to understand research evidence. This enterprise is part of the EDUCATE project at the UCL Knowledge Lab.
One of our aims is (more…)

Slow down you move too fast, you got to make the meaning (sic) last

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 January 2018

‘Slow’ human intelligence must be valued more holistically if we are to really benefit from the power of AI, says Rose Luckin. 
The end of 2017 brought some worrying observations about the progress of Artificial Intelligence with respect to UK Education. It illustrated that many people are far too willing to equate speed and reduced cost with success. We are in danger of missing what really matters in education; in danger of missing the meaning of what education should about. This is dangerous for education and for the progress of learners and educators of all ages.
First came the publication of the first report from the Data Science Behavioural Insights Team (BIT); this stressed the value of speed. Second came the 19th evidence session of the House of Lords select committee on AI, which focused on AI and education.[1] This revealed the potential for machine learning AI to reduce the cost of delivering the current school curriculum, and at the same time reduce the value of human intelligence.
The BIT report marks the first anniversary of the data science team and is the demonstration of its raison d’être and the value of data science for policy. In the report, (more…)