IAE Blog

Information Age Education (IAE) is an Oregon not-for-profit corporation founded by David Moursund in August 2007. The IAE Blog was started in August 2010.

Should We Use Digital Technology to 'Drill' Children?

This is a Guest IAE Blog entry by Cathie Norris and Eliot Soloway.

Introduction by David Moursund

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Attacking “Big” Problems Part 2: Bottom-up Approaches

The previous IAE Blog entry explored top-down approaches to attacking big problems. It illustrated this with the Apollo moon project and the War on Cancer. Both involved large amounts of funding distributed through a central source and coordinated in a top-down manner.

This blog entry considers the use of technology to attack some big problems by using a bottom-up or combined bottom-up and top-down approach. It focuses on improving education.

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Attacking “Big” Problems Part 1: Top-Down Approaches

Jason Pontin is the editor-in-chief and publisher of MIT Technology Review. His 2014 TED Talk is titled: Can technology solve our big problems? (10/4/2014). Examples of really big problems include: global warming; an increasing shortage of fresh water; sustainability; worldwide poverty, hunger, disease, and education; and war and terrorism.

Here is Pontin’s summary of four conditions that he argues must all be present if technology is going to help solve really big problems in a top-down manner:

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Two Ancient/Modern Educational Problems

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." (Socrates; Greek philosopher; circa 469 BC-399 BC.)

"If you want to make enemies, try to change something." (Thomas Woodrow Wilson; 28th President of the United States; 1856-1924.)

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Are High Schools Seriously Misleading Our Students? Update

I have been writing about education and computers in education for a very long time. Some of what I have written may now be of historical value, and quite a bit of that is available free on the Web.

From time to time, when I am in a reminiscing mood, I read some of my old articles, editorials, and blog entries. I reflect on what has changed in the ensuing years.

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High School Mathematics Standards

James T. Fey (Jim Fey) is a national leader in math education. I first got to know him more than 30 years ago through his research and development work on use of computers in elementary school mathematics. There he explored how computers can be used to make significant changes in the math curriculum.

As an example, think about the math knowledge and skills in decimal arithmetic, percentages, angles, and the use of a protractor and compass needed to create pie charts. A couple of years before students acquire such knowledge and skills in the traditional grade school curriculum, they can create and use pie charts with the help of computers. The key idea is that they can make use of their vision abilities (their “mind’s eye”) in understanding pie charts, and creating them on a computer, before they have developed the math knowledge and skills to create them using “by hand” methods. Jim Fey referred to this specific visual math approach to curriculum change as an inverted curriculum.

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Quality of Life: Working Toward a Better Future

The Winter Solstice has just passed, and the days are getting longer on the Oregon coast where I live. I wish the best for all of my readers during the coming years. Rather than just saying, “I wish you a Happy New Year,” I am instead broadening this wish so that it applies to a much larger audience and a longer time period. I wish an improving Quality of Life (QoL) to all creatures on earth for which such a wish might be appropriate.

I think about QoL in a rather broad manner. Thus, I am concerned with:

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Declining Law School Enrollments

Law School enrollments have declined sharply in the past few years. I find it interesting to compare this decline in enrollment with the increase in enrollment in the Computer and Information Sciences.

Declines and Increases

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Tests Scores Are Being Far Over-Hyped

Education is a complex, multifaceted endeavor. We each have our own insights into what constitutes a good education. We realize that a good education comes from home, acquaintances, church, neighborhood, community, schools, online courses, the media, aids to entertainment, and so on.

We each have our own stories to tell about our own education and the education of people we know. We each know people whose quality of life is relatively independent of how well they did in school. For the great majority of people, how well they scored on the “high stakes” state and national tests turns out to be of modest consequence in their lives.

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Big Data: A New Facet of Science Research

All of the sciences make use of theoretical, experimental, and computational approaches as they work to advance their frontiers. This IAE Blog entry discusses a fourth approach that is now becoming quite important. It is based on analyzing huge sets of data (Big Data) that are gathered through the use of computerized data acquisition devices. Quoting from the Wikipedia:

Big data is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process them using traditional data processing applications.

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