Issue Number 270 November 30, 2019

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) and Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. Fourteen of the newsletters are available in Spanish. In addition, seven free books based on the newsletters are available.

Dave Moursund’s newly revised and updated book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), is now available in both English and Spanish (Moursund, 2018a, link; Moursund, 2018b, link). The unifying theme of the book is that the 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking is fundamental to empowering today’s students and their teachers throughout the K-12 curriculum. The first edition was published in December, 2016, and the second edition in August, 2018. The Spanish translation of the second edition, La Cuarta R, was published in September, 2018. The three books have now had a combined total of over 75,000 page-views and downloads. More than 16,000 of these are the Spanish edition.

Celebrating IAE’s 12th Birthday
with a Salute to IAE’s Free Books

David Moursund
Professor Emeritus, College of Education
University of Oregon

“Spoken words fly away, written words remain.” (Adage, unattributed.)

“Nothing gives an author so much pleasure as to find his works [read by and] respectfully quoted by other learned authors.” (Benjamin Franklin; American author, inventor, printer, statesman, and one of the founding fathers; 1706-1790.)

Information Age Education is now more than 12 years old, and is moving toward becoming a teenager. The first article IAE published was in its newly created IAE-pedia on August 1st of 2007. Since then, the IAE-pedia has had more than 10,600,000 page-views and has grown to include more than 290 individual articles. IAE also publishes the IAE Blog, IAE Newsletter, and a number of free online books. It total, the IAE publications have now had more than16 million page-views.

IAE’s Goals

IAE’s goal and purpose is summarized in its first IAE-pedia entry from August 1, 2007:

The IAE-pedia is a collection of documents designed to help improve informal and formal education. The target audience is people of all ages, located throughout the world.

The intact human brain is naturally curious, is always involved in processing data and is a lifelong learner. Each person knows how to learn and gets better at it through practice and through informal and formal education. Each person helps to teach himself or herself, and others. Thus, we are all lifelong learners and lifelong teachers.

Computer technology is bringing us powerful aids to learning, and to communicating and processing information. It is also bringing us a very rapid increase in the totality of information that one might want to learn and use.

At the same time, we face very challenging problems both individually and collectively. IAE believes that the most important of these problems concern preserving and improving the sustainability of life on our planet Earth.

These remain worthy goals, and I am pleased by IAE’s accomplishments during the past dozen years. I take pride in the IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog and IAE books that are available as free downloads. I also take pride in the fact that the entire IAE website is completely free of any paid advertising.

Writing My Books 

During my professional career, I have been the author, co-author, or editor of 74 books. Fifty of these are available free on the IAE website (Moursund, 2019, link).

I began writing my first book in 1965, a co-authored mathematics book that was published in 1967. During my early teaching career, I wrote books for fun, for profit, and to partially meet the requirements for promotion and tenure.

As my career progressed, I moved from being a mathematician into being a computer educator. As chair of the Computer Science Department at the University of Oregon, I facilitated the creation of both a Master’s Degree and a PhD Degree program in the field of Computers in Education. I created many new courses to support these specific programs, and wrote books for many of these courses. In addition, I began to do workshops in the field of computers in education. For a number of these workshops, I expanded the workshop content into short books.

Once I had achieved my position as a tenured full Professor at the University of Oregon, my writing was no longer driven by the promotion and tenure goals. However, the extra income certainly was helpful as my wife and I raised a family of four children.

I gradually came to understand that faculty members writing for their students and for similar students around the world are, in some sense, double dipping. The faculty members are paid for their teaching, research, and service activities. On top of this, they often receive royalty income from their published books. Thus, I began to donate part of the royalty income from my books to appropriate education-related organizations.

After retiring, I created Information Age Education in 2007, and decided to make all IAE materials available free online. The IAE website now offers well over a thousand free documents and approximately 70 free books that fall into four major categories:

The remainder of this newsletter provides brief introductions to three of my IAE-published free books, ones that I consider to be among the most important of my writings. They were written to help support the IAE goals of improving education for all people throughout the world.

The Fourth R by David Moursund

This is my most recent book, and the one that I am most proud of. It was first published in December, 2016, and then as a revised second edition in July, 2018. The book is now also available in Spanish, La Cuarta R. The three versions combined have had more than 75,000 downloads and page-views.

Perhaps the greatest challenge currently faced by our precollege education systems is to explore better ways of combining the capabilities and the powers of human brains and computer brains to make the best use of both. That is the primary focus of The Fourth R. The book explores the roles of computers in the 3 Rs of Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic (math) and introduces a 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking. Reasoning/Computational Thinking is the thought processes and activities involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions are represented in a form that can effectively be carried out by a combination of a human brain and a computer working together.

The 3 Rs of Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic in our schools today are each both disciplines of study and tools that are useful across all curriculum areas. In the early 1970s, when computers began to be widely available, Art Luehrmann and other computer-oriented educational leaders strongly recommended that all students should become computer literate (Moursund, 2016, link). The issue then, and continuing today, is one of determining what we want students to learn about the effective uses of computers in representing and solving problems across all disciplines of study.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” (Carl Rogers; American psychologist; 1902-1987.)

“Nothing could be more absurd than an experiment in which computers are placed in a classroom where nothing else is changed.” (Seymour Papert; South African/American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator; 1928-2016.)

Quoting from The Fourth R:

In terms of education, ponder the following question, “If a computer can solve or greatly help in solving a problem, answering a question, or accomplishing a task, what do we want students to learn about dealing with that type of problem, question, or task?”

You are aware that the same type of question can be applied to the tools developed during the Industrial Age. We have had well over two hundred years to answer this question for steam engines and subsequent inventions such as: trains and steamships; electrical power, telegraph and telephone; radio and television; gas powered and electric powered cars; airplanes and space shuttles; and worldwide trade and travel. All of these except space travel were developed before electronic digital computers first became available.

Many argue that our current PreK-12 educational systems are still best described as Industrial Age. But the world has moved on. The Information Age officially began in 1956, when the number of white-collar jobs in the United States first exceeded the number of blue-collar jobs. In the Information Age, a steadily increasing proportion of employment involves working with data, information, knowledge, and so on.

The 4th R–which includes all aspects of the discipline of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)–is both a major area of study in its own right and is a powerful change agent in each of the traditional 3 Rs.

The huge educational challenge will be to fully integrate ICT capabilities and uses into the teaching, learning, and use of the current 3 Rs. As students begin to learn the conventional 3 Rs starting in PreK or earlier, the 4th R comes into play. Their teachers need to be familiar with the appropriate roles of ICT throughout the PreK curriculum as well as in the everyday life of students outside of school. Curriculum content, instructional processes, and assessment all need to change to reflect students learning to make routine use of the 4th R in each of the first 3 Rs.

This challenge applies to teachers at all grade levels. We expect teachers at all levels and in all subject areas to have an appropriate level of reading, writing, and arithmetic knowledge and skills. By the time a person obtains teacher certification, that person has been studying and making use of reading, writing, and arithmetic for about 17 or 18 years of schooling (kindergarten through a bachelor’s or master’s degree). The task of bringing all current teachers and all new teachers up to this same level of 4th R knowledge is indeed daunting!

Improving Math Education by David Moursund

This 2014 short book, Improving Math Education, is the second-most popular book that I have written. It has had more than 300,000 page-views and is available at http://iae-pedia.org/Improving_Math_Education. This book explores various ideas about fully integrating computers into math education. Two other popular math education books I have written are Good Math Lesson Plans‏‎ (257,000 page-views) and Communicating in the Language of Mathematics‏‎ (209,000 page-views).

Over the years, I have written extensively about possible roles of computers in improving math education. Eleven of the 30 top-ranking entries in the IAE-pedia are about mathematics. Here is an excerpt from Improving Math Education:

This document is intended for all people who have an interest in improving our math education system. However, it is specifically targeted toward preservice and inservice teachers, and their teachers. So, when I say "you" in this document, I am talking to teachers, teachers of teachers, parents, and others who are committed to understanding some of the important ideas in this document and taking an active role in improving our math education system.

 …

The task of improving our math education system is so large that it will take they, we, and you working together to make significant progress. There is no “magic bullet” and no single approach that will accomplish what we want to accomplish.

The diagram from the book given below captures the essence of many different math problem-solving situations. Based on talking to hundreds of math teachers, I estimate that well over half of K-12 math education time is spent on step 3, a step that calculators and computers can perform rapidly and accurately.

Figure 1

The Improving Math Education book makes no attempt to teach specific math topics. Rather, it focuses on helping preservice and inservice math teachers to think about math education. For example, quoting again from the book:

  1. Can you do and use math at a level that meets your personal current needs and the current expectations you have for yourself? What about needs and expectations you believe you may have in the future? This is a question related to intrinsic motivation.
  2. Can you do and use math at a level that meets the current needs and expectations of various stakeholder groups such as parents, our schooling system, potential employers, politicians, our government, and so on? What about needs and expectations that they may have in the future? This is a question related to extrinsic motivation.

Brain Science for Educators and Parents by David Moursund

Brain Science for Educators and Parents, also published online in the IAE-pedia as Brain Science, began life as an IAE-pedia document of modest length. When it proved to be quite popular, I decided to expand it into a full-length book. The original article plus the full-length book have had well over 565,000 page-views. No other book that I have written comes near to approaching this level of popularity. Brain Science for Educators and Parents is available online at https://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund.html. The complete book also is available under the title Brain Science in the IAE-pedia at http://iae-pedia.org/Brain_Science.

In recent years, I often start my book chapters and articles with one or more quotations. I think these quotations help to lighten up the topic(s) I am covering. For example, Brain Science for Educators and Parents contains this quote from the Wizard of Oz:

“I could while away the hours

Conferrin’ with the flowers

Consultin’ with the rain

And my head I’d be scratchin’

While my thoughts were busy hatchin’

If I only had a brain.

I often wonder what there is about my “brain” book that has been attracting a hundred thousand viewers a year for the past four years. Perhaps you can decide for yourself, just based on the following Introduction that is quoted here from Brain Science for Educators and Parents:

This book provides an introduction to brain science that is designed specifically for preservice and inservice K-12 teachers, and for teachers of these teachers. However, parents, grandparents, childcare providers, and others who are interested in K-12 education will find the book useful.

Here are two important and unifying questions addressed throughout the book:

  1. What should preservice teachers, inservice K-12 teachers, and parents know about brain science?
  2. How should K-12 teachers be using their knowledge of brain science, both to improve their teaching and to help their students gain brain science knowledge appropriate to their current and growing cognitive development levels?

The goal of the book is to help you develop and understand answers that fit your needs as an educator and/or parent. If you have not read much about recent progress in brain science—and especially its applications in education—you might want to investigate some the documents and videos listed in the References and Resources section at the end of Chapter 1.

Each chapter focuses on a specific area of brain science in education. The grouping of topics into chapters—and indeed, the order of the chapters—is somewhat arbitrary. My suggestion is that you browse the Table of Contents and feel free to go directly to a topic that interests you. For example, dyslexia is one of a number of brain “disorders” discussed in Chapter 8. If you are specifically interested in dyslexia, you will find that the treatment of this topic in Chapter 8 is relatively independent of the content of the preceding chapters.

Each chapter is relatively self-contained, and ends with a section on References and Resources related to that chapter. While most of the items in References and Resources are specifically cited within the chapter, occasionally one will fall into the category of “additional suggested resources.” Most entries are followed by a brief statement designed to help the reader link the reference content to the chapter content. The book ends with a section on “Videos for Brain Science for Educators and Parents” that lists all of the videos referenced in the book, organized by the chapter in which they appeared.

People often compare computer capabilities with human brain capabilities. The discipline of Artificial Intelligence is well developed and had had amazing successes. But, currently our human brains have a broad range of capabilities that computer brains do not possess.

In some tasks, the computer “brain” is far more capable than a human brain. But, in many areas that we regard as central and vital to being truly human, computers (at this time) cannot begin to compete with humans. These areas include: consciousness and self-awareness; feelings such as empathy, love, hate, happiness, sadness; and understanding the full meaning of the words and other data being processed and communicated in human oral, written, and sign language.

Final Remarks

Our schools need to help students learn to understand that, while computers are becoming more powerful and thus getting smarter, this smartness (currently) has little or nothing to do with being a conscious, feeling, self-aware entity, a human being. Thus, computers and humans each bring different capabilities to their work of solving problems and accomplishing tasks. If you are a fan of science fiction, you undoubtedly have encountered quite intelligent robots, some even showing human emotions. These emotions may be portrayed as being evil and so the plot line becomes humans versus robots (computers). However, over the broad spectrum of current human intellectual capabilities, today’s computers have a very long way to go before they rise to or exceed the full range of human capabilities or can be considered in any sense to be either good or evil.

I believe that our schools need to move much more rapidly in providing students with an education that includes living with and working daily with a wide range of computers and computerized machines. (Computerized games and social networking are a modest part of the capabilities of today’s computers.) At the same time, we do not want to lose the human and humane aspects of education, the many benefits of people working together to solve problems, accomplish tasks, and better our world.

In the coming years, Information Age Education will continue to work toward its stated goal of helping to improve informal and formal education for people of all ages, located throughout the world. We hope that YOU, our readers, will continue to find the many and diverse IAE publications to be of assistance in working toward achieving this goal.

References and Resources

Moursund, D. (2019). David Moursund books. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 11/21/2019 from http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund_Books.

Moursund, D. (2018a). The fourth R (Second edition). Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 11/21/2019 from http://iae-pedia.org/The_Fourth_R_(Second_Edition). Download the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/307-the-fourth-r-second-edition.html. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/308-the-fourth-r-second-edition-1.html. See the Spanish edition, La cuarta R, below.

Moursund, D. (2018b). La cuarta R. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 11/21/2019 from http://iae-pedia.org/La_Cuarta_R_(Segunda_Edici%C3%B3n).

Moursund, D. (2016). Computer literacy in 1972. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 11/14/2019 from http://iae-pedia.org/Computer_Literacy_in_1972.

Moursund, D. (2015). Brain Science for Educators and Parents. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the free online Microsoft Word and PDF files at make hot https://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund.html. The book also is available under the title Brain Science in the IAE-pedia, retrieved 11/11/2019 from http://iae-pedia.org/Brain_Science.

Moursund, D. Improving Math Education (2014). Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 11/21/2019 from the IAE-pedia at http://iae-pedia.org/Improving_Math_Education.

Author

David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology (now published by ISTE as Empowered Learner). He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See http://iaepedia.org/David_Moursund_Books .

In 2007, Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE). IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and IAE books. See http://iaepedia.org/Main_Page#IAE_in_a_Nutshell . Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executive Officer of AGATE.

Email: moursund@uoregon.edu

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About Information Age Education, Inc.

Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities and free materials include the IAE-pedia at http://iae-pedia.org, a Website containing free books and articles at http://i-a-e.org/, a Blog at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html, and the free newsletter you are now reading. See all back issues of the Blog at http://iae-pedia.org/IAE_Blog and all back issues of the Newsletter at http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html.