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“In the world of educational technology, the future actually is what it used to be”

Following up on this post from Audrey Watters, Mark Palko writes:

I [Palko] have been arguing for a while that the broad outlines of our concept of the future were mostly established in the late 19th/early 20th Centuries and put in its current form in the Postwar Period. Here are a few more data points for the file.

“Books will soon be obsolete in schools” — Thomas Edison (1913)

“If, by a miracle of mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible, and so on, much that now requires personal instruction could be managed by print.” — Edward Thorndike (1912)

“The central and dominant aim of education by radio is to bring the world to the classroom, to make universally available the services of the finest teachers, the inspiration of the greatest leaders … and unfolding events which through the radio may come as a vibrant and challenging textbook of the air.” — Benjamin Darrow (1932)

“Will machines replace teachers? On the contrary, they are capital equipment to be used by teachers to save time and labor. In assigning certain mechanizable functions to machines, the teacher emerges in his proper role as an indispensable human being. He may teach more students than heretofore—this is probably inevitable if the world-wide demand for education is to be satisfied—but he will do so in fewer hours and with fewer burdensome chores. In return for his greater productivity he can ask society to improve his economic condition.” — B. F. Skinner (1958)

“I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks. …I should say that on the average we get about two percent efficiency out of schoolbooks as they are written today. The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of the motion picture… where it should be possible to obtain one hundred percent efficiency.” — Thomas Edison (1922)

“At our universities we will take the people who are the faculty leaders in research or in teaching. We are not going to ask them to give the same lectures over and over each year from their curriculum cards, finding themselves confronted with another roomful of people and asking themselves, ‘What was it I said last year?’ This is a routine which deadens the faculty member. We are going to select instead the people who are authorities on various subjects — the people who are most respected within their respective departments and fields. They will give their basic lecture course just once to a group of human beings, including both the experts of their own subject and bright children and adults without special training in their field. These lectures will be recorded as Southern Illinois University did my last lecture series of fifty-two hours in October 1960. They will make moving-picture footage of the lectures as well as hi-fi tape recording. Then the professors and and their faculty associates will listen to the recordings time and again” — R. Buckminster Fuller (1962)

“The machine itself, of course, does not teach. It simply brings the student into contact with the person who composed the material it presents. It is a laborsaving device because it can bring one programmer into contact with an indefinite number of students. This may suggest mass production, but the effect upon each student is surprisingly like that of a private tutor.” — B. F. Skinner (1958)

To pull up these quotes is not to argue that distance learning, video instruction, computer drills, etc., are bad ideas. I expect that all these innovations will become increasingly important in education. They’ll take work—for example, it would be great to have computer drills for intro statistics, but it only makes sense to do that if we can figure out what to drill on: I don’t see the value in students learning how to compute tail-area probabilities or whatever—but at some point this work will get done, and in the meantime we can use whatever crappy tools are available. I think Palko would agree with me on the potential value of these technologies.

No, the point of the quotes is that the conceptual framework was already here, a century ago. And if the ideas have been around for over 100 years but they’re just now getting implemented, what does that mean? I think this tells us that the devil is in the details etc., that the challenge is not just to say the phrases “flipped classroom,” “computer-aided instruction,” etc., but to really get them to work at scale. Again, I do think this will happen, and we should be realistic about the challenges.

P.S. Watters also has this amusing faq.

48 Comments

  1. Not surprising to many that concepts are not new, but intriguing anyway.

    I believe computational advances enabling easier and more effect simulation will change the teaching/learning of statistics (below). However, that does not mean it will be easy to grasp statistics and there are challenges we will likely over look.

    The ability to experiment with statistical methods in fake worlds where the underlying truth can be set and known makes it a new setting?

    In this setting, the study of the performance of statistical methods and especially what to make of them might be easier to grasp. It will enable some amount of do it yourself verification of statistical recommendations avoiding having to just take someone’s word for it.

    Far less mathematical training and skill will be required, just probability diagrams and repeated simulation.

    However, any real learning of something new is a painful struggle (there are likely biological reasons for that). One needs to develop an experimental attitude and persistent curiosity about how things really are. Devoting time to both defining more and more realistic like possible worlds. Using appropriate compositions of probability diagrams. Then gaining sufficient experience in these designed fake worlds where the truth is known.

    The challenge then becomes the application of that knowledge that in the real world where the truth is uncertain. That is transporting what is learned in the fake worlds to making sense of what is observed in this world.

    Further here – https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/08/05/somethings-do-not-seem-to-spread-easily-the-role-of-simulation-in-statistical-practice-and-perhaps-theory/

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      Keith said,
      “Far less mathematical training and skill will be required, just probability diagrams and repeated simulation.”

      I think this misses an important aspect of mathematical training: the very basic concept of the difference between conjecture and proof. Unfortunately, many students do not learn this — which says that the nature of mathematical training needs a lot of improvement: less calculation (much of which can now be done by computers) and more thinking.

      • I am worried there is something from math training they do need, but I not sure it is the difference between conjecture and proof.

        First, these days there is some agreement that diagrammatical reasoning can be made rigorous to provide proofs.

        However, it is easy to discern between what one might think a probability diagram suggests and what actually happens by persisting in simulating from it.

        For those who want to use statistics and adequately grasp what to make of results, versus develop or recommend statistical technics, I am not convinced they need much understanding of proofs. Perhaps not more than those who can do proofs correctly don’t need to persist in doing simulations.

        I would argue, they really need to understand induction and the only assurance there is in induction is that although you may always be mislead, with persistent inquiry one would eventually learn how you were mislead. Simulation being a truncation of deduction of properties of probability models is a good demonstration on induction.

  2. Dale Lehman says:

    These are very nice reminders that improving education is hard, and that technology appears not to achieve that (at least not the way we’ve used it). I do question your comment “to really get them to work at scale.” I suppose you mean by “scale” widespread adoption, but scale is a misleading term. I’ve always believed that education is an individual experience and that “scale” is often at odds with that. I find that the vast majority of students will have similar questions about a meaningful exercise – but the time they have the question, and the way I can help them address it, still varies with the individual. So, I believe it is difficult to scale education effectively, yet that is what education as a business is always trying to do. Could it be that the pursuit of scale, using these technologies, is the problem – the reason why they don’t revolutionize education?

    I’ve always adopted new technologies quickly – and I flipped my classroom 15 years ago. It saved me some time on lectures, since I have been able to reuse some of my pre-recorded material. But it has increased the time I spend with individual students. I pre-record my lectures and end up with multiple office hours assisting individual students as they work on problems. This does not “scale” well at all. I do believe it improves education, however (though that might be delusional on my part).

    • Michael J says:

      There really does seem like there’s a ton of heterogeneity in how people learn. Excellent and underrated point about how even though students may have the same question, they might come up with the question / be ready for the answer at different times.

      There’s definitely an individual component that is needed. I like video lectures better but find that the main value of a formal class is the curation of content and feedback via homeworks/exams and grading of them. I guess all of that could be automated too besides the grading part. So maybe the scaled vision of education is to have most things online and lots of TAs to basically be tutors / graders? There are a lot more people who could TA than design and teach a course so maybe that would scale effectively.

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      Dale said,
      “I’ve always believed that education is an individual experience and that “scale” is often at odds with that. I find that the vast majority of students will have similar questions about a meaningful exercise – but the time they have the question, and the way I can help them address it, still varies with the individual. So, I believe it is difficult to scale education effectively, yet that is what education as a business is always trying to do. Could it be that the pursuit of scale, using these technologies, is the problem – the reason why they don’t revolutionize education?”

      Very good point. Possibly a lot of work could accomplish a learning program that would “diagnose” the individual differences in learning and address them individually, but such a program would take a lot of work, and would need to be modeled on what good teachers do.

    • Ethan Bolker says:

      +1 for

      I’ve always believed that education is an individual experience and that “scale” is often at odds with that. I find that the vast majority of students will have similar questions about a meaningful exercise – but the time they have the question, and the way I can help them address it, still varies with the individual.

      I discovered long ago that explaining something N times to N students one at a time using essentially the same words each time is much more effective than the seemingly more efficient single lecture to the class.

      • Martha (Smith) says:

        Ethan said,
        “I discovered long ago that explaining something N times to N students one at a time using essentially the same words each time is much more effective than the seemingly more efficient single lecture to the class.”

        +1

  3. Addressing the challenge of getting techniques “to work at scale” requires knowing what it is that needs to scale. It’s not the content delivery. A lot of teaching is, for lack of a better term, psychological in nature — being a motivational speaker for students, a providing a routine of regular classes/assignments, giving the (true?) impression that a human cares about how they do in the course. It’s these things that are hard to scale. Of course, some students don’t need this — they work well under their own internal motivations — and in general we do these students a disservice by not acknowledging this possibility and allowing the students to demonstrate their understanding, move ahead, etc. But most students do require these psychological aids, and we haven’t figured out great ways to make this work, especially in online classes. (Mine, and many others, suffer from large dropout rates, dis-engagement, etc. The picture of this term isn’t a good one.)

    I’ve often thought that intro-level university classes should have all of their content in (already available) online lectures or books, with faculty serving as “coaches” (Elaborated here.) It would be more effective, more pleasant, less time-consuming, and more respectful of student autonomy.

    • My wife’s dept announced it would be 100% online. They have a 1 yr masters program, so no-one who applied/started was unaware of this. She’s found that lots of students have had difficulty with the quarantine because they’re working from their bedroom while others in a different room are doing something else, etc… but for the most part she’s found dramatically *more* engagement and effectiveness in the actual education. The students are more motivated than they ever were, and they’re asking questions actively etc.

      What this tells me is that most likely her program self-selected the people who really ought to be in a masters program in stem cell biology, and that in a normal year, a lot of the students should really go off and do something else… In normal years she has people who are in major trouble for plagiarism, don’t do the assignments and then beg for forgiveness in the last week, etc etc. This year for the most part, not that at all.

      Perhaps what can’t scale is the students themselves.

      • Chris Wilson says:

        +1. Higher education has become such a norm that it no longer means much. Lots of people are getting all kinds of degrees just to have it on paper. I hate to be elitist, but I think we would benefit from a less insane look at what it could and should mean to be a contributing member of society. I have seen more than my share of upper level undergraduates and even some graduate students with absolutely abysmal writing and quantitative skills. It’s not for everyone, and that should be more OK than it is!

        • Martha (Smith) says:

          Chris makes a lot of good points, but I think the important take-away should be that developing things like writing and quantitative skills is not well enough emphasized in our current educational system.

          • Brent Hutto says:

            A huge proportion of the non-privileged population of USA complete a K-12 “education” that doesn’t actually impart even the most rudimentary writing and quantitative skills (or even basic numeracy). Much less critical reasoning skills.

            So it’s quite rational for employers to require something beyond a 12th-grade diploma as a prerequisite.

            We might provide every child (almost) with an opportunity to sit still and shut up for six hours a day from ages 5-18 but unless their parents are fortunate enough to afford housing in a district with functioning schools, that’s all they get. If they need an education they will have to borrow a few tens of thousands of dollars and hope whoever they give it to actually is capable of imparted the necessary skills.

            Of course once the undergrad level becomes a de facto replacement for primary and secondary education it’s left to grad school to impart the sort of writing, numeracy and reasoning skills needed in the Knowledge Economy.

        • confused says:

          I don’t know that it’s elitist to say “you should be able to get a perfectly good job without a degree”.

          Right now many people are pushed into college who don’t really want to be there.

          The problem is degree inflation – you now need a master’s for jobs that used to need an undergraduate degree, now need a bachelor’s for jobs that used to not require college, etc.

          I am really not sure what the right approach to fixing that is, though.

      • @Daniel (and also Chris below): All good points. Many of my colleagues have also noted that upper level courses and graduate courses are generally going relatively well. (Definitely not uniformly, but on average.) As in your wife’s course, these are the ones with students who want to be there, and who know why they want to be there. This isn’t the case for a lot of lower-level undergrad courses. About plagiarism, the estimate for our on-line first-year undergrad physics exams currently is about *30%* of students are cheating, consistent w/ reports from other places — absolutely stunning. Again, this isn’t seen in upper-level courses.

        • I have an experience which is probably not the norm for people teaching in universities. I did a BS in mathematics, then worked in the finance industry for a few years, and then went back to do a second BS in Civil Engineering. I went to City College in SF for 2 semesters and a summer, then transferred to UC Davis to finish my BS. Then went to industry doing forensic engineering for a few years before starting my PhD.

          The result was that I was ~ 27 when I was taking freshman and sophomore level courses with 18 years olds in city college. What I saw was that city colleges were the place to be for anyone who wasn’t already extremely driven to study a particular topic already by age 18. And my friend who is in a PhD program at UCLA (at age almost 50) says he can identify the transfer students essentially on the first day of class for upper division classes.

          I personally think society is doing young people a HUGE disservice by sending them off to do expensive undergraduate educations on huge loans for 4 years, and then telling them “well now what do you want to do for your graduate work? because you can’t even get a job serving coffee with just an undergrad in sociology”

          at the same time costs of education to the student are skyrocketing, and some people are actually fleeing the US to avoid non-bankruptcy avoidable debt that grows infinitely until death through time due to capitalization of the interest.

          I’m not against people learning things, by any means, but I sure think the *business* of higher education is a scam that’s a net loss for society at the moment. Of course, it’s blended in with a bunch of good stuff too, and that’s part of how the scam operates. Most of the scammy part doesn’t have much to do with the professors or their teaching either.

          One reason I am such an advocate of UBI is I think we should transfer money to young people for their human development unconditionally, rather than on condition that they are willing to assume huge debts and get what rapidly become useless degrees. Right now you can consume a lot of goods and services through government subsidy *only* if you agree to sign up for the whole ridiculous package (including the lazy river at LSU, and all the football baloney at USC and soforth)

          The fact that people like Lori Laughlin paid $500k to cheat her daughter into USC is further evidence that something major is wrong with society and its relationship with higher education.

          Scaling the educational part is basically a secondary issue… it’s the society that’s the problem.

          • Joshua says:

            > I’m not against people learning things, by any means, but I sure think the *business* of higher education is a scam that’s a net loss for society at the moment.

            What do you mean by “scam” there?

            • Universities sell themselves as providing an essential service with broad societal benefits that needs to be consumed by everyone, with subsidies and guarantees of payment and that needs to be un-taxed as a legit 501c3 Enterprise… and then in fact sells mostly credentials and “sex for the students, parking for the faculty, and football for the alumni”

              Add to that Clark Kerr quote “unreproducible science for the media, lazy rivers, luxury dorms, and fancy gyms for the students, and plenty of debt for the finance industry to service”

              Saying one thing and doing another, it’s the essence of scamming

              • jim says:

                “with broad societal benefits that needs to be consumed by everyone,”

                Coincidentally, that sounds *just like* a certain party that’s often associated with universities! Weird, huh? Now this service is deemed so essential that it should be offered for free, which can’t help but please this party’s constituents in the higher education apparatus, where it will certainly mean higher salaries, more jobs and more power for the people that work in that machine.

                It’s weird how those two things go together.

              • jim says:

                But in the end, despite all the additional spending and benefits for various constituencies, the net benefit to society will be zero if not negative.

                The reality is that we need to scale back higher education and put that money into K-12.

        • Joshua says:

          > About plagiarism, the estimate for our on-line first-year undergrad physics exams currently is about *30%* of students are cheating, consistent w/ reports from other places — absolutely stunning.

          Once when I was working at a well-reputed school, well known in particular for it’s graduate education program, there started to be a lot of buzz about how it was necessary to begin focusing more on the high level of cheating among students. Many students reported that there was a lot of cheating going on, and that they were likely to cheat.

          So the school decided that they needed to beef up their detection of cheating and the enforcement of penalties for cheating. I was struck that at a school where many resources were devoted to the principles of education, there was very little discussion of what it meant that a high % of students thought that cheating on assignments or tests would be consistent with their reasons for attending a university. It was striking to me that many faculty at such a school didn’t prioritize addressing the reasons why many students prioritized getting good grades over actually learning the material

          • I don’t understand your comment. It’s obvious to faculty what the “reasons why many students prioritized getting good grades over actually learning the material” is, and this is often discussed: courses being perceived as a hoop to go through to get to some other stage, and more broadly education being largely about signaling and credentialism rather than learning. This is all apparent; the challenging part is what to do about it, especially at the level of individual faculty / courses.

            • Joshua says:

              > This is all apparent; the challenging part is what to do about it, especially at the level of individual faculty / courses.My point was that at least at that institution, there was very little discussion of what to do about it. Because what to do about it is extremely difficult – and no doubt requires a level of intervention that extends well back before students reach the university level.

              • Joshua says:

                Sorry – there’s something about this keyboard that causes comments to post prematurely:

                > This is all apparent; the challenging part is what to do about it, especially at the level of individual faculty / courses.

                Sure. My point was that at least at that institution, there was relatively little discussion of what to do about it. Sure, that was in part because what to do about it is extremely difficult – and no doubt requires a level of intervention that extends well back before students reach the university level.

                But one difficulty is that at the institutional level and for many individual faculty, there is also an inertia inclines people to accept the status quo as inevitable or immutable. Institutions could certainly do more to significantly change their operational educational paradigm. And teachers could take more risks. But in some ways the educational objectives can easily become a secondary field of play (particularly at the undergraduate level at schools where tuition drives the financial mechanisms) – as I’m sure that you’ve seen at any university that you worked at.

                So…

                > courses being perceived as a hoop to go through to get to some other stage, and more broadly education being largely about signaling and credentialism rather than learning. This is all apparent; the challenging part is what to do about it, especially at the level of individual faculty / courses.

                What do you see faculty or educational schools doing to change that status quo? One tendency is to focus responsibility on the students rather than the educational paradigm itself, which in a self-reinforcing way creates the students. Now again, a lot of the problem reaches out into society well beyond the confines of the schools themselves – but I’ve often seen a problematic dynamic in play where at lower levels of schooling, people say “Well, we have to prepare the students for the expectations placed upon them at higher levels,” and people at higher levels of learning say, “Well, what can we do with students who come in with a problematic conceptualization of their goals for attending the university.”

      • Michael J says:

        > What this tells me is that most likely her program self-selected the people who really ought to be in a masters program in stem cell biology, and that in a normal year, a lot of the students should really go off and do something else

        I’m not sure if I agree with that. Definitely plausible that people who were more interested in the class / didn’t mind online courses self-selected in. The part I question though is the second part – I would guess that those students who would struggle in a normal year also benefited from the degree at the end of the day. In terms of earnings and all that stuff, especially since employers don’t often look at grades.

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      Also very good points from Raghuveer.

  4. Brent Hutto says:

    The element of teaching that is both most important to the student and most taxing to the teacher is feedback. Not just right/wrong answer checking but feedback that is detailed, constructive and tailored to gradually enable the student to think at higher levels of abstraction while attending properly to the low-level details.

    That sort of feedback is devilishly hard to either automate or “scale”. And among the long-term teachers (particularly at the graduate level) I’m acquainted with, providing that feedback consumes an awful lot of energy and patience over the course of a career.

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      Brent’s points also describe the reality well.

    • Steve says:

      The problem of “feedback” could be overcome technologically if universities and schools were keeping systematic databases of questions, answers and feedback. Students have similar type confusions all the time. Imagine a database where a student makes a particular mistake and the database knows that 70% of the people making that mistake had the same type of confusion that could be resolved with a particular explanation. Someone still has to do the work to compile such data. And, no one has the economic incentive to do that kind of work.

  5. Martha (Smith) says:

    Andrew said,
    ” I think this tells us that the devil is in the details etc., that the challenge is not just to say the phrases “flipped classroom,” “computer-aided instruction,” etc., but to really get them to work at scale.”

    Amen

  6. Michael J says:

    Another problem with evolving education is how to assess it. The push and pull of professors implementing or not implementing some ideas is often based on some vague notion of “students respond better”. I think Andrew even has an article on this (can’t remember what to google to find it) – about how professors can be pretty rigorous in their scientific work but don’t apply that same standard to optimizing their teaching.

    It’s difficult to even define an endpoint too. To scale education and still maintain some degree of effectiveness there needs to be some measure of effectiveness to compare against. Test scores obviously have problems. Stuff like earnings upon graduation might be interesting but that would be such a noisy measure when the likely effect sizes are small. And then there are the more vague measures that we should also probably care about. Things like student happiness (which can take a variety of forms) or being inspired or socialization.

    • Dale Lehman says:

      You used the word that makes me cringe: “assess.” Pardon me if I react to how it has been used rather than how you meant it. But my own opinion is that formalized assessment has done more damage to education than anything else. Of course, we should assess what we do – and anybody who teaches and doesn’t constantly (re)assess everything is doing a poor job. However, virtually all the efforts to standardize assessment have missed the mark, in my opinion. We measure the wrong things, we measure badly, then we analyze it badly, and then we use it in the worst ways we can. As Dzhaughn below points out – the best teachers are often/usually those that are a bit eccentric. That was certainly true in my education. These days, assessment weeds them out and makes their lives difficult. Can we do assessment better? It is difficult, but I do think the process needs to be more subjective – we should rely on our colleagues to evaluate what each other does as instructors. This requires interaction, discussion, and risk of disagreement. From my experience, academics are particularly poor at these things.

      • Michael J says:

        Yeah I agree. I think my point was the same as yours – it’s really difficult to say what works and doesn’t work because measurement is difficult. But I do think it is worthwhile to think about what we would ideally like to education to do, measurement issues aside. Like what are the fundamental things we want out of a good education system? Is the degree conferred by a specific university useful because it improves earnings? Improves happiness? Life satisfaction? We need a sense of what we’re even trying to optimize over. I think a formal discussion of these things would be useful and it can be mostly qualitative. Without this structure you get things like professors thinking students just want what they (the professors) wanted as students. And they’re definitely not representative samples!

        • Martha (Smith) says:

          In some sense, I think that one of the most important things a good educational system should do is prepare students to be good citizens of the world — things like questioning their assumptions; considering evidence rather than just preconceived ideas; being able to adapt to changing circumstances.

      • anon e mouse says:

        +1
        And most good teachers I know think this as well. Standardizing everything is an attempt to get the worst-performing schools to perform better, but it absolutely sucks the life out of the best-performing schools, and doesn’t seem to be helping the worst-performing schools much either.

        Additionally, and I know you know this, but in post-secondary, except at community colleges and certain kinds of liberal arts schools, there are essentially no incentives to teach well. You might get punished if you are exceptionally bad — I know of someone who didn’t get tenure despite making it rain grant money, because he blew off his classes semi-often and was in general erratic and hostile and actively despised by many students. But at most places there seems to be absolutely no incentive to actually be better than mediocre at teaching unless you care about it. Fortunately, many academics do care!

  7. Andre says:

    Have you tried experimenting with freelancers online? This way, you don’t have to pay someone a salary. You can take their ideas without obligation to give them credit. If they don’t work really hard to satisfy your changing goalposts, or come up with ideas you can pass off as your own, you can accuse them of “not knowing their stuff,” fire them, and hire someone else. Good idea, no?

  8. Dzhaughn says:

    Oen could read this as saying the institutional story of scaling and uniformizing educational experience hasn’t changed in 100 years. And comment acerbically that it still doesn’t work very well, except for the institutions.

    Weren’t you inspired by a few teachers? And weren’t they a bit eccentric?

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      Dzhaugn said, “Weren’t you inspired by a few teachers? And weren’t they a bit eccentric?”

      I don’t think I was inspired by any teachers — but I do remember that there were some teachers whose teaching I really appreciated, and I think they did influence how I taught. Similarly, talking with colleagues has influenced my teaching. But I think in all these cases, it was a matter of comparing and contrasting, and emulating what seemed best, but also sometimes combining aspects of what I “stole”(borrowed?) from one person and aspects of what I “stole” (borrowed?) from another — but also sometimes just doing what made sense to me in a particular context, even if others didn’t do it.

  9. Mark Palko says:

    It just hit me that the conversation has advanced more since April than it has since the late 19th Century.

  10. David Paterno says:

    With an expansive appreciation of ‘technology’ one can readily acknowledge that books are the oldest, and likely most effective, forms of distance learning. The idea that ‘distance’ education is somehow new obscures this. Those beating the drum of replacing in-person instruction with telemediated (typically digital) forms of instruction appear to confuse this idea more than others.

  11. Somewhat relevant, this week’s article from our science teaching journal club:

    “Students’ use and perception of textbooks and online resources in introductory physics”
    https://journals.aps.org/prper/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020123

    It gets at the question of how students use things like online videos, compared to books. The student interview excerpts are informative.

  12. Dan Wright says:

    I think the education with technology field (and I am thinking of PK-12, not above) has at least two issues (plus that it is harder than Papert, Edison, Skinner, etc. might have thought).
    1. Much of the $$$ is being spent by (and given to) companies with little incentive (or a negative incentive) to evaluate if their products work. A better framework for conducted this research is necessary, and there are many possibilities. Here is one, influenced by Marr’s levels (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2018.00021/full).
    2. Another issue is that a lot of the research is done by people without adequate training in behavioral science methods. This means that at present much of this part of the education with technology research is behind, say what is being reported in psych journals (e.g., here are some concerns about the statistical methods used in some research https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2019.00147/full).

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