Right of the bat, I`m gonna start with quote Mimi Ito, ” I feel fortunate to have been trained by a brilliant group of educational ethnographers and cognitive scientists while these approaches began to be taken more seriously by the educational establishment.”
Cognitive scientists is the key word here!
I would LOVE to see a major work of scientific research done on cognitive mapping of children presented with computer learning and game learning. Getting images of the brain in action is becoming increasingly easy these days, and cognitive mapping has seen a large increase in popularity and uses over the last decade or so. My initial thoughts are that from a educational perspective, having solid evidence in form of MRI and FMRI images of a brain in a learning environment with and without digital aides could be incredibly usefull and give a true perspective on how our brain works while learning. I am very curious to look at the results of such a possible research and the conclusions it would show, does children use more or less of their cognitive abilities when faced with learning through gaming or not? Scientists out there, get to friggin work, make this happen asap so that I can quench my curiosity on the matter.
Further Ito mentions a research experiment concerning maths and the ability to put it to use in practical scenarios instead of abstract instances, using every day groceries as an example. The research she mentions concludes that people will have greater success of implementing maths in everyday scenarios instead of trivial calculations from a math book. To be honest, this is nothing new, and I`ll make a bold statement here; Everyone knows that “learn by doing” and using examples people can relate to always works better than random examples with little to no relation to those who are trying to solve it.
That is, everyone but those educational books you need for school ( at any level ). My personal experience is that those book used by the educational system are SHIT!. Yes, they provide everything you need to learn math, language etc etc, but they do it in such a bad and convoluted way, that it’s almost an embarrassment to the educational system. My feeling is that they literally shoot themselves in the foot by making educational tool so bad that it at times can have the opposite effect ( children with learning disabilities ).
It is almost as schools are afraid of using the tools at their disposal, talking here about computers and computer games and/or tablets. These are great tool if used properly. Yes they are expensive, and yes, schools are very poorly funded in comparison to what expectation we have to them. So its easy for me to sit here and say that schools need computer and tablets, and that they need to make them a part of their educational process. If it where up to me, then yes, schools would have these tools at their disposal, but sadly its up to the governments and their cohorts.
The discussion in chapter 4, on participatory learning and education, and how to survive the information overload that exists on the internet is following the thread left by Rheingold ( who they also mention in their discussion ). I have already written about this in an earlier blog post, so I wont bother to write about it in detail again, so I`ll just make a quick remark.
Participatory learning and education is worth its weight in gold, its is an unpolished gem that need way more attention than its given in educational settings today. And concerning the information overload and how to handle it; Tune your crap detector and browse with a bit of scepticism.
Danah Boyd talks about “who`s controlling the public narrative”, meaning the internet and how anyone can contribute. There is moderators on most if not all message boards and websites that offer ways of communication ( twitter, instagram, youtube, etc ). There has to be, to prevent the publishing and sharing of illegal items that would see the website shut down. She also mentions how politicians and activists celebrate getting a number of followers, and how random unknown teen can get millions of view and shares for posting sexual or grotesque content. This is the “silent majority” at work. The unheard millions of internet consumers that don’t have an activist or political agenda, and who are more than likely more interested in viewing and possibly sharing a graphic image or video than doing the same with a political message.
The silent majority I would say, consists of 70-80% of the world’s population, it is those who have an opinion, but chooses not to share it. The remaining 20-30% are those that are vocal, those that makes themselves seen and heard, both online and in general. Out of those you have the 5% that are the extremists, those who not only are incredibly vocal, but also aggressively active in a certain area. I’m here talking about the far right/left politicians, the religious extremists, the misogynist and femnaziz. Those who are really putting themselves out there.
The silent majority are those who agree with a lot, but never all of that wich is broadcasted by the those who are most vocal. I can use myself as an example here; I am all for the feminist agenda, and the LGBT rights movement. But you will never find me at a rally for anyone of them, or see me posting or sharing anything related to this. I personally find that like me, most people to some degree agree with me. Of course women should have equal right, equal pay and equal educational and political possibilities, and of course members of the LGBT community should NOT be persecuted or discriminated against. Most of us agree with this, but since we are the silent majority, you`ll not know this unless you ask.
The issue here is that those who are most vocal on these subjects, are to extreme, and they are pushing people away from their agenda by being to aggressive and to far left/right.
Major digression from the topic here, sorry for that, but I feel that it is truly important that people understand and know of the term Silent majority, and what that entails.
So, back to point. Boyd writes a paragraph on the subject of people not knowing how or why algorithm work. The answer to this is quite simple, so simple in fact, that most academics do not see it as an answer. Can you guess it?
Answer: PEOPLE DONT CARE!
Most people don’t give a shit, really, they could not care less how google makes their search algorithms work, or how Facebook generates the information on your wall. “Dont know, dont care”. It is that simple, there is no nothing more to it. If it works, it works, why give it a second thought.
She also states that information is power, I disagree. information is useless if you do not know how to use it. Information is nothing without the tools to employ it. Therefor the quote should read “Knowledge is power”. This is more true, because it implies that you have the knowledge to use information, and when you can use information correctly, you have power. Perhaps a bit harsh to critique this, but she writes an academic text, and she should be aware of this, and not mistake information for knowledge. Knowledge is information, but information is not knowledge.
I’m realising now that I`ve only read the first 9 pages, and that I`m probably gonna write and rant on for pages and pages if Im gonna continue like this. So Im gonna end my blog post here, and save the rest of my thoughts for my class, so that we can have a fruitful discussion there aswell.
As always, feel free to leave comments if you have any.