I can’t really provide reviews for these books, I haven’t read most of them yet (they are just lying in my 10 year old amazon saved items queue), but I thought I’d share the list for future reference:
Some new Books on Teaching, Learning, Education, Faculty Development
- Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning – Tony Bates, check out his blog if you haven’t already: http://www.tonybates.ca
- Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education - a book Tony Bates mentioned in this post: why the professional development model is broken.
- See also this free e-book/pdf: Effective Practice in a Digital Age
- A Guide to Faculty Development
- See also this recent online faculty development course on developing blended learning courses: http://blended.online.ucf.edu/blendkit-course/
- And I’ve seen this faculty development book recommended as well: Teaching What You Don’t Know
- Academically Adrift – I probably don’t even need to mention this one, it’s gotten so much attention, but here is a recent discussion and summary of responses/criticisms of the book.
- The Formative Assessment Action Plan: Practical Steps to More Successful Teaching and Learning – formative assessment is one of the most effective things you can do to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning environments (see also work by Paul Black).
- See also this current discussion of challenges to formative assessment
- Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology – new edition (3rd) of this standard instructional design textbook
- Informed Design of Educational Technologies in Higher Education: Enhanced Learning and Teaching
- The Systems Thinking Playbook: Exercises to Stretch and Build Learning and Systems Thinking Capabilities
- Education and Technology: Key Issues and Debates
- Deconstructing Digital Natives: Young People, Technology, and the New Literacies - see also this recent post on net gen skeptic with more on how the digital natives / digital immigrants distinction is dead (or at least dying).
- The Challenge of Rethinking History Education: On Practices, Theories, and Policy
- The National Academies Press (which recently made all their books available in pdf form for free, including the How People Learn book and Engineering in K-12 Education), recently released some new education books:
- Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations - See also this just published journal article: The Learning Effects of Computer Simulations in Science Education
- Successful K-12 STEM Education:Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
- A Framework for K-12 Science Education
- Single-Case Design (pdf) – how to do research with a single class, from the Department of Education What Works group
Some of these aren’t out just yet
- HTML5 Canvas
- Core HTML5: Volume 1: Canvas
- Learning HTML5 Game Programming: A Hands-on Guide to Building Online Games Using Canvas, SVG, and WebGL
- HTML5 Cookbook
- Coredogs – some free online lessons/books on web development, drupal
New Books in Psychology, Technology, Design, Embodied Cognition
- Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science - see also this recent article The enactive approach: Theoretical sketches from cell to society
- The Primacy of Movement - Maxine Sheets-Johnstone
- Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average and related books such as The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us and The Age of American Unreason
- The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood – by James Gleick (author of Chaos)
- Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis
- Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
- The Third Teacher – exploring ways design can transform teaching
Since at least the invention of BASIC and Logo in the 1960s, people, such as Seymour Papert, have made an argument that anyone can and should learn to how to program, and even make their own software applications. The argument is that we should think of it as a new literacy, a 4th “R” of sorts – computational thinking, or multimedia authoring, or just simply, programming. For me, it’s about knowing more than just how to make a powerpoint presentation or a web page, for example, and learning how to make an interactive animation or game or simulation and so forth. I’ve blogged about it before (Programming: The New Literacy) and wrote a chapter on the topic (Toward a Nation of Educoders).
The most recent work in this area is a short book by Douglas Rushkoff titled Program or Be Programmed, and it was originally a short talk (here’s the video, along with a newer video made after the book).
So I went into the book expecting to agree with most of the points. I’ve only gotten through the beginning pages so far and I do agree with many points, but there are also some problematic ones, especially relating to Rushkoff’s ideas about education and learning (which is not the focus of the book), and philosophy of technology.
First here are some quotes from the early part of the book to get an idea, including some relating to education:
p.7 “When human beings acquired language, we learned not justhow to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just howto use programs but how to make them. In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead,you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed. Choose theformer, and you gain access to the control panel of civilization.”
p.8 “the people programmingthem take on an increasingly important role in shaping our world and how it works”
pp. 12-13 “The Axial Age invention of the twenty-two-letteralphabet did not lead to a society of literate Israelite readers,but a society of hearers, who would gather in the town squareto listen to the Torah scroll read to them by a rabbi. Yes, it wasbetter than being ignorant slaves, but it was a result far short ofthe medium’s real potential.Likewise, the invention of the printing press in theRenaissance led not to a society of writers but one of readers”
p. 13 “Computers and networks finally offer us the ability towrite. And we do write with them on our websites, blogs,and social networks. But the underlying capability of thecomputer era is actually programming—which almost none of us knows how to do.”
So far so good. Now on education:
p. 15 “elementary school boards adopt “laptop” curriculums lessbecause they believe that they’ll teach better than because they fear their students will miss out on something if theydon’t.”
This sounds like the same argument Larry Cuban made before (see this post), that schools only get educational technology and software to be “hip” and “with the times.”
The book seems to not be based on any research-guided understanding of how people learn. It’s very centered on a model of a disembodied brain controlling our behavior (see my previous post on embodied cognition), and he also seems to share Nicholas Carr’s assertion that technologies like Google are making us stupid:
“Our brains adapt to different situations.” “The outsourcing of our memory to machines expands the amount of data to which we have access, but degrades our brain’s own ability to remember things.”
A recent article surveyed numerous scholars and the majority of them thought Nicholas Carr was wrong – Google and similar tools are helping make us smarter.
He also completely buys into the digital natives vs. digital immigrants idea (refuted by many), including the idea that the brains of digital natives are “wired” differently:
p.32 “A brain learning on computers ends up wired differently than a brain learning on textbooks.”
Rushkoff argues that technology is a part of us and an extension of us, and yet he somehow simultaneously argues that we shouldn’t stay connected with technology:
p. 37 “She is already violating the first command by maintaining an “always on” relationship to her devices and networks.“
Rushkoff keeps mentioning the Torah and religion over and over again, and the role of technologies/media in shaping religion (sort of an extreme version of Eric Havelock’s Preface to Plato and others’ ideas I guess (like most of these types of books & journalism, there are little to no citations).
He is also probably of the belief that online education is inherently inferior to face to face education (which is not the case, see these meta-analyses and other potential misconceptions about learning and technology):
pp.41-42 “But those back-and-forth exchanges are occurring at a distance. They are better than nothing—particularly for people in unique situations—but they are not a replacement for real interaction.”
Basically, I’ve seen this type of book so many times I can’t count. It’s a book about some new X, from the perspective of some person who has never done X, doesn’t like X, or was born long before X. X might be video games, it might be open education, it might be embodied cognition, distance learning, educational technology, open access research and scholarship, web 2.0, etc.
I’m giving a talk at AECT in a couple of weeks on embodied cognition and education, as well as working on some related writings (and here are slides from my previous AERA talk on the subject). One related book I recently picked up is Embodied Cognition by Lawrence Shapiro. It’s a brand new book, and I’ve seen some positive reviews of it. It’s supposed to be a balanced perspective on embodied cognition research and theory.
But I flipped to the few pages on sensorimotor contingency theory (Noe, O’Regan), and Shapiro repeatedly says that a problem for the theory is that it can’t show that a brain in a vat doesn’t have sensory experiences (the “Argument from Envatment”).
I think even a 3 year old can tell you that a brain in a vat doesn’t have sensory experiences, no more than a head of lettuce.
This is a clear case of paradigm shifts. Shapiro is trying to talk about one paradigm from the perspective of another, older one (what he asserts is “standard cognitive science”). And according to Shapiro, it is the burden of the new paradigm to “distinguish itself” from the old one and “prove” itself. Take for example his assertion that “the burden that the sensorimotor theory of perception carries is to show that the brain alone is not constitutive of perceptual experience.” He most frequently cites work by Adams and Aizawa, who wrote a book critical of embodied cognition.
That’s not how paradigm shifts work (see Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions from 1962). We shift to a new paradigm when the old one starts sounding ridiculous (brains in vats), or when the new paradigm is more useful or more parsimonious, or more consistent in its framework and so forth.
Shapiro’s book takes the traditional point of view on cognition, and of a computer-like, disembodied brain (he himself calls this “standard cognitive science”), and analyzes embodied cognition theories from that viewpoint.
He keeps using the term “knowledge”, for example, as something in the head that has nothing to do with action or physical experience or the environment. For example a fully paralyzed person is only capable of having “knowledge”, not actually “doing” anything embodied. I think paralyzed people can still try to do things (phantom limb, etc.), and they know how to do things (not to mention they can actually still do many things such as move their eyes and so forth). You can call their attempted actions a mental simulation if you like, but FMR studies show that mental simulation activates the same brain regions as the real actions.
A colleague of mine, Dr. Qing Li of the University of Calgary, along with Dr. Xin Ma, just had an article published in the journal Educational Psychology Review titled A Meta-analysis of the Effects of Computer Technology on School Students’ Mathematics Learning. She found “statistically significant positive effects” which were ” greater when combined with a constructivist approach to teaching than with a traditional approach to teaching.”
I first came across Dr. Li’s work last year when she published an article in the British Journal of Educational Technology titled Instructional Design and Technology Grounded in Enactivism: A Paradigm Shift? (Word doc). She presented this past Monday at the 2010 AERA conference in a learning sciences SIG session on embodied cognition and enactivism. Her AERA paper as well as my presentation are at this site: http://embodiedcog.wikispaces.com/ Dr. Li is actually more known for her work on cyber-bullying. She has several papers on that topic.
Dr. Li and I are currently putting together a chapter proposal on applications of embodied cognition and enactivism to instructional technology for the forthcoming Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology. I’m also hoping to submit a proposal on engineering education for that handbook.
By the way, the person who chaired my AERA session, Dr. Alan Amory, also just had an interesting theoretical article published in the journal Interactive Learning Environments titled Instructivist ideology: education technology embracing the past? From the abstract: “It is argued that against the background of a neo-managerial and market-driven global education system, the production and use of technology to support teaching and learning perpetuates hegemonic behaviorist values….The analyses show that education technologies are often designed to support masculine hegemonic behaviorist instruction practices. As an extension, education technology is used in the classroom as the object of instruction to support fundamentalist values rather than a tool to mediate knowledge construction.”
Imagine if Jean Piaget, John Dewey, Maria Montessori, or Paulo Friere were tenure track education or psychology professors today. They would probably not get their work published in education and psychology research journals, despite being some of the most highly influential and innovative thinkers in education.
Even some contemporary people who are or have been highly influential in education largely do not publish their work in journals for the most part, including Kieran Egan, Howard Gardner (multiple intelligences), Seymour Papert, Larry Cuban, and so forth.
They primarily publish in books.
Part of the issue is that we keep research, theory, development, and practice in separate bins. Educational research journals rarely publish about theory or development or practice; Philosophy of education journals primarily publish articles about long deceased theorists; and teacher/practitioner journals and magazines rarely publish about research or theory.
If some of the above authors submitted their work to journals, they would be rejected for not having p values and effect sizes, or because they discuss new and innovative theories and practices without devoting enough attention to past philosophers or empirical findings.
Research, theory, development, and practice are not separate but equal things. Influencing and changing education for the better is not the result of any one of those in isolation. A common thread between them all is innovation. We are interested in new, innovative ideas and practices and developments to improve education, such as those created by Piaget, Dewey, Montessori… This is more of a concept from engineering or entrepreneurship than science or philosophy. One might adopt an engineering perspective on education (as Dewey did). If you compare today’s world outside of education to the world of 100 years ago, the starkest differences and advances are a result of engineering. We don’t use p values alone to judge improvement in automobiles or computers. We don’t have to cite Plato or Kant to better understand new medical technologies.
Of course engineers do research, engineers do discuss theory and philosophy (the fPET engineering & philosophy conference is this weekend), and engineering is inherently connected to development and practice. But too often educational research is disconnected from changing theory or practice, and educational philosophers don’t engage in innovative development or empirical research. The former becomes aimless and ineffectual; the latter becomes arm-chair theorizing disconnected to everyday practice. Practitioners, too, sometimes glom onto some new idea or technology that doesn’t have a basis in research or theory, or doesn’t really change or advance their practices (IWBs, or interactive whiteboards, may be a current example). Developers sometimes recreate activities based on outmoded and less effective ideas. That said, are K-12 and higher education teachers and developers supposed to read and apply educational research journal articles? I don’t think so, although there is evidence for a correlation (not a causal link): engineering instructors for example who follow educational research have better student learning outcomes, but they are a tiny minority, the exception. And it’s not entirely the responsibility of practitioners. It is our job as educational researchers, theorists, and developers to always be highly connected to innovation and making educational change happen, as were Dewey and so many others. At the very least, we should be striving to communicate our work publicly with others and allowing for public feedback and criticism from practitioners, theorists, developers, and so forth. Many more people read a magazine article or even a blog post or view a youtube video than read an educational journal article or attend a conference presentation. My AERA talk was attend by 20 people, but after posting it online over 200 people had viewed it within a few hours. A journal article, even an open access one, I would guess at most a few hundred read (and virtually zero practitioners), whereas an innovative new software tool or instrument or curriculum may be used by hundreds or thousands more, especially when given away for free with an open license. I and other edubloggers, #edchat’ers, youtube educators, and educoders know this phenomenon well. Salman Khan‘s instructional videos on youtube get more views than even all of MIT’s opencourseware courses combined. If you google ‘cognitive load theory’ you’ll get my post that is critical about it, even though I don’t do research on that topic myself, and despite decades of other published journal articles and books on the topic. Perhaps Dewey and Friere would have had blogs or twitter accounts or Youtube channels, like Larry Cuban, Roger Schank, Richard Hake and many other less well known but nevertheless influential educational innovators do today.
I had some thoughts for a new open educational journal last week, especially in light of the discontinuation of the Innovate journal. I even tested out Google Knol as a hosting platform. It allows for open peer review and more transparent interactions, plus it has zero costs and zero institutional obligations. Some medical journals are starting to use it for quicker research dissemination. Here is a fake google knol journal I created to test it out, feel free to play with it or contact me if you want moderator privileges.
Anyway, while I was conked out after a dental procedure this morning some education/edtech folks on twitter started discussing creating a new journal so I thought I’d share my own notes. Perhaps the anesthetics still haven’t worn off. My notes are here in a Google Doc that anyone can view and edit:
I welcome any feedback or thoughts. I do have some more notes & thoughts on procedural issues, like editor guidelines and decisions, author guidelines, etc. This best practices guidelines from DOAJ on creating new open access journals is very helpful.
I’ll be giving just one talk at AERA this year, and hosting a symposium session. Both are related to the applications of embodied cognition research and enactivism to education.
- Embodied and Enactive Approaches to Instruction: Implications and Innovations. SIG-Learning Sciences. Scheduled Time: Mon, May 3 – 2:15pm – 3:45pm Building/Room: Sheraton Denver / Governor’s Square 14.
- Discussant: James Paul Gee (Arizona State University)
Chair: Douglas L Holton (Utah State University)
Participant: Dor Abrahamson (University of California – Berkeley)
Participant: Mark Howison (University of California – Berkeley)
Participant: Robert Goldstone (Indiana University)
Participant: David Landy (University of Richmond)
Participant: Qing Li (University of Calgary)
Participant: David Birchfield (Arizona State University)
Participant: Mina Catherine Johnson-Glenberg (ASU)
- The purpose of this session is to explore the implications of enactivism and embodied cognition research for educational design and research, as well as share innovative instructional techniques and learning environments inspired by research on embodiment.
- Discussant: James Paul Gee (Arizona State University)
- Constructivism + Embodied Cognition = Enactivism: Theoretical and Practical Implications for Conceptual Change. SIG-Constructivist Theory, Research, and Practice. Scheduled Time: Sat, May 1 – 2:15pm – 3:45pm, Building/Room: Sheraton Denver / Plaza Court 3.
- Part of the symposium: Theoretical and Practical Frameworks for Understanding Learning
- The objective of this paper is to explore specific theoretical and practical implications of recent research on embodied cognition and enactivism for the design of effective learning environments, especially those targeting conceptual change. The ultimate goal is to illustrate how enactivism and embodiment meet the criteria that often defines scientific progress, and thus can help progress educational research and development and constructivist theory.
There often seems to be a tension between teachers and new technologies. It helps me to step back and think about technology more broadly. Almost 20 years ago I first ran across a book by Don Ihde, philosopher of technology, that still influences my views on the topic. In the book, Technics and Praxis, first published in 1979, Ihde noticed that technologies simultaneously amplify our capabilities (like a telescope extending how far we can see) and reduce our capabilities (a telescope also restricts the field of view). Ihde refers to this amplification/reduction structure as an invariant aspect of all human-technology experience.
So you can look at anything from the point of view of how is it constraining actions and capabilities, yet also amplifying them. That sounds a lot like what we do in education all the time. We are guiding students in ways that may subtly constrain their actions in some ways, yet expand their capabilities in others. Note this is different from a ‘transmission’ view of education, delivering ‘stuff’ (knowledge) to the students, who fill up with that knowledge. Instead, students evolve through education just like athletes get better through practice and training, or like how technologies evolve us as a society. The essential part of education isn’t the content, or stuff, being delivered. As Marshall McLuhan said, “Disregard the content and concentrate upon the effect.” “McLuhan describes the ‘content’ of a medium as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. This means that people tend to focus on the obvious, which is the content, to provide us valuable information, but in the process, we largely miss the structural changes in our affairs [actions/capabilites] that are introduced subtly, or over long periods of time.”1 What Ihde and later researchers might add is that by “concentrate upon the effect,” we are talking about the effect on actions. This is the idea of embodiment: there is no such thing as “knowledge which cannot be represented by actions.” “The content is the audience” (McLuhan).
Teaching is considered many things: a craft, an art, a science, a form of design, etc. It does involve that essential aspect of amplifying and constraining students’ experiences and abilities. Teaching can be viewed as a technology. There are other technologies which aren’t devices and are also just human practices or inventions. Language is a human invention that amplified our capabilities yet also adds new constraints. So technology does not always have to involve a “device” or “computer.” It has to involve constraining and amplifying actions and capabilities. One may argue this weakens or makes too broad the definition of technology, but it’s just one view, and most every term in education has multiple, different viewpoints or definitions.
Perhaps this point of view of looking at teaching as a form of technology would amplify certain aspects of teaching and teachers that have been ignored:
- It might focus people more on the original, complex and unique aspects of teaching that are not matched by computer technologies. The sensitivity to students’ non-verbal and emotional responses, for example, caring for students, etc. Computers are still so so far from ever replacing a real teacher, but that doesn’t mean they have no place in the classroom.
- Computers can be seen as just another technology in an already technology-rich educational experience, a gradual evolution of existing educational practices and technologies: an extension of the teacher, for example, or a replacement for the textbook, not a threat to teachers or a stark change to schooling. Teaching evolves too, with or without the aid of devices and computers. But many of the most popular “new fangled” technologies are merely gradual evolutions of the technologies and practices that have long been a part of schooling: netbooks instead of textbooks, smartboards instead of white boards or chalk boards, virtual field trips instead of or in addition to real field trips, etc.
- Ideally, teachers would be seen more as designers and engineers (as Dewey argued in 1922), and see themselves as engineers and designers (rather than victims of larger forces out of their control), and teachers would be respected more for the complexities and constraints they deal with everyday and the contributions to improving society they accomplish everyday, just like people in other fields. Teaching itself could also be viewed as something that is continually evolving and being refined:
“Herein, I reflect on Dewey’s notion of “education as engineering”. Considering the importance of the use of tools in education, I claim that education could, in one sense, be seen as an engineering science. Engineers are trained in design, especially in artifact design, and in understanding and improving complex systems. They should be trained to understand that humans are also part of the systems that they work with. Thus, approaches and knowledge from the perspective of engineering science and the philosophy of technology can contribute to the understanding and development of education.” (Bernhard, 2009)
- As Ihde argued, we tend to focus on how technologies amplify our capabilities, and ignore how they are simultaneously constraining them (although some look at only the constraints and not amplification). Focusing on both sides of the coin can give us a more balanced view of teaching and technology when considering the effects on students. Also, by focusing on the amplified/reduced actions and uses and effects of technologies rather than just the physical structure of technologies (devices or computers), we might discover better analogies and explanations for better understanding and using educational technologies. For example, Doug Johnson asked us to consider whether we’d make the same arguments for banning pencils from the classroom that we sometimes make for banning cell phones. See also the funny Adventures in Pencil Integration blog, with “one-to-one pencil to student units” and “slate-enhanced learning.”
Regardless, there is still much use and much room for evolving the discussion of our philosophies of teaching, technology, and learning in education. Philosophy of education, technology, and so forth aren’t a done deal that was settled decades or centuries ago. Theories, too, whether implicit or not, amplify certain aspects of how we view the world and constrain or hide other aspects, and they need to evolve as well.
Another item has been added to the debate between cognitive load theory, direct instruction, and worked examples on one side, and inquiry learning, problem-based learning, and game-based learning on the other (which I have covered before here and here). Wolfgang Schnotz and Christian Kürschner have published an article in Educational Psychology Review entitled “A Reconsideration of Cognitive Load Theory.” I’m afraid the full text is not available without a subscription at the moment. Schnotz looks at some of the anomalies and contradictions in cognitive load theory. Is more cognitive load good or bad for learning? Well it turns out sometimes it is good (germane) and sometimes not. When to tell which from which is one source of problems with cognitive load theory. There other articles also that are problematic for cognitive load theory and for the advocation of using pre-worked out examples over inquiry-based approaches. A few that come to mind include:
- Miller, C. S., Lehman, J. F. and Koedinger, K. R. (1999). Goals and Learning in Microworlds. Cognitive Science, 23, 305-336.
- D. Charney, L. Reder, and G. W. Kusbit, “Goal setting and procedure selection in acquiring computer skills:
A comparison of tutorials, problem solving and learner exploration,” Cognition and Instruction, vol. 7, no.
4, pp. 323–342, 1990.
- And recent work by John Black (AERA 2006, ICLS 2006), Richard Lowe, and myself (AERA 2007) that show that interactive or controllable animations and simulations, while requiring more “cognitive load,” are much more effective for learning than passive animations. Richard Lowe and Wolfgang Schnotz also have a book due out soon entitled Learning with Animation: Research Implications for Design.
I’m excited to be able to participate at a conference this October entitled: Cognition: Embodied, Embedded, Enactive, Extended. The title of my paper/talk is “Embodiment and the Learning Sciences: Taking the body seriously when designing learning environments and technologies.” Some well respected names in philosophy, AI, and embodied cognition will be keynoting/speaking there such as Andy Clark, Dan Hutto, and Marks Rowlands. Unfortunately there are no abstracts or papers for the conference available online, at least not yet, but a program is now available. Also, here again is a pdf list of readings related to embodied cognition and education.