Adaptive Learning + Tech > Matthew + LERs + more
The most exciting ideas in education, just for you
Hello from Fargo! 🪵🪓
This week, my nine-year-old came into the room and asked if I was “doing 40-ish stuff.” Why yes - I’m curating the most exciting people, projects, and ideas in the world of education as any typical 40-(ish)-year-old does.
So without further ado, here is your 40-ish roundup!
On Adaptive Learning
🎧 The World Bank’s EduTech podcast had a great episode on adaptive learning - creating a personal learning path for students. With examples from around the globe, it was a powerful argument that “just-in-time” learning is an effective method.
🚄 This 2019 article by Muralidharan, Singh, and Ganimian was pointed to as the most exciting research in the field of adaptive learning. They used randomized trials to show massive learning improvements in just 90 days for students in India.
The best part is the confidence of the authors. None of this “more research is needed” stuff we typically read. Instead:
…well-designed technology-aided instruction programs can sharply improve productivity in delivering education.
🏃 Reich’s great book, Failure to Disrupt, would wave the caution flag. 🟡
In it, he notes the power of the Matthew Effect afflicting EdTech. In short, those already succeeding gain more benefits, thus widening disparities. Or, as the Book of Matthew (where it takes its name) would say:
The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
🤖 But what if we add cheap, globally-accessible robots? Could we overcome the Matthew Effect?
A new generation of AI promises a new generation of adaptive learning that better adapts to individual differences identifies strengths and responds in richer, more flexible ways within problem-based, discovery-based, game-based activities https://t.co/WSaKaEA0OU @BakerEDMLab
— James Donald Goodell (@jgoodell2)
Feb 7, 2023
👀 Microsoft may have accidentally solved these challenges and unlocked adaptive learning for the masses.
On Tech Breaking Tech Barriers
🤝 Microsoft announced a new search engine that integrates AI chat. Here’s the demo.
Adaptive learning tools may look similar to the new Bing. AI can be trained on specific content (here’s how). Instructors or schools could train it on their curriculum. Then students could move through the curriculum at their own pace, following their own path. They can ask questions and find new information based on interest and needed information.
〰 Moving from a linear education to adaptive instruction is what I call Ed3. Think of it as a Wikipedia deep dive, clicking links and ending up on the history of Bavarian Kings even though you started searching for the boiling temperature of different oils.
💨 This user-directed learning is fun - heck, it’s a sub-genre on YouTube of Wikipedia races: https://youtube.com/shorts/W8zSVQnR1Tk?feature=share
🎯 If adaptive learning is as simple as a chat bot on any mobile device, we significantly lower the barrier to using adaptive learning. Maybe we unlock the Ed3 era. Hopefully, we live up to Steve Jobs’ vision of technology as a bicycle for the mind:
1981 Steve Jobs with the best analogy I’ve heard to understand what AI might do to humans: https://t.co/nFJ2rN5qwf
— Billy Oppenheimer (@bpoppenheimer)
Feb 8, 2023
🗺 One challenge in this new world is documenting what students learn. If everyone is going in their own direction, clear learning outcomes are needed. The solution is to create a knowledge tree with critical checkpoints. Then set students free. It’s the Civilization II knowledge tree in action. (Has there ever been a better video game?)
How, then, do you show what a student knows? Well, that’s the good old Learning and Employment Record, or LER.
🗄 Today, our credentials are still “pieces of paper” created by institutions, whether an immigration record, a driver’s license, or an education record.
In the Ed3 podcast and video, Colin Reynolds challenges us to rethink how we create and share credentials. A LER helps individuals show what they know, whether they learn it in school, on the job, on YouTube, or from friends. It’s a personal transcript that they own and control.
You can dive deeper into this week’s podcast and YouTube video. (He also gives some shout-outs to rural AM radio, which was my first job! 📻)
Colin’s not the only one working on LERs.
👷♂️ The IEEE has a working group developing recommended practices on creating and using LERs - “secretaried” by yours truly. All are welcome. Join the first Thursday of each month at 11am ET here.
💾 Ed 3.0 - Ed3 when .0’s were still cool - discusses credentials and LERs every other Thursday at the same time here. All are welcome.
🥷 The W3C has important standards and recommendations on the building blocks of LERs, like DIDs and Verifiable Credentials.
🔍 You’ll find other key primitives and solutions on this Ed3 blog post on the importance of creating real-world impact with this technology.
On the Curious and Fascinating
🦷 Bluetooth is named after a 10th century Danish viking king. Here’s the wild story:
Bluetooth is named after a one thousand year old Danish king with rotten teeth, and its logo is based on the Viking runes for his initials.
But that's all an accident - it was originally supposed to be called Personal Area Networking... https://t.co/on52CP5zQJ
— The Cultural Tutor (@culturaltutor)
Feb 8, 2023
🌧 1.4 billion+ people live in China, mostly in the Eastern half of the country. Why? A combination of topography, weather, history, and more:
We discussed India's 1.4B people earlier this week, but China also has 1.4B ppl
Is it a coincidence these 2 population giants are neighbors?
Why do most of its 1.4B ppl live east of the red line?
It's also due to an accident: https://t.co/golkgQCrPw
— Tomas Pueyo (@tomaspueyo)
Feb 9, 2023
Text of the week
Next week Serj Hunt is on the Ed3 Podcast.
I think a lot about digital spaces, so I went the other direction and asked him: how do we design physical space to improve learning? He did not disappoint with four specific recommendations 😅
I hope you enjoyed this week’s digest. Invite your friends to subscribe.
Have a great weekend doing whatever -ish you are! 🙌