Hole in the Wall Project: The wisdom already resides in the group

Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall Project makes a PC available (in a hole in a wall) to children, who respond by learning spontaneously.

    The observations indicate that these underprivileged children, without any planned instructional intervention, achieved a certain level of computer literacy. They were able to self-instruct and to obtain help from the environment when required. In the author’s opinion, this is a common phenomenon among urban children. Indeed, most urban parents who have made a computer available to their children tend to marvel at the speed with which their children are able to master (in the parent’s opinion) the “complexities” of computing. They often tend to wonder if their children are “gifted”.

The website for Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall Project.

Traditional Computer Based Learning (CBL) methods typically rely on one-way transmission of information. These methods are seen as extensions of classroom learning and thus viewed by children as restrictive. Consequently, results from such CBL initiatives have, at best, been mixed. In Contrast, Hole-in-the-wall Learning Stations seek to create a new paradigm in the learning process by providing unrestricted computer access to groups of children in an open playground setting. We believe that such an open setting will use child’s natural curiosity to stimulate learning.

Collaborative Learning – The learning station fosters collaborative learning among groups of children instead of following the usual school model of rote based learning (unidirectional). This allows children to explore, learn, share and learn even more as a result of this exchange of knowledge. This ‘multiplier effect’ of collaborative learning is utilized fully by HiWEL learning stations.

learningdynamics.jpg

Education, formal or informal, aims at imparting knowledge or skills. Formal educational settings are characterized by conventional and traditional institutionalized features, such as rigidity and fixed ways of planning, ordering and controlling, whereas, non-formal education refers to any organized educational activity outside the formal educational system.

The Minimally Invasive Education (MIE hereafter) occupies a distinctive and unique place in the educational learning system. MIE demonstrates a special case of the interplay of information technology (computers) and learning processes and emphasizes the role of self-directed and participatory learning. Establishing a new pedagogy, based upon continuous research, it indicates that it is adaptable and modifiable to both the formal and informal settings.

MIE, in the last few years has emerged as an educational method that is adaptable to demands of the situation and provides an alternative educational approach in contemporary times. It is likely to have far reaching results for developing nations, where achieving mass levels of literacy is of great concern.


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Natural Learning

Learning is a natural process. Nurturing a learnscape entails getting out of the way of discovery, conversation, collaboration, risk-taking, and mimicry.

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Meta-learning

Meta-Learning treats learning as a process.

Learning is a skill, like playing golf. The more you practice, the better your performance, but if golfers followed the pattern of business people learning, they would arrive for a match without ever having thought about the game or touched a club. Hence, meta-learning begins with raising awareness of learning, listening for feedback, praising advancement, and getting lots of practice. This is how one learns to learn.

Meta-learning also embraces a variety of conditions that interfere with the learning process, such as mismatch of the form of learning and the maturity of the learner. The commitment of the learner is involved, for without it the doors to the mind slam shut. People need the communication skills to participate in the knowledge economy. Stress and poor health are frequent obstacles to learning. All these factors and more are under the meta-learning umbrella.

Here is the entire chapter on Meta-Learning from Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance

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Meta-learning (learning about learning)

Meta-Learning treats learning as a process.
Learning is a skill, like playing golf. The more you practice, the better your performance, but if golfers followed the pattern of business people learning, they would arrive for a match without ever having thought about the game or touched a club. Hence, meta-learning begins with raising awareness of learning, listening for feedback, praising advancement, and getting lots of practice. This is how one learns to learn.
Meta-learning also embraces a variety of conditions that interfere with the learning process, such as mismatch of the form of learning and the maturity of the learner. The commitment of the learner is involved, for without it the doors to the mind slam shut. People need the communication skills to participate in the knowledge economy. Stress and poor health are frequent obstacles to learning. All these factors and more are under the meta-learning umbrella.

Here is the entire chapter on Meta-Learning from Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance

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Question

How many times did Steve drive past the green Volkswagen?

If you missed that angle, you may want to watch the video again:

The green Volkswagen is the informal learning in this clip.

It’s there, but you don’t see it if you aren’t looking for it.

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Steve McQueen on perception

Watch the chase scene. Then answer this question.

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Killing sacred cows

Donald Clark gives his reasons for why he feels these luminaries are misguided, obsolete, or just plain wrong:

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Dump lectures

10 reasons to dump lectures

Donald Clark says, “I give a lot of talks at conferences but always make it clear that this no way to deliver learning. Unfortunately people are addicted to the format. Why? It’s easy just to turn up and listen. It’s a lazy format for lazy learners. Also, I’m astonished at the number of people who turn up for conferences talks and take no notes. It’s is like turning up for a tennis match with no racquet.

This brings me to the one-hour format. Conference talks, lectures in universities, periods in schools and the ‘one-hour’ of e-learning pricing model, all of these fall foul of the deep addiction to the ‘hour of learning’ delivered as a lectures”

1. Babylonian hour: we only have hours because of the Babylonian base-60 number system. It has nothing to do with the psychology of learning.

2. Passive observers: lectures turn students into passive observers. Research shows that participation increases learning, yet few lecturers do this (Brophy & Good, 1986; Fisher & Berliner, 1985; Greenwood, Delquadri, & Hall, 1984).

3. Attention fall-off: our ability to retain information falls off badly after 10-20 minutes. The simple insertion of three ‘two-minute pauses’ led to a difference of two letter grades in a short and long-term recall test (1987, Winter).

4. Note-taking: lectures rely on note taking, yet note-taking is seldom taught, massively reducing their effectiveness (Saski, Swicegood, & Carter, 1983).

5. Disabilities: even slight disabilities in listening, language or motor skills make lectures ineffective, as it is difficult to focus, discriminate and note-take quickly enough in a lecture (Hughes & Suritsky, 1994).

6. One bite at cherry: if something is not understood on first exposure there’s no opportunity to pause, reflect of get clarification. This ‘one bite of the cherry’ approach to learning is against all that we know in the psychology of learning.

7. Cognitive overload: lecturers load up talks with too much detail leading to cognitive overload. In addition they often go ‘off on one’, with tangential material.

8. Tyranny of location: you have to go to a specific place to hear a lecture. This wastes huge amounts of time.

9. Tyranny of time: you have to turn up at a specific time to hear a lecture.

10. Poor presentation: many lecturers have neither the personality nor skills to hold the audience’s attention.

‘Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary. If your attention fails, and you miss a part of a lecture, it is lost; you cannot go back as you do upon a book’ Samuel Johnson

I am an unabashed fan of Donald. This is one of my favorites from his Plan B blog

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The Learning Habit

Another gem from Donald Clark

Habitual Learning

7 habits of highly effective learners

1. Stick with a new habit until it takes root. Habits fall away unless stuck to for some time and with some vigour.

2. Always take something to read or listen. Autonomous learners always have something in their pocket or bag in what Marc Auge calls Non-Places – trains, airports, planes, automobiles, hotel rooms etc.

3. Take notes. The best way to ensure that knowledge sticks is to write it up in your own words. Studies show between 20-30% increase in recall when you take notes.

4. Habitually encode. Habitual learners simplify and structure the stuff they want to remember in the right order.

5. Replay and recall. Effective learners voluntarily recall what they’ve learnt at intervals after the event. Recall that talk on the way home from the conference, recall your holiday on the plane back.

6. Customise habit forming feeds. Customise your home page to encourage your bountiful learning habits.

7. Kick-start new learning habits. Blog, subscribe to a new magazine, feeds from new sources, use a new tool on web – good learners are always adding learning habits to their repertoire.

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Plan B on Timing

Donald Clark is a brilliant, acerbic, contrarian, feisty, hilarious Scotsman who founded the UK’s largest eLearning firm, sold it, and retired to ruffle people’s feathers and hurl witticisms into the blogosphere. On his Plan B blog, Donald tells it like it is. He makes me laugh and learn.

Timing

1. Agricultural timetable
Schools, colleges and universities work to a pre-industrial, agricultural calendar, resulting in one long summer holiday (period of forgetting) and several other long holidays, all suited to the needs of (harvest and fruit-picking) and now timetabled holidays for teachers. Most educational buildings are therefore empty most of the time.

2. Hour of learning
One hour lectures and e-learning bought by ‘hour of learning’ metric. Yet there’s nothing in the psychology of learning that says this is right. We have hours simply because they’re easy to timetable. Even worse, consider the fact that we only have hours because the Babylonians had a base-60 number system. It’s a pathetic learning period.

3. Fixed length courses
In my kids’ school we have fluent, first-language French and Spanish speakers in French and Spanish GCSE courses for years on end! Many courses are too long, some too short, and of you want to go into further education in October, you’ll have to wait for nearly a year to start your course.

4. Tyranny of timed talk
Timetabled talks – lectures – are the mainstay of higher education. But having to sit and listen to someone (ofte a poor presenter) talk at you (for an hour) is hard going and educationally inefficient. The ‘chalk and talk’ model has being going on for so long that we’ve simply forgotten that it doesn’t wash.

5. No recording and distribution
Preventing learners from access to learning content when they want is criminal. Why don’t we record lectures to be reviewed when students want, and to allow them to stop, rewind, reflect, take notes etc? Novelists, journalists, movie makers, bloggers, wiki contributors and almost everyone else on the planet distribute material to be available to audiences – all, apart from learning professionals!

6. Course vacation
The timing of courses is often dislocated from the opportunity to put what you’ve learnt into practice. Induction courses that start weeks after you’ve joined, IT courses long before the software is available and so on. The time of a course is often not immediately before its practical application, introducing a period of forgetting or skills decay.

7. No spaced practice
The ‘sheep-dip’ experience, is standard in the vast majority of courses. It completely ignores the need for spaced-practice over time, denying reinforcement and retention. To be blunt – it simply means we forget most of what is taught on courses.

8. Attention and learning
Psychological attention is a necessary condition for most meaningful learning. By tying learning to specific times it is unlikely to be congruent with periods of optimal attention. Chinese schoolchildren have a nap after lunch to combat this problem. We heavily timetable ineffective, post-prandial periods of learning.

9. Time to attend
Courses and lectures demand ‘attendance’, thus wasting huge amounts of time, money and effort in just getting there. A ridiculous amount of time and money is spent on simply getting to the starting point and getting back – this can be up to 50% of a give training budget.

10. Time wasted
Within a course, people are always dropping out, cognitively. Classroom studies in the UK and US show that children spend as much as 50-60% just waiting on things to happen in fixed timetabled classrooms. Actual cognitive engagement and efficient learning, in classrooms, conferences and lecture halls, is surprisingly low.

In lectures, no one can hear you dream Studies suggest that learners attention, after a 2-3 minute settling down period at the very start, can be held for about 15-20 minutes Johnstone and Percival studied students with 12 lecturers in over 90 lectures. They spent 2-3 mins settling down, 10-18 minutes first lapses in attention after 10-18 minutes, then progressively shorter attention periods, dropping to 3-4 minutes towards end.
A later study, by Burns, matched student summaries with lecture content and found exactly the same thing , “As the lecture proceeded attention spans became shorter and often fell to three or four minutes towards the end of a standard lecture.” Highest recall was at the start with a fall off after 15-20 minutes.


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The silent spring of American education

If you enjoy a good rant and haven’t experienced John Taylor Gatto, you’re in for a treat. Gatto was an award-winning teacher before coming to believe that compulsory schooling is a sham foisted off on America for the needs of business, fear of a competent people, and a misreading of German mental science. His The Underground History of American Education is a gripping read — and it’s all available on the web. Gatto makes compelling arguments for dismantling our entire dysfunctional educational system.


Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be “re-formed.” It has political allies to guard its marches, that’s why reforms come and go without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.
David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel “learning disabled” and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, “special education” fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.


In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

Person John Ta
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Overview: Cognition

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Principles of informal learning

Click the poster to see its components.

Note that informal learning is a platform, not a program. It’s a way of thinking, not a set of rules.

Backing away, you’ll notice that every component is connected in a network. See what else you can find.

Background on informal learning:
Informal Learning page, particularly:

Articles

Informal Learning Blog.
Most recent 100 posts to Informal Learning Blog
Internet Time Wiki

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What’s wrong with this picture?

At the turn of the century, my vision of corporate learning put the learner at the center of resources that included the web, online learning activities, communities of practice, an intranet, and instructor-led training. My thinking has changed. Can you guess several ways I would re-draw the picture today?

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Un-learners

The Web empowers us all to share our insights and co-create knowledge with others. Living and learning are no longer spectator sports.

Learning has never been all or nothing; it’s always been a continuum from passive to active.

Until this point in history, those who controlled scarce resources (think: the king) were active; they instructed their subjects to be passive. Listen up! The voice of authority is one-way. Questioning authority was a learning experience: it taught what it feels like to be punished.

Learning is a result of engagement. TBC

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Learning = making good connections

Another Look at Learning, 2003


Networks are everywhere.

Our era could well be called The Age of Networks. Humanity is awakening to the realization that everything’s connected. If something’s not a node, it’s a connection. Each of us is enmeshed in social, communications, information, and neural networks. Furthermore, our bodies and brains are networks. Scientists are still conceptualizing the human protocol stack but they affirm that our personal neural intranets share a common topology with those of chimps and other aniamals. Maybe recognizing that people are more similar than different from, say, squirrels, will rid us of the silly notion that mind and body operate separately. Learning is a whole body experience.

For the most part, we are unaware of the firewall that filters the connections between our personal neural nets and the teeming mass of networks on the other side. Many people have failed to change the default settings their personal firewalls came with, even though the factory-installed settings haven’t been upgraded since 1 million B.C. Without changing our mental macro libraries, we continually snap into flee or fight mode. Being alert to minute movements is a survival skill on the savannah but not in the executive office.

The point of learning is to prosper within our chosen communities. Learning enables us to enjoy relationships and knowledge. Learning involves exploring new ground, making discoveries, and clearing paths that let us go deeper. To learn is to optimize one’s networks. Taking advantage of the double meaning of the word “network,” learning is making good connections.

Designers of learning environments can borrow tools and techniqes from network engineers. They would focus on such things as:

  • Improving signal/noise ratio
  • Installing fat pipes for backbone connections
  • Pruning worthless & dead material
  • Promoting standards for interoperability

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Learned helplessness

They are able because they think they are able. Virgil

In Learned Optimism, Marty Seligman describes how depressed people are their own worst enemy. They imagine the walls of the non-existent cell that holds them in.

Put a dog in a box with a transparent cover. The dog bumps his nose on the glass every time he tries to leap out of the box. He learns the box is inescapable. Remove the cover, and the dog remains trapped. He has learned that he can’t jump out of the box. Giving it a try will only bend his nose out of shape. Continue Reading »

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Learned Helplessness

When Dave Barry comes home, his two dogs beg to be let out to roam the neighborhood. He opens the door to the screen porch, and the dogs race to the screen door, panting with excitement, and sit until Dave opens the it, at which point they bound into the yard, deliriously happy. Continue Reading »

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The wisdom is in the group

Most of what we learn, we learn from one another.

Informal Learning described how a group of workers at HP taught themselves more about electrical engineering than more highly qualified students who learned from in the lecture halls, labs, and libraries of Stanford University.

Some have suggested that if you shipped half the entering freshmen at Stanford to some remote Holiday Inn complex in the Midwest, after four years they would know about as much as much as the folks who stayed in Palo Alto.

gatto

Brainwash
With the wisdom acquired in sixteen or more years

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Marcia Conner

www.marciaconner.com

site
Fast Company profile

Live Laugh Learn Lead

Creating a Learning Culture
Learn More Now

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Ellen Langer

We each have a choice: to live our lives mindfully or to live them mindlessly. Most of our limits are of our own making. Mindlessness is the human tendency to operate on autopilot, whether by stereotyping; performing mechanically, by rote; or simply not paying attention. Although exceedingly common, few people (unless they’re practicing Buddhists, perhaps) realize the extent to which they live mindlessly.

Uncertainty engages the mind.
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John Seely Brown

The Social Life of Information

Bio blog RSS site

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Ralph Koster

Ralph Koster

Bio, blog, RSSTheory of Fun

Here’s the presentation that kick-started the book.

Theory of Fun website

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Games & simulations

Clark Aldrich’s Style Guide for Serious Games and Simulations: A Free Online Textbook on the New Media and Language of Learning to Do, not just Learning to Know, is a brilliant compendium of advice, examples, and explanations

Virtual Leader Case Study: Fortune 100 company saves an extra day of work every week

Case Study: United States Military Academy – Self-Paced Practiceware Deployment Beats Traditional Approach

Ralph Koster

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Scientific rigor: The Baloney Detection Kit

How to draw boundaries between science and pseudoscience, or between useful metrics and pure hype. From Scientific American

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2. Does this source often make similar claims?
3. Have the claims been verified by another source?
4. How does the claim fit with what we know about how the world works?
5. Has anyone gone out of the way to disprove the claim, or has only supportive evidence been sought?
6. Does the preponderance of evidence point to the claimant’s conclusion or to a different one?
7. Is the claimant employing the accepted rules of reason and tools of research, or have these been abandoned in favor of others that lead to the desired conclusion?
8. Is the claimant providing an explanation for the observed phenomena or merely denying the existing explanation?
9. If the claimant proffers a new explanation, does it account for as many phenomena as the old explanation did?
10. Do the claimant’s personal beliefs and biases drive the conclusions, or vice versa?

“Clearly, there are no foolproof methods of detecting baloney or drawing the boundary between science and pseudoscience. Yet there is a solution: science deals in fuzzy fractions of certainties and uncertainties, where evolution and big bang cosmology may be assigned a 0.9 probability of being true, and creationism and UFOs a 0.1 probability of being true. In between are borderland claims: we might assign superstring theory a 0.7 and cryonics a 0.2. In all cases, we remain open-minded and flexible, willing to reconsider our assessments as new evidence arises. This is, undeniably, what makes science so fleeting and frustrating to many people; it is, at the same time, what makes science the most glorious product of the human mind.”

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