Monday, December 6, 2010
In principle, I am a champion of the Kings English, I own a number of style books grammars and writing guides. Not that my writing is perfect but I am optimistic that the fact of ownership will lead to a kind of osmosis of enlightenment if I keep these things hanging around.
However that’s not my point here.
I started thinking about nouns turning into verbs, and I started with a few simple examples.
I table a motion.
I chair a meeting.
I floor an opponent.
I wall up an opening.
I roof a cottage.
I pencil in a meeting date.
I pen my memoirs.
I paper a wall.
I dot my I’s
I cross my T’s.
I knife my opponent. (Mac the knife was playing on the radio this morning.)
I could go on, but the above examples will, I think, suffice. When we divide up and categorize words, just how real are our divisions, and how many words are there which wander into pens where they are not supposed to be? Educationally, we do a lot of boxing up knowledge and much of teaching is unwrapping these parcels and putting them back out into real life.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
All links are to the current version of The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Principal Editor: Edward N. Zalta URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/,The Metaphysics Research Lab Center for the Study of Language and Information Stanford University, Stanford Ca.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
This is really more a thought experiment than a practical suggestion but please walk with me for a bit on this. What if we use the student at the end of their course as the input for an expert system? i.e. we queried their knowledge over an extended period until we felt it was captured within a rule set and a data store.
Now imagine we have evaluated the students, and we now have a set of expert systems, all encoded from separate students impressions and connections built while taking part in the course.
Now how do we compare these expert systems to verify that they are close enough to a canonical system to qualify as being fair copies?
Would such a comparison, if it were possible, be a valid assessment?
Would it preclude the possibility that the student had gone beyond the teacher and built a more valid learning network?
What’s interesting here is, as ever, the implied spaces.
Matters arising: The first issue is can an expert system, given sufficient time and resources, successfully capture the sum of the knowledge acquired by the student. If it can’t, what is it going to miss and how can that be assessed?
The second question is assuming such a thing is possible, should all such systems resemble each other? If the topic is flying a plane, we would appreciate it if they were similar, and bore some passing resemblance to the Airbus peoples model of the actions of an ideal pilot, but if the subject is creative writing, its less clear that this method will work. Here I would claim that the implied space, the part of the learning which cannot be captured in a set of rules, is the real learning on the course. #PLENK2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
This is coming from a discusion of "Theory" in week four of PLENK2010
A theory is a simplified model of some real world phenomena which tries to encode previous experience with a view to guiding future action.
A really good theory will make wild improbable predictions which turn out to be true. Think things which glow in the dark and the photoelectric effect leading to H bombs here.
A fun theory starts with minute observations of some trivial inconsistency in conventional explanation and replaces it with a much grander structure.
Many theories will cover the facts, few give you a totaly new vision of the existing landscape.
I would sugest
The school of Barbianna
Foucault's analysis of power in the classroom
as examples of theories which do.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Bereiters Learning paradox as described above ignores two things.
1) The first is a fundamental principle of computer science, which is that once a computer language contains a few simple constructs it is possible to perform arbitrarily complex computations with it, given sufficient memory to store intermediate results,
2) The phenomena of emergent behavior whereby as systems get larger unexpected behaviors emerge (Conways game of life is an early example, as are many systems beloved of investigators in the field of Chaos theory.)
The word used to name conecitivism implies a vast preexisting web of potential knowledge onto which we sling our hammock of knowing. I think there is more to learning than that, and I like to think that there are processes at work which generate, in addition to a plethora of connections to existing knowledge sources and systems, new substrate in knowledge space through which we can “boldly go where no man has gone before”.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Roger Neilson blogging at http://didactylos.posterous.com/ has a nice post where he draws an analogy between a doctor using 150 year old tools and a teacher using 150 year old methods and by analogy asks why we don’t throw such teachers out on their ears. However I think the analogy is an unfair one.
In medicine there is a clear goal: cure the patient, and very solid evidence that technology helps.
In education the goal is misty (what’s an educated student?) and there is less evidence that technology is an essential tool.
First I'd like to draw an analogy not to medicine but to art, considering the proposition that as educators we are artists. Some artists use technology to very good effect, some don’t. Its not clear that the low tech artists are “ipso facto” doing a worse job. This analogy works at a lot of levels, but it still doesn’t quite capture what educators do. This brings me to my final analogy which is with actors.
Here in some sense the core performance remains the same, but the role of technology although subservient, is stronger. A theatre performance without stage lighting and other technology would be an arcane thing which would require extra artistic justification to validate it. Maybe that’s how we should view teachers who haven’t moved on.