Crowdsourcing to Improve Education
- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed; it's the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist, 1901-1978.)
- "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." (Benjamin Franklin; American scientist, inventor statesman, printer, philosopher; 1706–1790.)
This Wiki Page is an experiment in crowdsourcing to help solve a very challenging problem. Crowdsourcing is the idea of getting a large crowd of people working to help solve a challenging problem or accomplish a challenging task.
The Internet makes it possible for large number of people to share their ideas with others. This idea of a large number of people working together through the Internet has come to be called crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a meme. A meme is an idea that is replicated by passing from person to person.
Here are a few examples of memes:
- All children deserve a free, high quality education.
- All people need to be lifelong learners.
- Learning empowers learners.
If you want to read some examples of this type of thinking written by David Moursund, see Education for Increasing Expertise, Minimalism in Education, Substantially Improving Education, and Improving Math Education.
Some Ways You Can Contribute
- Help other people learn about crowdsourcing and get them involved in sharing ideas about improving education. Remember, crowdsourcing is a meme —an idea that can readily spread from person to person.
- Share your personal ideas directly via email to David Moursund: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Add a section to this Wiki Page. It can be your personal ideas on ways to improve education, good references to other people's ideas, comments on ideas on this Wiki Page, and so on.
Template and Instructions
To add to or edit this Wiki Page, you must be logged in. Click here for help in accomplishing this task and to learn a little bit about contributing to a Wiki.
Examples of entries are given below. Please imitate the general style used in the examples. Each entry begins with a Section Heading with a == on each end. The heading contains your name or your screen name, and the date.
The most recent entry should be placed at the bottom of the list of entries. Be sure to click on the Save Page button near the bottom of the Page when you have finished.
Contribution of Barack Obama's Ideas 12/24/2008
eSchool News (12/24/2008). President-elect Barack Obama's historic victory signals a shift in federal ed-tech policy. retrieved 1/6/2009: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=56533 eSchool News. Quoting from the article:
- "Without a workforce trained in math, science, and technology, and the other skills of the 21st century, our companies will innovate less, our economy will grow less, and our nation will be less competitive. If we want to out-compete the world tomorrow, we must out-educate the world today," Obama said.
- He added: "While technology has transformed just about every aspect of our lives--from the way we travel, to the way we communicate, to the way we look after our health--one of the places where we've failed to seize its full potential is in the classroom.
- "Imagine a future where our children are more motivated because they aren't just learning on blackboards, but on new whiteboards with digital touch screens; where every student in a classroom has a laptop at [his or her] desk; where [students] don't just do book reports but design PowerPoint presentations; where they don't just write papers, but they build web sites; where research isn't done just by taking a book out of the library, but by eMailing experts in the field; and where teachers are less a source of knowledge than a coach for how best to use it and obtain knowledge. By fostering innovation, we can help make sure every school in America is a school of the future.
- "And that's what we're going to do when I'm president. We will help schools integrate technology into their curriculum, so we can make sure public school students are fluent in the digital language of the 21st-century economy. We'll teach our students not only math and science, but teamwork and critical thinking and communication skills, because that's how we'll make sure they're prepared for today's workplace."
Contribution by David Moursund 12/27/2008
I believe that informal and formal education can be substantially improved through a concerted effort of helping students of all ages learn to take increased responsibility for their own education. Parents can help as they talk to their children about "What did you learn in school today." Teachers can do this by increased emphasis on project-based learning and students learning to do self-assessment. Students can do this through deciding on areas where they want to develop Islands of Expertise, and then carrying through with the concerted effort to develop and make use of these Islands of Expertise. Students can learn to do metacognition about their learning and to reflect on how they are using their learning as they solve challenging problems and accomplish challenging tasks.
Contribution by Concerned Educator 1/3/09
Thanks, Dave for your latest IAE newsletter. It makes obvious the areas which schools need to change. Curriculum needs to become interdisciplinary, and teachers need to become facilitators. (I know that statement is a very simple distillation of your thinking, but nonetheless, it is an attempt.)
The real problem is twofold. First, textbook companies control curriculum rather than educators. Second, higher education controls who teaches, and the information they know.
Teachers cannot teach information they do not understand, at least they believe they can't. And right now, they do not see the world as interdependent, or interdisciplinary. There is one external "controller" of both curriculum and teaching methods, standardized testing.
Right now, standardized testing is hugely responsible for both curriculum and teaching behaviors. Teachers have no curriculum control whatsoever, and also cannot teach in different ways than the standardized testing "wants." (That is, if they want to stay employed.) Teachers have NO choice in what happens in their classrooms, NO CHOICE WHATSOEVER!!
The problem is so bad, that a young teacher recently asked me what he could do about teaching fractions, his 5th grade class was having trouble with the notion of "less than one." I gave him a few ideas, that have worked for me, and even did two sample lessons for him with his class. The children caught on right away, and appeared to understand the idea. The lessons were hands-on lessons, each student made and cut out their own "fraction parts". We then added, subtracted, multiplied, and even divided with the fraction pieces. He then told his district level curriculum specialist about the lessons, who promptly took a fit! She provided him with a worksheet to give the children, and told him the worksheet would solve his problem.
Well, you can guess what happened. I got an email message thanking me for the idea, but also told me my help was not appreciated. The truth is that a worksheet has never solved an instructional problem, anywhere, anytime in any discipline. It's only a sheet of paper, and cannot help a person "understand" a concept. This is going on all over the US.
I do think, the only solution is to shut down American public education as we know it, and begin anew. The home schoolers are telling us - they already have!! Search the internet for their impact, if you want a shock! Their numbers are growing exponentially everywhere.
Contribution by Michel Paul 01/03/09
Fractions Are Objects, Not Unfinished Division Problems
One of the big issues in math education these days, I believe, is lack of understanding regarding fractions and rational numbers. Most students want to immediately turn fractions into decimals, and they often think that the decimal representations are more accurate! I think that one big reason for this tendency is the calculator.
Technology these days is language. It is a language of function and object. Fractions are objects. They are two-part data structures. I believe that judiciously weaving computational languages like Python into the math curriculum could simultaneously provide a better foundation in mathematics and provide a good introduction to contemporary functional and object oriented thinking.
I believe the mod operator, '%', should become a standard arithmetic operator in our math curriculum. Most of the time when dealing with division our curriculum thinks in terms of quotients, but understanding the nature of the remainder is essential for a lot of mathematics and technology. I think these issues - the nature of division, remainders, factors, and fractions - are central to the lack of mathematical understanding many students demonstrate.
Alan Kay's 2003 video (recommended by Moursund 1/5/09
Alan Kay is one of the pioneers in the field of computers in education. In 2003 he made a 28 minute video titled Education in the Digital Age. This video provide his insights into what is wrong with our current educational system and how to improve education. He uses examples from teaching and learning music, from the impact of Gutenberg's printing press, and other areas. In my opinion this short video is "must" viewing for all parents and teachers.
He asks the question, "What is the computer really good for?" He notes that Seymour Papert and Douglass Engelbert had the idea that the computer is a new way of augmenting human intellect. They focused on things that computers can do much better than people. This is a theme that Kay picked up on relatively early in his career, and it still is a driving force in his work.
The message is—education can be substantially improved by providing students with powerful "mind tools" and placing students in learning environments in which they have good reasons and encouragement to learn to make use of these mind tools.
Contribution of Stever Leinwand ideas 1/7/2009
Steven Leinwand is a principal research analyst at the American Institutes for Research, in Washington. He is the author of the forthcoming book Accessible Mathematics: Ten Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement (Heinemann). Quoting from his 1/7/08 article about math education in Education week:
- We need first to recognize that most of our major economic competitors, and nearly all of the highest-scoring countries on international assessments, have a national set of mathematics standards that guarantees a degree of coherence, focus, and alignment absent in the patchwork of state standards in the United States. A nationally mandated curriculum isn’t the answer. But a broadly accepted, strongly recommended set of world-class national mathematics standards for grades K-12 is. Such standards would provide informed guidance and attract widespread interest, yet would not fall under the antiquated rubric of “local control.”
- Second, we need to examine what common sense, observation, and research tell us about instructional practices that make significant differences in student achievement. Such practices can be found in high-performing schools across the country. There, we see teachers making “Why?” a classroom mantra to support a culture of reasoning and justification. We see cumulative review being incorporated daily. We see deliberately planned lessons that skillfully employ alternative approaches and multiple representations that value different ways to reach solutions to real problems. We see teachers relying on relevant contexts and using questions to create language-rich mathematics classrooms.
Article: What will change everything? 1/6/09
Quoting from ACM TechNews 1/9/2009:
- What Will Change Everything? Ask a Computer Scientist. ITworldcanada.com (01/06/09) Schick, Shane
- John Brockman's Edge.org Web site recently posed the question "What will change everything?" to a group of academics. The answer for computer scientist Roger Schank is a machine that provides knowledge as needed. Schank says information in enterprise databases or on personal computers should find us, rather than having people constantly search for it. Schank views information as stories rather than content, and envisions a future of just-in-time storytelling. "To put this another way, an archive of key strategic ideas about how to achieve goals under certain conditions is just the right resource to be interacting with enabling a good story to pop up when you need it," Schank says. He says goal-directed indexing is about organizing information so that it can be cross-referenced the next time an example of what users need comes up, and in the context of a story that users will understand or remember. Schank says researchers should begin to focus on how to monitor user behavior so that machines can understand their goals and index information appropriately. "We will all become much more likely to profit from humanity's collective wisdom by having a computer at the ready to help us think," he says.
Contribution by Cambridge Regional College 1/19/09
There has been substantial research on how to teach intelligence. The article at http://www.teacherstoolbox.co.uk/T_Teaching_Intelligence.html summarizes some of the results of this work. Here is an example:
- The Israeli educationalist Reuven Feuerstein developed a hugely successful course for learners with very low academic achievement. His students had very low IQs, and started his course with a mental age three years behind other learners. There was a ‘control group’ enabling Feuerstein to measure his students’ progress against the progress of students that were matched for ability but then taught in a more conventional way.
- At the end of their two year course Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment students had shown modest gains in terms of increased IQ compared to the control group, though they showed a marked ability to transfer learning from one situation to another. Two years after the programme had ended, the students entered the Israeli army on compulsory service. On a test of general intelligence they were found to be average for the general population, though they had started Feuerstein’s programme three years behind! The control group had not shown this development.
- Feuerstein attributed this gain to the students continuing to learn without aid in the two years after the programme. He had taught them to teach themselves. More than this, Feuerstein had taught his students how to teach themselves to become more intelligent! Feuerstein’s methods require special training, and are used all over the world.
Contribution by MW 1/21/2009
I am an Educational Assistant in a high school. I oversee students that go through the system and still have not learned many of the basic math, English, and reading skills. One of the things that I have observed, is that many students still use the hunt and peck keyboarding system; some have actually developed it quit effectively.
In response to the Issue #9 of the Newsletter, I would like to see a system developed in the elementary school level for keyboarding. Students now use the keyboard at much younger age. They develop typing habits/patterns using the keyboard that are hard to change by they time they have keyboarding classes in 5th and 6th grade. Therefore, they continue to use they way they were self-taught. If keyboarding was introduced with the alphabet as a teaching tool, it would help students in their later years to keyboard more efficiently.
Contribution of Ideas from the Concord Consortium 1/24/09
The following is quoted from the Mission Statement of the Concord Consortium:
- Education is the most powerful engine of social change and growth, but it needs fundamental change if it is to deliver the promise of an equitable, knowledge-based society. Information technologies are the most vital force for change in education, because they create exciting new options for teaching and learning. Our mission is to stimulate the needed change by creating innovative opportunities to learn that use information technologies.
- The combination of computers and networking used in structured, well-designed, collaborative learning environments will create unprecedented opportunities for learning at all levels, for all learners. The ability to offer well-designed, interactive, computer-intensive learning opportunities to anyone, anywhere will influence every learner, teacher, and educational institution. The Concord Consortium undertakes research and development that is the backbone for this kind of change.
- Our mission is to stimulate large-scale, technology-based improvements in teaching and learning. Education is the single most important investment a society can make in its future. Quality education is essential to help people everywhere realize their full potential. But education needs enormous changes if it is to deliver on this promise. Its huge size, vested interests, and outmoded traditions prevent change.
- New information technologies are the most vital force for change in education because they create exciting new options for teaching and learning. Information technologies have the potential to make huge improvements in education over the next decade as they reshape society and create new learning opportunities. Learners everywhere of all ages could be using information technologies to learn more and to improve their personal learning capacity.
- Whether this potential will be realized for all students depends on the ability of education to reinvent itself at all levels. Extensive research and development is needed to support this kind of change. Information technologies create options that force us to reexamine our underlying assumptions and challenge us to create better approaches and institutions. Careful research and innovative developments based on a thorough understanding of technological and learning possibilities is needed to meet this challenge. The Concord Consortium has assembled the people and expertise to undertake the required research and development.
Contribution from UCLA 1/29/09
A report "Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?" is available at http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/is-technology-producing-a-decline-79127.aspx. Quoting from the report:
- As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles.
- Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet and video games. Her research was published this month in the journal Science.
- Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not, Greenfield said.
Contribution from School Redesign Network at Stanford
Ruth Chung Wei, Linda Darlrling-Hammond, Alethea Andree, Nikole Richardson, and Stelios Orphanos (February 2009). Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States. Retrieved 2/5/09: http://www.nsdc.org/news/NSDCstudy2009.pdf
- "We're way behind other countries that are high-achieving in terms of the time and intensive opportunity for deep learning they provide," said co-author Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor. "We still see teachers engage in really short one- and two-day workshops rather than ongoing, sustained support that we now have evidence changes practices and increases student achievement."
Contribution from David Berliner Article 2/7/09
Berliner, DAvid (2006). Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform. TC Record. Retrieved 2/7/09: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=12106. Quoting from the article:
- This analysis is about the role of poverty in school reform. Data from a number of sources are used to make five points. First, that poverty in the US is greater and of longer duration than in other rich nations. Second, that poverty, particularly among urban minorities, is associated with academic performance that is well below international means on a number of different international assessments. Scores of poor students are also considerably below the scores achieved by white middle class American students. Third, that poverty restricts the expression of genetic talent at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Among the lowest social classes environmental factors, particularly family and neighborhood influences, not genetics, is strongly associated with academic performance. Among middle class students it is genetic factors, not family and neighborhood factors, that most influences academic performance. Fourth, compared to middle-class children, severe medical problems affect impoverished youth. This limits their school achievement as well as their life chances. Data on the negative effect of impoverished neighborhoods on the youth who reside there is also presented. Fifth, and of greatest interest, is that small reductions in family poverty lead to increases in positive school behavior and better academic performance. It is argued that poverty places severe limits on what can be accomplished through school reform efforts, particularly those associated with the federal No Child Left Behind law. The data presented in this study suggest that the most powerful policy for improving our nations’ school achievement is a reduction in family and youth poverty.
Lohr, Steve (7/18/09). The Crowd Is Wise (When It’s Focused). NY Times, retrieved 7/20/09: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/technology/internet/19unboxed.html?_r=1. Quoting from the article:
- FEW concepts in business have been as popular and appealing in recent years as the emerging discipline of “open innovation.” It is variously described as crowdsourcing, the wisdom of crowds, collective intelligence and peer production — and these terms apply to a range of practices.
- The overarching notion is that the Internet opens the door to a new world of democratic idea generation and collaborative production. Early triumphs like the Linux operating system and the Wikipedia Web encyclopedia are seen as harbingers.
- In the new model, innovation is often portrayed as a numbers game. The more heads, the better — all weighing in, commenting, offering ideas. Collective knowledge prevails, as if a force of egalitarian inevitability.
- But a look at recent cases and new research suggests that open-innovation models succeed only when carefully designed for a particular task and when the incentives are tailored to attract the most effective collaborators. “There is this misconception that you can sprinkle crowd wisdom on something and things will turn out for the best,” said Thomas W. Malone, director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “That’s not true. It’s not magic.”
See article by Thomas W. Malone, director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
See also Henry Chesbrough, executive director of the Center for Open Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley.
Moursund, David (n.d.). Free books written by David Moursund.
Stansbury, Meris (1/20/2009). Tech giants vow to change global assessments. eSchool News. Retrieved 1/20/09: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=56819. Quoting from the article:
- Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco--three technology giants that last year vowed to increase their efforts aimed at global education reform--have banded together to develop the next generation of assessments: tests that measure 21st-century skills and provide a global framework for excellence.
- At the Learning and Technology Forum in London earlier this month, the three companies unveiled plans to underwrite a multi-sector research project to develop new approaches, methods, and technologies for measuring the success of 21st-century teaching and learning efforts in classrooms around the world.