I interrupt this regularly featured ‘Need-to-Know’ blog post series to bring you three media clips that may promote thinking-outside-of-the-box—a different way to look at three much discussed and researched issues in education. I engaged with three media clips this week that were not targeted to educators specifically, but provided deep insights; each clip presents a unique perspective on a provocative topic in education.
1) What predicts Student Success?
Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit
Much researched, pondered and discussed—what predicts a student’s success? This Ted Talk features Angela Duckworth, an educational psychologist who left teaching seventh graders to search for that elusive factor that predicts student success in school. She conducted extensive research to find out. Her research revealed that it’s not IQ, family income, precociousness, or talent, but it’s grit. Grit is defined as passion, perseverance, and relentless drive. Students and adults with grit are in it for the long-haul, they don’t give up when faced with obstacles, but continue moving towards a goal they have set out to achieve.
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, the book by Paul Tough discusses Duckworth’s work and writes about schools and programs that aim to teach grit through character building education. I read this book recently, and would recommend it to parents and educators interested in learning what contributes to the grit factor [though it's still inconclusive].
- How gritty are you? Click here to take the test. University of Pennsylvania
- Angela Duckworth and the Research on ‘Grit’. Emily Hanford, American Radio Works
2) Educators and Artificial Intelligence
Interview: Charting technology’s new directions: A conversation with MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson.
This clip featuring MIT’s professor Erik Brynjolfsson shifted my [resolute] viewpoint on the role of machines in teaching and student learning. Brynjolfsson discusses recent innovations in artificial intelligence and how it will impact society significantly over the next five years. Though Brynjolfsson didn’t mention education specifically, his talk motivated me to think about the relationship between man and technology quite differently.
I posted several comments this week in response to a blog post about this topic on e-literate, Getting students useful feedback from machine learning. This is the second post on e-literate about machine learning, and both have generated much discussion. My position has been one in opposition to machine assistance, regardless of how it is used. This specific post describes a conversational agent that supports student dialogue in small group discussions by a technique called accountable talk. When I watched this interview clip something clicked. As I listened to Brynjolfsson speaking of how machines, artificial intelligence can be used in conjunction with humans to create better conditions, I thought of the potential that machines might be able to create with teachers to create better learning conditions. I haven’t changed my mind completely, but I am looking at this topic from a different point of view.
“… humans and machines are complementary. Machines aren’t perfect or even very good substitutes for humans in some areas. But by working together, by racing with machines, we can do more than the machines by themselves or humans by themselves could do.”
- Getting students useful feedback from machine learning, Elijah Mayfield, e-Literate
- Six ways the edX announcement gets machine grading wrong, Elijah Mayfield, e-Literate
An interview with Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopedia Britannica
The Internet is disrupting traditional models, ways of doing business in all sectors including education. This interview highlights the issue of adaptation and a change of thinking in response to technology. Many organizations have adapted quite successfully, some have failed and others continue to struggle. Which is why I found the interview with the president of Encyclopedia Britannica most intriguing. One would think this iconic company, relied upon for over two hundred years as a primary source of information would be doomed in the age of the Internet. Yet it is not so. Encyclopedia Britannica is flourishing and successful even though it ceased to print its famous set of reference books last year after 244 years. The company has shifted its model by responding to the societal shifts resulting from technological advancements. In the interview, the president speaks of the natural evolution of the product.
We had known for some time that this day was coming. Given how little revenue the print set generated, and given that we had long ago shifted to a digital-first editorial process, the bound volumes had become a distraction and a chore to put together. They could no longer hold the vast amount of information our customers demanded or be kept as up-to-date as today’s users expect.
The way the company adapted to the digital age is most remarkable. It made me think about how Encyclopedia Britannica was able to respond to the digital age where others have failed. Are there any parallels between Encyclopedia Britannica and education institutions? Some would say absolutely not—Encyclopedia Britannica is a business. I see it differently, what about you?
- Encyclopedia Britannica’s President on Killing Off a 244-Year-Old Product, Jorge Cauz, Harvard Business Review
- Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com
I hope you enjoyed these videos and were inspired in one way or another.