Too Big To Know #edbookclub

Too Big To Know by David WeinbergerImage by dkuropatwaHow'd you like to know "how our concept of knowledge is changing in the age of the Net"? (John Seely Brown quoted from the dust jacket)

Since I first heard David Weinberger say: "The smartest person in the room is: The Room!" I've repeated it often. I've seen it in action. In his new book Too Big To Know he fills in a few more details about this. The room is "smartest" as a function of the networked connections between all the people in it, and out of it, via the internet. I hear echoes of George Seimens and Stephen Downes in that.

Anyway, the book was published on 3 January 2012 and I just got my copy of it today. In the last 10 days or so the idea of an #edbookclub flared up on twitter. So, we're going to do that. We begin this Friday. We've even got a timeline and a list of people reading together. The conversations have beginning times, to help us all stay on track, but they don't have ending times. So really, join in any time you like.

#edbookclub originally grew out of a conversation between Ben Hazzard and Kelly Power. They describe it:

What is it? #EdBookClub emerged from a discussion between educators (@kellypower and @benhazzard) about how using Twitter could encourage professional dialogue.  It will be a discussion about a common book or article, that is voted on via a TwitPoll, by educators and people interested in applying the book's content in an education setting. 
Why? The purpose of this Twitter discussion is to engage in an informed discussion on Twitter that also provides a purpose and audience for educator tweets.  This was informed by #educhat when the organizers in 2008/2009 began posting articles and other documents to heighten the conversation 
  • Participate: 
  • Read the book or article with us (or listen via the audio version).  Follow the #EdBookClub 'hashtag' on Twitter to find out new information.  Then send messages via Twitter with the #EdBookClub 'hashtag' to offer your ideas, questions, and comments.
  • Respond to #EdBookClub tweets to extend, clarify or question to enhance our collective learning
  • Follow along: Read all the #EdBookClub tweets by following that 'hashtag' 

If you'd like to join us message me on twitter @dkuropatwa and let me know. Get a copy of the book; it's only available in either hardcover or kindle format right now. As you read, tweet reflections and quotes from the book that strike you. Use and follow the hashtags #edbookclub and #2b2k. There's already been some talk about chatting in realtime in a Google+ Hangout or maybe in an eluminate room. 

Anyone want to take turns building a storify each week?

The Difference Between Curriculum and Pedagogy

There's a difference between curriculum and pedagogy. Curriculum is all about what we teach. Pedagogy is about how we teach it.

There's also a difference between knowing how to do something and understanding what you're doing. In mathematics there are all kinds of "how-to", or computation skills, that kids learn and promptly forget right after the test; sometimes they forget before the test. The thing is though, it's difficult to forget something once you understand it.

Seven Principles of Learning by dkuropatwa, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  dkuropatwa 

A few weeks ago I was part of a panel on the Richard Cloutier Reports show on CJOB radio here in Winnipeg. There were four of us: myself, Paul Olson (President of the Manitoba Teacher's Society), Robert Craigen (Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Manitoba) and Anna Stokke (Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Winnipeg). Robert and Anna are one-half of the group behind the wisemath blog.

There are some things we agree on:
  • All kids can and should learn basic computation skills (how to add, subtract, multiply and divide).
  • It's important for kids to understand what they're doing, not just to be able to perform by rote.
  • Manitoba's recent poor performance on the Pan-Canadian Assessment Programme test is not good news and we have some work to do in mathematics in Manitoba.
  • We'd like to see Manitoba place at the top of future national and international tests of this sort.

Understanding the concept by dkuropatwa, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  dkuropatwa 

Some things we disagree on. I believe:
  • Learning with understanding should precede the learning of rote algorithms in mathematics.
  • To say Manitoba has placed 10th out of 11 provinces and territories in the 2010 PCAP test is a gross oversimplification of the the data represented on page 24 of the report (pdf). (Those confidence intervals are important. A repeat of the same test would likely have Manitoba place somewhere between 6th and 11th place. This isn't good news, but it's a little more nuanced than "10 out of 11". People knowledgeable about mathematics should be helping the public understand these nuances and promote informed discussion.)
So the crux of our differences are two-fold:

(1) I believe Robert and Anna conflate curriculum and pedagogy and are reading the Manitoba Curriculum documents as pedagogical texts when they were never intended to be read that way. Curriculum tells us "what" to teach, not "how" to teach.

(2) Robert and Anna believe the teaching of algorithms should be student's entry point to learning the basic operations (+, -, x, ÷). I believe the algorithms should be closer to the end-game of learning the basic operations.

John Scammel blogged about his take on the views expressed on Robert and Anna's blog. John points out in the comments the clear distinction the wisemath blog draws between Mathematicians and Mathematics Educators and the populations we teach. In K-12 classrooms we teach all students. The student body in University is different. Students taking math at University want to be there. That's not true of many students in the K-12 sector; the challenges are quite different.

On further reflection, there's a third difference: public (and private) debate should be open and sidestep insult.

The wisemath site seems to reject any comments that debate the blogger's views.

What I've read in the comments on John's blog and on Anna's blog (The last sentence of the last paragraph was recently edited; it used to say all future mathematics education research has no merit as a result of the issues Anna took with the article she blogged about. I regard this edit as a positive evolution in her thinking.) seems to hold K-12 teachers in a disdainful light.

Here's the audio from the CJOB panel we sat on together. It was a 2 hour broadcast, without commercials it's about 58 min. I took out the commercials. We talked about much more than was broadcast in the moments we were "off air". That was also an interesting conversation; unfortunately we didn't capture it. Next time I'll bring along my mp3 recorder. ;-)

Download (53.2 MB)

How would you plan a reunion?

How would you plan a reunion with a bunch of people you're terribly fond of, many of whom you've never met face-to-face, who you touch base with only occasionally and live in places scattered across the globe?

A few years back I lead a group of about 120 teachers in a year long immersive professional development experience around leveraging modern technologies to foster deep student learning. This was for Will & Sheryl's Powerful Learning Practice in their 2nd year of operation.

We did some cool stuff together. Stuff like this game of Presentation Tennis:

That grew grew out of a Digital Field Trip we did into Flickr. Here's the group where we shared our pictures:

Flickr was a great introduction to all sorts of ideas: social networking, learning through play, tagging, visual thinking, rss, collaborative learning, portable content, and more. Most importantly it was a way for us to connect personally. We saw where and how we lived and worked. We saw summer while some of were in the middle of winter. We saw little glimpses of each other's lives while we learned and played together. Bonds began to form.

Cary was looking through our photo pool when she tweeted:

So was born this little online reunion. We'll try to share a photo-a-day for as long as we can make it. If it goes all year great. If not that's good too. No rules. If you miss a day no problem; just pick it up again the next day.

We'll share our pics in our old flickr group and if you weren't part of the original group feel free to jump in nonetheless. Let's all tag our pictures: "intplpreunion12". They'll aggregate below ...

I plan to also add my pics to the 2012/366photos group.