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7 June 2010 / erikduval

Life is Learning is Life is Learning

Last Thursday, I had the distinct pleasure of doing three presentations at three events at three locations in a day. There was a bit of the ‘if this is 9pm it must be Brussels’ feeling, but it was a nice experience nevertheless.

I’ll post in reverse order: the day concluded with the 140conf event in Brussels: this was a really nice informal gathering of folks doing interesting stuff with ‘social media’…

I talked a bit about how we can easily afford to disrupt education as I am very underwhelmed with the results of what we do in mainstream education anyway. Think about it: the average student spends 6+6+5 years before she gets a master degree – if she so chooses. Is that really a reasonable result for all that time invested? Have you learned most of what you value in school or university or … in real life?

In my view, one of the reasons why students learn so little, is because – as the Smiths used to sing – ‘it says nothing to me about my life’… When you do make a connection with their real life, then, of course, students become way more motivated. After all, they’re just like … real people… The basic idea, then, is that social media can help to keep that connection with real life, to break out of the ‘walled garden’. And, as a teacher, trainer, professor, whatever, social media can also help you to get really valuable input about what to do in class and beyond. My slides have some examples about my experiences. I’d be very interested in hearing about yours!

Anyway, this was a really nice event. As I mentioned afterwards on twitter:

Still puzzled by the choice of “sex & drugs & rock’n’roll” to introduce me at #140conf😉 In any case, VERY big thank you to the organizers!

And what nicer reply can you get to that but:

@ErikDuval because you rock Eric !!! :-) #140conf

I guess I can end this with “Proudly yours” and a recommendation to follow @patrickbosteels and the 140conf folks: there is much more Good Stuff there!

One Comment

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  1. PeterK / Jun 8 2010 10:22 am

    Eric,

    Years ago, when I worked at the very department you still work at, I had the same observation about students’ learning behaviour. While assisting them in doing Java exercises, I noticed both the lack of insight and the lack of interest wrt working with matrices (2D arrays) in Java. They just did not seem to get certain things and were not really interested in hands on experiments to get some deeper insight.

    This called for a change so I wrote a small Java package they could include that let them load images into a 2D matrix and let them display that on screen. Next, I removed all math-inspired exercises with 2D arrays from the course and replaced them by photography inspired stuff: load a coloured image and make it b&w, do edge detection, rotate or mirror an image, etc… And behold: instant success with people getting their mistakes visualized (which helped them to gain insight on what they were doing wrong) and being motivated to do cool stuff, many of them even try out new things not in the course just to see whether they could get it to work.

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