How does one find more of these?
How might one escape a book’s shackled sense of time, extending the authored experience over weeks and months?
The best introduction to many of these methods and their pedagogic uses is best described by Lynne Kelly‘s book Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
If they take her ideas as a basis and then layer on their own thinking, I think they’ll get much further much quicker. Based on my reading of their work thus far, they’re limiting themselves solely with western and modern cultures or at least those of a post-Peter Ramus world.
As an example, I’ve recently been passively watching the Netflix series The Who Was? Show which is geared toward children, but it does a phenomenal job of creating entertaining visuals, costumes, jokes, songs, dances, over-the-top theatricality, and small mnemonic snippets to teach children about famous people in our culture. Naturally this is geared toward neophytes, but it’s memorable, especially when watched with some spaced repetition. To follow it up properly it needs the next 10 layers of content and information to provide the additional depth to move it from children’s knowledge to adult and more sophisticated knowledge. Naturally this should be done at a level appropriate to the learner and their age and sophistication and include relevant related associative memory techniques, but it’s a start.
I’ll note that our educational system’s inability to connect (or associate) new knowledge with previous knowledge is a major drawback.
Restructuring coursework takes a lot of time and effort. Looking out for part-timers and adjuncts who are already often thrown into the deep end without much support is also key.
Another question we may ask is how can students be better brought into the ideas behind the pedagogy to help themselves as well as their colleagues and potential future versions of a particular course?
Andy Matuschak (@andy_matuschak), joins Erik on this episode. He is a technologist, designer and researcher. They discuss:
- The key thread throughout his work and what he’s trying to accomplish.
- Why people read books despite remembering little of what they read.
- What books should look like and the features they should have in the digital age.
- Why spaced repetition is so powerful.- His requests for startups in the space.
The challenge of flexibility.
It’s important to note that the goal of HyFlex is two make both the online and in-person experiences equal. ❧
There are some pieces of this that immediately make me think that this model is more of a sort of “separate, but equal” sort of modality. Significant resources will need to go toward the equality piece and even then it is likely to fall short from a social perspective.
Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 01:27PM
Finally, the best HyFlex classrooms have someone assisting the faculty member. ❧
This is the understatement of the year. Faculty members will require extensive training and LOTS of assistance. This assistance SHOULD NOT come from student assistants, graduate students (who are likely to be heavily undertrained), or other “free” sources.
Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 01:35PM
These assistants could also be work-study students who are assigned a particular classroom (or digital space) or they might be volunteers from class who are given credit for assisting in the delivery of the course. ❧
And of course, the first pivot (even in the same paragraph!) is exactly to these “free” or cheap sources which are likely to be overlooked and undertrained.
If a school is going to do this they need to take it seriously and actually give it professional resources.
Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 01:38PM
Incidentally there is some pre-existing research about the measurable fairness of court proceedings being held online that would tend to negate the equality that might be dispensed in online courseware.
See https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/otm/episodes/are-online-courts-less-fair-on-the-media for some references. ❧
Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 02:42PM
This fall needs to be different. We need to ask students to be part of the solution of keeping learning flourishing in the fall. This includes asking them to help manage the class if it has a virtual component. ❧
This is moving education in exactly the WRONG direction. Students are already ill-prepared to do the actual work and studying of education, now we’re going to try to extract extra efficiency out of the system by asking them to essential teach themselves on top of it? This statement seems like the kind of thing a technology CEO would pitch higher education on as a means of monetizing something over which they had no control solely to extract value for their own company.
If we’re going to go this far, why not just re-institute slavery?
Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 02:46PM
Last week Hypothesis saw the largest uptick in interest in our LMS integration since we released the app a little over a year ago. The vast majority of this interest came from individual instructors across the globe grappling with the challenge of moving their courses to remote delivery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
True story about a student who slept in my classes for years. This is what happened when I confronted him about it. My first animation. Created with Anime Studio Pro and Sony Vegas.
This took me back to a time and something I’d forgotten writing, that has made me rethink where we are now: https://t.co/COgNQnutZr
— Kate Bowles (@KateMfD) April 25, 2020
“power is distributed very unevenly throughout the global network of higherEd institutions. If digital innovation is left to the market, we will continue to see scale and standardisation dressed up as personalisation and differentiation.” @KateMfD https://t.co/pqskuKPbQj
— Robin DeRosa (@actualham) April 25, 2020
What surprises me is that it’s about education and pedagogy that starts off with a vignette in which Kate Bowles talks about the unknown purpose of Stonehenge.
But I’ve been doing some serious reading on the humanities relating to memory, history, and indigenous cultures over the last few years. It dawns on me:
I know what those stones are for!
A serious answer provided by Australian science and memory researcher Dr. Lynne Kelly indicates that Stonehenge and similar monolithic sites built by indigenous cultures across the world are–in fact–pedagogic tools!!
We’ve largely lost a lot of the roots of our ancient mnemonic devices through gradual mis- and dis-use as well as significant pedagogic changes by Petrus Ramus, an influential French dialectician, humanist, logician, and educational reformer. Scholar Frances Yates indicated in The Art of Memory that his influential changes in the mid-1500’s disassociated memory methods including the method of loci, which dated back to ancient Greece, from the practice of rhetoric as a field of study. As a result we’ve lost a fantastic tradition that made teaching and the problem of memory far worse.
Fortunately Lynne Kelly gives a fairly comprehensive overview of indigenous cultures across human history and their use of these methods along with evidence in her book Memory Code which is based on her Ph.D. thesis. Even better, she didn’t stop there and she wrote a follow up book that explores the use of these methods and places them into a modern pedagogy setting and provides some prescriptive uses.
I might suggest that instead of looking forward to technology as the basis of solutions in education, that instead we look back—not just to our past or even our pre-industrial past, but back to our pre-agrarian past.
Let’s look back to the tremendous wealth of indigenous tribes the world over that modern society has eschewed as “superstitious” and “simple”. In reality, they had incredibly sophisticated oral stories and systems that they stored in even more sophisticated memory techniques. Let’s relearn and reuse those techniques to make ourselves better teachers and improve our student’s ability to learn and retain the material with which they’re working.
Once we’ve learned to better tap our own memories, we’ll realize how horribly wrong we’ve been for not just decades but centuries.
This has been hard earned knowledge for me, but now that I’ve got it, I feel compelled to share it. I’m happy to chat with people about these ideas to accelerate their growth, but I’d recommend getting them from the source and reading Dr. Kelly’s work directly. (Particularly her work with indigenous peoples of Australia, who helped to unlock a large piece of the puzzle for her.) Then let’s work together to rebuild the ancient edifices that our ancestors tried so desperately to hand down, but we’ve managed to completely forget.
The historical and archaeological record:
The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments by Dr. Lynne Kelly
A variety of methods and teaching examples:
Memory Craft: Improve Your Memory with the Most Powerful Methods in History by Dr. Lynne Kelly
Annotated on April 26, 2020 at 08:34PM
I imagine that there are potentially examples of this sort of behavior going back as far as 30-40,000 years or more, but there is is no direct (known) archaeological evidence left to make such cases. There are oral histories of indigenous peoples in Australia that indicate memories of things that do exist in the geological record to provide some evidence of this.
I’ll also point out that astronomical use is NOT equal to memory use. To make that claim you’d need a lot of additional evidence. In fact, I might suggest something stronger, particularly about Stonehenge. Stonehenge’s primary use was not an astronomical one. Its primary use was as a mnemonic device. The astronomical one was important for the ritual practice (we would call it spaced repetition in modern psychology and pedagogic contexts), but wholly tangential.
If you’re interested in the underlying evidence, Dr. Lynne Kelly has an excellent Ph.D. thesis on the topic, but you might find her book The Memory Code, which expands on the thesis, more accessible. She’s also got a great bibliography of these topics on her website.
To be clear, “Godfather of EdTech” is a perjorative.
tl;dr Now that so many are forced to use online media to communicate, let's use this opportunity to create many smaller virtual communities and social networks outside the enclosed world of Facebook.
I’m absolutely serious.
For my colleagues who are now being instructed to put some or all of the remainder of their semester online, now is a time to do a poor job of it. You are NOT building an online class. You are NOT teaching students who can be expected to be ready to learn online. And, most importantly, your class is NOT the highest priority of their OR your life right now. Release yourself from high expectations right now, because that’s the best way to help your students learn.
Many professors don’t know how to teach online, and may not know how to improve at it. Our comprehensive guide can help.
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