Listened to Designing and Developing New Tools For Thought with Andy Matuschak from Village Global's Venture Stories

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.

Read Fall Scenario #13: A HyFlex Model (Inside Higher Ed)
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

Read Social Reading, Collaborative Annotation, and Remote Learning with Hypothesis (Hypothesis)
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.
Replied to Stones only by Kate Bowles (Music for Deckchairs)
The purpose of Stonehenge is lost to us. There will always be debate about its meaning. Stonehenge Visitor Centre, Wiltshire I grew up in England, although I wasn’t born here. Here. I’m…
I ran across this 5 year old article courtesy of a few recent tweets:

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

Replied to a tweet by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry (Twitter)
Without checking, I have to think that I carefully couched my wording there. For that audience, I did use the more famous example of Stonehenge, for which there is some pretty solid evidence for my claim. There are other examples in the archaeological record that certainly are older and in other cultural contexts. I can easily think of standing stones that are as old as 12,000 years old for which the same case could be made in borderline agricultural societies. The tough part is that would have required the definition of standing stones and a lot of other pieces which I didn’t feel I had the time to create the context for in that setting.

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.

I’m not as well-versed in the history of educational technology as those like Audrey Watters, but after reading the opening of chapter 10 of The Art of Memory by Frances Yates, I’m prepared to call Pierre de La Ramée (aka Petrus or Peter Ramus) as the godfather of EdTech for his literal iconoclastic removal of the artificial memory from rhetoric and replacing it with his ‘dialectical order’.

To be clear, “Godfather of EdTech” is a perjorative.

Read Let's grow online greenspace for healthy sociality & mutual aid by Howard Rheingold (Patreon)
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.
Read Please do a bad job of putting your courses online by Rebecca Barrett-Fox (anygoodthing.com)
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.
Bookmarked An Emergency Guide (of sorts) to Getting This Week’s Class Online in About an Hour (or so) (EduGeek Journal)
With all of the concern the past few weeks about getting courses online, many people are collecting or creating resources for how to get courses online in case of a last minute emergency switch to …
Bookmarked Teaching in the context of COVID-19 (Google Docs)
Welcome, this is a co-authored and rapidly evolving resource. Thank you to those who are helping! Send me a note if you have resources to share too and/or if you’ve found this resource helpful. Contributors include: Jacqueline Wernimont (Dartmouth, USA), Cathy N. Davidson (CUNY Grad College, USA)...
Bookmarked Keep on Teaching at VCU (altlab.vcu.edu)
Sometimes the unexpected happens. When it does, VCU will be prepared to keep on teaching and keep on learning. Were we to have a blizzard or some other surprise event, no doubt we will eventually experience a moment where all in-person academic meetings will need to transition to a remote format. If all or part of VCU instructional locations become unavailable or need to be closed, academic continuity can maintain course progression.
Read Zocurelia - Inspiring Learners to Read and Discuss by Axel DürkopAxel Dürkop (axel-duerkop.de)
With Zocurelia you can increase the fun of reading online literature together. The browser tool shows the activity of a reading community directly in the context of the texts being read and discussed. This way learners can be motivated to participate and join the discussion - hopefully hypothetically. In this article I will explain my motivation, ideas and decisions that led to the development of Zocurelia.

For those interested in online reading groups, journal clubs, OER, open education, marginal syllabus, etc., Axel Dürkop has created quite a lovely little tool that mixes Zotero with Hypothes.is.

Using his online version (though the code is open source and it looks like I could pretty quickly host my own), it only took me a few minutes to mock up a collaborative space using an Econ Extra Credit group I’d tried to encourage. This could be quite cool, particularly if they continued the series past the first recommended textbook.

I could easily see folks like Remi Kalir using this as part of their marginal syllabus project and allowing students to recommend texts/articles for class and aggregating discussions around them.


First of all, I wanted to learn more about how to inspire learners to read. And this means for me as an educator to create a technical and social environment that is welcoming and easy to participate in.

Annotated on March 03, 2020 at 08:01PM

I want to have ways to show learners that I chose the texts for them, as I’m convinced that empathy is motivating.

I quite like this idea as a means of pedagogy.
Annotated on March 03, 2020 at 08:03PM