Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making Decisions

Making Decisions


After doing the readings and listening to the Elluminate session during this week’s edfutures lesson. I just keep going back to how can I use this new-found knowledge of decision-making in the classroom.


Basically, as I understand it decision-making is making educated guesses about what the future is going to hold. We base these decisions on past events and past experiences. We can train for eventualities, but at least for me, that doesn’t really help as much as having the real experiences.


I’ve read before that Captain Sulley was the exact right person to be flying a jet that was going to have to make a crash landing into the Hudson River because he lives and breathes flying. When the birds hit the jet he didn’t panic, rather he fell back onto his training and did what he had to do to land the plane safely. Recently, I’ve heard that other pilots working in simulators have managed to return the jet to the airport.  Whoopie do! First, there is a difference between the real thing and a simulator. Second, I think the first time people in general encounter a situation the likely hood of achieving the best possible result is, I would think, unlikely. Now that a jet has crash landed into a river we can practice for that eventuality. The next time, we hope the pilot will be ready and will return the aircraft to the airport. 


That brings up two points. First, I think most decision-making really comes after the fact. Second, we can and do use that decision-making to improve.  


When something unexpected is happening it seems to be best to have someone with as much experience as possible running things so that he/she can evaluate the situation and unconsciously find a solution that doesn’t exist for a problem that has never been encountered before.


After the unexpected we then can go back examine what happened, good and bad, and reconstruct alternatives to create better solutions. Hence, other pilots use simulators to recreate a jet crash and learn how to turn the airplane around and return safely to the airport. I wonder how many of those simulations ended up in a crash?


In today’s school I don’t understand why more pre-service teachers aren’t asked spend more time in the actual classroom teaching under the guidance of an experienced mentor. I’ve been saying for years, and I think almost every teacher in the world will agree that teaching programs should have a two-year internship. One watching and co-teaching everyday with a master teacher and the second teaching, but planning and being observed with a master teacher on a weekly basis.


What does all this decision-making research have to do with the future of education? That is a good question. I think it means we are taking education in the exact opposite direction of what we should. We should be promoting the most experienced educators to leadership positions and let them guide us in the best direction possible. Evaluate the results and make corrections through decision-making analysis later. Instead we are putting people with experience in management in charge of education and asking them to save education. They may be most likely to save the budget crisis of education in America, but least likely to save education itself.



Saturday, May 1, 2010

Edfutures, Reality Games, and Trends

The world is changing that is a fact. Education is changing. We seem to be transitioning from a set quantifiable collection of facts that make up being educated and we are moving towards an idea of lifelong learners or critical thinkers or creative learners. At least educators are doing this, it seems that the politicians are doing the best they can to stop the march of change.

Edfutures started this week talking about creating an artifact. We want to create something so when we come back years later to reference what we learned in this course we would have something to point to. But in reality the creation of an artifact is just the top level of Bloom’s taxonomy. We are creating something new from what we learned. What we are doing this week is discussing creativity and critical thinking.

Then I listen to Jesse Schell and his Designing Outside the Box presentation at DICE. And he talks about games. As he started talking about Facebook and Farmville and how those games caught all game designers by surprise and they seem to be taking over the world I at first stated thinking about sending this to my mom and wife (the two biggest Farmville addicts I know). I had already sent this article explaining how Farmville was basically a waste of time and contributed nothing to the world, whereas games should actually create a higher plain of existence and the inspiration we get from games can be brought back for us to try to implement and start creating Utopia, or so the Greek thinkers postulate. (A really a big paraphrase there) Of course sometimes I disagree with that hypothesis because I think Farmville creates a marketplace of sharing and favors between friends. So when Jesse went on and started talking about how games were starting to leak into reality it really made sense.

The reality is that Farmville and games like it are creating a way for people to socialize, but not just talk, rather they are creating an entire marketplace where I might do favors for you on the game and you might return the favor with babysitting services so my spouse and I can have date night. And who knows what else. Who knows what else because listening to the end of the talk Jesse ends with the idea that if our legacy is being preserved in the game “that maybe I should change my behavior a bit and better than I would have been. They might inspire us to be better people if the games are designed that way.”

So back to education the original point of this whole thing, if the game designers don’t get together and design altruistic games. Or if the games aren’t all created by entities with our best interests in mind, or the best interests of the world in mind, than it is incumbent on the educational system to create educated individuals who can see past the game and not be controlled by the game.

At the moment games are usually designed by corporations whose only intent is to make us consumers. Honestly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The game makers want us to buy something and we can already see that they are doing a pretty good job. Judging by the number of new toolbars on my wives computer I would say they are getting pretty good at convincing us to buy crap we don’t really need.

It has been pretty big news that Obama used advertisements in games and leveraged social media to help with the 2008 presidential election. While some may point to that as the first of many sucker punches the games industry is aiming towards the general population. The reality seems to be that if our students don’t start learning solid critical thinking skills then we truly are setting them up to be suckers for every Tom, Dick, and Harry with an idea for a game.

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