I must admit that to this outsider, the field of education seems very odd! It is surprising how enthusiastically the field embraces new ideas, and their eagerness to denigrate the old ways is even more unusual. I certainly can’t imagine engineers or biologists so willing to say that the last 200 years were done all wrong, and insist we need to completely reinvent the field – yet if this week’s readings are to be believed, pedagogy since the 1500s has been a disaster. Even Robert Talbert claims that organized lectures are useless for “information transfer”, and he was its only proponent.
As an outsider, maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about, but while the intersection of digital gamification and active learning seems to be innovative and useful, it is also hardly a panacea. As a product, or perhaps victim, of the old educational system (nearly was one of‘ third of college students), I have a few layman’s criticisms:
1. Gamified learning sounds great, but is it truly accessible for all students? I like
Twenty-two years of research shows that PBL does not impact knowledge acquisition; evidence for other outcomes does not provide unequivocal support for enhanced learning.” (Harting, et al. 2010). So, at the end of the day, are we certain that these changes are as beneficial as these authors claim? Or is active learning just another subtle improvement on a centuries old formula?
Side note: The “New Learners of the 21st Century” documentary makes an egregious false equivalence when it compares social-media and game addicts, who are condemned, to studious kids who are praised. The addiction to video games can be as pathological and compulsive as the addiction to hard drugs. It is a legitimate psychological disorder which literally kills a few young people per year. Though I suppose it is possible to do the same studying, it is certainly not something to be praised. On the contrary, an obsession with studying could also be extremely dangerous, while gaming, social-media, or studying in moderation is fine.
TL;DR: Sounds good, but: Introverts must hate active learning. Is it really applicable to all fields? Does it really work as well as these authors claim (I doubt it)? Addiction is bad.
- Hartling, Lisa, Carol Spooner, Lisa Tjosvold, and Anna Oswald. “Problem-based learning in pre-clinical medical education: 22 years of outcome research.” Medical teacher 32, no. 1 (2010): 28-35.