Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Element Song

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Experience and knowledge 1

The recent exchange of posts and comments shows the difference between Stephen Downes and me is more than just on the semantics of the word "experience". So let me just state the meaning I attach to this word and let Stephen do the same if he so chooses.

To me, experience refers to the total stimulations, entered via our perception systems, that have caught our attention. Experiences should be able to be recalled.

Closely related to experience is the notion of "intuition" which is the belief (or world view) based on our past experiences. Note here that culture is built up via our part experiences in interacting with other human.

One of the interesting observation related to the examples I used in Experience *alone* is a poor teacher is that the current accepted truth in both cases are counter-intuitive. In fact, a lot of important discoveries are made when obvious intuitions are being challenged.

The point I was trying to make in that post was that experience ALONE is not the sufficient condition to enable learning. In many cases, however, experience provides a good foundation for understanding.

Learning is a deliberate effort by the learner. Speaking and hearing is almost effortless if one is bought up within a community using that language. Writing and reading, however, requires deliberate effort - one needs to learn to read and write. Experience alone, i.e. seeing groups of letters on newspaper every day, does not lead to understanding of the news.

In this era, knowledge is the kind that requires learning - beyond just experience.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Experience *alone* is a poor teacher

Stephen Downes left a thoughtful comment to my last post pointing out the poor example given by Halpern & Hakel, 2003:

In fact, experience is a very good teacher - if we listen to it consistently and with rigour. And indeed, it is the only teacher we have.

I agree. The emphasis should be on the word *alone*.

Let me try to give examples:
If we push an object along a horizontal surface, our experience will tell us that when we stop pushing, the object will eventually stop moving. No matter how many times you repeat this experiment, it will have the same answer.

For all practical purposes, including building high-rise building, we can treat the sruface of Earth as flat.

Science now tells us that both of these experiences are wrong. We now know that these experiences are wrong*. In the first case, our experience is masked by 'friction'. In an ideal situation where is no friction between the object and the surface and when there is no other external force acting on the object, the object will move at constant velocity forever - inertia! In the second case, the Earth being spherical can be noticed when we are watching a ship sailing towards the land. The highest point of the ship will come in sight first because the Earth is NOT flat!

We have millions of experience daily. Among those, a large amount do not attract our attention any more. For instance, our excitement of being able to brush our own teeth has long fainted away. Yet a lot has been repeated so many times that they have become "truth".

The key to use experience as a teacher is to "triangulate" and seek coherent explanation beyond just the experience itself. The additional effort beyond experiencing the experience is where the real learning occurs.

*In light of the comment by Stephen Downes, I have changed this sentence. See today's post.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Experience alone is a poor teacher

from Applying the Science of Learning to the University and Beyond; Teaching for Long-Term Retention and Transfer
Halpern, Diane F., Hakel, Milton D.. Change. New Rochelle:Jul/Aug 2003. Vol. 35, Iss. 4, p. 36

Experience alone is a poor teacher. There are countless examples that illustrate that what people learn from experience can be systematically wrong. For example, physicians often believe that an intervention has worked when a patient improves after a particular treatment regime. But most patients will improve no matter what intervention occurs. If the patient does not improve, then physicians may reason that he or she was "too sick" to have benefited from effective treatment. There are countless examples of this sort of erroneous thinking in both professional practice and everyday life, where current beliefs about the world and how it works are maintained and strengthened, despite the fact that they are wrong.

People, therefore, frequently end up with great confidence in their erroneous beliefs. Confidence is not a reliable indicator of depth or quality of learning. In fact, research in metacognition has shown that most people are poor judges of how well they comprehend a complex topic.

The fact that most people don't know much about the quality of their comprehension is important, because there is a popular belief that all learning and assessment should be "authentic"--that is, nearly identical in content and context to the situation in which the information to be learned will be used. But what is missing from most authentic situations--and from most real-life situations as well--is systematic and corrective feedback about the consequences of various actions.

To return to the example of physicians, many medical schools have now adopted simulated patients as a teaching and testing tool--actors trained to present a variety of symptoms for novice practitioners to diagnose--because unplanned clinical encounters with real patients can't provide the necessary variety and feedback.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Survival of mankind and its solution

Mandatory watch for all politicians worldwide. (starts at 2:15 min)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

League of Worlds Oct 2008

1. Just a short reminder that abstract summaries are due on the 20th of July 2008
Submit all proposals in Word, RTF, PDF or HTML format to:
Dr. Stephen Bronack (bronacksc at appstate dot edu)

2. You can now register for the conference on-line from - click the Conference Registration link - that will take you to a registration page.

3. We have come to agreement with James Morrison, the editor of Innovate, for a Special Issue of the journal (due May/April 2009) on our conference theme "Future Worlds: virtual worlds today and tomorrow" with guest editors: Stephen Bronack, Owen Kelly and Roni Linser, that will publish some of the better papers from the conference.

All are invited, whether they present at the conference or not, to submit a manuscript for publication relating to the conference theme directly to Innovate for that the special issue. You can find author guidelines at that includes the following statement:

"We will consider a manuscript that has been presented at a conference or even published in conference proceedings. Disclose conference information at the end of the manuscript, imitating this example: [This article was modified from a presentation at the EDUCAUSE annual conference in Atlanta, GA, October 2002.] If possible, provide hyperlinks for the presentation file (if available in Web conference proceedings), the sponsoring organization, and the conference home page."

SPECIAL NOTE: Innovate will also publish a special issue on academics in virtual worlds as the October/November issue.

4. a quick reminder of
Important Dates

Paper submission - summary and explanationJuly 20, 2008
Notification of AcceptanceJuly 29, 2008
1st Draft DueAugust 20, 2008
Registration DeadlineSeptember 5, 2008
Final Draft DueSeptember 5, 2008
ColloquiumOctober 13-17, 2008

Accepted presentations will be required to submit the following by September 5, 2008:

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Periodic Table of Videos

Sunday, 13 July 2008

American Got Talent - so were the Chinese

And this is the Chinese version

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

On Creativity, again

The three most important factors of being creativity are:
1. Try
2. Try again.
3. Try again and again.

see sufficient condition of creativity

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Ligntning Strikes

What happen to you if your aeroplane is striked by lightning?

Dont worry. It is prefectly safe, Faraday's Cage!

What about when you are in a car?

At least, the camera survived to tell the story.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Coffee Art

Hope these videos can help you enjoy more of your coffee.

How raw Hubble image data is processed

This set of slides, with the accompanying notes, explain how the Hubble telescope's raw image data is processed to give us the beautiful images of the Universe.

The Hubble telescope has 4 cameras and 4 filters. For every image, two sets are taken. The story of how these 32 raw images are combined is VERY interesting.