Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop – Sketchnotes from June 2014 Scientific American article by Cindi May #sketchnotes #handwriting #handwritten #notes #laptop #scientific #learn @sciam @GarethIdeas @cindi_may pic.twitter.com/4auVlcGd4K
— Andy McNally (@andymcnally) April 5, 2018
A post on the potential “far transfer” of music education – ie the longer term impact on cognitive ability. I like the way that Pedro restrains his enthusiasm here! “Far transfer” is tricky to study, but also is a factor in education that needs to be considered when subjects/disciplines are accused of lacking “relevance”
I’m a musician as some of you might know and very much in favor of music and music lessons, but I’m a bit hesitant about this new study. It sounds like great news: cognitive skills developed from music lessons appear to transfer to unrelated subjects, leading to improved academic performance.
Why I’m not so sure? Well, this kind of far transfer is not something easy to achieve and I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. So, let’s have a look at the press release:
Structured music lessons significantly enhance children’s cognitive abilities — including language-based reasoning, short-term memory, planning and inhibition — which lead to improved academic performance. Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, the research is the first large-scale, longitudinal study to be adapted into the regular school curriculum. Visual arts lessons were also found to significantly improve children’s visual and spatial memory.
Music education has…
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I blogged the other day on a recent paper on the myth of the digital native. Here is another paper, by Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin, from nearly a decade ago, on the same theme – and equally trenchant:
The idea that a new generation of students is entering the education system has excited recent attention among educators and education commentators. Termed ‘digital natives’ or the ‘Net generation’, these young people are said to have been immersed in technology all their lives, imbuing them with sophisticated technical skills and learning preferences for which traditional education is unprepared. Grand claims are being made about the nature of this generational change and about the urgent necessity for educational reform in response. A sense of impending crisis pervades this debate. However, the actual situation is far from clear. In this paper, the authors draw on the fields of education and sociology to analyse the digital natives debate. The paper presents and questions the main claims made about digital natives and analyses the nature of the debate itself. We argue that rather than being empirically and theoretically informed, the debate can be likened to an academic form of a ‘moral panic’. We propose that a more measured and disinterested approach is now required to investigate ‘digital natives’ and their implications for education.
On an entirely different note, the authors are/were affiliated with the University of Woolongong. Recent days have seen the death of Geoff Mack, who wrote the song “I’ve Been Everywhere” Originally a list of Australian placenames :
Anyway, back the digital natives. Bennet et al begin with a quote from Marcel Proust:
The one thing that does not change is that at any and every time it appears that there have been
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove
The authors summarise what a digital native is supposed to be like – and the not exactly extensive evidence base for their existence:
The claim made for the existence of a generation of ‘digital natives’ is based on two
main assumptions in the literature, which can be summarised as follows:
1. Young people of the digital native generation possess sophisticated
knowledge of and skills with information technologies.
2. As a result of their upbringing and experiences with technology, digital natives have particular learning preferences or styles that differ from earlier generations of students.
In the seminal literature on digital natives, these assertions are put forward with limited
empirical evidence (eg, Tapscott, 1998), or supported by anecdotes and appeals to
common-sense beliefs (eg, Prensky, 2001a). Furthermore, this literature has been referenced,
often uncritically, in a host of later publications (Gaston, 2006; Gros, 2003;
Long, 2005; McHale, 2005; Skiba, 2005). There is, however, an emerging body of
research that is beginning to reveal some of the complexity of young people’s computer
use and skills.
No one denies that a lot of young people use a lot of technology – but not all:
In summary, though limited in scope and focus, the research evidence to date indicates
that a proportion of young people are highly adept with technology and rely on it for a
range of information gathering and communication activities. However, there also
appears to be a significant proportion of young people who do not have the levels of access or technology skills predicted by proponents of the digital native idea. Such generalisations about a whole generation of young people thereby focus attention on
technically adept students. With this comes the danger that those less interested and less able will be neglected, and that the potential impact of socio-economic and cultural factors will be overlooked. It may be that there is as much variation within the digital native generation as between the generations.
It is often suggested that children who are merrily exploring the digital world are ground down with frustration by not having the same access to computers in school. This is part of a more general (with familiar rhetoric for the health IT world) demand for transformation (the word “disruptive” in its modern usage had not quite caught on in 2008) As is often the case, the empirical evidence (and also, I would say, a certain degree of common sense) is not with the disrupters:
The claim we will now examine is that current educational systems must change in
response to a new generation of technically adept young people. Current students have
been variously described as disappointed (Oblinger, 2003), dissatisfied (Levin & Arafeh,
2002) and disengaged (Prensky, 2005a). It is also argued that educational institutions
at all levels are rapidly becoming outdated and irrelevant, and that there is an urgent
need to change what is taught and how(Prensky, 2001a; Tapscott, 1998). For example,
Tapscott (1999) urges educators and authorities to ‘[g]ive students the tools, and they
will be the single most important source of guidance on how to make their schools relevant and effective places to learn’ (p. 11).Without such a transformation, commentators
warn, we risk failing a generation of students and our institutions face imminent
However, there is little evidence of the serious disaffection and alienation among students
claimed by commentators. Downes’ (2002) study of primary school children
(5–12 years old) found that home computer use was more varied than school use and
enabled children greater freedom and opportunity to learn by doing. The participants
did report feeling limited in the time they were allocated to use computers at school and
in the way their use was constrained by teacher-directed learning activities. Similarly,
Levin and Arafeh’s (2002) study revealed students’ frustrations at their school Internet
use being restricted, but crucially also their recognition of the school’s in loco parentis
role in protecting them from inappropriate material. Selwyn’s (2006) student participants
were also frustrated that their freedom of use was curtailed at school and ‘were
well aware of a digital disconnect but displayed a pragmatic acceptance rather than the
outright alienation from the school that some commentators would suggest’ (p. 5).
In 2008 Bennett et al summarised similar issues relating to students actual rather than perceived technical adeptness and net savviness to the 2016 authors:
Furthermore, questions must be asked about the relevance to education of the everyday
ICTs skills possessed by technically adept young people. For example, it cannot be
assumed that knowing how to look up ‘cheats’ for computer games on the Internet
bears any relation to the skills required to assess a website’s relevance for a school
project. Indeed, existing research suggests otherwise. When observing students interacting
with text obtained from an Internet search, Sutherland-Smith (2002) reported
that many were easily frustrated when not instantly gratified in their search for immediate
answers and appeared to adopt a ‘snatch and grab philosophy’ (p. 664). Similarly,
Eagleton, Guinee and Langlais (2003) observed middle-school students often making
‘hasty, random choices with little thought and evaluation’ (p. 30).
Such research observes shallow, random and often passive interactions with text,which
raise significant questions about what digital natives can actually do as they engage
with and make meaning from such technology. As noted by Lorenzo and Dziuban
(2006), concerns over students’ lack of critical thinking when using Internet-based
information sources imply that ‘students aren’t as net savvy as we might have assumed’
(p. 2). This suggests that students’ everyday technology practices may not be directly
applicable to academic tasks, and so education has a vitally important role in fostering
information literacies that will support learning.
Again, this is a paper I could quote bits from all day – so here are a couple of paragraphs from towards the end that summarises their (and my) take on the digital natives:
Neither dismissive scepticism nor uncritical advocacy enable understanding of whether
the phenomenon of digital natives is significant and in what ways education might need
to change to accommodate it. As we have discussed in this paper, research is beginning
to expose arguments about digital natives to critical enquiry, but much more needs to be
done. Close scrutiny of the assumptions underlying the digital natives notion reveals
avenues of inquiry that will inform the debate. Such understanding and evidence are
necessary precursors to change.
The claim that there is a distinctive new generation of students in possession of sophisticated
technology skills and with learning preferences for which education is not
equipped to support has excited much recent attention. Proponents arguing that education
must change dramatically to cater for the needs of these digital natives have
sparked an academic form of a ‘moral panic’ using extreme arguments that have lacked
Finally, after posting the prior summary of Kirschner and deBruckyne’s paper, I searched hashtag #digitalnatives on Twitter and – self-promotingly – replied to some of the original tweeters with a link to the paper (interestingly quite a few #digitalnatives tweets were links to discussions of the Kirschner/deBruckyne paper) Some were very receptive, but others were markedly defensive. Obviously a total stranger coming along and pedantically pointing out your hashtag is about something that doesn’t exist may not be the most polite way of interacting on twitter – but also quite a lot of us are quite attached to the myth of the digital native
West Virginia hospital system sees readmission reductions from patient education initiative
A telehealth initiative at Charleston Area Medical Center led to reduced readmission rates for several chronic conditions, the health system reported today.
What led to the reductions wasn’t the advent of video consultations with specialists or sophisticated biometric sensor monitoring, but health information for patients and workflow integration for hospital staff via SmarTigr, TeleHealth Services’s interactive patient education and engagement platform that offers videos designed to educate patients about their care and medication
Technology is an enabler of improved patient self-management and improved clinician performance – not an end in itself.
More on the health education elements of this project:
As only 12 percent of US adults have the proficient health literacy required to self-manage their health, the four-hospital West Virginia system launched the initiative in 2015 to see what they could do to improve that statistic. With SmarTigr, they developed condition-specific curriculums – which are available in multiple languages – and then “prescribed” the videos, which are integrated into smart TVs, hospital software platforms and mobile applications. Patients then complete quizzes, and the hospital staff review reports of patient compliance and comprehension, and all measurements become part of the patient’s medical record.
“Self-management” can be a godterm, shutting down debate, but the sad reality that health literacy (and, I would argue, overall literacy) is such in the general population that it will remain a chimera.
Finally, this project involved frontline clinicians via a mechanism I hadn’t heard of before – the “nurse navigator”
Lilly developed a standard educational approach by working with registered nurse Beverly Thornton, CAMC’s Health Education and Research Institute education director, as well as two “nurse navigators,” who work directly with the front-line nurses. They developed disease-specific video prescriptions for CHF and COPD that give a detailed list of educational content videos patients are to watch before they are discharged, followed by quizzes.
One interesting moment at the CCIO Network Summer School came in a panel discussion. A speaker was talking about the vast amount of data that can be collected and how impractical this can be. He gave the example of – while acknowledging that he completely understood why this particular data might be interesting – the postcode of the patients most frequent visitor. As someone pointed out from the audience, the person in the best position to collect this data is probably the patient themselves.
When I heard this discussion, the part of my that still harbours research ambitions thought “that is a very interesting data point.” And working in a mixed urban/rural catchment area, in a service which has experienced unit closures and admission bed centralisation, I thought of how illustrative that would be of the personal experience behind these decisions.
However, the principle that was being stated – that clinical data is that which is generated in clinical activity – seems to be one of the only ways of keeping the potential vast amount of data that could go into an EHR manageable. Recently I have been reading Helen Pearson’s “The Life Project” , a review of which will shortly enough appear. Pearson tells the story of the UK Birth Cohort Studies. Most of this story is an account of these studies surviving against the institutional odds and becoming key cornerstones of British research. Pearson explicitly tries to create a sense of civic pride about these studies, akin to that felt about the NHS and BBC. However, in late 2015 the most recent birth cohort study, the Life Study, was cancelled for sheer lack of volunteers. The reasons for this are complex, and to my mind suggest something changing in British society in general (in the 1946 study it was assumed that mothers would simply comply with the request to participate as a sort of extension of wartime duty) – but one factor was surely the amount of questions to be answered and samples to be given:
But the Life Study aims to distinguish itself, in particular by collecting detailed information on pregnancy and the first year of the children’s lives — a period that is considered crucial in shaping later development.
The scientists plan to squirrel away freezer-fulls of tissue samples, including urine, blood, faeces and pieces of placenta, as well as reams of data, ranging from parents’ income to records of their mobile-phone use and videos of the babies interacting with their parents. (from Feb 2015 article in Nature by Pearson)
All very worthy, but it seems to me that the birth cohort studies were victims of their own success. Pearson describes that, almost from the start, they were torn between a more medical outlook and a more sociological outlook. Often this tension was fruitful, but in the case of Life Study it seems to have led to a Mission Overload.
I have often felt that there is a commonality of interest between the Health IT community, the research methodology community, and the medical education community and the potential of EHRs for epidemiology research, dissemination of best evidence at point of care and realistic “virtual patient” construction is vast. I will come back to these areas of commonality again. However, there is also a need to remember the different ways a clinician, an IT professional, an epidemiologist, an administrator, and an educationalist might look at data. The Life Study perhaps serves as a warning.
This is far from my first effort at blogging. There was a blog about classical music concerts in Dublin which may still exist out there. There has been a now defunct blog on the University of Warwick site entitled “Philosophy as a Way of Life.” There was a blog called “Taytoman Agonistes” which still exists – it was basically a commonplace book. There has been Scarface Project, , which I tried to get people interested in There has been Alarm Logos of Dublin, which I also have tried to get people interested in
And there was Psychiatry and Society , which was linked with a series of lectures of the same name I organised for UCD undergraduate medical students. The blog was the subject of academic research as you can read here. To quote that abstract in full:
Blogs have achieved immense popularity in recent years. The interactive nature of blogs and other web-based tools seem consonant with contemporary pedagogical theories regarding student engagement, learner-centred teaching and deep learning. The literature on the use of blogs in education and in particular medical education has focused largely on their potential use rather than the practical experience of medical educators.
We designed a series of teaching sessions designed to explore the interface between psychiatry, mental health, and wider social issues. To complement this course, a blog specifically designed to provide extra information on the material covered was produced, and to act as a forum for discussion. A widely available, free-to-access web based tool was used to create and design the blog. One of the course tutors was the administrator, and invited the other tutors and lecturers from the course to write on the blog. The blog was publicised at the students’ lectures, at which all the students were present, and via the students’ eLearning platform.
To fully assess the effectiveness of the blog in helping students achieve the learning objectives, quantitative measurements are required. A focus group of students was formed to explore medical students’ use of blogs for educational purposes in general, and the use of this blog in particular. These findings, and reflections on the use of the blog from the lecturer’s point of view, are presented
And that’s more or less what we did. The main “reflection” that has stuck with me in the years since was a comment from a participant that she preferred books as they were more interactive than online resources; you can simply underline, highlight and generally write on a book. This has stayed with me as an example of the paradox that “interactive” technology is “interactive” in very specific, designed ways.
The blog is still there in all its Blogspot glory. There isn’t all that much evidence of student interactivity, except here, predictably enough in a post about faith and delusion. I didn’t realise that there have been comments left in more recent years. I am not sure if any make all that much sense, even the ones which aren’t spam (and which are written in the patented Mr Angry YOU ARE JUST WRONG style so common in internet discourse)
Looking through the blog overall, I don’t find much that deserves to survive the inevitable disappearance of blogspot in a few years. I did come across this amusing story again which reminds me of something else entirely I will (probably) post here. Looking back ,there is a tension between the blog as a sort of electronic notice board (ie lecture A will be on date B) and my attempts to post contact that would evoke comment. This never really panned out. I deliberately kept a lid on prolixity and looked for topics that I thought would be interesting for a diverse group of medical students. Of course, in retrospect, it would have been best to enlist a group of medical students to actually blog themselves. Those days have come and gone, and Web 2.0 is rather old hat now, but it was an interesting experiment.