Archive for the ‘Knowledge Quest’ Category

Innovate through connections

connection

Recently I watched an interesting interview with Harper Reed who was the chief technology officer for Barack Obama Presidential election campaign.

Reed describes himself as ‘an engineer who builds paradigm-shifting technology’. He also loves ‘using the enormity of the Internet to bring people together’.

What I really found interesting in this interview is that a self-confessed geek thinks the time has come for innovation to focus less on technology and more on people.

Reed says that technology has been mostly solved. Sure, technology will continue to move at a rapid pace with many more innovations to come. However we at the point now where we need to focus more on how people work with each other. As Reed says, how do you innovate on working with people?

Part of what Reed is interested in here is connecting diverse groups of people. He sees these connections and collaborations as the seeds of innovation.

I once worked with a history teacher who connected his students to the United Nations via live webcasts of the General Assembly. What a simple yet powerful way to connect his students to the world’s foremost organisation for peacekeeping and human rights! What a powerful way to learn at the same time as history is being written!

Connecting people is one of the key components of Jacaranda’s digital products. assessON, Knowledge Quest, myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas, ProjectsPLUS and studyON connect students with their teachers. This enables teachers to track the progress of their students and to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses.

And there is also scope in myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas and ProjectsPLUS to connect students, and their work, with not only their class mates but with students and teachers all over the world!

The technology has largely been solved.

Now the time has come for us to innovate powerful learning experiences by making the connections between learners.

The right conditions for feedback

Feedback …… is the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge and without it no amount of practice will get you there”.

One of the most interesting books I have read on high performance is Matthew Syed’s Bounce.

Syed was England’s Table Tennis Champion for many years and competed at the Barcelona and Sydney Olympics. He now works as a prominent sports journalist in the UK.

Bounce explores what really lies behind world-beating achievement in sport and other walks of life. In doing so, Syed explores the success of a wide range of high achievers including Mozart, Roger Federer, Picasso and David Beckham.

The general view that we have of high achievers is that they are blessed with extraordinary natural ability. However Syed’s central thesis is that natural ability has very little to do with high achievement and more to do with implementing the right conditions for performance.

One of these conditions is purposeful practice and meaningful feedback.

In exploring his own development as a table tennis champion, Syed points out how he was instructed by his coach to change his highly variable forehand stroke. Sometimes his forehand was played with a high arc, sometimes with a bit of sidespin. Syed reasoned that the variation in his forehand made him an inventive player.

However Syed’s coach insisted that the forehand should be identical every time it is played. For two months, Syed’s was instructed to repeat an identical forehand in training so that it is “played with a long sweeping arc, starting from my (Syed’s) right ear and finishing a few inches above my ankle and taken at precisely the same height of the net with exactly with 80 degrees of knee bend” (p. 94). This was practised until it was encoded into Syed’s DNA.

Syed questioned the value of spending so many gruelling hours practising the same stroke without any variations. But with the wisdom of hindsight, he realised his coach was creating the conditions for purposeful practice and meaningful feedback.

With a variable forehand it is difficult to identify what was wrong when Syed made an error was made. However by reproducing an identical stroke, it is far easier to identify technical errors so that corrective refinement and readjustment could be made.

In other words, Syed was empowered with a tool for automatic feedback and a powerful mechanism for learning. In his own words, “feedback …… is the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge and without it no amount of practice will get you there”.

When implementing meaningful assessment for our students we also strive to provide the right conditions for purposeful practice and meaningful feedback. If we can provide the right conditions, our students will have tools to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to make refinements.  More importantly, purposeful practice and meaningful feedback will help build the capabilities of our students to make effective decisions about their learning.

Jacaranda is committed to providing the right conditions for learning. Purposeful practice and meaningful feedback is deliberately built into all of Jacaranda’s digital-first products including assessON, Knowledge Quest, myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas and studyON.

This feedback loop provides the right conditions for:

  • Assessment of learning (to compare what has been learned to what has been taught).
  • Assessment for learning (to check what is known and what needs to be known to complete a learning task).
  • Assessment as learning (enabling students to self-assess and find out more about themselves as learners).
studyON VCE Further Mathematics Units 3 & 4 - My results

studyON VCE Further Mathematics Units 3 & 4 – My results

Whether your students are striving to hit the perfect forehand or solve a difficult equation, purposeful practice and meaningful feedback is vital in all learning contexts. Like Syed’s coach, teachers need to create the right conditions for this to occur.

Your students will thank you for implementing and optimising the right conditions for their learning.

Did you invent Knowledge Quest?


Did you invent Knowledge Quest?
Did you make up Knowledge Quest?
How did you make Knowledge Quest?

I’m just back from two weeks in Victoria where I visited several schools using Knowledge Quest.

In every class I visited, 13 year olds peppered me with questions about Knowledge Quest and my capacity for creativity and innovation.

Regrettably I had to answer these questions with ‘no, I didn’t invent Knowledge Quest, but I wish I did’.

It is always a good sign when students ask these sorts of questions.

In an industrial economy, there was little scope to ask questions. Compliant workers in factories had a set of procedures to follow. Schools were established so that compliant workers could be churned out to work in factories.

No need to ask questions, just do what you’re told to do.

The rapid changes of today’s economy require a new worker. Today it is important to ask questions, take some risks, have the capacity to solve problems and create new ideas. This presents a cultural shift in the way we live and work in the 21st century.

Knowledge Quest symbolises a cultural shift. As a learning resource, it draws on elements of gaming in popular culture which are combined with new ways of learning in the 21st century. It gives students a new way of learning grammar.

No questions here about engagement from the students I met – they like this way of learning.

But these 13 year olds also peppered me with questions about features they would like to see in the next version of Knowledge Quest. No shortage of ideas here.

At this point, I opened my notebook and jotted down their ideas to pass on to some of my colleagues at Jacaranda.

These 13 year old inventors had many ideas to share.

Knowledge Quest

Knowledge Quest – video


Let the games begin

Child Playing

What I love about summer holidays is that you feel like a kid again.

The luxury of time and space during holidays allows you to have more fun. You play with the kids more and discover your inner child again. You also think of all those wonderful childhood memories when you were having fun.

As we get older, fun and games are relegated to the fringes – fun is something ‘trivial’ that we fit in around the seriousness of our daily adult lives. No wonder we yearn for the simple days of our childhood when we find the going is getting tough!

The good news is that fun and games are coming back more into our adult lives. Yes, 2012 is an Olympic year. But the concept of games goes well beyond the Olympics – games are now influencing the way we work and learn.

Gamification is a movement that takes fun and games away from the periphery and places it into the centre of our lives. More specifically, gamification refers to the use of game design elements to engage audiences in solving problems. These elements include high-levels of interactivity and the recognition of achievements and rewards through badges. The aim is to make learning fun and to motivate students to learn better.

Jacaranda’s Knowledge Quest engages and motivates students by putting the fun back into the learning of English skills. It is an immersive, interactive game that specifically targets NAPLAN testing.

I once taught English up to Year 10. Knowledge Quest is exactly what I needed when I was trying to make students believe that learning grammar was fun. I didn’t succeed here – my students knew I was pretending!

As for now, I am really having fun as I show teachers across Australia how the game context in Knowledge Quest can be used to learn English skills. It is wonderful to see so many teachers having fun as they jump over obstacles and navigate nouns, possessive adjectives, prepositions and verbs in an attempt to prove their grammatical prowess.

And the best part is when these teachers say that they feel like kids again!

Knowledge Quest

Knowledge Quest – video

Knowledge Quest

Knowledge Quest is live!

Knowledge Quest

Jacaranda’s new immersive, interactive game Knowledge Quest is live!

Time for your students in 2012 to have serious fun! What a great way to engage your students while they master the core skills of the English language!

Knowledge Quest – video

Knowledge Quest: serious fun

What has happened to ‘fun’?

Once upon a time we had a very clear distinction between ‘work’ and ‘fun’. We went to work. When we finished work we went home and had fun.

This separation of ‘work’ and ‘fun’ is a construct of an industrial economy.

In post-modern knowledge economy, we complain about not achieving work-life balance. We’re too busy to have time for fun.

Instead of thinking about separating fun from work, we now need to integrate the two.

Separating work and fun is the industrial economy mindset. Integrating work and fun is the new post-industrial mindset we need to apply. We need to have fun when we work.

We also separate work and fun in education. There is a time to be serious and a time to have fun. Why not have fun whilst learning?

It is also time to apply a new mindset to education in the 21st century. Let’s have fun while we are doing the serious work of learning.

Jacaranda’s Knowledge Quest integrates work and fun. Knowledge Quest English is an immersive, interactive game, supported by a full colour workbook, that builds core skills in English. It helps students, teachers and parents prepare for the NAPLAN test with best-practice diagnostic technology that monitors individual progress.

Time to have serious fun!

Knowledge Quest is released next week!

Knowledge Quest – video

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