'Learning in a Time of Abundance' (Chpt 4: This is at Least Partially an Education Problem)

The EdTechWeekly gang continues its discussion of Dave's new book, Learning in a Time of Abundance
This week: Chapter 4 - This is at Least Partially an Education Problem

Audio Recording     Transcript

We continue the conversation next week.
June 10, 2300 UTC (7pm EDT)
Global Times


Sections (as determined and not-so-accurately described by Zoom's AI)

The team discussed Dave's book "Learning in a Time of Abundance", focusing on the differences between learning and education, and the challenges and potential of educational reform. They also explored the role and limitations of AI in education, emphasizing the need for a nuanced and context-based approach, and the importance of human interaction and empathy in certain fields. The discussion concluded with the team planning to cover more book chapters, collaborate on a project to prepare learning materials, and Jeff encouraging the use of a chat app for realistic conversations.

Dave Book Discussion and Education Debate
Jeff led a discussion about Dave book "Learning in a Time of Abundance", focusing on chapter four. The team also engaged in a lively debate regarding the benefits of solar panels, with Jeff presenting a pessimistic financial viewpoint and Dave a more optimistic one based on personal values. The conversation then shifted to the difference between learning and education, with Dave suggesting that learning is a natural process of change for individuals, while education is a system built by cultures to facilitate learning. The team discussed the complexities of education, the resistance to change, and the role of bureaucracy in preventing progress, emphasizing the need to teach students problem-solving skills and to improve education and learning outcomes.

Educational Reform Challenges and Solutions
Jeff, Jen, Dave, and John discussed the challenges of educational reform, specifically focusing on teaching methods and assessment. Dave emphasized the complexity of educational issues and highlighted that solving one problem often creates others. The group discussed the shift from intrinsic to extrinsic motivation as children grow, with Jeff suggesting that many kids are forced to learn things they don't want to. Dave noted that many teachers lack the tools and training to teach in a variety of ways, leading to a lack of engagement among students. The group agreed on the need for systemic changes to better support both teachers and students.

AI in Education: Balancing Personalization and Interaction
The team discussed the potential of AI in education, focusing on its benefits for instruction and learning. Jeff suggested that AI could effectively personalize learning and provide real-time feedback, especially in subjects like language learning and math. Dave and Jen, however, highlighted the importance of human interaction and a holistic approach to education, emphasizing the role of teachers and the value of social learning. The team agreed that AI could enhance the learning process, but it should not replace human teachers entirely.

Education System Limitations and Solutions
The team discussed the limitations of an education system that focuses solely on providing the correct answers, with Dave expressing concerns about the negative impact on learning and critical thinking. John and Jeff highlighted the importance of human interaction in medical training and the value of technology in practicing diagnosis skills, while Jen proposed that values play a crucial role in shaping the information provided by AI. Dave further emphasized the need for students to understand context and make informed decisions, rather than simply following instructions. The team agreed on the need for a more nuanced and context-based approach to education and problem-solving.

AI's Potential and Concentration of Power
Jen, Jeff, John, and Dave discussed the role and potential of AI in various fields. Jeff emphasized that AI is a useful tool for gathering information and instruction, notably in fields involving data analysis and personalized learning. However, he also highlighted that teaching values and making moral decisions require human interaction and empathy, which AI currently struggles to provide. The group also discussed the potential implications of AI's rollout, with Jen expressing concerns about the concentration of decision-making power in the hands of AI proponents like Elon Musk.

AI Limitations and Education Practices
The team engaged in a discussion about the limitations of AI and its current state, with Jeff suggesting that the technology is still in its early stages and has yet to reach its full potential. Dave voiced concerns over the efficacy of some AI models, citing his own experiments and the Apple Newton as examples. The conversation then shifted towards education, with Jen emphasizing the importance of evidence-based practices and the need for real-world context when implementing them. Dave further elaborated on this, critiquing the prescriptive nature of educational research and the challenge of defining 'winning' in the context of learning. Finally, Dave argued that reading ability should be measured through formative feedback to improve individuals' reading skills.

AI Addendum and Shrugcon Conference Discussion
Jen proposed the inclusion of an AI research addendum in their project. Dave shared information about the upcoming 'Shrugcon' conference, an online event focusing on uncertainty and education, which will feature collaborative sessions and facilitated discussions using Google Docs. The discussion also covered a collaborative project to prepare learning materials for students facing career uncertainties, with a particular emphasis on the wellbeing of society and the development of good citizenship and decision-making skills. Jeff expressed optimism about the future and suggested a follow-up discussion on this topic.