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August 23, 2008


florence meichel

But what are the criteriums to evaluate skills ?...is that fair to evaluate the same things with Digital learning style and old teaching methodologies...i think we have to change the evaluating methods and we have to evaluate new skills ! The comparaison doesn't make sense !

florence meichel

The contradiction is not about results but about the way to think about results !


hey jon, thanks for your interesting post!

allow me to be provocative:

the categories you list are correct, but are they relevant?

in plain english, what you are saying is:

a) students who are not motivated to learn have bad grades

i am not sure about the difference between b and c ??
b & c) students who run off and do their own thing (and not what the teacher tells them) have no benefit from that - but have rather bad grades

d) students who learn and use the net to coordinate and complement their learning have the best grades

to be honest that is not very suprising to me.

however i really do think your interpretations are very to the point!

have you seen cases where the positive new learning styles have been acknoledged?

.hj barraza

To wiki or not to wiki
In Mexico there is this recurring problem among teachers even in the same institution and grade levels.

Wikipedia is forbidden. The university is concerned that students will loose the ability to research by themselves. Some think wiki is cheating because its everything is almost there and it makes lazy students.

Yet it offers no different results for a savvy student that has managed to learn how to exploit google hacks.

Continuing with Coolcatteacher's Argument (educating with industrial methods). whats more important is that we enable students to learn how to think rather than store massive amounts of knowledge before each exam.

Personally i always was the kind of student that gave pretty much a damn about grades, i learned anyway i could (because i couldnt afford the books) and had very mixed results, straight A's (well 90 and 100's for our grading standards) or barely passed the course, this in the same semester

The difference was that some teachers where ok with what i wanted to learn from the course and let me use whatever i could to learn and most of the time i came with new or different knowledge and sources that those from the rest of my friends

and then again there where other teachers that couldnt feel ok with the fact that i had different sources, and different knowledge than that found in their textbooks and predefined sources...

I think i won diversity and gain a very different perspective of the course. but most important of it all, i learned how to learn with the internet resources, and not to depend on a teacher or a book to gain new knowledge. Wiki, blogs, forums and even sometimes illegal PDF copies of the original books.

The important thing here is that i learned (and tough more students) how to be a resourceful and self-sufficient learner.

Gabriel Kent

HJ is spot on... we need education to foster learning skills and not simply memorization (in the U.S. this is becoming a much more common complaint, seemingly due to the over-promised under-funded "No Child Left Behind" act).

I think we need to really start thinking in terms of role-play. Then the question is no longer, do we use these tools or not, its how do people who work in this topic use these tools to create something useful?

Neurology is filling with studies that indicate humans learn primarily through the use of mirror neurons... which amounts to a sandbox in which guesses and observed human activity can be experimented with, the results of which eventually make their way to the 'live' portion of the brain for actual use.

No doubt the following statements are familiar to you, each made often and for good reason:

- "The best way to learn how to be a programmer, is to program"

- "The best way to learn how to be a teacher, is to teach"

- "The best way to learn how to be a scientist, is to do science"

Simply, the best way to learn how to do X is to do X.

So, how does X use the internet?



First of all, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to take part in the Q&A session and that it has taken me so long to get back to you, but for a number of reasons I’ve been unable to until now. Secondly, and getting to the point, I’d like to respond to the comments you’ve made, which I have found very interesting.


Florence, I think you have hit the nail on the head. The source of the inequality in academic results shown by the research results presented is in the fact that universities and faculty currently assess skills that differ from those acquired by those most likely to use the Internet in education. Is this fair? I don’t think it is, as it leads to disadvantages for this kind of student in terms of the results they achieve and, in a competitive world that is obsessed with assessing everything numerically, this can lead to unfair situations (eg, in terms of access to grants, to certain faculties, etc.). It is for this reason that the categories presented have the potential to be used to strongly denounce the university institution and the competitive system used to assess academic performance based on subjective measures that, historically, have marginalised socially disfavoured students and which are now doing the same to students who make the most innovative use of ICTs in education.


We should not forget, however, that life is more than results and, no doubt, the students who are more likely to make the best use of the Internet acquire a series of very useful skills for today’s society and for non-academic settings (work, personal, etc.), which will be of great benefit to them.


Max, in response to your question, I think that these categories are relevant. It is true that categories b and c involve students who do not do what the teacher tells them to, but there is an essential difference between them in that one set is interested in learning and, indeed, builds knowledge, though this is not valued (c), while the other set doesn’t or does so to a lesser extent (b). Thus, I think it is important to distinguish between the 2 groups as those in category c are acquiring a series of skills and competencies that are not being evaluated, while those in category b are not. Consequently, I feel that, in the knowledge society, one of the injustices in the assessment of academic results is that seen with respect to students in category c.

As I said to Florence, one of the functions of the categories of students presented is to denounce that the assessment system at Catalan universities generates a certain level of inequality in terms of those students with the most innovative use of the internet, which, no doubt, can be extrapolated to other university systems in many advanced countries, and without differentiating between b and c it is difficult to define exactly where this inequality lies.


HJ Barraza, students like you who, through the use of new technologies, complement and expand their view of the information gained at university are those who get the best marks. Why? Because they complement their knowledge and, thus, know more? This may be the case, because extending and complementing their knowledge requires prior knowledge of that being added to or complemented; but, likewise, using the hypothesis that the university only evaluates the skills and knowledge that it transmits and established in its curriculum, why are these students getting better results than those who study only that set? There may be another reason and that is that they are the students with the greatest interest in learning and the widest view of the world, and thus wider points of view are better for achieving higher marks: with more culture inherited from their family, with higher levels of intelligence, with a greater desire to see other cultural points of view, with higher levels of motivation… And this is the prototype of the good student. What’s more, this type of student learns to learn autonomously, thanks to which they create mental mechanisms and learning schemes that aid them in their academic work.


Gabriel, I am in complete agreement with you. A change is required in the assessment systems at universities in order to avoid the discrimination of students using the most innovative learning methodologies. Thus, as you say, “the best way to learn how to use the internet adequately is to use the internet adequately”. I think it is clear that a change is needed in faculty, to encourage this use and to allow students to learn. (We mustn’t forget that the role of faculty is to teach!). A clear way to do this is to take into consideration the skills acquired by using ICTs in education as skills that need to be included on the curriculum and thus assessable. Making them assessable would, I think, motivate students to use them correctly and thus may reduce the natural tendency to simplify life and for category-b students to make the “wrong” use of the Internet, and thus to avoid the injustice seen in terms of the academic performance of category-c students.

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