See Links for education for a collection of blogs, articles, and videos about good learning, teaching, and educational policy. For my own teaching, see My teaching.

It is good to think about teaching from the student’s point of view. Rather than “as a teacher, how can I impart knowledge to a student?” we should ask, “as a student, how would I like a teacher to facilitate my learning process?”

See my presentation on lifelong learning for general advice, with lots of references. (pdf or pptx)

A vision for the future of education under construction

On learning

  1. Knowledge exists more in connections than in nodes. Knowledge is inherently a network, not linear, not just a hierarchy. It’s easier to teach two related concepts than a single unrelated one.
  2. You learn from talking to people, because it allows multiple back-and-forth transfer of information.
    • Lots of stuff isn’t written down. For example, in higher math, there’s less incentive for professors to write things down, as it takes less effort just to talk to people. Often, word of mouth is the only way to pick up “folklore” pieces of math.
  3. Project-based learning is good sometimes: start with a question or a project to pursue, and then find the knowledge you need for it, not the other way around. Teach it this way.
  4. Ask questions all the time. (How did Feynman get so smart? Because he asked questions about everything from a young age.)
  5. How much you think you learn may not be the same as how much you actually learn. A lot of learning comes from failure (where you don’t think you’re learning!). Learning should be a (guided) struggle.
    • Example: Khan Academy vs. misconceptions ( Muller showed people videos with simple explanations of phenomena and more complicated discussions of the misconceptions of those phenomena. People liked the simple videos better, and learned nothing from them. People thought the complicated videos were more confusing, liked them less, and learned more from them. In other words, we might expect certain kinds of inverse correlations between simple, digestible, popular videos, and ones that effectively instruct.
    • It’s easy to gain an illusion of understanding.
      • See “Where babies come from,” in Trefethen’s index cards, p. 214
  6. You don’t gain knowledge linearly. You get it in fits and bursts.
  7. Learning should be play
  8. Freedom, space, and time are important to learning. (See the link above.)
  9. You learn by concise articulation.
  10. More important than how much you know is how much you’re learning.
  11. Dunning-Kruger: If you accurately assess how smart you are (which is not very smart), then you will get smarter, because you don’t have the misconception that you know everything already.
  12. Learn how to learn. You aren’t anywhere near optimizing the way you learn. Discussions on how people “do math” are helpful, even when you think you know how to do math.

On teaching

  1. Most people remember stories more easily than facts.
  2. Knowledge is different from pedagogical content knowledge.
    • That world-class researcher at MIT may not be a good teacher.
  3. We need to give students the opportunity to be creative.
  4. Expectations affect how students do.
  5. Slow down to speed up:
  6. Writing curriculum

On policy

  1. Campbell’s law (’s_law) is the problem with standardized tests.
  2. We should respect the teaching profession:

On education and technology

  1. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
    • Advantages of MOOCs: The sheer amount of time savings and leverage justifies MOOCs.
    • Two types of MOOCs: MOOCs are not a single model of education. xMOOCs and cMOOCs have very different pedagogy.
      • The channel of delivery is not the same as actual content. (For example, a MOOC is delivered online and hence has the potential of reaching a lot of people; however this is no good if the content’s not good.)
      • Creation of educational materials should be crowdsourced. (cf. cMOOCs)
    • MMORPGs as inspiration for MOOCs