Thursday, 2 July 2015

There Are No Dumb Questions

For 15 months, I wrote an education column over at I didn't write a column for June 2015, as things are wrapping up there (instead you got the Ontario Education roundup posts on this blog). However, for the sake of completeness, and in case anyone was unaware of that venture, I now present a quick digest of all those posts - perhaps you'll find something of interest to read?

If there are still questions out there, feel free to fire them my way too - I can't promise I'll get to them, but I'll do what I can.

1. TANDQ: Bias Confirmed (March 2014)
How Can We Ask Good Questions?
In brief: If you can look up your answer with a search engine, that's a problem. Because Confirmation Bias means that the assumptions you have going in will be reinforced.

2. TANDQ: Getting Graphic (April 2014)
How is graphing technology changing in schools?
In brief: Don't market to a system that can't afford to upgrade. Let's see how the Desmos platform is working at replacing TI-83 calculators.

3. TANDQ: Popular Misconception (May 2014)
Why is my network below average, compared to all my friends?
In brief: Your friends experience the same thing. It's mathematics; a few big names skew the "average" for everyone - which is useful if we're talking diseases.

4. TANDQ: Riffing on Khan (June 2014)
How can you tell when criticism is justified?
In brief: Let's look at "Khan Academy" and "Mystery Teacher Theatre 2000". Is it a case of 'THEY don't understand'? Or of 'THEY might have a point'? Somewhere in between?

5. TANDQ: The Education Game (July 2014)
How is teaching like a role-play game?
In brief: "I notice your wizards/students aren't being successful. It must be because they're not casting cantrips/memorizing facts. Let me tell you how you're supposed to do gaming/your job."

6. TANDQ: Around the World: England (August 2014)
What is the education system like in... England?
In brief: A look at the school system in England (not all of the UK), from Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) to A-Levels.

7. TANDQ: Effect of Learning (September 2014)
Why is this activity harder than I anticipated?
In brief: When you don't know much, you tend to focus on what little you do know. As you learn more, your focus shifts, and we see the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.

8. TANDQ: Average Expectations (October 2014)
Motivation through punishment, or reward?
In brief: Positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment are not the same. Meanwhile, regression to the mean will happen regardless of the feedback.

9. TANDQ: Price Points (November 2014)
Why don't more prices end in round numbers?
In brief: If you're planning to buy or sell something, consider the "Left Digit Effect", "Benford's Law" and percentages.

10. TANDQ: Around the World: France (December 2014)
What is the education system like in... France?
In brief: A look at the school system in France, from their 'count down' naming system to 'les grandeécoles'.

11. TANDQ: Rate This Post (January 2015)
Are rating systems skewed?
In brief: Yes; possibly for different reasons. Consider weighted averaging, the voting population, and the scale involved (Roger Ebert hated the four star scale).

12. TANDQ: Text Me Never (February 2015)
When will paper textbooks go away?
In brief: Never, but the industry still needs to adapt. Education is gradually shifting, current prices are unsustainable, and research about reading on electronic screens will be a factor.

13. TANDQ: Pass It On (March 2015)
Why must my password include a capital letter?
In brief: By forcing extra conditions, we actually decrease the total number of options. But humans are not good with random, or comprehending password entropy.

14. TANDQ: Vote of No Confidence (April 2015)
How can I influence a democratic election?
In brief: Vote. No system is perfect, but "First Past The Post" is particularly problematic when compared to both proportional representation, and plurality ranking (used at the Hugos).

15. TANDQ: Animated Discussion (May 2015)
What animation is acceptable at your workplace?
In brief: That's my question to you. I discuss my experience after seeing a convention panel, and remark on the latitude I have as the teacher advisor for my school's anime club.

16. TANDQ: You Decide (December 2016)
Why can't I decide on my dinner?
In brief: Decision fatigue seems to be a real thing, so what about ego depletion?

There's also posts on this very blog too!

Find something of particular interest? Wondering about a follow-up? Let me know in the comments below - or on the MuseHack site using the specific article! (But note I don't have any comment flags set offsite.)

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