One problem is that computer labs and the way they are organised in schools are often not very good environments for the nuanced development of feedback. ie. since the computer lab is an expensive, time restricted resource then there is great pressure on the teacher to keep students on computer tasks and not interrupt those tasks for other matters. Also the physical layout of some computer rooms is poor, especially those with computers in rows. Best layout is all computers around the walls. I would argue that if students had netbooks 24/7 then very different interactions could develop in computers use. So, perhaps Hattie's research confirms that the computer revolution hasn't happened yet?
His questions made me think about what school might be like if we could align all the teaching interventions with effects sizes that made the most difference, with the learning spaces that best supported them.
And then imagining what this might look like in a physical environment, in a virtual world like Second Life and in a game based simulation like WOW.
We have an anxiety about panopticon-like experience, where everything is designed, observed and measured, forgetting we are all chemical, we are unsettled by the idea that the complexity of human experience can be reduced to a database
Fantastic Journal has a great post Welcome to the Pleasuredome that starts to tease out how we understand designed environments and theme parks. The post exposes our fears and hopes for virtual worlds in the context of the sci fi movies Westworld, Logan’s Run and The Truman Show.
A recurrent anxiety about theme parks is that this carefully controlled environment denies us the ability to act independently. To visit somewhere like Disneyworld is to take part in a minutely choreographed experience where little deviation is allowed from the script. This is most apparent in the rides themselves where the same experience is repeated for each guest exactly, ad infinitum, like a Fordist approach to having fun. But it also occurs in the landscape between the rides where boredom, lethargy or other forms of deviant behaviour is frowned upon. Cast members constantly coax visitors into immersing themselves more fully into the concept. These cast members, like the technicians in Westworld, have their own separate circulation system from the public, appearing fully dressed and smiling as if from nowhere.
The description could well have been written about school.
Schools are carefully controlled environments both in a real sense and in the connections we allow to the virtual. To attend does require the student and the teacher to take part in an increasingly choreographed experience where little deviation is allowed from the script or grammar of school. There is an expectation that students, in different classes at the same curriculum learning area and level, will experience the same learning experiences, and we monitor this through assessments that target the expected learning outcomes. Boredom, lethargy and other forms of deviant behaviour in students and staff is frowned upon, and cast members (who may be student leaders, staff, senior management, boards of trustees or even the MoE) constantly coax visitors to the theme park of school to immerse themselves more fully in the experience. And the technicians who appear fully dressed and smiling as if from nowhere is something any student who has tried to have a quick smoke behind the caretakers shed will affirm.
It made me wonder if an outcome of designing and measuring everything we do will be a Truman like experience for both teachers and kids ... some of you will undoubtedly argue that school already has this effect on students ... school the ultimate Learningdome theme park, with an experience so manipulated that it has corrupted forever our sense of what it is to learn without the institution.