Friday, January 03, 2014

Capacity Focus, 78: More fun -- the Homebrew Crankbait masterclass (a whole vid-based course online! Thus, a source for ideas and reflections on doing our own courses.)

It seems we can now access (through YouTube) a whole course in making homebrew crankbaits -- plugs -- out of wood (something like cedar preferred for balance of strength, ease of carving and lightness). Put on by a Dr Greg Vinall, who by his accent seems to hail from Australia.

I think this masterclass is fun in itself, and also an example that can serve as a point of departure for thinking about using video resources in courses we may want to develop. 

Also, yes, I am picking something I have a hobbyist interest in, but I do so with an educator's eye and with malice aforethought to use ideas in developing courses with multimedia elements. (I have not got a musical bone in my body and I didn't find a course in calligraphy but ran across this one on plug bait building, so pardon an interest in fishbaits and other tackle-making.)

Let's pick a first sampler, on mysteries of crankbait lips and action:

Here, we see a fairly simple presentation, with voice and background music. I would have loved to see underwater vids of such baits in action. Lesson: live 3-d world shots are vivid and carry us beyond theory to practice. Maybe, a demonstration project would have helped?

One key point . . . and, frankly, this is a lesson that applies to all sorts of systems in all sorts of situations is that:
if you modify one part of a system, you will as a rule have all sorts of knock-on, often unanticipated effects and you may have to adjust others until it all comes back together in another well matched, harmoniously working configuration. Or, as I would put it in an Intelligent Design context:
 in the space of possible configurations for system components, islands of effective function come in isolated clusters. 
  So, the various components have to be mutually tuned to one another to get a new config to work right.  

(And [with all due respect], I must point to the doctrine of unintended consequences in political policy making, as well as to how absurd it is to expect something far more complex, integrated and fine tuned than a crankbait -- a world of cell based life forms -- to almost magically emerge by blind forces of incremental chance variation and culling out of less functional varieties . . . what the vaunted "natural selection" boils down to.)
 Now, too, it is obvious that a lot of real world trial and error went into the underlying knowledge base, skills and designs. 

What if that had been done under controlled conditions, video-taped, measured and plotted? 

(In short, moving towards at least science fair level investigations. Or is such more or less a trade secret? Worth a thought on doing product planning, design, research and development.)

Next, here is a response to questions on the minds of students or clients, on why baits too often don't work as planned. Here, we start by looking at errors of symmetry:

The key point here is to use known concerns of students to motivate units of study. Start with students where they are in terms of level of knowledge and skills as well as motivations and insterest, to take them to where they need to be in definite, reasonable steps.

In curriculum design terms, we need to heed  the principle of the Vygotsky zone of proximal development:

 . . . as well as the principles of a spiral curriculum structure:

. . . with principles of a mastery learning flow of learning tasks also in mind:

. . . where also, we need to soberly reflect on Benjamin Bloom's two-sigma challenge, that with well structured, interactive, active learning approaches (especially those that capture advantages of the one-to-one tutorial, it is credible that learning outcomes for typical students can dramatically improve:

. . . the reason for this being that various feedback, interactive, active learning factors contribute to drastically improved ability to learn. 

In effect, credibly, moving to the mastery approach would improve learning by one sigma, leading to an acceptable degree of mastery by 84% of students, and moving to the tutorial approach would create acceptable performance by 98% of students for a typical course. 

In other words, we are talking about changing C students into A students simply by shifting how the course is taught, and almost all outright "bomb-out students" would now "pass." That is, the typical grade patterns resulting from education approaches we now use are not measuring real potential -- aka "brightness," but instead the degree of ineffectiveness of the approach. The trap here, is affordability: we could not possibly devote enough tutoring resources to teach each student 1:1, though if say parents could be involved and peers could be involved, we could probably make a big difference. (BTW, this is one reason why home schooling and private tutoring are so often so effective. And if we can figure out a way to turn "every student" into his or her own teacher, that, too, would have a dramatic effect.)

It is worth noting, from Wikipedia's article on the Bloom Two-sigma problem, a tableau of typical results on research on learning methods, factors and achievement outcomes:

Effect of selected alterable variables on student achievement.
Adapted from,[6] Walberg (1984).
Object of change process Alterable variable Effect size [+ sigma value] Percentile equivalent
Teacher Tutorial instruction 2.00 98
Teacher Reinforcement 1.2
Learner Feedback-corrective (Mastery Learning) 1.00 84
Teacher Cues and explanations 1.00
Teacher, Learner Student classroom participation 1.00
Learner Student time on task 1.00
Learner Improved reading/study skills 1.00
Home environment / peer group Cooperative learning 0.80 79
Teacher Homework (graded) 0.80
Teacher Classroom morale 0.60 73
Learner Initial cognitive prerequisites 0.60
Home environment / peer group Home environment intervention 0.50 69

The highlighted block of key interventions suggests that we can get much of the effect of 1:1 tutoring through a more interactive, rich feedback approach that reinforces learning step by step and provides opportunity for mastering and for remediation as necessary to fill in gaps. 

Indeed, the logical inference on the effect of 1:1 tutoring is that it is not so much an independent cause of the dramatic improvement, but that it trends naturally to promote several of the factors below it in the table, which leads to a dramatic cumulative effect. 
What web based, rich media, interactive approaches can therefore credibly do, is to bring to bear several of these factors, potentially leading to drastically improved learning outcomes.

That means we need to go this way. 

Barriers to doing such, we must simply bulldoze out of the way, the payoff for success is too high and the risk of doing nothing is too high.

(Cf. Two Sigma/digital learning transformation KF blog series  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

As a second main point we see how the use of a title slide with a nice banner image provides a bit of polish and unity to the series of slides. And of course, the addition of live, demonstrational footage in this clip kicks the whole video segment up a notch or two. (I cannot but help thinking that when the lure was sawn in half, it would have been great to say . . . now that can become a jointed minnow that has action advantages, and lead from there to swimbaits with multiple segments.  But, maybe that is just my preference for enrichment. Maybe, also, a labelled still slide using a photograph might have been helpful.)

Next, registration and basic course navigation through a 52 week course (with opt-outs at any stage):

This gives a bit of a visual tour of what to expect but though it points to a registration entry point below, that is not so easy to find. This suggests of course using YouTube videos to attract students to a course.

I did find a page and it took me to a sampler lesson with text and embedded videos, much as I have often done using Blogger the technology behind this blog. then at the end there is an invitation to register. And, at that point, there is a fee to enroll and pay (it seems every fortnight). 
[The course is US$ 12.95 per fortnight across 52 weeks, or US$ 336.70. In the ball park of EC$ 1,000 or BDS $ 700 or JA $ 30,000. Probably comparable to what a realistic course fee will cost for a college level course done online. Transactions go through ClickBank. Don't forget, typical textbooks seem to have moved from US$ 30 - 40 in the past, to now US$ 80 - 160 and well beyond. And eBooks are following suit though they do not have a lot of materials, stowage or transport costs. I suppose the story is that writing, producing figures, editing and promotion etc are expensive -- but that plainly points to an opening for course-associated readers and workbooks that are workmanlike rather than full of bells, wiggles, glitter and rattles . . . h'mm we can learn a further lesson from how a lure catches fish and fishermen. ]
As I look at the sampler lesson, I see:
  • It uses the intro based on a lead and bridge, body, conclusion framework that is a backbone for a workmanlike presentation.
  • Sections of the body are organised around points and a vid clip with comments, running along in a fairly lengthy overall text. I think this may have worked better as a succession of teaching frames [maybe even on the "myth" day 1, 2, . . . ], not least because the large number of vid clips detracts from focus and flow.
  • I think some of those clips would have worked better as in-text infographics -- in effect, mini posters with images and short text points, as is now an emerging art form. Here is one I used yesterday:

  • Quite a fair amount of text in total . . . but if one is interested, fairly lengthy text is not a handicap, if  it is well organised .
  • Indeed, I have seen experts who opine that for those interested in an area, long informative interesting "copy" up to feature magazine length [~ 3,000 - 6,000 words, or at 150 words per minute oral reading time, 20 - 40 minutes, silent reading maybe 1/2 that on average . . . ] outsells short copy. Why do you think exploratory review articles and magazines that feature book chapter length articles and shortish books are so popular with enthusiasts?
  • So, a lesson: shorter is not always better, and . . .
  • if something short is needed it may be useful to use an "intro-summary" or coloured textbox "executive summary" approach with a "here's more" link, for those who just want a 30 second to 2 minute fast look, read or vid clip. 
  • And it may make sense to use bullet points, a nice "infographic" style image or a striking picture and a short vid clip to make the point in that short one pager or one screen intro-summary "hook-em" piece.
  •  There's a real gem in the page: the idea of the penetrating wood hardener to toughen up a lure carved out of soft, light wood (which is otherwise advantageous in making lures.)
  • He also underscores that a fish bait is "sold" twice: (a) to the fish . . . it must be effective, and (b) to the angler . . . it must attract and hold his eye, creating confidence that it will work and that it is worth the price.
  • Believe it or not, confidence and motivation to persevere can strongly affect performance on a task -- especially where practice and quick feedback from success help to build knowledge and skills. 
  • So effectiveness AND a modicum of aesthetics are both necessary.
  • As well as, do it in small "chunked" steps that give a quick reward and cumulatively build up to the overall skill.
  • Maybe, these three points highlight a missing balance in so many lessons and textbooks etc that come across as drearily boooooring and demotivating? (Inviting switching off of attention and diversion to something else that is not going to help build the perseverance that leads to success.)
We may as well look at an example, a surf fishing plug:

So, here we have it,  by live and direct example we can see a Cybercollege in full swing.

It's real, folks.

It obviously can work, and plainly can work well. 

And indeed, our lure builder has done a reasonable job, never mind my picking at points and suggestions on other ways . . . those are to spark thoughts on how to do an even more effective job.

I guess, finally, the class tutor will not mind my picking up one more sample before we close off our own little discussion.

Painting a bait with a scaled, metallic glitter Perch pattern with echoes of the classic attractor colour pattern, Firetiger:

So, here we have had some fun, and we are seeing an actual example of someone teaching in effect a college extension class in designing and making crankbaits. 

As an extra, we have a price-point.

Cybercampus based college is real, folks. 

So, what are we going to do about it for things that are a little weightier than making wood based fish imitations to catch a few tasty, finny  friends?

More onwards, as we think further about the AACCS proposal, DV. 

Let's clip the list of KF posts on that:

Capacity Development -- the AACCS

  Why not now, why not here, why not us?  END