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StaffRobert HeinyNESI Conversation 5

NESI Conversation 5

 

NESI Conversation 5: Learning Risks

Definition of Learning Risks: The chances (probability) of a learner failing to meet a learning criterion in a lesson, including because of inadequate instruction.

This fifth conversation with Dr. W.E. Doynit extends a series of descriptions of how to accelerate learning dramatically by increasing learning efficiency rates with and without Tablet and other mobile PCs.

Topics: NESI purposes, Decisive School defined, risks of failure, Tablet PC uses, The NESI Conjecture

Tablet PC Education: Let’s cut to the chase. We’ve exchanged over 10,000 words while discussing your New Era School Initiative (NESI).

Your descriptions have more different meanings for common words and ideas than what readers and editors expect. That makes it difficult to follow your point.

That also makes it easy to dismiss NESI as idealistic philosophies and theories without a basis in the real world of education. What are you, pretending to be The Philosopher King of Learning?

So please, you say NESI is a Decisive School. What’s a Decisive School? What do you see as the purpose of NESI? It’s just a fictitious program, so you must have made up all of NESI. It has nothing to do with Tablet PCs in education today. Yes?

And, why should anyone care about NESI compared with other options, such as giving teachers what they request? Said another way, why do you think NESI has any purpose in education in 2009 or 2013?

Doynit: Let me respond to your second and last questions. These will help explain why anyone should care about NESI.

I’m an applied social scientist interested in schooling and other human services. I’m primarily interested in ways to mitigate risks of students failing any lesson.

So, I use my background to describe in formal, technical ways how learning and schooling sometimes go together. I don’t knowingly offer any philosophical generalizations.

Tablet PC Education: Now, define a Decisive School.

Doynit: A Decisive School operates through databased decisions made by learners and educators. These decisions reduce the chances that a student will fail to meet learning criterion in each lesson.

In a Decisive School, databases of how students learn serve as its core. Educators use these data to adjust constantly their decisions about how to instruct in order to increase the likelihood of students increasing their learning rates.

Stated another way, teachers adjust their lessons to reduce the risk of any student failing to meet learning criterion for each lesson.

Tablet PC Education: What about relevance of NESI for real schools in 2009?

Doynit: NESI demonstrates how much learning is possible in 2009 schools with such databased decisions. At its core, NESI relies on empirically, experimentally based principles of how people learn. Learning analysts can observe them at work wherever people learn, including during 2009 schooling.

Descriptions of behavioral principles of learning appear in empirical, experimental research literature in education and applied behavior analysis. Behavioral scientists have refined and reported these refinements for over a century.

NESI gives educators a way to apply these principles with measured confidence.

I want to repeat: NESI demonstrates what’s possible in real time 2009. The only thing new about NESI is its frame or heuristic.

Teachers using a NESI approach would likely increase student learning rates promptly and substantially, including in 2009.

Tablet PC Education: You sound so confident in that claim. How can that be, unless, as one critique opined, this is a slimy hustle to make money, “for the good of the kids”?

Doynit: The NESI processes consist of facts, not fiction. Increases in academic performance through NESI would be consistent with increases documented during the past seven plus decades in many schools and laboratories with uncounted hundreds of thousands of learners.

Plus, one study applying instructional principles to learning in the 1970s included over a million public school students.

NESI teachers would base instruction on such experimental, empirical scientific behavioral facts of how people learn, including from instruction.

Tablet PC Education: If these demonstrations have been around as long as you say, why do teachers not use them in ways you call Decisive Schools?

Doynit: I think teachers try to use them. Their trials result in triggering hybrids of learning principles. It’s difficult, at best, for teachers to repeat each hybrid, because they’re efforts do not come from a common database beyond personal experience and some rhetoric.

I decided to answer a different question from the one you asked. NESI addresses: How can learners use learning principles to increase their learning on demand?

Then, I asked: How can teachers use available data about learning behavior to increase learning rates promptly through lessons with whatever resources and conditions they can arrange?

After many informal trials, I decided to demonstrate what learning rates appear possible in 2009 and beyond with a proof of concept I call NESI.

From those steps, NESI emerged as a heuristic for planning, monitoring and adjusting learning rates in real time with and without Tablet PCs and other electronics. Learners and teachers use the results of streams of learning transaction data to plan and adjust lessons in real time.

To the extent that behavioral principles of learning included in NESI are valid, students likely will efficiently adopt behavior patterns consistent with each academic lesson, including in 2009.

Tablet PC Education: There you go again with those common, but loaded words. NESI demonstrates what’s theoretically possible? Yes? You referred to NESI in another conversation as a model. That’s a theory. Yes?

Doynit: I think of NESI as a heuristic. It brings together into one frame what learners and teachers do during each lesson in order to increase learning.

As a heuristic, NESI demonstrates a way to use facts of how people learn with principles of how our universe works, all in a real school.

With NESI, teachers and students can monitor the progress of learning in real time for each lesson.

And, yes, in answer to an inferred question you have not asked directly. State certificated educators should have sufficient background in applied behavior analysis to work with descriptions of NESI.

Tablet PC Education: I’m still missing something. You say NESI represents what teachers already do? That’s conjecture, right, The NESI Conjecture? Where’s the joy of learning, the emotional connections, the authentic human interaction between teachers and learners?

Doynit: The phrase The NESI Conjecture has a nice ring to it. But, I think it detracts from the point of NESI.

NESI exists as a technical description of behavior patterns people use to learn. We call learning “adopting a behavior pattern.”

I describe these relationships as a nutritionist might evaluate the nutritional value of a stack of four pancakes. Each pancake corresponds to one of four orders of learning that constitute part of the NESI A Learning Efficiency Analysis Paradigm (ALEAP).

ALEAP provides a way to track what teachers do in a lesson with what students do to learn that lesson. It organizes principles of learning behavior.

Working with ALEAP is like playing four dimensional chess. It has more permutations than I have calculated. Each permutation leads to a different learning rate. A Tablet PC makes it easier to monitor the likelihood of a behavior pattern leading to the most efficient learning rate, but is not required.

For NESI, learning rates from lessons correspond to nutritional value of pancakes.

One pancake has enriched bleached wheat flower and a handful of blueberrys; another has the same flower and a handful of strawberries; a third was made from ground sunflower seeds; and a fourth with 12 grain steel cut flour and flax seeds, topped by homemade fresh J.H. Hale peach syrup with no sugar added.

A nutritionist can analyze the chemical composition and interactions of these pancakes and translate that into a nutritional value.

Similarly, a learning analyst can observe a learner’s behavior pattern while trying to meet the learning criterion for a lesson with a resulting learning rate.

Tablet PC Education: The stack of pancakes makes sense. So do similarities between a learning analyst and a nutritionist. With that said, go back again to why NESI is not conjecture.

Doynit: If a conjecture exists, it is in the first selection and arrangement of behavior patterns people use to adopt new behavior patterns.

To the extent that teachers try to increase learning through each lesson, the NESI heuristic represents how their efforts correspond with behavior patterns people use to meet a learning criterion.

Tablet PC Education: OK, so you consider NESI a way to test the likelihood of various behavior pattern relationships leading to some distribution of learning rates?

Doynit: Yes, that’s a reasonable summary.

NESI’s a frame that represents relationships among probabilities of students meeting learning criteria through lessons. These relationships occur at the learning transaction level.

Probabilities of learning rates vary according to how closely instruction matches behavioral learning processes. Empirical analyses of this matching will likely refine the NESI heuristic.

Tablet PC Education: I haven’t heard anything about learner demographics, interests, needs, etc.

Doynit: NESI relies on and accounts only for behavior patterns.

NESI does not account for any learner’s background; motivation; emotional or cognitive status; religious, ethnic or other affiliations; school grade level; etc. It also does not account for the same things of any teacher.

Instead, NESI relies on common, generic behavior patterns, perhaps a DNA equivalent of learning.

Tablet PC Education: Can you give me an example of a generic learning behavior pattern we know with confidence?

Doynit: We know with objective, measured confidence, for example, that learners attend to something in their environment before they act. Behavioral scientists call that “something” a stimulus. It can be seen, heard, or in other ways sensed by observers. Then, learners respond to the stimulus. Observers can see, hear, etc. some of these responses.

We know how to use this sequence in lessons, so that learners’ responses likely meet a lesson criterion. We also know that our response (called a “consequence” for learners) to their behavior pattern increases or decreases the likelihood of the student repeating the intended behavior pattern. The challenge is finding the right consequence for each student.

Other principles of learning help teachers to identify ways to attract student attention. Still others describe what to watch, hear, and in other ways manage student – teacher behavior patterns that result in more efficient learning.

Tablet and other mobile PCs make monitoring easier and complex analyses and reporting possible of alternative behavior patterns to increase learning efficiency.

Tablet PC Education: That still sounds like a lot of dense, technical jargon. Why should anyone, especially teachers, take time to consider it? Can’t you say it in plain English?

Doynit: Yes, I use technical words to describe technical parts of what we commonly call learning. The NESI heuristic consists of technical relationships among these parts.

That said, let me repeat: NESI provides a way to track what teachers do in a lesson with what students do to learn that lesson. It organizes principles of learning behavior.

Certified teachers know this vocabulary and the logic for some of these learning principles. Although they may not have recent practice with the NESI way of considering learning, they know how to do it, at least at a novice level.

Tablet PC Education: So, NESI provides a way to relate and monitor parts of a learning process, yes? Don’t teachers already monitor learning during lessons?

Doynit: Yes. Teachers make extensive efforts every day to monitor learning. NESI gives learners and teachers an ongoing way to refine the monitoring of learning behavior of each student in each lesson.

Tablet and other mobile PCs make this monitoring automatic, and thus more manageable.

From this view, it appears possible for students to meet K12 academic standards in six years. That’s at least an important reason, if not an imperative for people to consider the NESI heuristic as a way to organize schooling.

Tablet PC Education: An imperative? Again I ask, if it’s so important, why have others not already adopted behavioral principles to organize learning?

Doynit: I think teachers try to organize what they can figure out to do. For various reasons, they trust their organization of experience and information from other teachers over other suggestions.

NESI serves as a way for teachers to compare learning rates in their classrooms against what is technically possible for the same students to learn in conventional K12 schools.

Tablet PC Education: I think you give yourself too much credit. Why would teachers want to make such comparisons? What do they get for taking that risk?

Doynit: That’s a fair question. I expect teachers to want their students to perform at an equal or higher academic level than any other student anywhere.

Tablet PC Education: What do you say to teachers who give priority to character building, problem solving, creativity and other outcomes not included in NESI? They think these things require discussions, not efficiency. Proposals like yours dehumanize schools, make learning and teaching dependent on technologies.

Doynit: The primary purpose of NESI is to increase learning efficiency. In that way, learners can meet their personal objectives for school with less time, effort and use of their other resources. And, teachers can fulfill their primary obligation for all students to meet, and hopefully exceed, state mandated minimum academic standards.

With increased learning efficiency, learners and teachers have more choices about ways to do other things in and out of K12 schools.

Tablet PC Education: Thank you, Dr. Doynit. You have described further how a Decisive School increases learning rates and decreases risks of failure to learn.

Next time, let’s discuss Robert Reed’s comments on your blog post about NESI and school reform.

References

Decisive Schools 2010: Q & A Notes

New Era School Initiative (NESI) Interim Report Summary 1

New Era School Initiative (NESI) Conversation 4: Doynit on Learning Risks

Robert Reed’s Comments about NESI and School Reform http://www.robertheiny.com/2009/03/new-era-school-initiative-nesi.html

Posted by The Tablet PC In Education Blog, May 04, 2009, 6:40 AM. (Retrieved April 18, 2010, 12:58.) http://www.robertheiny.com/2009/05/new-era-school-initiative-nesi.html

Robert Heiny
Robert Heinyhttp://www.robertheiny.com
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in The Encyclopedia of Education (1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for TuxReports.com.

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