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← OEB 2015 - Tomorrow's New World: Extending the Reach of Learning - Lia Commissar

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Showing Revision 7 created 01/30/2016 by Cathy.

  1. (Lia Commissar) Hi! This morning
  2. I'm going to talk about education and
  3. both generally as the
    field's developing
  4. but also, the specific work
    that we've been doing in this field.
  5. The Wellcome Trust -- OK --
  6. the Wellcome Trust, for those of you
    who don't know,
  7. is the second largest charitable
    foundation globally,
  8. with the aim of improving health.
  9. And it does that by funding lots of
    bio-medical research, but also
  10. by funding work in the social science
    and humanities,
  11. funding lots of education work,
    doing lots of engagement work
  12. and also lots of policy work.
  13. So I'm going to talk through a few things
    this morning.
  14. Firstly, what has neuroscience got to do
    with education?
  15. What impact is it having on education
    at the moment?
  16. The work that we've been doing, and then
    thinking about the future.
  17. So, what has neuroscience got to do
    with education?
  18. Well, if education is about
    learning something,
  19. be it knowledge or a skill,
  20. and neuroscience is the study of
    the nervous system and the brain,
  21. then they're pretty linked, in my opinion.
  22. And it's not new to kind of talk about
    the brain, in relation to education.
  23. People have been discussing this,
    critiquing it,
  24. debating it for lots of years.
  25. There's loads of research papers out there
    with titles such as
  26. "A Bridge too far",
    "Its a Prime time to build a bridge",
  27. "A two-way path is possible",
    "Buildng the bridge from both ends."
  28. So lots of people have been talking
    about this bridge
  29. but not many people have been building it.
  30. And, this is kind of understandable
  31. because it's probably only really in
    the last 10 years that neuroscience is,
  32. the understanding from neuroscience
    has evolved significantly
  33. that we can start to think about how
    it might have implications for the classroom.
  34. And this is really exciting,
    and there is lots of potential
  35. and its really understanding,
  36. you can understand why teachers,
    why policy makers,
  37. why technologists want to start applying
    some of these ideas to education.
  38. But my word of warning that will go
    throughout this presentation
  39. really is about waiting and doing
    the research and finding out
  40. whether these things are actually going
    to be helpful and impactful
  41. in the classroom.
  42. And the other thing that I must say
    just before I go on
  43. is that I am not saying in any way that
    neuroscience alone is the answer
  44. and is going to solve all our problems
  45. or can tell us everything
    about the classroom.
  46. That's a very complex ecosystem.
  47. But, neuroscience is
    a kind of a newish field
  48. where we can start using that
    alongside psychology,
  49. alongside educational research,
    and alongside teacher's knowledge
  50. to build something really good
    for the future
  51. and see if we can start improving
    learning in the classroom.
  52. So, what impact is neuroscience
    having on education?
  53. So, we're at an education conference --
  54. I thought I'd wait and see
    what you guys think.
  55. So, I'm going to put a few statements
    up on the board, as any good teacher does.
  56. And what I would like you to do is
    just simply raise your hand
  57. if you agree with the statement,
    if you think it's true.
  58. So: "We mostly only use 10% of our brain."
  59. Hands up if you agree.
  60. OK.
    I will just show you this:
  61. These are some stats, I'll show you
    the paper this comes from in a second.
  62. This was a survey of teachers
    in five countries
  63. and those are the percentages
    of the teachers that agree.
  64. Hum -- it's not really working, but
    I can tell you that this is not true
  65. -- uh, there we go -- even sat there now,
    you might think you're not doing very much
  66. but your brain is still in control
    of your breathing,
  67. in control of your heart rate, keeping you
    standing up, sitting upright,
  68. perhaps paying attention, maybe not,
    maybe mind-wandering
  69. but it's all using your brain,
    all parts of your brain.
  70. So that's one of these myths.
  71. Second one: "Individuals lean better
    when they receive information
  72. "in their preferred learning style."
  73. So visually, by seeing,
    auditory, by hearing,
  74. or kinesthetically, by doing things.
  75. Hands up if you agree with that statement.
  76. OK.
  77. You can see, across the board, teachers
    in lots of countries agree with this.
  78. (Laughter)
    Yes. So (she laughs)
  79. It is true that people have a preference.
  80. You might prefer to learn something
    in a particular way,
  81. you might feel that you are
    a visual learner,
  82. and that you learn better in that,
    by using stuff visually:
  83. you do have a preference; but researches
    show that you don't learn any better
  84. if you are showing the material
    in that particular way, believe it or not.
  85. One last one:
  86. "Differences in hemispheric dominance,
    left or right brain, can help to explain
  87. "individual differences amongst learners."
  88. Hands up if you agree.
  89. We might start to see a pattern,
    I don't know.
  90. (Laughter)
    So, here is some stats.
  91. Really high in the UK.
  92. Again, it's not true.
  93. If you hear things about integrating
    the right or left brain,
  94. or if you hear things about
    one side of your brain is the logical side
  95. and the other side is more mathsy --
    sorry, creative, it's just not true.
  96. And I'm going to skip the next one.
  97. ["Regular drinking of caffeinated drinks
    reduces alertness."]
  98. But this one is true.
  99. OK, I can tell you a little more about that.
  100. If you want to see more
    about these neuromyths,
  101. This is a really good paper written by
    Paul Howard Jones last year.
  102. It got a lot of interest on social media
  103. and it goes through lots of what
    these common neuromyths are.
  104. So, neuromyths:
    Where do they come from?
  105. Are they a problem?
    And what to do about them?
  106. So, generally they often come from
    some kind of science
  107. that's been over- or misinterpreted,
    and they tend to stick around (excuse me)
  108. because they are easy to understand or
  109. easy to kind of implement
    in the classroom.
  110. Are they a problem?
  111. Well, if you think you only use
    10% of your brain, is that a problem?
  112. Possibly not, it's not accurate,
  113. but when I first started teaching
    about nine years ago,
  114. and this was common in lots of schools
    across the UK,
  115. I'm not sure about in other countries,
  116. students were asked to fill
    a questionnaire about how they learned,
  117. and did they like learning in this way.
  118. And teachers were given a spreadsheet
    with students
  119. and which were their preferred
    learning styles.
  120. And teachers were encouraged to make sure
    that they were providing
  121. information for those students
    in that particular way.
  122. And I'd say that is a bit of a problem,
  123. because teachers were potentially
    wasting time
  124. or feeling that they should be doing
  125. that was not actually benefiting
    the students.
  126. A positive outcome was that lessons
    became more diverse,
  127. ............... (check) about a range of
  128. but at the same time, students would say
    things like:
  129. "Miss, I'm not doing this activity
    because I'm a kinesthetic learner."
  130. And so students were themselves
    limiting themselves
  131. and not getting the benefit of learning
    in multiple modalities,
  132. which is the way you learn best,
  133. by using different ways of learning
    the same information. 7:19
  134. So, what to do about them?
  135. Well, I might come on to that a bit later
    in what we're going to do.
  136. So, the research is carrying on, but
    lots of research in this area
  137. is still at the stage of it's
    about cells in a Petri dish
  138. It might be about finding out about
    what's going on in animals,
  139. or very small-scale trials of humans,
    but maybe in a lab.
  140. Not much is going on in the classroom.
  141. And so we set p this initiative,
    Education Neuroscience Initiative
  142. with the Education Endowment Foundation,
  143. who are the What Works Centre of
    Education in the UK.
  144. And we did it for two reasons:
  145. we wanted to build the evidence of
    what works in education,
  146. informed by neuroscience,
  147. and we also wanted to help support
    teachers and general educators
  148. with what we do and don't know. (check)
  149. So, we firstly launched a funding round,
  150. to get people to apply for money
    to do research in the space,
  151. and all the projects had to have some
    evidence that they will -- that they work,
  152. some pilot data.
  153. But they also had to be scalable
    and affordable,
  154. so that if we find that
    these things worked,
  155. that they could be rolled out,
    that they could lead to policy changes,
  156. that they could be available to everybody.
  157. And there is particular emphasis as well
    around disadvantaged students.
  158. We want to do something
    that would benefit all,
  159. and try and close the socioeconomic gap.
  160. And all of our projects are also paired
    with an independent evaluator.
  161. So, you have your project team
    and you also have an evaluation team.
  162. And that evaluation team helps to shape
    the methodology that's used,
  163. make sure it's robust, educationally.
  164. They also collect some of the first data
    and they also report on that data first.
  165. So there is no chance for the project team
    to maybe overstate claims
  166. about what they found.
  167. So we funded these projects
    and these are all taking place
  168. in around 50 to 100 schools,
    each in the UK.
  169. I won't talk about all of them,
    but I'll just whiz through a couple.
  170. Fit to Study is looking at great research
    around how more vigorous activity
  171. can influence learning,
    short- and long-term.
  172. We know this from lots of research
    in animals and from small-group studies,
  173. but nobody has done anything in the UK
    on this scale.
  174. And so we're looking at changing
    what happens in P.E. lessons,
  175. and then measuring the short- and
    long-term outcomes of those students.
  176. Teen Sleep has had a certain media coverage.
  177. And that's looking at we know,
    researchers know,
  178. neuroscientists will tell you,
  179. we know that teens have
    a different sleep-wake cycle,
  180. their circadian rhythm is altered
    by a couple of hours.
  181. So they don't feel tired in the evenings,
  182. it's really hard to get them up
    in the morning,
  183. they are not fit and ready
    to start learning early in the morning.
  184. So we're studying, at a late school start
    time against a sleep education program,
  185. where we just teach them about
    the importance of their sleep,
  186. how to get good sleep, about
    using technology just before bed
  187. and about how that might affect
    their sleep -- not in a positive way --
  188. and looking again
    at their academic outcomes.
  189. These are two projects
    which are both in primary schools.
  190. They're training very young children:
    one, a different way to learn reading,
  191. one, about training their inhibitions
    that they're better equipped
  192. when they learn science and maths,
    when they come across
  193. these kind of counter-intuitive ideas.
  194. Engaging the brain's reward system
    from Paul Howard Jones.
  195. This one is maybe of particular interest
    because it's taking ideas from gaming,
  196. the idea of why games are so engaging
    and motivating.
  197. Neuroscientists have discovered
    it's this idea of uncertain rewards,
  198. so not the consistency that we
    see in schools around the world
  199. of you get something right,
    you get a point,
  200. but you get something right
    and you can game that point.
  201. You might double it.
    You might get nothing.
  202. And they've shown that
    that ramps up dopamine
  203. in your brain and the rewards system
    makes it very engaging, motivating,
  204. and hopefully, a very teachable moment
    for students.
  205. And the last one is spaced learning,
    and this is being actually led by
  206. a school in collaboration
    with neuroscientists and psychologists.
  207. And they're looking at ideas from
    neuroscience and psychology
  208. and trying to work out what really
    works in the classroom
  209. in terms of repeated learning and what
    the spaces are between that learning.
  210. So that's just a quick oversight.
  211. If you want more information,
    I'm happy to talk about it.
  212. Um, very quickly I'll mention
    the Education Endowment Foundation
  213. has a very useful toolkit that
    talks about different interventions.
  214. It talks about the cost of those
  215. and the level of the evidence
    and how effective it is.
  216. And they've got a set of projects
    all around digital technologies
  217. which you might be interested in.
  218. So, that's the research.
  219. We have to sit and wait now
    for four years
  220. to find out how some of the outcomes
    of some of those studies,
  221. what they'll be.
  222. And we're just as interested to find out
    if they're effective as if they're not,
  223. because we'll then know to say
    to teachers, "Don't bother changing
  224. "your school start time.
    It has no impact."
  225. So what we're doing.
  226. We're trying to support teachers
    with what we know
  227. because we don't want these
    neuro-myths being perpetuated.
  228. We think teachers need to be empowered
    with really what we do know.
  229. So we did something earlier this year,
    a very quick, set up very quickly.
  230. And it was an online event where
    we had neuroscientists
  231. and psychologists online.
  232. And teachers could log on and
    ask them any questions
  233. about the brain or learning.
  234. And we had about 7,000 people
    engaged with it,
  235. but we know that that's not enough.
  236. So what we're doing is we're currently
    crowdsourcing information
  237. from neuroscientists, psychologist,
    educational academics across the globe.
  238. And we're going to develop, hopefully,
    some really good resources
  239. for teachers that give them a summary
    of the research area,
  240. be it reward, motivation, about
    learning differences.
  241. But it will also give them an idea
    of how developed that research is.
  242. Is it just in cells in a lab or is it
    being tested in the classroom?
  243. And finally, it gives them also some
    other reputable sources of information
  244. to go to, so that people are
    finding out about research
  245. and scientific findings are factual,
  246. And then we're gonna do another
    online event where we get
  247. neuroscientists, psychologists,
    educational academics.
  248. And hopefully, by enabling this
  249. scientific findings won't be over-
    or misinterpreted.
  250. People can ask the questions
    about the research.
  251. If you want to be involved in that,
    follow us on Twitter.
  252. Find out what we're doing.
  253. So, the future, very quickly.
  254. There were a couple of journals
    already in this space:
  255. Mind, Brain, and Education and
    Trends in Neuroscience and Education.
  256. Two more are coming out
    this and next year.
  257. This is very much a developing,
    building area of research.
  258. The Education Endowment
    Foundation did a lit review,
  259. so this paper gives lots of ideas
    about all the bits of areas
  260. of neuroscience that could be
    applied to education,
  261. the distance from the classroom,
    and how solid that evidence is.
  262. So you can find out a bit more there.
  263. We also had a phone call
    with the White House earlier this year.
  264. They're very interested.
  265. They're working out what they
    should be doing in this space.
  266. So it's very exciting but early stages.
  267. Um, so more about the future.
  268. Quickly flipped to my notes
    cause I can't remember all of this.
  269. There's lots of interesting areas
    that are very promising
  270. in this field of research:
  271. things about stimulation
    of young children
  272. and how that actually has
    a huge impact on their development.
  273. And that might have big implications
    in lower and middle income countries.
  274. Recognizing that teenagers and
    adolescence is a very distinct time,
  275. and they might need different
    things in terms of
  276. to support their learning
    compared to adults.
  277. We are learning lots more about
    reward, motivation, attention,
  278. about neuroplasticity,
    how our brains are very plastic
  279. and how they can continue to learn
    throughout life,
  280. and how that actual cognitive demand
    on your brain might be good
  281. at staving off neurological
    degenerative diseases later in life.
  282. There's work around fostering
    better creativity,
  283. around specifics in maths, English,
    and science,
  284. the impact of stress on learning,
  285. earlier screening for learning disorders,
  286. and hopefully also, this will become
    something that is much more embedded
  287. and ingrained in teacher training.
  288. So very quickly, the issues I think,
    are that research takes time.
  289. We shouldn't over-interpret
    in individual studies.
  290. And this translation is a new
  291. But there's loads of potential,
    lots of exciting opportunities.
  292. But we need multi-disciplinary
    teams working on this,
  293. including educational technologists.
  294. We need to get good information
    out to teachers.
  295. We also need to give them the tools
    to ask the right questions
  296. so that they can ask what
    things are based on,
  297. of their studies, has research been done.
  298. And we might end up with some
    things that lead to
  299. some very interesting policy changes.
  300. But that's a few years down the line.
  301. So I'll just leave you with this quote
    which I quite liked.
  302. I won't read it.
    I'll let you read it.
  303. Thank you very much.
  304. (applause)