Government Elearning! Magazine

DEC 2015 - JAN 2016

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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18 Winter 2016 Government Elearning! jump head BY JOE DIDONATO One of "holy grails" of education is the quest to solve the "2 Sigma Problem." Tis was a problem put forth by Benjamin S. Bloom, the famous educational psychologist. In a series of studies that Bloom performed, he observed drastically diferent student achievement scenarios, depending on the type of instructional methods provided. In his study summary, Bloom contrasted the learning outcomes achieved through conventional classroom training, "mastery learning," and one-on-one tutoring. (Note: "Mastery learning" is an educa- tional methodology where educators work with a student as long as necessary to insure that the student has mastered one topic or skill, before moving on to the next.) Can you guess which one was the land- slide winner? It was one-on-one tutoring. Te aver- age student that was tutored performed better than 98 percent of the students that were taught in the conventional classroom. Tat was two standard deviations above the base control group — the conventional classroom. Tus the problem's naming convention became the "2 Sigma Problem." It's plagued us for years, and it's the elusive search for methods of group instruction that can be as efective as one-on-one tutoring. So, armed with the knowledge of the ab- solute best way to teach, we're now turning to EdTech (educational technology) in our search for solutions. In turn, that search is fueling a lot of investment speculation — but admittedly, perhaps not with the "inside knowledge" that Bloom's work provides. Many outliers have already started to solve the problem with educational tech- nologies. Some with only "gut instinct" leading their way. Let's look at a couple of these solutions, as I think it will help us all think of even more innovations that we can put together using technology. If you think about "mastery learning" and the use of educational technology (EdTech), think Sal Khan and the Khan Academy. He was the evangelist who pointed to the shortcomings of the "keep on going" classroom model. And of course Sal preached for years that people learn at different rates, so why should everyone be forced to keep to one pre- defined learning pace? And if one partic- ular point was a personal sticking point, why shouldn't you be able to review it over and over again until you got it? Khan Academy's video learning snippets help solve that problem. If a student doesn't get a lesson, he or she can continue to re- take that lesson, until it's learned. And his The Holy Grail for EdTech: Solve the '2 Sigma Problem'

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