Nice article in the New York Times about game based learning. (Hat tip Larry Ferlazzo's Twitter stream.)
"Speaking at the Learning Without Frontiers conference in London last week, he said that computer games stimulate the brain’s reward system to produce dopamine, a chemical “which helps orient our attention and enhances the making of connections between neurons, which is the physical basis for learning.”
Mr. Howard-Jones said that research has shown that the introduction of a chance or game element into any reward system increases dopamine production. “For generations, we educators have done everything we can to maintain a consistent relationship between reward and achievement, but the neuroscience is telling us something different,” he said in an interview."
Different paradigms in online free learning are evolving and I found this comparison on visualturn between MITx and Udacity to be an interesting one. Sebastian Thrun believes that weeding out students doesn't promote learning and what he's going to do about it.
"Sebastian Thrun recently announced he is leaving Stanford to offer free online courses through a platform called Udacity.com, which also will offer certificates of completion.
Both MITx and Udacity are experiments in offering online learning to large numbers of students for free, along with some kind of “official” recognition of achievement. One way they differ is in their orientation toward student success and completion."
The Latin American Street Children's Organization has a math challenge that runs this Friday, February 3rd. Registration is open through January 31st. It is open to classrooms around the world. I find this interesting because the students debate the strategies for solving math problems. This is the largest math competition in Ireland but is spreading to other countries. When you participate, each child donates 1 british pound (convert to dollars for US) to participate. This looks like a fascinating competition and one that math teachers, particularly those who have students with Latin American heritage, may be excited to join.
This upcoming Friday is the UNICEF day for change in the UK but what a great idea. I can't find anything on the US website about this activity but it seems to be all over UK websites. I think that it is a great idea to have some sort of "change day" for children's activities in schools whether it is for UNICEF or another cause. Many students have change in their houses and can do something.