Audrey Watters' writings are a must-read for anyone interested in education and technology. As she's commented many times, many of the techies who want to revolutionize education don't actually know much about it: they've been through school themselves, but either aren't aware of, or haven't bothered to investigate, the decades of painstaking research that's been done on how people actually learn. In response, she's compiling a "Joel test" (which I think should be dubbed the "Audrey test") for ed-tech, i.e., a dozen quick questions you can use to tell if someone knows their stuff or is just bluffing. There are already lots of interesting replies to her original tweet; my five suggestions for her list are:
  1. Stereotype threat.
  2. The unreliability of self-reporting.
  3. The importance of self-efficacy.
  4. The teacher's enthusiasm matters more than the teaching method (which is why every new idea initially seems so promising, then does less well when scaled up).
  5. Students can learn to do well on drill exercises without actually learning fundamental concepts (e.g., Eric Mazur's students could get good grades on midterms but still not think in Newtonian physics).
What would be on your list? What are the dozen things you really, really want every technologist to know about education?