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Analysis and Comment (43)

Picking an app isn’t as easy as ABC. Picking an app isn’t as easy as ABC. Kathy Cassidy

How to choose the best educational app for your child

Parents and teachers have long been given guidance on which books can help children learn but no such help is on offer when it comes to apps. The bad news is, definite recommendations may be a long time…
Learning braille is liberating so it’s time to modernise. Learning braille is liberating so it’s time to modernise. Dave Halberstadt

Good vibrations bring braille into the 21st century

Even in a world of digital devices, braille continues to be a vital part of life for blind people. For nearly 200 years, this versatile writing system has allowed them to learn, work and live in a more…
Want some help with that? Want some help with that? Aswin Anand

What Indian parents teach us about helping with homework

Homework is the perfect platform for parents to help children unravel the mystery to learning. Parents are in a unique position to hang the academic concepts that children learn at school onto their real-life…
Enough already. Enough already. Stressed teacher via shutterstock

Teachers need more support to tackle bad behaviour

We are often told that behaviour is not really a problem in the vast majority of English schools. In 2012, the government reported that classroom behaviour was “at least satisfactory” in 99.7% of schools…
Don’t worry, it’s better to fail first. Don’t worry, it’s better to fail first. demandaj

Failure can be productive for teaching children maths

Learning from mistakes, errors, and failure seems intuitive and compelling. Everyone can relate to it. But if failure is a powerful learning mechanism, why do we wait for it to happen? Why can’t we design…
Children are already experimenting. Teachers need the skills to keep up. Children are already experimenting. Teachers need the skills to keep up. San Jose Library

Teachers need confidence to teach coding properly

Michael Gove is ploughing ahead with plans to gather an elite team of computer science experts to help bring coding into schools. He has rightly acknowledged that teaching programming in schools is vital…
Once you done that there’s plenty more to be getting on with. Once you done that there’s plenty more to be getting on with. stuartpilbrow

Shock or yawn, PISA just preps children for a global work race

The triennial jamboree that is the publication of the OECD PISA tests kicked off with the usual round of blaming and name calling among politicians. Both sides of the political debate naturally found ammunition…
Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun has over-promised and under-delivered. Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun has over-promised and under-delivered. Flickr/jdlasica

The failure of Udacity: lessons on quality for future MOOCs

The promise was simple, but the idea couldn’t have been bigger. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) would make courses from Harvard and MIT available free to anyone with an internet connection. The world’s…
Are teacher fast-tracking programs really all bad? Are teacher fast-tracking programs really all bad? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Fast-tracking teachers will lead to educational disaster? Not quite…

Reading David Zyngier’s recent article in The Conversation — ominously titled “Can anyone teach? Fast-tracking our children to educational disaster” — one would conclude that Teach for Australia and other…
Some have suggested there’s a rise in the use of so called ‘smart drugs’ – but how much do we know about their use and effects? Some have suggested there’s a rise in the use of so called ‘smart drugs’ – but how much do we know about their use and effects? Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Drugs for grades: the realities of academic doping

The use of drugs to improve academic performance goes by a number of names – “academic doping”, “cosmetic neurology”, “neuroenhancement”. A recent survey suggested that Australian university students are…
Does poor literacy come down to a matter of teaching bias? Does poor literacy come down to a matter of teaching bias? Reading image from www.shutterstock.com

My first ideology: teaching reading falls victim to the culture wars

When teaching students how to read, teachers are ignoring the best, scientifically-proven approaches according to a report out this week from libertarian research institute the Centre for Independent Studies…
What matters more when it comes to intelligence: nature or nurture? What matters more when it comes to intelligence: nature or nurture? Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Are genes really the reason more poor kids do badly at school?

A news report recently informed readers that the reason children from poorer backgrounds struggle is due to genetic “inherited abilities”. According to the article, a new Productivity Commission report…
How do NAPLAN tests compare? How do NAPLAN tests compare? Test image from www.shutterstock.com

NAPLAN doesn’t stand up to international tests

A new parliamentary report on the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) finally takes a long, hard look at the calibre of these controversial tests. As part of the committee process…
We’re shortchanging our students by waiting to introduce the big scientific ideas until high school. We’re shortchanging our students by waiting to introduce the big scientific ideas until high school. Young mozart image from www.shutterstock.com

Searching for scientific Mozarts: get em' while they’re young

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. In this instalment, Jennifer Donovan, Carole Haeusler and Ian…
Hands-on problem solving methods will help students become - and stay - engaged with maths and science. Hands-on problem solving methods will help students become - and stay - engaged with maths and science. Thompson Rivers

Let’s be practical here: active learners are most engaged

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. In this instalment, Chancellor of Monash University Alan Finkel…
A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. Academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Idle time? Why we don’t need a longer academic year

This week Coalition MP Alan Tudge wrote a piece in the Australian Financial Review calling for an end to the 26-week academic year. In his article, he said students were spending the remainder of their…
What are you paying for when you choose a private, non-government school? What are you paying for when you choose a private, non-government school? Private school image from www.shutterstock.com

Buyer beware: are you really purchasing a ‘better’ education?

Australian parents are increasingly choosing to spend more money on their children’s education. A report released last week showed parents who chose private education for their child were paying an average…
Getting the mix right: we need to take a closer look at the future of science education. Getting the mix right: we need to take a closer look at the future of science education. Science education image from www.shutterstock.com

Science in schools: can we choose a better future?

Every now and then we manufacture a crisis in Australian school science. People write reports. These recommend change, including curriculum change, and point out the ways in which current patterns of school…
Let children run wild, run free: that’s the message of a new education movement called “unschooling”. Let children run wild, run free: that’s the message of a new education movement called “unschooling”. Children image from www.shutterstock.com

‘Unschooling’ – education fad or real alternative?

What do you think about the idea of allowing your children to stay at home all day and do whatever they like? Do you think you could trust them to learn without teachers or parents telling them what, when…
Education used to be about striving towards the light of knowledge but this is increasingly less important. Education used to be about striving towards the light of knowledge but this is increasingly less important. Cave image from www.shutterstock.com

Out from the cave: have we lost the purpose of education?

It’s nothing new to say we have a problem in education. But I’m not here to discuss the usual gripes with teachers and test scores. I believe we have a more fundamental problem with defining what we want…
There are no short-term fixes to the long-term issues surrounding education in Australia. There are no short-term fixes to the long-term issues surrounding education in Australia. shutterstock

A secret formula to learning? Extra money and quick fixes won’t improve education

Everyone, it seems, has a “fix” for education. The government has staked improvement on extra funding while others say a higher bar for teaching graduates is needed, and some view the prestige of the profession…
Here’s why the old teaching methods are not necessarily the best. Here’s why the old teaching methods are not necessarily the best. School image from www.shutterstock.com

Why we should never return to the three Rs

Ongoing calls for a rejection of “intellectual fads” and a return to “more traditional teaching methods” seem to be ramping up in the education debate. But if these advocates were talking about rejecting…
Storytelling is increasingly being left behind in a crowded curriculum. Storytelling is increasingly being left behind in a crowded curriculum. Storytelling image from www.shutterstock.com

Once upon a time: reclaiming storytelling in schools

With high stakes testing and a crowded curriculum, something fundamental is being left behind in education – storytelling. Some might argue that speaking and listening have always been undervalued in schools…
There is a clear link between communication disorders and young offenders – but what can we do about it? There is a clear link between communication disorders and young offenders – but what can we do about it? Youth justice image from www.shutterstock.com

Young offenders need a verbal toolkit to unlock literacy

Half of Australia’s young male offenders have a clinically significant, previously unidentified language deficit. It’s a shocking figure that comes after ten years worth of research into the oral language…
Teachers are taking their own steps to learn more about their profession through social media networks. Teachers are taking their own steps to learn more about their profession through social media networks. Flickr/Corey Leopold

A teachers' show and tell: professional learning unplugged

It’s been a long time since I have been in a pub at 10.30am but that’s where you would have found me last Saturday at the Great Northern Hotel in Chatswood, Sydney. I wasn’t there to get on the punt or…
Universities campuses need to adapt to the new reality of mobile students and online education. Universities campuses need to adapt to the new reality of mobile students and online education. Flickr/Jill

The university campus of the future: what will it look like?

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: We continue our series on the rise of online and blended learning and how free online courses are set to transform the higher education sector. Today Victoria University’s David…
Are you motivated or do you need a social setting and role models to keep you driven? Are you motivated or do you need a social setting and role models to keep you driven? Exercise bike image from www.shutterstock.com

MOOCs and exercise bikes – more in common than you’d think

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: The rise of online and blended learning and the development of free online courses is set to transform the higher education sector. We’ve asked our authors how to remake the…
The evidence to support brain-training programs is too thin to be trialling them in our school system. The evidence to support brain-training programs is too thin to be trialling them in our school system. Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Brain-Training’ … or learning, as we like to call it

The Catholic Education Office in Sydney has announced that from 2013 it will trial the controversial Arrowsmith Program for children with learning difficulties. Arrowsmith is one of a number of “brain-training…
There may be a new way to assess students' ability to collaborate and problem solve. There may be a new way to assess students' ability to collaborate and problem solve. Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Changing tests and the PM’s 2025 goal for schools

Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently announced a new goal for Australian schools – they would reach the top five ranked school systems in the world for reading, mathematics and science by 2025. The ranking…
We need to stop pretending that all ideas are the same. We need to stop pretending that all ideas are the same. Flickr/ LiverpoolHopeUniversity

Are all ideas equal? Not in the classroom

There is a widespread belief amongst teachers that it is part of their duty of care, even a defining aspect of their of professionalism, that all views expressed in the classroom are to be treated equally…
Education minister Peter Garrett along with his state counterparts have agreed upon some pretty big changes to teacher development. Education minister Peter Garrett along with his state counterparts have agreed upon some pretty big changes to teacher development. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Building a profession: teacher performance reviews not just about ‘bad teachers’

Finally, perhaps the time has come. The Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders and the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, both signed off…
We should not be looking to East Asia as a model for our education system. We should not be looking to East Asia as a model for our education system. EPA/Vincent Jannink

Learning by rote: why Australia should not follow the Asian model of education

Results from the Chinese university entrance exam, the Gaokao, were released last week. For students, it’s the long culmination of years focusing on tests and learning by rote. Again and again, East Asian…
Students from the next generation are heading to university, how should we teach them? Students from the next generation are heading to university, how should we teach them? Flickr/iwouldstay

A lecture on the art of lecturing: A how-to guide to teaching young people

Narcissistic, lazy, and overly confident – this is the way some see the new generation of young people starting to go to our universities. According to teacher Lynn Van Der Wagan, who sparked an online…
A simple desire to understand the way the world works has landed some Iranian researchers in hot water. A simple desire to understand the way the world works has landed some Iranian researchers in hot water.

Particles and persecution: why we should care about Iranian physicists

On a given day, your typical physicist is mainly preoccupied with trying to understand the intimate secrets of the universe. As with most academics, we get to visit one another in parts of the world to…
The ANU music school cannot replace live one-on-one teaching with online lessons. The ANU music school cannot replace live one-on-one teaching with online lessons. Flickr/Orangedrummerboy

ANU should change its tune: why online lessons do not replace live music

The Australian National University (ANU) has recently announced serious changes to the School of Music in Canberra. Students will receive fewer hours of one-on-one performance lessons, and the current…
We should be focusing on students' performance not teachers'. We should be focusing on students' performance not teachers'. Flickr/cybrarian77

Pupil power: time to ditch teacher bonuses and focus on student learning

Teacher bonus schemes are yet another example of education reform with the wrong focus. They narrowly look at teachers and their performance, and not the needs of students and their learning. It’s the…
Congratulations class of 2011, you’ve been given the opportunity to have real-life professors – future classes might not. Congratulations class of 2011, you’ve been given the opportunity to have real-life professors – future classes might not. Flickr/Pauls Creative Cakes

Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years

The University of Melbourne was founded in 1885 with five professors teaching 15 students. In 1952, at the start of the post-war tertiary boom, there were around 3,000 Australian academics teaching 30,000…
The Federal government has secured rare uniform cooperation from the states on its early years learning reform. The Federal government has secured rare uniform cooperation from the states on its early years learning reform. AAP/Paul Miller

The best start in life for the price of a cup of coffee

Would you pay the equivalent of a coffee a day to guarantee a system whereby Australian children got the best start in life? From January this year, the Australian education system is changing its approach…
Trouble holding on to your memories? A bad night’s kip might be to blame. Trouble holding on to your memories? A bad night’s kip might be to blame. planetchopstick/Flickr

To sleep, perchance to learn

So here it is, another morning. Another day of yawns. Another day of … oh … what was I saying? We all know that if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you don’t function properly during the day. It could…

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (11)

Infants learn from labels

Infants hear words that shape their development long before they are able to speak, according a US university researcher…