NECC: Ian Jukes “InfoWhelmed”

Martin Levins
1 July, 2008
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Ian Jukes session begins with seemingly random "cute" images of animals and bloopers entertaining the crowd before his 12.30 timeslot
Lots of "Oohs" and "Aahs" as only US audiences can do. Good technique though: let images from the web warm up the crowd.
(He provides them on his website)
His "Literacy isn’t enough" handout is also available from his website
Turns out this is more about those wacky kids (as Mark Pesce would refer to them) and Ian’s reputation as a "committed sardine"
He quotes Woodrow Wilson: "Easier to move a cemetery than change a curriculum, even though they are similar activities"
Now, take off to a Slayer concert with his stepson so he can gain brownie points. He points out that kids are different now.
OK, I think we’ve got that message, although I personally think that it’s overstated: their environment is just different. Put these guys into my childhood and I bet they couldn’t build a dam in a creek. Wouldn’t our parents have made similar comments about the Stones as he is making about Slayer? (grumpy old man mode OFF)
He maintains that brains of kids are changing physically and chemically to become neurologically different, implying that they process in parallel whereas we process in serial.
Further, he reports on the plasticity of the brain, as opposed to earlier ideas that the brain wiring was fixed after early childhood.
More about games and how kids are cool (sorry – move on – nothing new to see here)
Interesting to note that most of his references in online papers are at least 8 years old. He seems to be referring to more recent research but I can’t find it on his website – perhaps you’ll have more success.
But, a few minutes later, we’re start to get somewhere.
He refers to the Human Brain project (ICBM) and the fact that our brains use different pathways to kids. Different experiences, different priorities, different pathways.
Referring to research from 3M, he relates the 60 000 times speed difference between the eye/brain analysis of images over text, and kids read images differently to adults. We read in a Z pattern, kids in an F pattern, concentrating on the top left
Further, we have been trained to read black on white; kids red (male), pink (girls), and are turned off by black on white.
So, here we have 87% of kids who are visual or visual kinaesthestic learners.
Nice resonance with Ken Robinson‘s philosophy here as well.
Who has the learning problem? The kids or the teachers? Doing the same thing and expecting different results is traditionally associated insanity.
Does ADHD only exist in Western education as he maintains? Interesting research possibility. Some indications are here, suggesting that use of ADHD medicines are correlated with income. Interesting.
He finishes by referring to downloads of papers and how the Mac can do this natively whereas Windows needs Acrobat. Big cheer, reflecting the number of Macs at this conference. It’s huge.
He’s on again tomorrow, extending the thesis he’s been developing today. Will see if I can attend.
He’s a good presenter, using the essentials of expository lectureship: Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em.

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