Tuesday, December 02, 2014

WISE 2014 - Cognitive Science Debate raises awareness of learning potential

In the first week of November this year I was delighted to once again attend the WISE event for 2014 (World Innovation Summit in Education) located in Doha, Qatar. Each time I go to Doha I see more and more changes. I lived there for 2 years, 2007-2009 and was IT Director for K-12 at Qatar Academy, a school based right on Education City, opposite the Doha Convention Centre where WISE was held. This was my 4th WISE. It is still my favourite global conference and organisers do the most amazing job bringing together international experts across a large number of areas, K-12 as well as tertiary, government and NGO.

In past years I have usually attended and participated at a more passive level. This year I was invited at short notice to moderate a live debate. After taking a deep breath I agreed, and at one weeks notice worked on putting together the debate format and reading as much as I could about the topic - a topic I had no real expertise in, which I was told did not really matter as my experience and astute critical approach was conducive to the format required on the day.

The topic was to do with cognitive science - the screenshots below are from the WISE website.

Although a great challenge for me personally, it was a privilege to interact with and learn from Dr Ramia, Dr Koizumi and Dr Abadzi as their depth and breadth of knowledge was exceptional for this topic. I am going to recreate some of this debate here to show you what we discussed. I am hoping WISE might share the recording they made of the session on their website soon.

Here are some snapshots from the actual debate material.


There has been a groundswell of brain research over the last 30 years. The medical and educational communities, once disparate professions, now have common ground in addressing the physiological and psychological evidence for human cognition. 

To clarify from the beginning, Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes.

This topic is important now because…..
…..The bridge created between cognitive science and education means there may be pathways for cognitive science to inform learning approaches, pedagogy and therefore improved outcomes. With new information, we can reconsider many long held assumptions about instruction, learning, and assessment. This also has implications for policy and impacts government decisions internationally.

In this session we hope to….
…. learn more about cognitive science, demystify the concept and practice and what we can expect from it to improve education for all.
Are we having unreasonable expectations?
What are the good practices to learn from internationally?

The challenge for those not working in scientific fields is to understand the terminology and appreciate the actual science behind it. This video may help to clarify…….

Dr Abedzi shared insights into how our memory works

Neuromyths are common misconceptions about brain mechanisms, which are taken for granted in today's society. 
Cognomyths are beliefs that people can customarily learn in ways that they can't.

Globally a large range of cultural, emotional and developmental biases have influenced the types of unscientific ideas that have emerged. Some long-standing neuromyths are present in products for educators and this has helped them to spread in classrooms across the world.

 We also discussed creativity:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” - Albert Einstein

The topic of creativity is one example when exploring the broader issue of how to translate cognitive science findings into curricula or pedagogy.

I wanted to ask about this but we ran out of time:
The role of educational technology
Development and use of adaptive digital technologies - have potential to create more learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom and reshaping the human brain.
What about the move to using technology in the learning process - mobile devices, a move away from handwriting to digital communication.
Cohort studies very important. Attention span questions
Creating expectations of how you get information and interact with the environment
  • What are the implications here for learners in relation to cognitive science?
  • What role does or could educational technology play in this?
  • Is the development of educational software based on the findings of neuroscience?

Many interesting resources for cognitive science are now bookmarked in my Diigo account.

You must download this NEW publication by WISE Matters:
Explorations of Creativity: a Review for Educators and Policy Making by Helen Abadzi, Marialuisa Martelli and Silvia Primativo.

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