Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The spiral on steroids

WOW. Raymond's lecture on communications networks and their application to the diverse Olin system completely blew my mind. The communications analogy to understanding the college is very well thought out and capable of being expanded, which will be highly motivating in the next two weeks as we talk more about it and look to create a useful deliverable. But the cool part of the lecture was the way it tied together EVERYTHING we had worked on in Meta this semester. I don't know how Raymond managed to do it, especially since he knew little about what we worked on in previous modules. Our original model of Olin as a complex system was very relevant in connecting student and professor nodes and modeling their information flow. The concept of diminishing returns with increased energy mirrored the focus of our deliverable on burnout. The idea of fading also connected to the diminishing returns of information (I) when there is little sleep (P). Our second module of diversity took a number of different views at why people do different things and learn differently based on physical characteristics and family background, as well as how people interact differently to shun or be overly inviting to these people. This can be easily applied to how people project different meanings of the same thing onto their own type of understanding. This diversity of people can also complicate teaching a group, and the 80-20 law may mean that only 20% of a lesson is useful for one person, but a different 20% may be useful for someone else. This is why a good prof will try to use lots of different ways to teach the same thing, hoping that everyone will understand it in at least one way. Then comes the information literacy minimodule, where we learn how people find information. This can also be applied to many parts of the information transfer and what "antennas" people use to learn.
This was lecture was one of the most amazing hours of my life. I was shaking with excitement when I walked out. Wow.


Boris said...

I'm not sure if you're using the 80-20 rule right. This just means that 80% of the effort is spent on getting 20% of the results... is your point that since different people have a hard time with different things they will be able to do the whole social network/relay learning thing? If it is, how is this complicating it? The feel I get from that part of your post is more in line with everyone having different perceptual spaces than the 80-20 rule; am I misinterpreting something?

Raymond Yim said...

First of all, ap, thanks for your kind word. I am happy that you enjoyed the talk.

If we want to argue that the 80-20 rule applies to lectures, then it probably means that 80% of the lecture is spent for 20% of the students. I personally don't think this is the case, as students' aptitude probably follows a Gaussian distribution, rather than pareto.

In my teaching experience, my lectures tend to focus on the first chunck of information that has high yield (80%), and I tend to ignore the details (20%) that beat a dead cow. I noticed that some other professors do the opposite.

A potential application of 80-20 rule is that we probably get 80% of help from 20% of our classmates... actually it may be even 95% help from 5% of our classmates.