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ISTE 2018 Opening Keynote David Eagleman on the Brain

Neuroscientist, David Eagleman, author of "The Brain: The Story of You" was the 2018 opening keynote at ISTE 2018. Eagleman has had several TED talks discussing the possibilities with the human brain.

Eagleman started broadly, noting that humans have developed programming languages and yet haven't come close to the amazingness of the human brain. What does our knowledge of the brain tell us about education and technology?

Forrests look pretty similar to what they looked like hundreds of years ago, but cities are like motherboards rising out of the muck.

Our brains have evolved to have larger distance between input and output. More pathways. The prefrontal cortex gives us the ability to ask, "What If?"

Most mammals are born and within a few minutes are walking around. Humans, not so much, but eventually, humans can do a lot more.

Classrooms haven't evolved from when they were created for the industrial revolution.

The Digital Brain:
"Kids are adicted to teh internet and because of that, they are losing their social skills." 
The world IS changing fast. This is no longer the world we grew up in.
By the age of 21, kids have logged 10,000 hours of video.

Generation Z communicates differently from previous generations. What does this mean from the brains point of view. We drop in half baked, The brain of a newborn, has few connections, but there are massive changes from birth to 2. Then things start to get pruned.

How your brain turns out depends on what you were exposed too. It reconfigured (Brain/neuro Placticity). 
Technology DOES effect neuroplasticity. 
Study of these effects is problematic, due to finding good control groups. 

  • Digital Natives move their eyes differently.
  • They scan like they look at a Web Page. 
  • This has implications on how they learn the fastest 
We had "Just in Case" learning. Students today are learning "Just in Time"
The learning is not out of context with the learning. When you are curious, then it sticks!
Comfort zones are different. 
ADHD-No, just a normal GenZer interacting in their world if they are board.
The onus is on educators to meet them half way. 
Is it cheating to look up on Google? Ask or rephrase the question so it is active investigation. "How do sphere's of influence form?"

Video Games....Benefits
What do they teach us about engagement and learning...Piaget

Medical students get 2 years of lecture before they meet their first patient. They invented a game to impart this information and saw 28% increase.

Frustrating but acheiveable is the optimum lo learning. Homework: Get 2 levels better tonight.

Sandboxing- Play w/o consequences. Children learn better when the risks aren't as high.

We train kids for jobs that exist now, instead of teaching for the future. We need to teach them to be cognitively flexible.

Imagine standing on a beach at sunset. Brains are made up of neurons that are associated....

Thinking in new ways builds connections between brain cells. Creativity helps make this happen!

We are moving to a "Creative Economy." What matters will be innovation. This is good, because humans are good at this!

Teaching Creativity:
  • It doesn't emerge out of thin air!
  • The iPhone evolved from the IBM Simon, NeXt, etc. There 
Main Brain Operations to creating:
Bending
Breaking
Blending

Eating the World-Encyclopedia Britannica then, now Internet

We aren't limited by the home room teacher in our little town anymore. 

Our job is to challenge the brain!
What other answers are down there?
Question Everything! Shake ourselves off the path of least resistance.

Generate Options to move beyond the path of least resistance.
Thomas Edison asked for 7 answers to solve a problem, forcing people to get deeper.

Failures are the portal of discovery!! Cultivating creativity requires holding up failure as a positive.

James Dyson took 5,000 failures. Here is SpaceX blooper reel:


Plasticity requires emotional engagement. Tech can help with this. What are you doing in your classroom to engage and inspire?

Nothing in the classroom should be glued down. You need to change things up!

We need to insure that EVERY student has creativity as part of their curriculum. This NY Times article speaks to that.

Eagleman has some things to say that teachers should think about, and I'm glad ISTE invited him to keynote. I felt as though he was rushed for time, and didn't go as in depth into the Bending, Breaking, Blending idea as much as I would have liked. I guess I'll need to buy the book, and/or watch a few of his TED talks to go deeper.




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