Article: In VR, boys learn best when the teacher is a drone - girls learn better from virtual Marie

The teacher is just as important in a virtual learning environment as in a normal classroom, but a new study shows that boys and girls differ greatly in terms of how they learn best: Boys learn best when their virtual teacher comes in the form of a drone, while girls get more knowledge from VR-teaching when they are taught by a young, female researcher-type named Marie.

Paper: Technology and Teacher–Student Interactions: A Review of Empirical Research

As technology becomes ubiquitous in education, it is critical to understand the ways in which technology influences interactions between teachers and their students. The overarching research question that guided this systematic review was: What does research tell us about how technology influences interactions between teachers and students in K–12 settings?

Game: Rocket Island has been released on Steam! (Windows/Mac)

Rocket Island is a fun 3-D educational video game set in an open world environment. Rocket Island has an emphasis on education around science, technology, sustainability, water cycles, community participation, and mathematical thinking skills. Rocket Island has good graphics, a properly developed story, and is actually fun. No other educational game ticks all 3 boxes.

Video: Unlocking Humanity's Potential | Tim Young | TEDxRuakura

Tim Young from Education These Days talks about educational technology and video games, where they might go in the future, and the power of EdTech to reach those who are isolated and poor.

Paper: How Online and Face-To-Face Group Learning Affect Test Scores and Group Participation

A randomised control trial by Tim Young (Education These Days) and Stephen Hill (Massey University) comparing differences between online group learning and face-to-face group learning.

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Article: TedX Ruakura Profile for Tim Young.

The write up for Tim's upcoming TedX talk, on Sept 2nd in Hamilton, NZ.

Video: Is Virtual Reality the Future of Education?

Kickstarter: Rocket Island - An Immersive and Fun 3D Educational Video Game

A fun place to explore on foot, car, or cart; while working with the community to collect resources to launch our astronauts to space! In order to be successful in the age of information, automation and environmental destruction, students need to be creative and to passionately explore topics they enjoy, while learning about sustainability and science. 

Article: Teenagers Who Serve Time Are More Likely to Re-offend, and Less Likely to Graduate

Another study has concluded that punitive responses to bad behaviour are not only unproductive, but often are counterproductive. A behavioural economist from MIT has demonstrated a causal relationship between being sentenced to juvenile detention, and a 13% drop in graduation, and a 23% increase in adult incarceration. 

Article: Kids Can Learn as Much From ‘Sesame Street’ as From Preschool

While preschool is important for students to develop social skills, emotional skills within a social setting, and as a community centre where families can connect with dental, medical and other services; it has not found to have any more educational value than watching Sesame Street.

Paper: Children Who Make Abstract Hand Gestures While Learning Math Skills, Gain Deeper Understanding

Researchers have found that 9 year old children gained a deeper understanding of basic math problems, when they used abstract hand gestures to learn math skills. A previous study provided evidence that children diagnosed ADHD who moved around, also learned better. Instead of telling kids to sit still and listen when learning, perhaps they would benefit more from a dynamic environment that they can physically interact with.

Paper: Children Who Are More Altruistic Have Greater Autonomic Flexibility and Less Family Wealth

Research has found that children who are more altruistic (those who are likely to share with and help others) were more likely to come from low income households, and have a stronger heart (in the form of vagal tone). It seems that some rich kids could learn a thing about being a decent human from the poor.

Article: Why ADHD is at 0.5% in France and 9% in the US

ADHD is a very controversial subject within Educational Psychology. This may be because of the difficulty to objectively diagnose someone with it. With the global rise in ADHD levels, there have been suggestions increases may be a result of changes in those making the diagnosis rather than those receiving diagnosis.. In France where the childhood rate of ADHD is 0.5% (compared to 9% in the US), professionals focus “on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children's symptoms, not on finding the best pharmacological bandaids with which to mask symptoms.”

Paper: Perfectionism is a Large Risk Factor for Suicide

It's understandable that parents and educators want students to do the best they can, however, too much pressure to live up to perfect ideals can be unhealthy. Societies such as South Korea, that have exceptionally high expectations for students to achieve highly in standardised tests, have the highest rates of suicide in the OECD (along with a number of other reasons, such as stigma of depression, and social shunning). I specified the use of standardised tests, as they do not suit everyone's learning style, and up to 50% of students are required to fail.

Paper: Bullying is More Likely to Have a Long-Term Effect on Mental Health, Than Maltreatment From Adults

New research provides evidence that childhood bullying by peers can have longer lasting effects on mental health than maltreatment from adults. Being bullied can increase the chance of developing depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies by more than maltreatment alone. "Being bullied is not a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up; it has serious long-term consequences. It is important for schools, health services and other agencies to work together to reduce bullying and the adverse effects related to it." said lead author Professor Wolke.

Video: John Oliver's Hilarous View of Standardised Tests

Article: Later School Start Times Allows Teens to Sleep More, and Improve Educational Outcomes

Are many teens lazy and grumpy because of all them hormones, or do they just need more sleep? Multiple studies have found teens have a different sleep pattern to adults, that tired students do worse at school, and that later starting times for school could help improve student's learning outcomes. I wonder if a lack of sleep explains their music choices as well... 

Paper: Apparent Increase in Autism Due to More Diagnosis, Not More Autistic Children

What’s causing the apparent global rise in autism? Are there more autistic kids all of a sudden, are vaccines to blame (no, definitely not!), or something less sinister? Researchers from Sweden compared clinical diagnoses of autism to prevalence of the autism phenotype, over a 10 year period. They concluded that reported 30% increases in autism over recent years are due to differences in clinical methods for diagnosis and analysis of autism, rather than more autistic children. 

Survey: 8-18 yrs Use of Media Devices

Kids are almost ALWAYS online these days! Kids between 8 and 18 are using devices 7.38 on average. However, with so much media multitasking they manage to pack in 10.45 hours of use in a day on average.

Blog: How Much Are Kids Online, and What Are They Doing?

The Internet is everywhere and kids are constantly using smartphones to access it. Are these high levels of Internet use somehow bad for children, and how does it affect children socialising? 

Paper: Increased Gray Matter and Brain Connectivity in Gamers

Considering past research from Kolovou et al. (2013) showed how video games could be used as an effective educational tool, now research has shown video games can increase neural connectivity in the brain. Perhaps more resources and effort should be put into using video games for educational purposes to keep students motivated. I know that if Candy Crush taught me new words, I'd have way more words in my list of words I know.

Video: "Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status." Sir Ken Robinson

Paper: Online Video Games Improve Students' Self Motivation to Practice Algebra in School and at Home

This paper provides evidence that online videogames could be an effective way of self motivating students to practice algebra outside of class hours. Although the schools and students were not randomly assigned, the findings still warrant consideration when developing educational tools. People like playing video games, and playing them seems to motivate students to learn more. Everybody wins right? Sure, but proceed with caution. It has to be designed well, not all games will improve understanding; and don't overuse and spoil the novelty of each game. 

Survey: Babies as Young as 1 yro Using Moblie Devices Regularly

While it seems extremely young for most 2 year olds to be using mobile devices regularly, I am not overly surprised. I wonder if young children from higher income and higher education households would use mobile devices more or less?

Article: The ADHD Fallacy: It’s Time To Stop Treating Childhood as a Disease

Although mostly anecdotal evidence, this article provides valuable insight into the modern disease that is ADHD. Maybe many kids diagnosed with ADHD just need to 'walk it off'...?

Paper: Family Income, Parental Education in Brain Structure in Children and Adolescents

Research that has found links between differences in brain development of children and their parents' income levels. Although the results were correlational and not casuational, they showed that the children who were most disadvantaged by their parents' income were likely to be most affected by the diffrerences in brain development, while the differences in brain development in affluent families were significantly smaller.

Blog: Effective Education Engages Environment

This delves into the the impact of a person's environment on their learning. This may help you realise why you like so many of the songs in the TOP 40, and why two Mums never make lasagna the same way. 

Article: Gender Differences: Girls Are Consistently Schooling Boys at School

In all 64 countries included in the study girls outperformed boys by a year of school, on average. What's causing this difference in grades? Are girls smarter or are boys just more annoying to teachers?