The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar

17th December 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar, by Peter Stothard. The Roman Empire is an endless source of fascination—this new book lends a different perspective to the Empire’s most pivotal event.  Frankly, we have never read a book of history that had such a great starting hook, as Cassius, the last living assassin of Caesar, awaits his fate.  While dangling on this hook, we were led through the often self-serving saga of the Caesar’s killers and the civil war that the killing provoked. A book like this helps you appreciate the comparatively benign politics of today. Incidentally, we kept our cell phone handy to look up place names and found ourselves discovering all sorts of fascinating new geographic spots we hope to visit post-COVID. 

Barb on the Jim Rutt Show 

Jim Rutt is a polymath who the New York Times once referred to as “the Internet’s bad boy” due to his reputation for creative mischief. Jim has been affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute since 2002, serving as Chairman from 2009 thru 2012. This podcast conversation moves in rapid-fire fashion to discuss fluency across domains, understanding-centered learning & the limits of procedural understanding, cultural-based education differences, slow educational evolution, online education, primary vs secondary biological learning, the direct instruction education method, the role of confidence in learning, comparing learning sports to learning math, and more. Well worth a listen!

The Second Year of the MOOC: A Review of MOOC Stats and Trends in 2020

Dhawal Shah, CEO of Class Central, writes a prescient overview of what’s happened in the world of MOOCs since the advent of COVID-19.  Key graf: “Of all the learners that ever registered on a MOOC platform, one third did so in 2020, making 2020 MOOCs’ most consequential year since the ‘Year of the MOOC”.  In 2020, the big MOOC providers got bigger, and the biggest one [Coursera] pulled further ahead of the rest. Now in its ninth year, the modern MOOC movement has crossed 180 million learners…”

Barb Discusses the Future of Online Education 

On December 22nd

  • At 6:30 am Eastern, Barb will be speaking for the IT Ukraine Association conference about how to battle inertia in education.
  • At 8:00 am Eastern, Barb will be speaking live with one of her favorite digital learning experts (and favorite people!), Talia Kolodny, about the future of online education. 

Don’t miss Barb at her friendly, provocative best. 🙂

Puzzle of the Week for Schools in the Pandemic

Here’s an intriguing puzzle posed by What explains the increasing drop-off in math scores as students get older? Email them if you might have a solution to the conundrum. [Hat tip: Kelly Papapavlou]

A visionary seminar for Freshman, “BLD 121: Survive and Thrive,” at Michigan State University

Professor Kathleen Hoag of Michigan State University writes:  “I co-teach a freshman “Survive and Thrive Freshman Seminar” at MSU. We have used the book A Mind for Numbers since 2017 when the course started. It really is very well received by the students as a whole and has helped quite a few overcome their procrastination. Procrastination, poor sleep hygiene, and cell phones are the bane of so many students! We do what we can to provide them a stark realization of how it adversely impacts them and a roadmap to get past it.  I was just grading the final exam reflection we ask the students to write. The topic must be an impactful experience from any of their courses this semester. I thought you would appreciate reading what one of my students wrote:

  • WHAT? In BLD 121, I read the book A Mind for Numbers (Oakley) which specifically provided insight on procrastination as well as techniques to overcome it. 
  • SO WHAT? This book had great advice for how to stop procrastination. At first when I was reading it I felt bad about myself because I realized that in high school I had a very fixed mindset and a problem with procrastination. However, as I kept reading I got hopeful because the author provided some really good strategies to overcome procrastination and explain why it happens in the first place. It made me feel assured and almost optimistic because procrastination is something a lot of people face but can be fixed with effort and work. 
  • NOW WHAT? After reading this book, I began writing lists daily, giving myself rewards for assignments, and using something like the pomodoro technique. Every day I would write a new list according to my semester calendar with each class and assignment I had to attend/complete. Then on the days that I felt super unmotivated to finish a task I would reward myself with something afterward. Some rewards included getting 10 minutes on my phone, watching TV for 5-10 minutes, or getting a snack. I also used something like the pomodoro technique while I did some bigger assignments that I felt unmotivated to finish. I would set a timer on my phone for 20 or 30 minutes (depending on how big the assignment was – bigger assignment meant 30 min) and work on a paper or worksheet during that time with my phone completely out of sight. I did not let myself stop working while the timer was on, and then once the timer was done, I would give myself five minutes on my phone and do it over again. Overall, A Mind for Numbers drastically changed the way I complete schoolwork by eliminating procrastination through three techniques that I tried this semester. 

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

Get the course recommended text, A Mind for Numbers!

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