Issue Number 265 September 15, 2019

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) and Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. In addition, seven free books based on the newsletters are available: Joy of Learning; Validity and Credibility of Information; Education for Students’ Futures; Understanding and Mastering Complexity; Consciousness and Morality: Recent Research Developments; Creating an Appropriate 21st Century Education; and Common Core State Standards for Education in America.

Dave Moursund’s newly revised and updated book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), is now available in both English and Spanish (Moursund, 2018a, link; Moursund, 2018b, link). The unifying theme of the book is that the 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking is fundamental to empowering today’s students and their teachers throughout the K-12 curriculum. The first edition was published in December, 2016, and the second edition in August, 2018. The Spanish translation of the second edition, La Cuarta R, was published in September, 2018. The three books have now had a combined total of more than 70,000 page-views and downloads. More than 15,000 of these are the Spanish edition.

Goals in Informal Education and Formal Schooling: Part 2

David Moursund
“The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, can see in the service to the community their highest life achievement.” (Albert Einstein; German-born theoretical physicist and 1921 Nobel Prize winner; 1879-1955.)

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” (Richard Buckminster Fuller; American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist; 1895-1983.)

“There won’t be schools in the future…. I think the computer will blow up the school. That is, the school defined as something where there are classes, teachers running exams, people structured in groups by age, following a curriculum—all of that....” (Seymour Papert; South African/American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator; 1928-2016.)

This is the second of two IAE Newsletters that examine some traditional, long-held goals of education. I differentiate between the carefully structured learning time I call schooling, and the less structured, informal learning time I call informal education. The category schooling includes enrollment in public and private schools, home schooling, tutoring, and participation in religious activities, sports clubs, camps, and so on.

Informal education consists of all of the rest of a person’s time. Learning is a natural, lifelong activity. Whether awake or asleep, your brain is processing information from your body’s internal and external senses, and information already stored in your brain. Considerable research has been done on the importance of sleep and what your brain does during that time.

Some of these goals are most often addressed via schooling, while others are most often addressed in informal education (outside of schools). Progress toward many of these goals depends on a combination of schooling and informal education.

The previous newsletter introduced a general list of 14 goals from Goals of Education in the United States, an article that I developed with my colleague Dick Ricketts more than 30 years ago (Moursund & Ricketts, 10/1/2016). The 14 goals on the list are divided into three categories: Conserving Goals, Achieving Goals, and Accountability Goals. While the general types of goals in such a list tend to stand the test of time, the emergence and rapid growth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is now having a profound effect on many of the goals.

Each goal is analyzed from the schooling versus informal education points of view, and how that goal is being affected by the continuing progress in the many applications of ICT. The three Conserving Goals were analyzed in the previous newsletter, and this current newsletter continues with the remaining goals.
Achieving Goals

Goal 4. Full Potential: Students are knowingly working toward achieving and increasing their healthful physical, mental, and emotional lifelong potentials.

Comment: You have heard the mantra, “In every day and in every way I am growing better and better.” We want our children to understand that mantra and to be aware of their personal progress toward becoming “better and better.”

Notice the emphasis on students “knowingly” working to achieve their potentials. This requires having a personal understanding of one’s current levels and potentials. Both intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation come into play.

As a simple example, a teacher watching children playing and running in a schoolyard may notice that one student seems to run much faster than the others. Undoubtedly, this student already recognizes having this ability. With appropriate extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, training, and hard work, the student may become a very successful amateur or professional runner.

The same observation applies to academic achievements where extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, good instruction and coaching, and sustained hard work over a long period of time are important in achieving one’s potential.

We see the power of intrinsic motivation as children learn to use a Smartphone, engage in social networking via the Internet, learn to play computer games, and search for information on the Web. Recall Buckminster Fuller’s quotation at the beginning of this newsletter, "If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking." Our children growing up with Smartphones, the Internet and Web, and computer games are learning new ways of thinking. Many are gaining knowledge and skills beyond those of their parents in their use of the set of tools we call a Smartphone.

Goal 5. Basic Skills: All students gain a working knowledge of speaking and listening, observing (including visual literacy), reading and writing, mathematics, logic, and storing, retrieving, and communicating information. All students learn to solve problems, accomplish tasks, deal with novel situations, and carry out other higher-order cognitive activities that make use of these basic skills.

Comment: Basic skills tend to have long (perhaps lifelong) value. However, new developments can change the value of existing basic skills and add new basic skills. For example, gaining fluent use of the tools made available on and/or through the use of a Smartphone can now be considered to be a basic skill, one that students are more likely to learn from informal education than from schooling.

Good keyboarding skills using a full-sized keyboard are still of considerable value. Personally, I find it fun to think about whether voice input will eventually reduce this to a skill of only modest value. I consider oral interaction with a computer to be a basic skill. Right now, the computer capabilities in such a conversation are still relatively limited—but they are rapidly improving.

I am frequently frustrated when trying to use computerized online “help” systems, because I keep expecting far more intelligence and understanding from the computer systems than they are currently able to provide. Fortunately, these tools are improving. They are a focus of many large research projects being carried out in various countries around the world.

Goal 6. Self-assessment and Self-improvement. Students learn to self-assess, set personal goals based on these assessments, and work to achieve these personal goals. Goal 6 strongly overlaps Goal 4.

Comment: My 8/6/2019 Google search of the term self-assessment produced 746 million results. Are you physically fit? There are self-assessment tests/measurements that will help you to determine your level of physical fitness. What about your knowledge and skills in various areas, such as reading and arithmetic? The Web can provide you with free instruments to help explore these questions. My conclusion is that students should learn about self-assessment aids that are available free on the Web and through other sources.

A much greater challenge is making use of self-assessment information. For example, my younger brother died from lung cancer—he was a heavy smoker. He was quite intelligent and well educated. He certainly knew the perils of smoking. But, he was sufficiently addicted to his smoking habit that he did not (could not) stop smoking.

Or, look around at the increasing numbers of people who are grossly overweight. I imagine that many are quite aware of how this overweight is affecting their health and quality of their life. But that information, by itself, does not lead to changes in their eating habits.

Goal 6 focuses on students learning to take personal responsibility for their own cognitive and physical education. Such knowledge and skills, along with self-understanding of one's interests, intrinsic motivation, drives, and ambition, can serve a person through their lifetime. Personally, I think that this goal needs greater emphasis in today’s informal education and schooling.

Some students find the topics being taught to be intrinsically interesting. Other take the attitude, “I couldn’t care less.” As noted above, an overriding goal of informal education and schooling is for students to make progress in learning to learn and to take increasing responsibility for their own learning. This broad statement does not specify any specific topics to be studied and learned. We adults should be pleased when a student finds a topic or skill to be intrinsically motivating and makes substantial progress in learning that topic or improving that skill.

Repeating a quote from Michael Bassis that I used to begin the previous newsletter, “It isn't enough just to learn—one must learn how to learn, how to learn without classrooms, without teachers, without textbooks. Learn, in short, how to think and analyze and decide and discover and create.” ICT can now play a major role in achieving the types of learning recommended by Bassis.

Let’s use history education as an example. History is a vast topic that lends itself to project-based learning (PBL). In PBL, students can be given the opportunity to pick topics, explore approaches to studying/learning about the topics, and make choices about how to demonstrate their learning that has occurred (Moursund, 9/25/2016, link). Students typically do not have complete freedom in their choices. But, the amount of freedom they do have may allow them to be much more intrinsically motivated on their project than they would be if they did not have the choices.

Goal 7. General Education: Students have appreciation for, knowledge about, and understanding of a number of general areas of education. This has long been proposed as a goal of education.

Comment: A good education is a balance between breadth and depth, and it varies considerably from person to person. Many of the problems that students will encounter as they move into adulthood are interdisciplinary, and interdisciplinary education has long been considered an important goal of education.

Thomas Hardy, a well-known British biologist and prominent defender of Charles Darwin, urges that we “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” This is a message well worth integrating into the schooling of our children. However, it provides a new challenge to teachers.

ICT is now quite useful in each discipline of study as an aid to solving the problems, accomplishing the tasks, storing and retrieving the information, and developing the new aspects of the discipline (Moursund, 2018, link). ICT is also useful in teaching and learning each discipline of study. Thus, it behooves all teachers to have appropriate ICT knowledge and skills in the disciplines they teach.

While many parents have considerable computer knowledge, the great majority do not. In many homes, that can create the situation of children who are learning things in school that their parents may not know, and whose parents cannot be helpful with homework related to such knowledge and skills. On a more positive note, this may offer a wonderful opportunity for parents to learn from their children!

Here is a suggestion to teachers. Instead of considering all of the content you are teaching to be must learn for your students, from time to time have each student select a personally interesting topic related to the overall course you are teaching, one that is not covered in your curriculum. Each student is to pose a learning task and undertake the task using resources that are available, such as the Web. Each student is to decide on an appropriate way to demonstrate the learning that has occurred. The goals are for the students to increase the breadth of their education and to learn to become more personally responsible for their own education.

Goal 8. Lifelong Learning: Students learn how to learn and how to make effective use of what they learn. They develop skills in self-assessment (Moursund, 9/23/2016, link). They develop habits of mind such as an inquiring attitude and self-confidence that allows them to pursue life’s options. They have the knowledge and skills needed to deal effectively with changes that affect their current and possible future lives.

Comment: Schools and researchers have had thousands of years of experience in learning about and teaching learning skills. These are now often called the 4 C’s of Critical thinking, Creative thinking, Communicating, and Collaborating (Thoughtful Learning, 2019, link). Thus, we humans collectively know a great deal about learning to learn. Our human brains are designed to be quite good at learning. With proper instruction, they can become even better at this important activity.

The pace of technology-based change is quickening, and the total collection of human knowledge is growing very rapidly. Some current areas of the most rapid change include genetic modification, nanotechnology, cognitive neuroscience, medicine, and artificial intelligence. Students need to develop lifelong habits of mind that will help them to gain the knowledge, skills, and understanding necessary to deal effectively with this ongoing rapid change.

Unfortunately, the availability of fake news and deliberately highly biased news also is expanding very rapidly. We now need to help students learn to identify reliable sources of both published and broadcast information, as well as to evaluate the reliability of information they hear from people with whom they interact (Farmer, 5/31/2018, link).

Goal 9. Problem Solving: Students make use of decision-making and problem-solving skills and tools, including the higher-order skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Students pose and solve problems, making routine and creative use of their overall knowledge and skills, and currently available resource materials.

Comment: Each discipline of study is characterized by the particular types of problems and tasks it encompasses, its accumulated results, its tools and methodologies, new problems and tasks it is addressing, its teaching practices, and so on. A very wide range of problems can be solved by the currently available ICT, including Internet connectivity, computer hardware and software (including artificial intelligence), and computerized machines (including robots).

Progress in ICT has affected every discipline of study—some much more than others. An education that is future oriented prepares students to make effective use of the aids to problem solving that are currently available, and includes an orientation that helps them to prepare for the much more powerful ICT of their future

As an example, consider gene splicing and genetic engineering. This discipline is a very important part of the future, and one that current students will live in and make decisions about as adults.

Every discipline of study includes a collection of discipline-specific facts. Quite frequently now, when I am talking to a person, a fact-based question comes up. One of us immediately uses voice input to a Smartphone to seek an answer. We listen to the answer, perhaps integrate it into our conversation, and the conversation continues. It takes knowledge and practice to be able to effectively and skillfully use this ICT capability.

Finally, perhaps the most basic and very important part of problem solving is making effective use of one’s brain. This now involves learning to use the new ICT aids to problem solving that continue to be developed. Computational Thinking is a term popularized by Jeannette Wing and now used frequently to describe the process of combining human and computer “intelligence” to solve problems and accomplish tasks more effectively (Guzdial, 3/22/2011, link). The focus of my new free book, The Fourth R, is on the importance of adding Reasoning/Computational Thinking to the traditional 3Rs of Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic (Moursund, 2018, link).

Goal 10. Productive Citizenship: Students act as informed, productive, and responsible members of countries, organizations to which they give allegiance, and as members of humanity as a whole.

Comment: I often think of this in terms of each student growing up to be a productive citizen of the world. Figuratively, the world is growing smaller as it is becoming more densely populated, and we have greatly improved methods of transportation and communication. This has resulted in our now having many problems that are global. In some sense, each person is a citizen of the world, of one or more countries, of one or more states/provinces, and so on.

Moreover, this world is changing with increasing rapidity. Thus, students need an education that prepares them to be responsible, productive citizens of the region and country they are currently living in, but also to be citizens of the whole world. They need to learn to think and to act locally, nationally, and globally.

Goal 11. Social Skills: All students interact publicly and privately with peers and adults in a socially acceptable and positive fashion.

Comment: ICT has brought us new forms of communication and social interaction, including electronic conferencing, groupware, picture phones, instant messaging, email, texting, and social networking. Possibly the most important impact of this of communication via the Internet is the fact that it has considerably reduced the amount of time that children (and adults) spend in face-to-face communication with other individuals and in groups.

All of these forms of communication, whether one-way, two-way, or in larger groups, are forms of social interaction. We humans have had tens of thousands of years of experience in face-to-face social interaction. Over these years, we have developed rules and guidelines (usually unwritten) of communication conduct. We learn these rules and guidelines mainly through our informal education. Today’s children are learning and regularly using new rules and guidelines in electronic communication that are not familiar to many of their parents and teachers. Moreover, many are not becoming as skilled in face-to-face communication as their parents. One of the benefits of traditional schooling is the opportunities provided for face-to-face and small group interactions among the students.

Goal 12. Information and Communication Technology (ICT): All students have appropriate knowledge and skills for using our rapidly changing ICT as well as related technologies relevant to their lives and our world.

Comment: ICT is both a discipline in its own right, and also is a driving force for change in education as well as in many different areas of technology, science, and research. Schooling now struggles with the issue of making effective use of ICT in the education of their students. For example, should all students be introduced to computer programing? If yes, at what grade level(s), and to what extent? Also, if yes, will we expect all of their subsequent teachers to have similar or greater knowledge of computer programming? (After all, we expect all teachers to be able to read, write, and use math at levels appropriate to the content they are teaching.)

The same questions can be applied to all aspects of using ICT as an aid to learning, solving problems, and accomplishing tasks. Computational Thinking (using a combination of human and computer brain power) is becoming a standard complement of each academic discipline (Guzdial, 3/22/2011, link; Moursund, 9/25/2016, link; Moursund, 2018, link).

Assessment and Accountability Goals

Goal 13. Assessment: All of the major components of an educational system that contribute to accomplishing its goals are assessed in a timely and appropriate manner. The assessments are designed to provide formative, summative, and long-term impact evaluative data that can be used in maintaining and improving the quality of the educational system.

Comment: Schooling is a major component of our educational systems, and school accountability has been studied extensively. Such studies can be widescale (all schools in a particular state, or all schools in a country) or local (one school, or schools in one school district.) The Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University focuses on widescale studies (CEPA, 2019, link).

Here is a widescale question: In the United States, do school districts spend less, about equal, or more for schools in minority and poverty areas of their districts? A 2017 study indicated that, on average, school districts spend slightly more on their poverty and minority schools (Shores & Ejdemyr, 5/25/2017, link). I was somewhat surprised and very pleased to read this information.

ICT has long been an indispensable tool in educational research. Today’s growing widescale use of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) learning systems has opened a new and very important type of educational research. Researchers can conduct studies of the learning-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of CAI versus conventional instruction.

As one example, we now can use appropriate software to record every keystroke that a student makes when doing an online unit of study. This data can then be gathered from thousands of students completing the same lesson. Analysis of this research data, followed by appropriate changes based on the data, can lead to improvements in the unit of study. We also can design research studies that will attempt to predict whether a specific student will benefit more from online or offline instruction.

Goal 14. Accountability: All educational systems are accountable to key stakeholder groups, including:

  • Students.
  • Parents and other caregivers of the students.
  • Teachers, administrators, and all employees and volunteers in educational systems.
  • Voters, taxpayers, and funding agencies.

Comment: Accountability includes gathering, sharing, and effectively using information from formative, summative, and long-term residual impact assessments that are fair, reliable, valid, and timely (Ed Trust, 7/22/2016, link). Such assessments for both informal education and schooling are essential to improving student outcomes. ICT is now routinely used in these tasks.

The research on the impact that growing up in poverty can have on student performance provides one excellent example (Operation Warm, 6/12/2018, link). Another is the research that points to both health and learning benefits for newborn children whose parents have received extended paternity leave (Ferrante, 1/10/2019, link).

Final Remarks
One of my goals for informal education and schooling is for these endeavors do a more successful job of making effective use of educational research. Schooling and informal education taken together comprise a complex and challenging human endeavor. Educational leaders and others interested in education address these challenges by first developing educational goals and standards, and then implementing effective ways to meet the goals by achieving the standards. All of these activities are human endeavors—they are not exact sciences. Each of these endeavors can be (and should be) backed up by good research.

The relatively new discipline of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is producing quite useful research results (Moursund, 2010, link; Moursund, 2012, link; SoTL, n.d., link). One especially informative article is What Do Teachers Know About the Science of Learning? by Ulrich Boser. He cites a number of examples of ideas that many teachers believe to be correct, but the ideas actually are wrong (Boser, 9/4/2019, link).
We found that 77% of educators endorsed the idea that people are either right-brained or left-brained, and that this difference impacts how they learn. But there is no scientific support for this idea.

Our study found that 97% of respondents endorsed the idea of “learning styles”—the idea that people can be categorized into one of several learning styles—e.g., auditory, visual, and kinesthetic—and that these styles impact learning outcomes. But this idea too has no scientific support. Learning researchers have repeatedly debunked the idea—both in scholarly and popular outlets. The popularity of this myth across all populations has several likely causes: the intuitive appeal of the idea, the success (and continued presence) of learning styles advocates in education, and confusion between learning styles and other kinds of student differences.
In total, we have examined 14 goals of education, and I am sure you can think of other goals of education you would like to include in the list. When you think of one, you can analyze it in terms of its potential longevity, roles of informal education and schooling in helping to achieve the goal, how it is being affected by ICT, and ways that achievement of the goal would improve the education of children.
Combined References and Resources from the Two Newsletters

Boser, U. (9/4/2019). What do teachers know about the science of learning? The Learning Agency. Retrieved 9/7/2019 from

CEPA (2019). Stanford Center for Education Policy Assessment. Retrieved 8/5/2019 from

Ed Trust (7/22/2016). School accountability systems in the states. Both opportunities and peril. The Education Trust. Retrieved 9/2/2019 from

Farmer, L. (5/31/2018). Using LibGuide to recognize fake news. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 9/1/2019 from

Ferrante, M.B. (1/10/2019). In the fight for paid parental leave, 6 months should be the minimum. Forbes. Retrieved 8/5/20019 from

Guzdial, M. (3/22/2011). A definition of computational thinking from Jeannette Wing. Computing Education Research Blog. Retrieved 9/2/2019 from

Mirage News (6/24/2019). Program in College of Education works to reduce child abuse. University of Oregon, College of Education. Retrieved 8/25/2019 from

Moursund, D. (8/31/2019). Goals in informal education and formal schooling: Part 1. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 8/22/2019 from

Moursund, D. (8/15/2019). Educational goals and improving education. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 8/16/2019 from

Moursund, D. (6/9/2019). Forecasting possible futures of education. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/16/2019 from

Moursund, D. (6/3/2019). Problem solving. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/21/2019 from

Moursund, D. (2018). The Fourth R (Second Edition). Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 8/13/2019 from Download the Microsoft Word file from Download the PDF file from Download the Spanish edition from

Moursund, D. (5/21/2018). "Big Brother" is getting better at tracking you. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/19/2019 from

Moursund, D. (10/15/2016). Robert Branson’s Upper Limit Hypothesis. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 8/28/2019 from

Moursund, D. (9/25/2016). Computational thinking. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 9/2/2019 from

Moursund, D. (9/25/2016). Good PBL lesson plans. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 9/7/2019 from

Moursund, D. (9/24/2016). What is (name of discipline). IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/23/2019 from

Moursund, D. (9/23/2016). Self-assessment. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 9/2/2019 from

Moursund, D. (7/1/2016). Neuroscience, global education, and world cooperation on problem solving. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/16/2019 from

Moursund, D. (2012). Scholarship/science of teaching and learning. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/20/2019 from

Moursund, D. (2010). All educators are engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/20/2019 from

Moursund, D., & Ricketts, R. (10/1/2016). Goals of education in the United State. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/18/2019 from

Operation Warm (6/12/2018). Long-term impacts of poverty on children: Health & education. Retrieved 8/18/2019 from

Shores, K., & Ejdemyr, S. (5/25/2017). Do school districts spend less money on poor and minority students? Brown Center Chalkboard. Retrieved 9/2/2019 from

SoTL (n.d.). Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Retrieved 8/25/2019 from

Thoughtful Learning (2019). What are learning skills? Retrieved 8/6/2019 from


David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology (now published by ISTE as Empowered Learner).He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See .

In 2007, Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE). IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and IAE books. See . Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executive Officer of AGATE.


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