November 27, 2020

Failure to Disrupt Book Club with Cristina and Neil Heffernan

For TeachLab’s third Failure to Disrupt Book Club episode, Justin Reich reflects on a live conversation with special guests Cristina and Neil Heffernan. They discuss Failure To Disrupt’s Chapter 2: Algorithm-Guided Learning at Scale: Adaptive Tutors, and discuss the success of their tool ASSISTments.

“According to SRI, they thought the reason why it was successful…They were like, “This fit in with what teachers were used to doing.” They’re used to actually assigning homework, and classwork. They could see before the kids walked in the door, which problems were hard. And so they could do something a little differently. In fact, what they did find is actually teachers didn’t go over every item the way they used to. And of course they didn’t because all the kids got feedback, but they still went over the stuff that was hard. And particularly in the places where there was common wrong answers because all those kids should be told, “Hey, you weren’t all alone.” Meaning, actually, you and half of the rest of you all screwed up this problem in the same way. And I think there’s a social-emotional component of actually doing that as opposed to just sitting in class and realizing, ‘I got everything wrong’ and not knowing everyone else, or a large number of other kids are in the same boat.” 

– Neil Heffernan, Professor/Researcher/Program Director

In this episode we’ll talk about:

  • The Heffernan’s edtech love story
  • Personalized learning vs. forming communities
  • The rhetoric behind algorithm-guided edtech
  • The core of ASSISTments
  • Non-disruptive edtech
  • Providing teachers with student feedback data
  • Virtual Professional Learning Community
  • The surge of online learning with COVID

Resources and Links

Check out ASSISTments!

Watch the full Book Club webinar here!

Check out Justin Reich’s new book, Failure To Disrupt!


Produced by Aimee Corrigan and Garrett Beazley

Recorded and mixed by Garrett Beazley

Check out the Failure to Disrupt Virtual Book Club Podcast!

In the Fall of 2020 Justin Reich invited guest presenters and students from MIT for a ten week book club exploring themes in Failure to Disrupt. Now he has turned into a Podcast to relive those discussions and offer more insights.