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Would we want to read a student's mind?

The Advanced Virtuality Lab at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Israel and the Beziers Technology Institute in France have used fMRI scanner to allow someone to control a robot with thought alone.

photo bt Swiss Pavilion

That got me thinking about a system where students thought could be translated into signals, allowing the Teacher to see visually how engaged the students were.

Would a system like this allow us to measure and visualise what Czikszentmihalyi calls 'Flow',

  1. Completely involved, focused, concentrating – with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training
  2. Sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality
  3. Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
  4. Knowing the activity is doable – that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored
  5. Sense of serenity
  6. Timeliness – thoroughly focused on present, don’t notice time passing
  7. Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces “flow” becomes its own reward

It could replace the simple traffic light system for telling the teacher whether the work has been understood (Traffic Lights - Instant Feedback).

However, I would be worried by information overload and interpreting the wrong signals. Instant feedback from thought waves alone could lead to you adjusting your lesson unnecessarily as you react to one students arousal level. After all just because someone yawns in your lesson it does not mean that they are bored.


photo from flickr by Swiss Pavilion

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