Archives For EDLD 5305


Over the past 25 years that I have been involved in the education I have seen so many claims that this or that technology will begin to replace teachers in “X” number of years. Years ago, my initial response to these types of articles was humor and occasional annoyance because I know from first-hand experience that there is much more to learning than just delivery of content. Unfortunately, authors of most of these types of articles are wrongly assuming that learning just involves the delivery of content and then the regurgitation of that content by the student. This commonly held and very naive understanding of how we learn that goes back for centuries. If you look at the notion of the Nuremberg Funnel from the 17th century that is depicted in this image/stamp you will see that this idea of pouring information or content into the brains/heads of our students is a very old idea.

Nuremberg Funnel
The 19th-century commercial artist Jean-Marc Côté created a series of picture cards as inserts that were intended to depict how life in France would look in a century’s time. The education card depicts the notion of pouring information directly into the student’s minds.

21st Century School
While some may see this as an early prediction of the audiobook the notion of pouring information into the learner’s minds is the focus of the image and is at the heart of the problem with these types of depictions/predictions. Before I focus on what I believe is the primary issue I need to acknowledge that there is a very long history of unrealistic claims of how technology would reform education. The following two contemporary authors have documented how schools have failed to effectively use technology to enhance learning. Larry Cuban’s Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920, addresses how the potential of film, radio, TV and computers has been wasted in the classroom. Todd Oppenheimer’s The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology expands on Cuban’s work and further reveals that creative power of computers has been squandered due to their use as standardized testing tools. Both these authors acknowledge the potential and power of technology but show how we have failed to leverage that power for learning.

This brings me back to the heart of the matter. Are we using technology as a tool to help make meaningful connections and to address the challenges of tomorrow or are we just using technology to deliver content and confirm that the student can regurgitate that content? There was a time not so long ago when getting access to information was the greatest challenge. We only have to look back a few years to a time when the Internet didn’t exist and we had to go to the library or other repositories of information to get at the content. I am not that old but I can recall a time in the 1960’s when a set of encyclopedia was one of the most important purchases a rural family could make; I grew up searching those books for all kinds of answer. In the last 15-20 years the explosive growth of the Internet and more recently the ease with which we can find information with Google, YouTube or other search tools and then can share that information on blogs, social media and in so many other ways has changed the way we need to view our challenges regarding information. The greatest challenge of the industrial age was accessing information and now that we have moved into digital information age our greatest challenge or problem is assessing information. This means we need to reassess our primary role or job as teachers.

If I imagine my primary job as a teacher is to serve information, am I helping solve the current informational problem or do I make it worse?

And given the vast complexity of the informational network, if I insist on my centrality and authority, does that establish or harm my credibility as a teacher?

If assessing information – and the wisdom & experience that this requires – is the central challenge of the current informational age, then are teachers more or less necessary?

Depending on how you answer this question should determine if your role as a teacher can easily be replaced by a computer or an inspirational robot. If you believe that your primary job is to deliver information to your students then these predictions will come true sooner than you expect. Technology is at the point where the delivery of information and the assessment of the reception of that information through some form of standardized test is already happening and can easily be automated. If you are a teacher that practices content delivery as the primary way to prepare your students for standardized tests then you can easily be replaced by a computer, robot or other technology.

If you are a teacher who believes it is your responsibility to inspire your learners and to help them assess information and make meaningful connections by creating significant learning environments (CSLE) in which you give your learner choice ownership and voice through authentic (COVA) learning opportunities it will be impossible to replace you with technology. Furthermore, if you hold to the CSLE+COVA approach then you are not afraid of technology and can put technology in its proper place by using it to enhance the learning environment.

Before you breathe that sigh of relief that your teaching job is secure because you believe in the student-centered rhetoric of Dewey and other constructivists you may want to have a look at your practice. Are you talking the talk of Dewey but walking the walk of Thorndyke? Along with the long history of misapplying technology in education, we also have a long history of using the constructivist or progressive rhetoric of Dewey but practicing the behaviorist methods of Thorndyke’s standardized testing (Labaree, 2006).

If you really don’t want to be replaced by an inspirational robot then you need to not only talk the talk of Dewey but walk the walk. Does your practice match your rhetoric? If it doesn’t what are you doing about it?

References

Bodkin, H. (2017, September 11). “Inspirational” robots to begin replacing teachers within 10 years. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/09/11/inspirational-robots-begin-replacing-teachers-within-10-years/

Hill, D. J. (2012, October 15). 19th century French artists predicted the world of The future in this series of postcards. Retrieved October 3, 2017, from https://singularityhub.com/2012/10/15/19th-century-french-artists-predicted-the-world-of-the-future-in-this-series-of-postcards/

Labaree, D. F. (2005). Progressivism, schools and schools of education: An American romance. Paedagogica Historica, 41(1–2), 275–288. https://doi.org/10.1080/0030923042000335583

Nuremberg Funnel. (2017, January 6). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nuremberg_Funnel&oldid=758530021

Power of Video

How to Fold a Shirt in Under 2 Seconds

Is there any better way to show people how to do this?

The following 13 stats point to the power of video content: – https://boast.io/13-stats-that-prove-the-power-of-video-marketing/

Before you follow my links to my favorite video creation tools (near the bottom of the post) I suggest that you spend a bit of time to make sure that are you using the power of images, video, and words to influence and motivate people rather use the video to just dump more information?

If you are wondering if your video is going to be effective in motivating people to action I suggest that you consider the list of questions that I pose on my post When people need motivation, not information http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=6705

Enough words – check out the following two videos to make sure that you are targeting the hearts before you target the minds of your audience.

The Power of Words

The Behavioral ScienceGuys

In the post, The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5461 I provide some of the research behind why it is so important to target the heart before you target the mind.

My Video Took Kit
So how do you take advantage of the power of video? The following links point to all the tools that I have found most useful in creating videos.

Dwayne’s DIY Video Creation Toolbox http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=6211
My Video & Media Tools – http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5829

This is only the starting point. I recommend that you search Youtube to find even more ideas.

A recent trip to a Home Depot reminded me of why so many people despise having to find a specific item in a big box store. According to the Home Depot website, my local store had several sets of the rubber leg tips that I needed to replace a worn out tip on our bike repair stand. When I walked into the store I immediately went over to the information desk to ask it they could tell me or direct me to where to find the leg tips. I even had the name and product code so I thought that the person at the desk could at least look it up and tell me what aisle I needed to begin my search. Unfortunately, the best that they could offer is the suggestion that this item could be in the “Tools” or “Hardware” area of the store. Unfortunately, “Tools” spans almost 4 isles and the “Hardware’ section is another set of 3-4 aisles right next to the Tools. As luck would it have the leg tips were on the very last aisle that I walked down and after close to thirty minutes of fruitless searching I determined that the leg tips in the cooler and size that I was hunting for were out of stock—even though the website indicated that they have at least 10 sets.

Since I didn’t find what I was looking for at Home Depot and I didn’t want to wait to order the items from Amazon I decided to stop by Ace Hardware the next day. According to the Ace Hardware site, there were at least 6 sets of leg tips in the size I needed in two different stores that were close by. I stopped at the first Ace Hardware and I was only in the store for a couple of seconds when the guy at the help desk said hello and ask me how he could help. I said I was looking for 1.5-inch leg tips and before I could finish explaining that knew that they had to be in stock, he said:

Yup, we have those – go down to isle 28 here on your left and when you turn right into the isle the leg tips will be hanging on the wall just a few feet into the aisle on your right. The size you are looking for should be at the top of the display. You will find both black and white leg tips in that size.

It took me less than 15 seconds to follow his instructions and find the leg tips that I needed and in less than a minute I was back up at the checkout. On the way out of the store, I was thinking to myself that I wouldn’t even bother looking at Home Depot even though they are closer then Ace and usually have lower prices. It just doesn’t make sense for them to make it so hard to do business with me by making it so hard to find what I was looking for. In contrast, Ace helped me to find what I needed by giving me very specific direction and guidance. Both stores have clearly marked aisles and are very well organized the difference is that the Ace people created a context or a guideline for me to find what I was looking for.

Are you making the same mistake as Home Depot on your blog or website? Are you expecting your user to find what they are looking for without creating a context or providing the necessary guidance to find your valuable information? A well-built landing page, context page, or organizational summary for a section on your site can go a long way to help your user to find all your valuable information. Just pointing them to your main page and expecting them to find everything by looking at your menu often isn’t enough. If you a have a major section on your site that has lots of parts then create a page that will provide a context and help guide you the user to the information that they may be looking for. Don’t make your user work so hard to find what they are looking for.

If you think about my Home Depot vs Ace Hardware experience, I am choosing to go with the company that didn’t make it hard for me to find what I was looking for. The Ace people guided me directly to where I needed to go and as a result, they will have my future business. There are fewer options when it comes to buying hardware so I imagine I may find myself at Home Depot again but on the Internet, there are so many more options when it comes to information. If you make it hard for your user to find what they are looking for on your site—chances are they won’t hang around for very long and they won’t be back.

The other morning a colleague sent me the tweet from Daniel Pink “The secret to learning is overlearning…” which pointed to Cari Romm’s (2017) New York Magazine post To Truly Learn Something, Study Until You’ve Mastered It — and Then Keep Studying. Since I am a learning theorist and am always searching for “the secret to learning” and since Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is still one of my favorite books on motivation I started down the rabbit trail by reviewing Romm’s article in the Science of Us section of the blog. The reason I used the terms “started down the rabbit trail” and also used “reviewed” rather the “read” is very significant because in order to get to the truth or the actual facts about what these various people were stating I ended up looking at several other magazine/blog posts and then a few journal articles and went back to a couple of books to get the full story and really see what the facts are. While I am referring to this process of going down the rabbit trail what I am really referring to is simply doing the due diligence of analytical thinking and getting to the facts by going back to the primary sources to see what is really being said. Let me explain why this is so important and why we need to encourage everyone to verify what is being said and written.

Getting back to Romm’s post about the secret to learning, the headline alone would suggest that the article is about learning. Romm’s opening statement also points to and questions deliberate practice and elite performance:

…On its own, deliberate practice isn’t enough to turn you into an elite performer, whether you’re talking about boosting your athletic prowess or learning to play the violin.

Since I have been studying Anders Ericsson’s research into deliberate practice for many years I was intrigued by this opening statement and immediately reviewed the short post and followed the link to the post that Romm had pointed to in her opening. Before I deal with this second stop on the rabbit trail I need to explain that Romm’s generalization did not line up with the findings of the article Overlearning hyperstabilizes a skill by rapidly making neurochemical processing inhibitory-dominant in Nature Neuroscience (2017) she referred to and while she used the term learning what the article was referring to was actually training and memorization. This is where we get into a problem that can be resolved with clearly defining terms. How is the term “learning” really being used?

The learning that the authors of the Nature article referred to was in the context of a learned response to a stimulus. They also referred to training and memorization and their primary conclusion was that after a training event or session the learned stimulus-response needs to be stabilized or reinforced in order to prevent it from being disrupted by a new learned response. To prevent this loss you need to spend a minimum of 20 more minutes after you have reached the training plateau to reinforce the effect of training – which they referred to as overlearning. The authors of the Nature article (2017) were researching how people responded to a visual-recognition task by asking the participants to identify patterns in images and then measured the concentrations of excitatory and inhibitory neuro-transmitter levels in the visual areas of the brain. In a nutshell these researchers have identified the biological reaction in the brain that reinforces a conditioned response by increasing the excitatory neuro-transmitters and they have generalized that overlearning rapidly and strongly hyperstabilizes this biological reaction (Shibata et al., 2017). While they have also gone as far as to generalize that overlearning will help you retain your training or memorization they do qualify that their work has only gone as far as exploring this within the visual context.

While there are elements of data to support Romm’s headline the generalization – to truly learn something you need to study until you master it and then keep on studying is not correct. A more accurate claim would be – to truly memorize something you need to study until you master it and then keep on studying. There is a big difference between memorizing something and learning something. Learning is making meaningful connections by connecting new information or ideas with existing information or ideas to come to know something new. While memorization plays a role in the learning process it is only part of the process and all too often is used by people to simply regurgitate information. Richard Feynman (2014) reminds us that there is a difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

I firmly believe that Romm has no malicious intent in or intentionally wanted to mislead people but this where it is our responsibility to analyze and assess the author’s argument for validity. While there are elements of truth in her generalization of benefits of studying the assertions of the opening statement “deliberate practice isn’t enough” are actually misleading and unfortunately false.

This leads us further down the rabbit trail. Rather than look at primary sources and Anders Ericsson’s actual research into deliberate practice Romm points and links to another Science of Us blog post 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice Aren’t Going to Get You Olympic Gold by Drake Baer (2017). Unfortunately for Romm, Baer isn’t much better at research and doesn’t bother by going to the primary sources either to really find out the what he is referring to as deliberate practice or the 10,000-hour rule. Baer mistakenly points to Galdwell’s book Outliers and suggests that deliberate practice is simply a matter of putting in 10,000 of hard work and links to his own 2013 FastCompany article that confirms that you just need to put in the time. To be fair to Baer he does suggest in that you need to work on the hard parts to get better but only refers to a BrainPickings article (Popova, 2013) rather than a primary source. To add an appeal to authority Baer also points to the Karl Smith’s (2016) Scientific America blog post No One Wins Gold for Practicing the Most which also gets it wrong. While Smith does point to Macnamara, Hambrick, and Oswald’s (2014) research article Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis in Psychological Science to support his argument I am relatively certain he hasn’t read the full article or even looked at Ericsson’s original research or most recent work because he incorrectly defines deliberate practice and overemphasizes the 10,000 hour aspect.

If you look at Ericsson’s research or his latest book Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise (2016) which summarizes all his work on deliberate practice you will find that the 10,000-hour rule that Gladwell popularized is actually false. Ericsson (2016) actually stated that depending on the discipline and various other factors a rudimentary level of expertise could be reached after one put in 7500 – 15,000 hours. This is a big range and Gladwell generalized this idea by simply picking the 10,000 point because it would be easier to remember. Ericsson (2016) also points out that this is just the starting point of expertise and many world class performers have put in more than 20,000 more hours to be the best. The 10,000-hour rule is not a rule but a popular myth and authors like Romm and Baer mistakenly refer to this myth.

But there is an even bigger problem with the arguments of bloggers Romm, Baer, Smith and the researchers Macnamara, Hambrick, and Oswald. They all define deliberate practice incorrectly. Deliberate practice is not just putting in the time or working harder or pushing oneself further, nor is it just using structured practice. Ericsson (2016) is quite clear when he states that just practicing countless hour after hour in the same way will not help one improve and in many instances this repetitive practice, even if it has some form of structure, can potentially degrade performance. It is not the total hours or the fact that there is a structure that matters it is how one practices in those hours and what that structure is that matters.
According to Ericsson (2016) deliberate practice involves the following four components:

  1. Goals – you have to have a clear vision of what you are working toward or hope to accomplish. Watching or visualizing the activity performed perfectly either in a video of yourself or another expert will help you get to your goals.
  2. Focus – you have to break down the activity into smaller chunks and slow down the process to get a higher degree of control and precision. Paradoxically you have to slow down to get smooth enough before you can get faster and better.
  3. Feedback – you have to analyze your performance and look for ways to improve. Most experts have learned to continually error correct and look at and analyze what they are doing with an eye to continually improvement. This is where coaches, good teachers and even video recordings of your performance come into play. Most novices will require a coach to provide the necessary feedback because they often don’t even know what they need to improve. A cycle of feedback and continuous error correction is the key to deliberate practice
  4. Exit your comfort zone – you have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone order to make improvements. The key is to push just enough to be slightly uncomfortable but not so much that you will fail immediately. Experts have learned what that 3-4 % improvement feels like and to know when they are going to far out of their comfort zone to reach new levels of performance.

Ericsson also points out that experts have a deep set of mental representations of their discipline that make it easy for them to do things that look magical to the average person. Experts have done the mental reps that give them the highest levels of mental representation that enable them to operate at the highest level. This is a combination of mental and physical training at the highest level and is much more than working or practicing hard for 10,000 hours. So at this point in the rabbit trail I hope one can see that these first few authors really shouldn’t be trusted. It appears that the bloggers Romm and Baer may be more interested in building their following with catchy headlines to promote their writing then they are with the facts. If we can’t trust these authors then who can we trust—the academics? Smith is a Ph.D. candidate who published in the Scientific America blog and the researchers Macnamara, Hambrick, and Oswald are publishing in peer-reviewed journals but can we trust their findings just based their credentials and a perceived higher quality of the publication. Unfortunately, not. Smith didn’t bother looking at the primary sources to get a clear definition of deliberate practice and was too willing to simply run with the notion that deliberate practice involves harder work. If you compare the notion of harder work with the 4 components of deliberate practice listed above it is clear that deliberate practice is much more than hard work.

When you review the work of Macnamara, Hambrick, and Oswald (2014) you will find that they have gone to the primary sources but unfortunately, you will also see that they define deliberate practice as

engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a domain. (p. 1608)

which is not an accurate definition to use in their meta-analysis. Such a vague definition of deliberate practice not only cast doubts on the authors’ findings that deliberate practice only explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports it calls into question their entire research. The key to deliberate practice is the details of the purposeful goals, focus, feedback while pushing the limits. This is much more than just structure. While Macnamara, Hambrick, and Oswald do confirm that deliberate practice is still important they posit that it is not as important Ericsson argues.

This is where one has to be careful in examining the data, the research methods and exactly what the researchers are looking for. While I have stated earlier that I am calling their findings into question I will also state that it appears that their research is accurate. Let me explain, if you use a very loose definition of deliberate practice and simply point to structured activity then you will get the results that they point to. This is what they found in their meta-analysis. However, if you use the authentic definition of deliberate practice from the primary sources I would argue that there would be a very different result. Macnamara, Hambrick, and Oswald did a very thorough job on some aspects of their research like their methods, their analysis, and coding of the information but their research question was based on an inaccurate or overly broad definition of deliberate practice (Ericsson, 2016b).

So at this point of the rabbit trail, we find out that many of the claims made by numerous authors are simply wrong because they did not go to the original sources and kept referring to other authors who also failed to go to the original sources. And when we finally found some authors who did go to the original sources their claims could not be trusted either because these authors did not use the same definitions that the original authors used.

Who can you trust? Trust yourself. We have the responsibility to verify what we read by reading critically and thinking analytically while looking at the evidence. While I referred to this process of going down the rabbit trail it really is just a matter of seeing if an author has supported what they are saying and can corroborate their statements with external sources. Ideally, the external source should be primary sources. There will always be differences of opinions and biases but if you are objective enough and can look at the facts you should be able to discern what is accurate regardless of your bias. Admitting your bias is also is a good way of assuring your reader that you are attempting to be objective—we all have biases.

In summary, the tweet the other morning led to the above explanation and the examination of the following sources, and the following conclusions. Contrary to the errant claims of several authors who demonstrated very poor research skills the actual facts show:

  • deliberate practice will help you become an elite performer,
  • overlearning is great for memorization but memorization itself shouldn’t be mistaken for learning,
  • the 10,000-hour rule isn’t a rule but a pop culture myth and an interesting rap song.
  • accurate definition of terms is crucial to valid and reliable research.

This whole process took much more time than I had hoped or expected but if you really want to know then you have to do the due diligence and look at all the facts. There is no a quick fix. The most efficient way is to go back to the primary sources and see what is really being claimed. In the information age, there is an abundance or overload of available information so the need to do this is greater than ever before. Anyone can put anything up on the Internet so we have to be even more diligent than ever before. Unfortunately, the notion of trusted sources is something that we cannot rely on upon anymore, at least not completely. I will go as far as to suggest that there are some sources that I may be more inclined to initially trust but I would still verify. Stating what those sources are is a whole other argument and post. There are just far too many examples of faulty research being exposed and if you consider my example above, all it takes is a definition of terms to be ignored and the results of the research will be inaccurate. Furthermore, we need to be willing to heed the warnings of Chuck Klosterman (2016) who asks the question What If We’re Wrong? If we look how our understanding of science and the world around has progressed in the last several centuries then we should be willing to admit that there may be some things that we hold to be true today that may be false 10, 20, 50 or more years into the future.

We do live in the most amazing time to be a learner. All the world’s information is available to us in the palms of our hands. Because so much information is available we must not only be prepared but be willing to take the time that it takes to critically and analytically assess all the information we are are taking in.

References

Baer, D. (2013, October 29). Why “Deliberate Practice” is the only way to keep getting better [Magazine]. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3020758/leadership-now/why-deliberate-practice-is-the-only-way-to-keep-getting-better

Baer, D. (2016, August 8). 10,000 hours of deliberate practice aren’t going to get you Olympic gold [Blog]. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/08/deliberate-practice-isnt-going-to-get-you-olympic-gold.html

Ericsson, A., & Pool, R. (2016). Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise. New York, NY: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Ericsson, K. A. (2016). Summing up hours of any type of practice versus identifying optimal practice activities: Commentary on Macnamara, Moreau, & Hambrick (2016). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(3), 351–354.

Klosterman, C. (2016). But what if we’re wrong?: Thinking about the present as if it were the past. New York, NY: Blue Rider Press.

Macnamara, B. N., Hambrick, D. Z., & Oswald, F. L. (2014). Deliberate practice and performance in music, games, sports, education, and professions a meta-analysis. Psychological Science, 25(8), 1608–1618.

Popova, M. (2013, October 17). The psychology of getting unstuck: How to overcome the “OK Plateau” of performance & personal growth. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/10/17/ok-plateau/

Richard Feynman : Knowing the Name of Something. (2014). [Video file] Retrieved from https://youtu.be/lFIYKmos3-s

Romm, C. (2017, January 31). To truly learn something, study until you’ve mastered It — and then keep going [Blog]. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/01/to-truly-learn-something-study-way-more-than-you-need-to.html

Shibata, K., Sasaki, Y., Bang, J. W., Walsh, E. G., Machizawa, M. G., Tamaki, M., … Watanabe, T. (2017). Overlearning hyperstabilizes a skill by rapidly making neurochemical processing inhibitory-dominant. Nature Neuroscience, 20(3), 470–475.

Smith, K., J. (2016, August 5). No one wins gold for practicing the most. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/no-one-wins-gold-for-practicing-the-most/

Unfortunately, technology like the Citation Machine or other citation generation tools aren’t going to help you with the proper APA formatting of your citations and references unless you understand the fundamental APA rules and are able to use the official APA Publication Manual or at minimum use the Purdue OWL site to check and confirm the accuracy of what these tools generate. Yes, this is a bit of a paradox because these tools are intended to help you save time in citing your references. But if you don’t understand the basic rules or are not willing to spend some time to confirm that what these tools generate then you will run the risk of having significant errors. I also found that they can take more time to use then if you manually formatted the reference.

Lets consider the following reference example from the son of citation machine:

Livingston, J. A. (1997). Metacognition: An Overview. Retrieved from http://gse.buffalo.edu/fas/shuell/cep564/Metacog.htm

While this is very close to being correct it isn’t because the title is not formatted properly. The correct format according to APA is “Metacognition: An overview” – the letter “O” should not be capitalized. Small error but still an error.

Follow along the process of using one of these citation tools. There are a wide variety of citation tools that can help you generate this reference but I will deal with one of the more popular tools – Citation machine or Son of Citation Machine

When I go to the Citation Machine site I input the URL for this reference and this is what I get:

Metacognition: An Overview
http://gse.buffalo.edu/fas/shuell/cep564/Metacog.htm

The site prompted me to additional information like the author and dates and then it generated:

Livingston, J. A. (1997). Metacognition: An Overview. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://gse.buffalo.edu/fas/shuell/cep564/Metacog.htm

Unfortunately, the title format is wrong. Only the first word in the title should be capitalized. The second word “A” after the colon is also capitalized but the word “Overview” should not be capitalized.

Manually formatted based on the Purdue OWL site – https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

I used the Non-periodical Web Document or Report section since this is isn’t a blog post which recommended this format:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address

Lets consider another example – a Youtube video:

Not Suited for School But Suited For Learning – https://youtu.be/clv2yr_UhDU

After setting the APA setting and selecting the Film tab the citation machine then asks me to fill in the following details:

Youtube Director

The first time I ran the citation machine I left it on Producer as the default and it generated a partial reference.

Youtube director result

I had to go back and fill in all the details again and select Writer in order for it to generate a complete reference.

Youtube write

Once I had the right role selected the citation machine generated:

Youtube write result

But this is still wrong. APA doesn’t require a role designation so you don’t need (Writer) in the reference and more significantly only the first letter in the title should be capitalized.

The correct reference is:

Harapnuik, D. (2011, September 4). Not suited for school but suited for learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/clv2yr_UhDU

The problem with these types of tools is that they require you to fill in the blanks and if you just copy and past the title in from the Youtube page chances are the title capitalization required by APA won’t be met. Having to go back and forth as many times as I did to get a more accurate reference was also not very efficient. The formatting instructions on the Reference List: Electronic Sources (Web Publications) page of the Purdue OWL site points to an example that is easy enough to follow:

J Dean. (2008, May 7). When the self emerges: Is that me in the mirror? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.spring.org.uk/the1sttransport

Just need to remember to replace the Web log comment with Youtube and you will be good to go.

As much as I would like to hope these citation tools are useful they really aren’t and you still need to go to the APA Publication Manual, Purdue OWL site, or other style guide to check and see if the reference is actually correct – so why not just save yourself the time and start with the style guides.

If you really want to save some time on creating your Reference list for a larger literature review then I recommend that you bite the bullet and purchase the APA Style Guide and also use Zotero to house your references. The key to using Zotero effectively is to input the date into Zotero correctly and check it according to the APA style-guide. There are some quick tricks to getting content into Zotero that I will deal with in another post–but even with these tricks you still need to manually check the reference to make sure it adheres to APA formatting.

While I do recommend using the Purdue OWL site it really only covers the fundamentals and if you need to really dig down into the details of figuring out when to use the et al. or other unique APA features then you really do need to refer to the official APA Publication Manual.