This is a follow-up to Dan Meyer’s twitter conversation a few days ago about cognitive load theory:
My thoughts: I suspect that the difference between germane and non-germane cognitive load can be detected on an fMRI machine. You’d first need to see what parts of the brain light up when a student is thinking about something germane. Then just check whether the activity in question makes those (germane) areas light up more, or whether it makes those light up only a little and instead mostly consumes the region of your brain that helps you interpret a cumbersome computer interface.
This kind of stuff is not that far-fetched. For example, here is an artificial intelligence program using nothing but fMRI input to predict what algebraic steps a student is taking. So not only is it determining whether the student is thinking about something germane, it’s actually identifying exactly what the student is thinking…and (here’s the kicker), often BEFORE the student has actually recorded those steps on the computer screen. Basically: mindreading.