by Stephen Downes
August 31, 2010
Online, Bigger Classes May Be Better Classes
The Chronicle covers the open course phenomenon, talking eo myself, George Siemens, Alec Couros, David Wiley, Wendy Drexler and others. It's reasonable coverage, examining both the motivations and the outcomes. The headline is a bit odd, though. The courses aren't better because they're bigger, they're better because they're open. There is the requisite Chronicle contrarian, in this case Gary W. Matkin, dean of continuing education at UC Irvine, who comments despite not having any experience with the distributed delievry model we have been using. Instructors have to control the context of education, he says, and to keep the dummies from crowding out the paying customers. Of course, we've dealt with all that and more. Mark Parry, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 31, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]
50 Best Websites 2010
Sigh - overlooked again. Still, one has to wonder at the selection of Chegg - a textbook rental company - and LiveMocha - a commercial language learning site - in the top 5 educational sites. Old media roots run deep. So I wouldn't gloat. Various Authors, Time, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]
In response to Amy Kinsel
Amy Kinsel responds to David Wiley's case for open education. "I know first-hand that education does not consist primarily of the transfer of information from books or professors to students," she writes. "Access to information alone does not equal education." That's why the teacher plays such an important role. "If I were responsible not for 25-30 students per online class but 60 or even 100 students, I would need to change how I teach. I could not assign analytical papers that I'd have to read and comment on, I could not field student questions, I could not read or reply individually to student posts, and I could not ask students to write essay exam questions that told me how well students understood important concepts and were able to apply critical thinking skills."
Wiley responds in this post. He agrees with Kinsel's premise. "Access to a wealth of content, information, books, articles, and other resources is a necessary – but not sufficient – condition for learning." But he notes, "What we must not overlook in this statement is that access to content is a necessary condition for learning." And he agrees there are limiting conditions to teaching online. "Amy and I agree that no faculty member can legally post student work in public. And we agree that students need to feel safe in order for them to engage substantively in conversations and other activities." But where he disagrees - and where I agree with him - is in the contention that only the teacher can be the locus of the analytical and reflective work essential for an education. "I explain to my students that discussions on the open internet can still be framed as formative, learning conversations and not as one's final opinion." David Wiley, iterating toward openness, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]
Teachers and Students in Control - 4 Media Creating Sites
According to Lauren Grossberg, "These 4 sites will provide you with a quick variety of some of those great resources. Combining technology with learning is just another way of preparing students for the future while having fun." The sites are write.fm, "an easy way to both create and share documents," Sharendipity, "with ready-made templates available if you don't want to start from scratch," Wordia Schoola, "record your own video for a definition and share it with the world," and SimpleDiagrams, "combine clip art, pictures, text and other drawings, along with shapes and ready made drawings." Lauren Grossberg, Tips, Tools and Technology for Educators, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]
Free ePub solutions for Your Nook
eBook vendors might be in for some most unexpected competition - free eBooks. "There are a ton of ebook sources online in a rich variety of formats, all for free (avoid that price-fixing!). And, of course, you can load PDFs on your eReader (Kindle or Nook)." See also this ABCs of eBook conversion. Chris Clark argues eBooks are here to stay. Meanwhile, Kaplan is using the word 'free' to advertise eBooks that will cost money - that's how you drive the free product to the fringes of the search engine results, you see. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]
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