Kentaro Toyama was going to post my reply to his comment on educational tecvhnology on the Educational Technology site where his post appeared, but the UNESCO managers informed him that they had their own pro-tech writers who would respond. Because, you know, it's very important to get the right writers supporting tech, and carrying on the messages from Larry Cuban, Bill Gate and the rest. One such is Michael Trucano, posting on the World Bank site. Trucano offers a pro-tech response in precisely the ineffective form Toyama predicted: while supporting the whole 'total cost of ownership' analysis, it is based on an economics of opportunity cost, and of course an analysis of the 'fear' factor. After all, "Discussions of costs are, perhaps not surprisingly, near and dear to us at the World Bank." It's all so dull and predictable. Techno-communists need not apply. Toyama, meanwhile, has something of a reply to me on his site.
I don't think this is a trivial observation. "he asked a girl to take on the role of the grandmother, standing in the background and applauding the self-directed learning going on with the 'My goodness, I couldn't have done that' empathy that all our grandmothers, or grannies, take on." And thus the Granny Cloud was born. Of course, it has to be given some sort of 'educational' role, " to tell stories, to stimulate fresh ideas and new ways of looking at the same old things." But I think the true value here is generated through the applause and the support. How valuable is it to hear "You done good" from someone you respect? You can't pay for it with any amount of money!
Michael Wesch has launched another project where other people make stuff and he shows it. (just kidding. ;) ) The project is called VOST2011 - Visions of Students Today. I like the way he has set it up. Just make a video, tag it 'VOST2011', and it will become a part of the project. "It will automatically appear here and in this feed. It will also appear at our project basecamp, which will feature ongoing posts, comments and links from our core research team" (I think the presumption is that you'll use YouTube; I use blip.tv and I don't think their videos show up in YouTube searches. I could be wrong.)
It's a classic logical error to say that because students are not learning X, they are not learning anything, but that's what's happening here as a report criticizing higher education asserts students are not learning " critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing" and concludes that students are not really learning anything once they get there. My own experience is atypical, of course, because not only did I study philosophy, which specializes in complex reasoning, I also spend most of my undergraduate years at the student newspaper office, where I learned critical thinking and writing. I can believe that most students do not improve measurably in critical thinking, writing and complex reasoning. But I'm pretty sure that's not what most students at university were studying. See also Donald Clark.
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