OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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April 1, 2011

Stephen Downes, Flickr, April 1, 2011.

Photos from my side-trip to Andorra last week.

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Teaching The World's One Billion Marginalized Children
Richard R. Rowe, Harvard Business Review Blogs, April 1, 2011.

Harvard Business Review is running a series on innovations in education. In this article, a clinical psychologist tells us that the efforts to use technology in education in the developing world have failed ("great expectations have repeatedly been followed by deep disillusionment... the Skinner Box, Teaching Machines, Plato and more recently One Laptop Per Child") and that what the developing world really needed was:
- digital libraries, like the Open Learning Exchange's (OLE) School BELL (Basic E-Learning Library)
- examination systems - "today's technologies can greatly increase the reliability and validity of examinations while radically reducing their cost," and
- teacher development - "Teachers in developing nations need help in moving from "repeat after me" to more problem solving, activity-based education."
Maybe a better thing to do here would have been to have had this column written by an educator working on the very real and varied educational development projects that go far beyond the three simple suggestions given here.

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When Will Educators Get Serious About Gaming?
Bruce Dixon, Harvard Business Review Blogs, April 1, 2011.

Some odd reasoning from the Harvard Business Review series on education. Here's Bruce Dixon: "when you look at the inroads gaming has made into education, you mostly hit dead ends. This is despite games' long association with various educational activities." Um, how is it that gaming has reached a "dead end" is there has been a "long association" between games and education? Or that the concept of serious games, which he alludes to in his title, has its origin in education? Can the person who is supposed to be the President of the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation not be aware of the hundreds and hundreds of initiatives related to games in education? What does Harvard mean by leadership anyways?

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The Innovation Mismatch: "Smart Capital" and Education Innovation
Joanne Weiss, Harvard Business Review Blogs, April 1, 2011.

Harvard Business Review's series continues to make me roll my eyes. In this post Joanne Weiss's main point (buried near the end of the article) is that "The development of common standards and shared assessments radically alters the market for innovation in curriculum development, professional development, and formative assessments.... the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale." See, the problem with the educational marketplace wasn't with any of the products that had been offered over the years, it's that the market itself was wrong, and so we've 'fixed' the market so these products now make sense. See, if your product won't actually educate people, dimply redefine 'education' and then everything works. As if.

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Is Canada's research strategy too politicized?
Ghoussoub, Piece of Mind, April 1, 2011.

Hard to argue with this: "Research priorities that are cherry-picked by politicians may only be as sustainable and as stable as the government that chooses to support them. A nation's research priorities are best identified by the research community, not by its politicians."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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