OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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July 14, 2011

Firing Line: The Grand Coalition Against Teachers
Joanne Barkan, Dissent Magazine, July 14, 2011.

Why the war on teachers? "In the last few years, attention to the role of public school teachers has escalated into a high-profile, well-financed, and seriously misguided campaign to transform the profession." Via Alexander Russo.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools]

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Private Choices, Public Policy & Other People’s Children
Bruce Baker, School Finance 101, July 14, 2011.

Today seems to be mostly on the economy of learning and education. That's probably because all the tech people are deeply immersed in Google Plus. Anyhow, today we have this, which sems right: "I am quite convinced that many of the policy makers who choose elite private schools for their own and advocate for scaling back the public system, really don’t understand the difference. They really don’t know that their private schools outspend nearby traditional public schools – by a lot – despite serving more advantaged student populations." It's kind of like the people who drive their cars top work every day making pronouncements on how the bus system ought to be run more efficiently. Via Tom Hoffman.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Google, Private Schools, Online Learning]

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The Economic Mess — A Factor We Cannot Ignore
Kent Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen, July 14, 2011.

I think this post is valuable in the way it clearly links the economic situation with the state of play in education and learning. "And make no mistake, the middle class has been ruined: Its wealth has been decimated, its income isn’t even keeping pace with inflation, and its faith in the American economy has been shattered... This has very real implications for the growth of higher education overall. With less faith in the future, less confidence in economic improvement, and less money to spend, a major feeder into higher education is withering before our eyes."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: United States]

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Student Perceptions of the Relationship between Indicators of Teaching Presence and Success in Online Courses
Lori Kupczynski, Phil Ice, Randy Wiesenmayer and Frank McCluskey, Journal of Interactive Online Learning, July 14, 2011.

I've always wondered about the idea of 'presence' as fundamental to teaching and learning online, as suggested by Garrison, Anderson & Archer in 2001. To me, presence has a certain ineffable quality, which may be good or bad. Either way, it's hard to pin down. This paper describes the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model, a framework "that explains the online learning experience in terms of interactions between three overlapping presences: Teaching, Social and Cognitive." It's a largish study (n=643) that asks the basic question, "Please describe one thing the instructor did that helped you to succeed in this course" and examines the answers in the light of CoI. According to the survey, "The largest single perceived instructor action responsible for course success... was providing feedback that helped them understand their strengths and weaknesses." The largest negative factor was lack of feedback. Yet we also see that "regardless of learner level, the need for presentation of clear, concise objectives, instructions and general participation guidelines should be a cornerstone of online course development." Of course, this may reflect student beliefs about instruction rather than the actual value of pedagogical methods themselves. The study reaches what I would suggest is the cynical conclusion that "adequate projection of the indicators of instructional design and organization are required."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Interaction, Project Based Learning, Experience, Online Learning]

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Hot Topic: Canada Inequality
Unattributed, Conference Board of Canada, July 14, 2011.

I have in the past pointed to the importance of income distribution to education outcomes. For those who with to study income inequality in Canada in more detail, this Conference Board of Canada report is well worth reading. See this article for a summary, or (recommended) read the full report. Even if you are not particularly interested in inequality in Canada, the report is worth reading in order to understand how income inequality is discussed and measured. That said, the report itself has two messages, an overt message, and an unstated subtext. The overt message is that Canada's income inequalities grew significantly over the last 20 years, with the poor gaining only minimally, if at all. The subtext is that most of the growth in inequality occurred between 1994 and 2002, and has levelled off since. This to me suggests an origin in economic measures - especially the reduction in unemployment and welfare payouts, which began in 1989, as a result of deficit reduction following the implementation of NAFTA and the GST. Via the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Quality, Canada]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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