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August 8, 2012

Reforming Ed Reform Panel with Downes, Gardner, Kohn, and Stager
Steve Hargadon, Education, Technology, Social Media, and You!, August 8, 2012.

Here's the stuff on the education frteform panel I was on today with Howard Gardner, Alfie Kohn and Gary Stager, hosted by Steve Hargadon:The full Blackboard Collaborate recording is as and a portable .mp3 audio recording is at the Mightybell Discussion and Resource Space. I think that the difference between me an some others on the ed reform panel is that they still view ed reform as a political issue. I think the way to achieve education reform is to go beyond politics & focus on empowering and provision rather than policy and prescription. I wish, though, I had explained that better. Politics is the art of persuading everyone else to think like you. But education ought to be about thinking for yourself.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Blackboard Inc., Podcasting, Online Learning, Audio]

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10 Ways School Reformers Get It Wrong
Colin Greer, AlterNet, August 8, 2012.

This was a primer article for our online panel today. It begins by getting straight to the heart of school failure, which is that schools are not the cause of the failure, social inequality is the cause. "Most efforts to reform school governance, create alternatives or bemoan teachers don’t address the real problem, which is poverty." This was once what society (believed it) needed: an underclass of less-well educated people to perform menial tasks. Now, if social leaders want to actually improve learning (and it's a big 'if') then standardized testing isn't the right tool. In the 70s things like adaptive testing, social expectations, service learning and smaller classes were all found to be important. "If we think about the education of privileged kids we can recognize quickly that a small adult-student ratio is a central anchor and face-to-face individual attention is highly prized."  Privatization won't produce this result; rather, understanding that education is something that takes place in society as a whole is essential to understanding learning

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Quality, Online Learning, Tests and Testing]

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At New Online University, Advertisers Will Underwrite Free Degrees
Angela Chen, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 8, 2012.

Maybe this will work, but it has to be done well. The ham-handed model suggested in this article is not it ("students may be asked a question like 'Are you a runner?' ... if a student checks “yes,” he or she will thereafter see ads for a certain brand of running shoes). More likely such a site would collect demographic information that would be used to inform political and advertising campaigns not overtly associated with the program itself (for example, a tendency among influential students to speak negatively about a certain policy would result in a campaign around that issue) and brand placement and awareness campaigns inserted into learning material (for example, a series of placements in exercises intended to normalize, say, gun ownership or privatized health care). That, of course, is both the opportunity and the danger of advertising-supported learning.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Branding, Marketing]

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Solve for X: Michael Crow on higher education impact
Michael Crow, YouTube, August 8, 2012.

The proposition behind 'solve for x': "What would it take to create a moonshot factory? A place that was dedicated not to publications or patents or profits but directly to the idea of radical thinking, radical problem solving, and driving radical levels of positive impact." These, of course, are the three icons of contemporary research. How would we assess and measure researchers without these measures? Of course - none of these (publications or patents or profits) motivate my own work either. So Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, wants to transform it "into a new highly innovative, high speed adaptive knowledge enterprise which combines academic excellence, inclusiveness, and societal impact." Ah - but you listen to the video and you find it's not so new after all - entrepreneurship is a "core value", and you are measured by "impact". It's what they're doing in my own organization as well. It's the 'latest thing' in innovation management. It's research and innovation as envisioned by managers. I'm happy to drop counting pubs and hits and cites, and happy to reimagine the organization of the disciplines - but to wreck "the social construct of the discipline itself" is to erase an important base of knowledge. And "impact" is a subjective and elusive metric, the like of which have a questionable history, as it seeks to align science and innovation with a particular social or political agenda.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, Research, Patents, Copyrights, Academia]

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Aspire Offers Performance Analysis Application
Press Release, Aspire Public Schools, August 8, 2012.

This is pretty interesting on a number of fronts. Aspire Public Schools, a charter management organization in California with 34 schools, announced it is offering a cloud-based student performance application, Schoolzilla Assessment Explorer, to schools in the U.S. for free. First, it points to the fact that data visualization is this year's trend in cloud applications. Second, it points to what may be an emerging strategy in the push to market learning solutions nationally, as customers will adapt their assessment into a standardized form in order to fit the templates offered by this service. Personally, I think that "data into pretty pictures" (DIPP)* technology is only an intermediate applcation; "data into data" (DID)* applications, which integrate data and make projections or inform decision engines, will be a much more important sector. (* abbreviations are my own invention, not industry standards (yet)).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Project Based Learning, Assessment, Visualization]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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