July 9, 2013
Technology, teaching and productivity: the need for theory
online learning and distance education resources,
July 9, 2013
Like Tony Bates, I agree that we should be looking to technology to improve the productivity of the educational system. Improved productivity means, on one end, lower costs for providers and lower prices for students, and at the other end, increased quality in the product or increased product for the same input. There's nothing wrong with that. Indeed, one of my major defenses of the public system is that the productivity is much better - we get much improved access, and very competitive prices. As Bates says, "The growth in post-secondary education is such that we will continue to need professors and instructors for as far as most of us can see into the future. What we should be looking at is how we can get more output from those that are in the system."
Ah, but there the problems start. As Bates asks, what is an 'output' in the educational system? A credential? We could print them out by the hundreds, so no, that's not it. Test scores? Please, no. Then, what influences outcome - is a goal of "If we do x under conditions y, we can expect z to happen" realistic? Education is not, after all, Newtonian mechanics. Finally, can we draw any meaningful conclusions from 1980s theories of educational productivity, like Walberg's "key variables that effect student outcomes?" Probably not. Minimally, what we need is a model of educational productivity, not a theory, so we can get a sense of some of the complexities involved. Ideally, we'd get a model suited to the 21st century, not something cooked up by some TQM economists, a model that weighs multiple competing interests, variable outcomes, and competing theories of value. That might be a tall order, though.
Neoliberalism and MOOCs: Amplifying nonsense
July 9, 2013
Leaving aside the totally nonsensical (non-)formula for MOOCs (slide 10) George Siemens is making a good - indeed, essential - point in this post: "Something is not neoliberalist just because neoliberalists are the first to take advantage of the gaps created by the traditional and emerging shadow education systems. Don’t blame the ill motives of others for what was caused by inactivity on the part of the professoriate and higher education in general." Indeed, if anything, the people who designed the (original) MOOCs are among the staunchest defenders of public education. Moreover, ", if we do take a stance that neoliberalism is some combination of open markets, deregulation, globalization, small government, low taxes, death of the public organization, and anti-union, then MOOCs are not at all neoliberalist." In my view, the 'MOOC as neoliberal' argument is a lazy and disingenuous argument made without thought or effort.
Beyond MOOC Hype
Inside Higher Ed,
July 9, 2013
This is essentially an article describing how educational institutions are looking at taking control of MOOCs to have them support in-class learning rather than challenging it. It takes a circuitous route to this destination. First, it raises doubts about MOOCs, citing the Gartner hype cycle, citing faculty concerns about their jobs and admin concerns that "that corporations and not universities will end up controlling the future of higher ed." As if they care. Then, it redefines the mission of MOOCs, citing Udacity's Sebastian Thrun ("Up front, I believe that online education will not replace face to face education, and neither is it supposed to"), Coursera's Andrew Ng ("...using online courseware to free up class time for students enrolled at a university") and American College of Educator's Carol Geary Schneider ("she does see potential for MOOCs to help flip classrooms so professors can spend less time lecturing in class and more time engaging students.")
Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice,
July 8, 2013
Larry Cuban weighs in on MOOCs, and leaving aside his use of the ridiculous Chronicle MOOC diagram, has some generally useful things to say. But. His argument is based on what strikes me as a mistaken premise: "One issue is money. States have reduced funding for public higher education institutions... So how can MOOCs be converted into a revenue stream for money-strapped institutions?" The supposition here is that MOOCs need to support universities at their current level of expenditures. But why should that be the case? If we're going to make the financial argument, why can't MOOCs be successful by significantly lowering expenditures? Of course, nobody in academia wants to touch that side of the equation - which is why they appear as though they are blindsided whenever something like MOOCs comes along.
July 8, 2013
I spent the weekend (when I wasn't cycling) messing around with the Twitter API. I don't get everything but I managed to get it working, and today set up the API to autopost new OLDaily posts (which are made by hand, so it's not really robo-Tweeting). Anyhow, if you want to subscribe to OLDaily by Twitter, the @OLDaily account is the one to use. (Image: Point Fort Folly, where I cycled).
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe,
Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own,
you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.