by Stephen Downes
Aug 27, 2014
Common sense for some and new and inspiring for others
Barb Brown responds to a post I wrote back in 2013. I complained: "Course instructors discuss their approaches to backward instructional design and describe the digital tools used to support collaboration.... Well, this too could have been written in the 1990s, I guess...." She replies, "The topic may not be as timely or important to some audiences, especially those who are expert in teaching online... however, the topic of post secondary instructors collaborating on the design of online courses is relevant to a broad audience." Well maybe - but is content "relevant to a broad audience" really what belongs in an academic journal? More and more, what we are seeing is journal authors writing to an audience consisting of each other - and not keeping up with developments in the field. They applaud each other for having 'discovered' things that have been in practice for years, and even naming them after each other (hence, e.g., "Hai-Jew’s (2010) fourfold approach" for updating an online curriculum (ie., legal, new tech, new pedagogy, changes in the field - oh, oh, oh, I never would have guessed it would be those four!)).
Returning to optimism
This is a common failing in education writing: "I’ve been spending too much time with macroeconomics, getting bogged down in the grim news about America’s employment and income data.... But following these inquiries in depth, I lost sight of human capacity and agency." Here's the solution: "say more about what could happen if we make the right decisions." And more to the point: the moment you think education is more about money than it is about people, you're sunk.
Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds
So the premise here is that context has an impact on memory, and that eBooks read on the Kindle lack the appropriate context for remembering. "In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," said Mangen. But, you know, it's one study, with one set of readers. I've been reading online for the last 30 years. I expect my sense of context may well be different.
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