by Stephen Downes
Oct 31, 2014
What Happened To Women In Computer Science?
It's worth looking at this phenomenon. When I worked in computing in 1980 half the staff were women. "For decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged." What happened? asks NPR. Well, many things. But mostly this: " The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers... marketed almost entirely to men and boys. This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the computing revolution. It helped define who geeks were, and it created techie culture." Today, 20 years later, we reap the fruits of a dysfunctional misogynistic culture (p.s. don't bother with the comments unless you want to be depressed all over again).
The grassroots of learning
Good article looking at 'the earlier Cormier' and 'the later Cormier' on the subject of rhizomatic learning. Me, I'm not so sure that what Dave Cormier had in mind was the idea of following link to link to link - but he is in a better position to correct (or not) the author on this. At any rate, the post was engaging, which is good enough for me. P.S. don't miss the comments, beginning with Crispin Weston's criticism of the concept of content and of the dynamics behind group formation (good, informed comment, well worth the price of admission).
Competency-Based Education: No More Semesters?
OK, back in 1998 I said that time would no longer be used as a measure of learning, "that time in online learning ceases to be an objective standard." I said things like "learning will be measured by the amount of information accumulated, not the amount of time spent in a chair" (I was less precise back then). Though I supported such things as prior learning assessments I've never been keen on competencies. I learned working directly with teachers (eg. at the Brandon Adult Learning centre) that you can't just break down course content into a bunch of modules; more global variables come into play as well, and are captured by such artifacts as the term paper. Now where does that go on the test? Now in our current work we're deloping algorithms to detect competencies in expert performance. One perfectly acceptable result to me here is the null result, that is, a result showing that expert performance cannot be reduced to a set of necessary and sufficient competencies.
3rd Meeting of OERu partners
If I were one of those people who reads the tea leaves, I would say OERu and WikiEducator are heading for a split. Why? Here's the text of the email I received today from OERu: "The OERu is a flagship initiative of the OER Foundation and we are proud to host our planning and course development on WikiEducator as our preferred platform." Up to this point, in all previous correspondance, the two were basically synonymous. But now WikiEducator has been demoted to "preferred platform." Coincidence? Well, like I said, if I were to read tea leaves... but, ah, of course, I don't. So this is nothing more than a link to the event advertised in the email, the 3rd Meeting of OERu partners (register as a remote participant here).
New Evidence: Deeper Learning Improves Student Outcomes
It could be the new face of the 'core content' lobby group, or it could be a genuine move forward in education reform. Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether I can trust the source. The concept of 'deeper learning' is "to focus on the set of skills and knowledge that reinforce each other and together promote rigorous and deeper learning. These include:
- Mastery of core academic content
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Working collaboratively in groups
- Communicating clearly and effectively
- Learning how to learn."
According to this article, "a new study by the American Institutes for Research ... investigated whether schools in the Deeper Learning Network achieve better student outcomes than local comparison schools, and found that the answer is yes." I remain sceptical: not of the idea that critical thinking and learning how to learn improve learning outcomes, but whether they need to be conflated with the other three.
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