by Stephen Downes
Dec 01, 2014
Why MOOCs are only part of the answer for higher education
online learning and distance education resources,
For the record, I have never thought of Tony Bates as a critic of MOOCs, particularly, though he has certainly weighed in with his opinions on how they could be improved (which is what we would hope for and expect). here is a case in point. He writes, "cMOOCs have the most potential, because lifelong learning will become increasingly important, and the power of bringing a mix of already well educated and knowledgeable people from around the world to work with other committed and enthusiastic learners on common problems or areas of interest could truly revolutionise not just education, but the world in general. However, cMOOCs at present are unable to do this, because they lack organisation and do not apply what is already known about how online groups work best." Of course, I regard these criticisms of MOOCs as features of MOOCs, and not flaws. I respect the research, but I believe it was conducted with an incomplete understanding of internet technologies and learning models based in personal development rather than content acquisition.
Competency Education in a K-16+ World
The redefinition of learning as defined by outcomes rather than process is in full swing and there are proponents and opponents equally. I think the debate boils down to two sentences: first, competency-based education can support student learning as evidenced by good test scores (that's what this post shows), but second, is that all there is to an education? But maybe we're thinking of this incorrectly. If we can obtain the learning outcomes we desire using competency-based learning, and if (as a bonus) this can save time and money, then shouldn't we be asking what else we can do in education? Can we build community, immerse students in authentic experiences, give time for play and exploration, foster metacognitive skills? Let's call this model of learning "Competency-Plus".
Can Digital ‘Badges’ and ‘Nanodegrees’ Protect Job Seekers From a First-Round Knockout?
Chronicle of Higher Education,
This is a bit of a twist on the Chronicle's anti-technology bias: alternative credentials, such as badges, are not useful because robots do most of the hiring anyways, and they only look at the name of the institution and the degree. "The key to avoiding the early cull has gone from impressing a busy human being to gaming an exacting algorithm." That said, as Alex Halavais comments in the article, "Outside of IT, there is a lot of resistance to badges... I would never recommend that they use badges within a traditional hiring process—e.g., on a résumé." Badges need that critical application to create wider take-up.
Open Schooling in Perspective
Commonwealth of Learning,
Open schooling is "the physical separation of the school learner from the teacher, and the use of unconventional teaching methodologies and information and communications technologies." It addresses significant issues in many countries, including the provision of education for girls, for students who have been failed or dropped out, and for students who are unable to attend school. This post is an overview of the Commonwealth of Learning's Open Schools project, with quotes and examples.
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