by Stephen Downes
Jan 09, 2015
Post-Collegiate Outcomes Initiative
Teri Lyn Hinds, Kent Phillippe,
American Association of Community Colleges,
It seems a bit odd that the Gates Foundation is funding this project looking at redefining the outcomes of post-secondary education. After all, isn't that what a government would normally look at, as it assesses funding priorities? But then again, maybe it's not so odd, when we look at this background document. Instead of 'social' outcomes, such as 'better health' or 'quality of life', as described by the Institute for Higher Education Policy in 1998, we now get 'human capital' outcomes, such as 'career advancement'. Now this is just a very early document, but really, could we at least try to pretend to care about social outcomes? There's coverage of the PCO initiative in both the Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed.
My five wishes for online learning in 2015
online learning and distance education resources,
I like that his wishes are Canada-focused and almost in alignment with my own. Here they are:
- Faculty will start adopting open textbooks on a large scale in 2015.
- Faculty in each province or state will develop agreed province wide curricula for OERs
- A new ‘green-field’, designed and built from scratch, institution that is conceived around the idea of digitally-based education designed to meet the learning needs of a digital age
- A national research and development centre on digital education
- An online university preparation program for international students.
For $20 million a year we could have the R&D centre, he suggests - and the rest would not be out of scale with that expense. Yes, it's a lot, but compared to the scale of other government expenditures, it's a tiny fraction. To any politicians listening - I'd be happy to lead the R&D centre; we can use our NRC program as a starting point.:)
The Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results
A List Apart,
The design of internet technology always gets back to what you want from your application, and what you want your users to do. It's easy to forget. This article reframes that discussion by focusing on the "core mode;" which defines "the core tasks users need to accomplish". Now this article is directed more toward a business team developing an website for an organization - in this case, a cancer information site. People don't bring their page design ideas or lobby for positions on the menu - what they contribute is the nature of the content that needs to be on the site and why it needs to be there, that is, what goal it supports.
If I Could Make a School
Business Innovation Factory,
Longish article (32 page PDF) describing the he Business Innovation Factory’s Student Experience Lab. They write, "Using BIF’s student-centered participatory design approach we seek to:
- Put the student at the center of the innovation in education conversation
- Develop and test innovative design concepts for new school experiences
- Provide new life and learning skills for students
It’s student-led R&D. And it works." It's about (according tot he article) creating a "menu of options", a web of support, and a blended curriculum. But let me add a note of caution: the article feels a bit artificial to me. For example, a student her parents immigrated from "Columbia" - a misspelling that suggests the quote is not genuine. That said, it's a concept that has been around for a while. Here's Tom Carroll discussing it this week. Jeff Drury linking to the site in 2011. Via Ewan McIntosh.
Apps Everywhere, but No Unifying Link
New York Times,
'Apps' - as introduced to the world by Apple and emulated by prettey much every other mobile platform - represent a huge step backward for the internet. We used to have this whole network of linked sites. Now apps stand alone, isolated from each other, each one in its own data universe. For example, "if you find a few hotels on HotelTonight, you cannot email them to your spouse, because there are no links to send." That's why I still use things like expedia.ca - web sites, so I can share the location of the information. The future, I think, is "software to repackage websites so that they can be sold and downloaded like apps, but still can be searched and linked like web pages."
A Teenager’s View on Social Media
I thought this was interesting - it presented a certain perspective (U.S. male teen in college in Texas), it posed me a mystery (which I solved: what does YikYak mean when it says 'enter your digits'? Phone number), and identified some areas of concern for people using the social networks (not privacy per se "We aren't sending pictures of our Social Security Cards here, we're sending selfies and photos with us having 5 chins") but privacy in terms of following ("Without the constant social pressure of a follower count or Facebook friends...") and content ("There are no links on Instagram, meaning I'm not being constantly spammed by the same advertisement, horrible gossip news article, or Buzzfeed listicle ...).
When rhetoric gets real
I've dealt with the concept of 'reality' and e-learning in a couple of presentations, including this one delivered to the Department of National Defense 2008, and this one delivered to the Australia's Flexible Learning Network in 2001. So it should be no surprise that I see 'reality' as a bit of a slippery concept. On the one hand, saying that 'my cat is real' seems to add no new information about my cat. Of course he's real, and right between me and my keyboard as I type. On the other hand, saying '2+2=4' is 'real' seems to be questionable. Is there some 'thing' out there that is '2+2=4'? Plato thought so. I don't. So now we have this post, which asks about the reality of rhetoric. Now our entities do not even have the status of 'things' or 'facts'. So is rhetoric real? Good question.
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