by Stephen Downes
Jan 27, 2015
John Hattie interview
Pedagogy of the Compressed,
I thought you might enjoy this interview with John Hattie, who promotes a concept called "visible learning". From the Visible Learning website we read, "Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. According to John Hattie Visible Learning and Teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers."
Mike Caulfield writes a challenging paper on some of the debate that has swirled around recently on the relative values of 'making' and 'using'. As I read I found myself agreeing here, disagreeing there, seeing myself in one sentence, seeing someone else in another. "What would happen if we got over our love affair with creators? What would happen if we collapsed the distinction between maker and taker, consumer and producer, not by 'moving people from consumption to production', but by eliminating the distinction? What if we saw careful curation of material as better than unconsidered personal expression?" I don't know. If nobody creates, nothing gets built, and that's a bad thing. But if nobody criticizes, the wrong things get built, and that's also bad. And if nobody uses, then there was no point to building in the first lace, which is also bad. But you know, the more I think about it, the more I think the whole language of value is wrong here. The whole debate got started by some people saying some things, and some types of people, are valued more than others. And I think that's the wrong place to be.
Competency Based Education is quietly headed for the mainstream
Actually, from where I sit, it isn't "quietly" headed for the mainstream, but is rather a great lumbering beast thrashing through the forest toward the mainstream. Competencies are this magic link between employment prospects and educational services and resources, and pave the way for the creation of a learning marketplace. This allows the ostensive creation of a privatized education system, at worst, but on a more positive note could allow people to create their own custom learning programs, private or public, to support their eventual ambition in life. In this way, competency-based education is a lot like educational technology. There are risks, but in the end its value really depends on what you're prepared to do with it. This Saylor blog post links to an Anya Kamanetz article for NPR on competency-based addressing a report from the American Enterprise Institute called The Landscape of Competency-Based Education.
The Ethics, Hurdles, and Payoff of Advising an Online Student Newspaper
Student newspapers are close to my heart, of course, after my having spent five years working at one, and in that time learning every facet of the operation from writing, editing, photography to the print trade. And of course I've been producing newsletters ever since - like this one! Now this article focuses on high school journalism, which isn't quite as free-wheeling as the university newspaper I worked at, but this feels to me like it's too tightly controlled. The author speaks with pride about the fact that the administration has never sought to censor an article - what this tells me is that the students aren't taking enough risks.
Why Github is Important for Book Publishing
Go To Hellman,
Something like Github could be important for book publishing. But the documentation is needlessly opaque and the applications take you back to the days of typing commands in terminal windows. In addition to a diagram without lables we get explanations like the following: "Someone working on a project will first create a 'feature branch', a copy of the repository that adds a feature or fixes a bug. When the new feature has been tested and is working, the changes will be 'committed'. Each set of changes with be given an identifier and a message explaining what has been changed." Now if you don't already understand these concepts, these sentences will not help you. And this is the simple explanation (I read the official documentation and it's a long explanation of how it's different from Subversion). I've never found a clear and non-technical description of Git or GitHub (I believe they're separate things, but who knows?) nor an easy-to-use application. Just me? Maybe. But the difficulty of understanding Git makes me really sympathetic with people who have difficulty adapting to tech.
The Power of Detentions
It is worth noting that detention is essentially prison for students. However, note:
- there is no trial
- there is no defence or representation
- there is no appeal
- (probably) rich kids still get off (The Breakfast Club notwithstanding)
It is worth pondering what the real lessons are being learned when detentions are given out.
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