by Stephen Downes
Mar 19, 2015
How did competencies come to dominate talent management in little more than three decades?
This is a short post that unintentionally illustrates the dangers inherent in a competency-based approach. As an example it says that while a conventional job description might say "A client focused employee will pay attention to clients’ needs and ensure those needs are met," the competency-based description will offer a list of "concrete examples' rather than such a vague description, such as "Clearly show clients that their perspectives are valued" or "Enhance client service delivery systems and processes." From my perspective, the competency-based description has simply exchanged one vague statement for three new vague statements. How do you show clients their perspectives are valued? What do they mean by 'enhance'?
Twitter puts trillions of tweets up for sale to data miners
Just in case you weren't clear that Twitter has the right to sell your tweets, this post makes it clear that Twitter is selling your tweets to advertisers. How creepy can it get? "As you board the aircraft, the cabin crew address you by name and congratulate you on the arrival of a bouncing baby boy. On your seat, you find a gift-wrapped blue rattle with a note from the airline." Because, you know, you tweeted about the newborn you've been caring for.
Solving the Nation’s Teacher Shortage
This white paper has two separate and very distinct parts. In the first part it analyzes the causes of teacher shortages, noting that women are migrating to higher-paying professions outside teaching, that technology in other traditionally women's sectors such as nursing and accounting, and that women staying in the profession prefer not to relocate. These could all be addressed simply by paying teachers more money, which would both retain staff and convince districts of the need to increase teacher productivity through technology. The second part is more convincing, pointing to the utility of online learning in addressing teacher shortages. This is an argument that has been made with respect to other skilled professions. The report states, "in the same way that online learning unbundles the education experience to make it more flexible for students, it also unbundles the teacher labor market to make it more flexible for teachers and districts." But remember that with higher skills there is still an expectation that higher pay would follow. 24 page PDF.
Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly
New York Times,
“A teacher can sign up for anything, without the knowledge of anyone else in the district,” said Steve Young, the chief technology officer of the Judson Independent School District (in the U.S. 'independent' is a synonym for 'private'). This article has it a bit backward. It blames teachers (and to a lesser degree students) for "signing up for anything" with the result that students' privacy isn't always resepected. So, implicitly, the recommendation is to regulate what teachers can access. It sounds like a content publisher's dream, and they have the usual voices supporting it. "The Federal Trade Commission recommends that schools not delegate that decision to individual teachers. 'Companies are soliciting teachers to breach the obligations of schools,' said Joel R. Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan." But wouldn't a better approach be to restrict what companies can do with people's information? After all, even if you regulate the teachers, you've still left students (and everyone else) vulnerable evenings and weekends.
Investing in Curation: A Shared Path to Sustainability - The 4C Roadmap
You will have to search around a bit and then use a little intuition to discern that '4C' stands for "Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation". Other than the issue of nomenclature, though, the road map describing the next five years of the project looks pretty good. Basically the idea is to take a systemic approach to curation costs, identifying and then requiring that cost-effective curation processes be required. "The costs, benefits and the business cases for doing so will be more widely understood across the curation lifecycle and by all relevant stakeholders. Cost modelling will be part of the planning and management activities of all digital repositories."
I’m a 12-year-old girl. Why don’t the characters in my apps look like me?
This article caught my eye not only because it flags a pervasive issue in the gaming community but because it also reflects considerable interest and initiative by a 12-year old net-generation student. The bad news first: "Of the apps that did have gender-identifiable characters, 98 percent offered boy characters. What shocked me was that only 46 percent offered girl characters. Even worse, of these 50 apps, 90 percent offered boy characters for free, while only 15 percent offered girl characters for free." In one app, Disney’s Temple Run Oz, it costs $29.97 to become the only girl character. There's no excuse for this; it's outrageous, and companies like Disney are (knowingly) creating long term problems with this sort of policy (one wonders what their education products look like). The good news is in the response: Madeline Messer, a student in the 6th grade, is taking on this inequality with a damning exposé in the Washington Post. That's the good that internet access for all can do
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