by Stephen Downes
Jul 06, 2015
Working in Blackboard
Once many years ago I authored a course on introductory ethics in Blackboard. It was a good course; sadly I've lost all the content. Anyhow, what I remember was that I had to insert my own links from page to page, writing the code myself, to give students an intuitive flow from one page to the next in the environment. It is this sort of attitude I think that characterizes Jenny Mackness's post on working in Blackboard today. Sure, she writes, there are a lot of restrictions. But what do you tell people who have to work in the system? "We have to recognise what the positives of working within an LMS might be," she argues, "acknowledge the constraints, keep an open mind, be willing to experiment (and fail sometimes) and look for ways to overcome the constraints."
Why character development in education might not be such a good idea
Think Tank Review,
"This is something I often ponder," writes Doug Belshaw in his newsletter. "I've been discussing it recently with friends and family recently, too. 'Character education' or 'grit', however, is a very right-wing concept taken down pretty well in this response to a recent Demos report." The report essentially asserts that there is no scientific basis for promoting character or 'grit' - either is is an inherent personal trait resistant to enhancement by education, or it is irrelevant in educational outcomes. We don't know. But more, to my mind, appeals to 'grit' are code for saying someone's culture (or race, or religion) makes them constitutionally resistant to education, which is a pernicious position at best (and flat out false at worst).
Prior Learning Assessments Done Right
Longish article about prior learning assessment (PLA) at Empire State College, "everything to do with the kind of humane and truly personal education that we should be talking about when we throw around phrases like 'personalized education.'" The focus is on PLA for women of colour; according to Feldstein "PLA (is) more impactful than average for women and people of color... By recognizing that they have, in fact, already acquired college-level skills and knowledge, PLA helps them get past the insults to their self-image and dignity and helps them to envision themselves as successful college graduates."
The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind
MIT Technology review,
The subhead is this: "Network scientists have discovered how social networks can create the illusion that something is common when it is actually rare." It depends on the number of connections. Three people might own motorcycles, but if they're loners, it might seem like nobody owns motorcycles. But if they're really well connected, it might seem like everybody owns motorcycles. It's called "the majority illusion", and as the authors say, "the majority illusion can be used to trick the population into believing something that is not true." Here's the full paper.
HOTS for Bloom’s, part 1
Discovery Education Network,
When you use an acronym in your title you have some obligation to define it in the article, but that doesn't happen here, so I did some searching to determine that 'HOTS' means 'Higher Order Thinking Skills' (presumably 'LOTS' means 'lower order thinking skills). This article relating HOTS to Bloom's Taxonomy (and Bloom's revised) gives some pause for thought, which is useful. But the meaning of 'higher order' bothers me. Verbs related to 'creating' are counted as HOTS. But ants create. Beavers create. Birds create. Are they capable of higher order thinking? We can find similar examples of lower-order thinkers such as cats and raccoons 'analyzing' and 'evaluating'. Are these even 'skills'? My first thought on reading the acronym was that they were 'strategies'. So while this characterization seems natural at first blush, something else is going on.
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