by Stephen Downes
Aug 05, 2015
This pretty much sums up my views on the whole learning styles debate: first, "The argument is that in the absence of such evidence, don’t waste time and money trying to match your teaching style to everyone’s learning styles," which is fair enough, but second, " regardless of the existence or impact of learning styles, a phenomenon that enjoys universal recognition is that of learner preferences." Once you're outside a strict instructivist mode, learner preferences matter, because the learner has more control over the learning process. "Indeed in a controlled environment, learner preferences don’t really matter. The participants are forced to do it whether they like it or not, or they somehow feel obliged to comply," writes Ryan Tracey. "Outside of the controlled environment, however, learner preferences do matter."
5 Strategies To Trend On Twitter at Your Next Event
The Innovative Educator,
It's an interesting question: how should we measure the success of an event? This question is motivated by these considerations: "This year we wanted to focus on getting the buzz going in social media. One measure success was if we could trend on Twitter that day and we did." The article lists five ways to trend on Twitter - it includes the use of generic hashtag, involving awards, and using an application that autoposts to Twitter. But, first, isn't this just gaming the system? And second, why should conference attendees (who actually paid for the event) care about the event trending on Twitter? There's a push-and-pull in all learning these days, it seems: between the needs of the learner, and the needs of the institution providing the learning. More often than not, the latter wins.
A few random thoughts on Cecil, @bittman, and chickens
According to Mark Bittman in Vox, eating a factory-farmed chicken is morally worse than the killing of Cecil the Lion. As Steve Krause points out, there's a difference between killing for food and fillingfor sport, and a difference between killing an animal on the verge of extinction and one which numbers in the gazillions. But still - I think we should take this argument further. If the killing of Cecil the Lion morally worse than spending $3,000 on a prosthetic limb for a chicken? I think this is a much harder question. But also: was it morally worse than the wanton destruction of a hitch-hiking robot? Alan Levine makes a joke of it, but one wonders what it says when a robot that safely hitched across Canada did not even make it off the east coast in the U.S. To my mind, I think it was the tone he took - sympathizing more with the hunter than with the hunted.
Blackboard’s Complexity Problems
This is a fascinating look at some of the complexity behind the scenes in Backboard's code base. It's a mixture of old code and new, of original Blackboard and acquired products, and support for various types of database. It has multiple ways of representing basic entities (like 'person' or 'course'). And I found this dangerous-sounding tidbit: "The software runs on a version of Java which reached its end-of-life several months ago (and will no longer receive any updates, security or otherwise, else the Java version would be still another variable)." All I can say is: eek. Via EdSurge. See also Phil Hill on Blackboard's potential sale.
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