by Stephen Downes
Aug 14, 2015
Learning Styles, Mindsets, and Adaptive Strategies
This is a really nice contribution in support of the concept of learning styles that reinterpretings it away from the 'fixed mindset' model, where styles are more like innate properties of a person, and toward a 'growth perspective', where learning styles can change and develop as a person matures. Matt Bury points to the oft-noted distinction between how experts learn as compared to novices. "Rather than being psychometric tests which diagnose our intrinsic personality traits, learning styles preferences can be better understood as indicators of our levels of cognitive development within particular domains of knowledge." And clearly, we would not want to teach the expert the same way we teach a novice (not even with direct instruction!) and worse, we would not want to teach the novice the way we teach experts.
What’s the difference between skills and competencies?
According to Sarah Beckett, skills represent the 'what' while competencies represent the 'how'. "Skills define specific learned activities, and they range widely in terms of complexity (“Mopping the floor” and “performing brain surgery” can both be classified as skills) ... But skills don’t give us the “how.” How does an individual perform a job successfully? How do they behave in the workplace environment to achieve the desired result?" Skills, write Beckett, comprise one of three parts of competencies: "the other two are knowledge and abilities." To me, skills represent the ability to complete a process, while competencies include knowledge of why you're completing the process.
The Problem With Group Projects
Computer Science Teacher,
I was never a fan of group projects, for two reasons: first, someone else, usually without a firm grasp on the material, wanted to take charge; and second, no matter who was in charge, I ended up doing all the work. (I did once let the other person do all the work; we got 160/200, so we agreed she would get 100% and I would take my easy 60 - this was in my rebellious high school years). The lesson (drawn in the comments) is that "if we are not explicitly teaching how to be effective in a group, how can we expect students to just "pick it up" from an imposed assignment structure?"
Open peer review at Collabra: Q&A with UC Press Director Alison Mudditt
Open and Shut?,
Richard Poynder looks at an open-access open-review journal called Collabra, launched by the University of California Press earlier this year. Authors have the option of having paper reviews signed and published alongside the paper (as an aside, this would make me much more attentive as a reviewer; also, what would be fun would be to see the rejected papers with reviews). Interviewee UC Press Director Alison Mudditt says, "Speaking on behalf of UC Press (I’m not sure it’s appropriate to speak as 'Collabra' in this context), we think that the inner workings of the peer review process are, purely and simply, interesting for any reader, but in particular for people who would like to see more transparency in this process." Agreed.
5 massive MOOC lessons learned by colleges and universities
Although they seem sound at first, I don't really agree with any of these 'lessons' drawn about MOOCs. Yes, MOOCs are more expensive than expected, but they shouldn't be, they should be using OERs. Yes, access is more than just getting into the MOOC, but this should not be a reason to stop people from getting into a MOOC. Yes, it's becoming possible to post mini-lectures on video, but this ignores the social network aspect fundamental to helping people succeed in MOOCs. Yes it's an art form, but lessons from University of Phoenix videos don't demonstrate this. And yes, MOOCs need to fit into institutional stuctures, but we need to remember that credentialing isn't the end-goal.
Inside Higher Ed,
Summary of an address by Carol Geary Schneider, longtime leader of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She points to the ways education will have to change in the future, much of it motivated by the internet and MOOCs. "We have a radical idea that the aims of education ought to be the outcomes of education,” she says, adding that “we shouldn’t use the digital revolution to continue outdated forms of higher education, like the lecture.” Also: “Students’ educational experience needs to be designed so that it adds up,” she says, with an end product that is “integrative and applied.”
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