by Stephen Downes
[Sept] 14, 2015
Adios Ed Tech. Hola something else.
George Siemens made a bit of a splash last week when he released his own version of the 'quit post' (more). "I no longer want to be affiliated with the tool-fetish of edtech," he writes. "It’s time to say adios to technosolutionism that recreates people as agents within a programmed infrastructure." I read this as meaning he is eschewing analytics and embracing personal learning. Of course I would read it this way, having taken the same turn myself several years ago, but consider this: "Our project with Intel involves several post docs exploring how personalization can be improved in the learning process by developing a graph model of the learner that considers contextual, cognitive, social, and metacognitive factors." This reads pretty much like our LPSS program. Maybe it's time for George and I to meet at a conference in Memphis again.
The Micro and the Macro of the EdTech World
Summary of two keynotes at this year's Alt/C conference in Manchester, as experienced virtually (both links to YouTube recordings): "Jonathan Worth’s keynote (I’m not sure if there was a title for this – if there was I didn’t see it) and Laura Czerniewicz who talked about Inequality in Higher Education." The first "addressed issues of vulnerability, privacy and trust in open learning, at the local level of the learner," while Czerniewicz discussed "inequality in an austerity environment and particularly in new online landscapes." These are good themes for the current environment, I think. Don't miss the comments, as there's a nice addendum from Jonathan Worth in there. (p.s. why is a conference deemed 'a success' if it trends on Twitter? How is that a measure of success?)
Poverty, Grit, and Teachers
Mr. Williams' STEM Education Blog,
Another much-needed challenge to the recently popular 'grit' narrative: "The 'grit' narrative says that if someone works hard enough, then they can escape poverty. This is a great message to get behind until you consider the contrapositive that logically follows: If someone doesn't escape poverty, then they didn't work hard enough." Quite right. And also this: "I think true empowerment will come from helping poor communities build up and support themselves over time (but) until they have an equal playing field where hard work truly does cause success, my students will need all the personal strength, motivation, and knowledge that they can get." Via Mark Guzdial.
Hackers vs. Academics: who is responsible for progress?
This is a pretty cynical view of academics - but having said that, it's not entirely false. "Could it be that the hacker spirit is really want is responsible for our progress?" asks Daniel Lemire. "My theory is that if you want to cure cancer or Alzheimer’s, or if you want nuclear fusion, or bases on Mars… you need the hackers." Once this is accomplished, he suggests, "academics will take the credit." I've seen enough of this first-hand. But of course there are the academics who are also hackers, who I think play a pretty important role (and I like to think I am one). And there is - to my mind - a concern that while hackers are skilled at making things, they may not be skilled at things like social policy, governance and media (though they do not have the humility to realize this).
Keeping Up With Competency
Inside Higher Ed,
So, this is a lot: "Roughly 600 colleges are in the design phase for a new competency-based education program, are actively creating one or already have a program in place. That’s up from an estimated 52 institutions last year." We can officially announce that it's a trend, even though it has been brewing for a number of years. Related: Steven Forth, Getting Up Close On Skills, on TeamFit, some thinking from the cutting edge of competencies: "By exploring these connections between skills, projects and people I am getting a rich understanding of what skills are used together and how they get applied to projects."
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