by Stephen Downes
Oct 27, 2015
In the Middle of the Curve
In the Middle of the Curve,
Nice. "Back in the day....those index cards were the way we organized our notes and thoughts so we could ultimately write our thesis.... Back in the day, we killed trees. Lots and lots of trees." Me too. I didn't use index cards (I couldn't afford index cards) but I made lots of notes, and huge charts that covered my entire wall. "I am so grateful for the internet."
The Smell of the Place
YouTube | World Economic Forum,
This is a terrific 8-minute video that applies as much to educational institutions as it does work environments. Basically Ghoshal argues that the environment, far more than the characteristics of employees, is what impacts productivity. He compares the hot close conditions with Calcutta in July, where he always feels tired, with the forest of Fontainebleau in the spring, where "you want to run, you want to jump, or something!" Companies, he says, create the conditions of Calcutta in summer within themselves. They are places of constraint, compliance, control, contract. "The smell of the place is compliance," he said.But in successful companies, he says, the whole role of senior management changes: not control, but to help me win, to be successful. "Stretch, discipline, support trust... try to sense the smell that can be created if those are the norms of behaviour." See also this longer video. See also Jim Collins, Good to Great.
Lessons from the MOOC investment gold rush
The Ed Techie,
Martin Weller reflects on "this unprecedented amount of investment from universities and venture capitalists" on MOOCs. I'm not sure it was "unprecedented" - I think spending on sports stadia eclipses it by a lot. So did the money poured into technology transfer and commercialization divisions. But still, it was a lot. He writes, "although it was couched in social good, student recruitment, innovating pedagogy, etc I would suggest that the single biggest motivating factor for investing in MOOCs was fear." Could be. I've always felt that if the foundations and the VCs had funded George Siemens and myself, rather than some fast-talkers out of Stanford and MIT, the results would have been very different. But the funders went with the blue-bloods, and thus confirmed my long-held view that investors fund people, not ideas. And they fund mostly people like themselves, an infinite loop of privilege, which has (for them) the side benefit of also sucking in money from the public purse and charitable foundations.
What’s Happening in ‘Their Space’?
Jane Andrews, Mark Jones,
Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME),
This item was shared by Grainne Conole and Ana Cristina Pratas on Facebook, so I took a look, but must honestly confess to muttering "come on, really?" a lot while reading this item.The full content, in one sentence: they looked at how students use their mobile devices in a regular university class, found they mostly had one with them, used them to take pictures of flipcharts, and resisted efforts by teachers to enlist them as learning tools in the classroom. These are good points and worth a short blog post. But they are buried and rendered opaque in a traditional academic article. Instead of a mostly irrelevant literature review, the authors would have more helpfully summarized Green and Hannon’s (2007) research, which motivated their study. Instead we are told almost nothing; the relevant information only appears in the conclusion, where the contrasting ideas of 'their space' and 'our space' is discussed. I wish there had been links to primary materials (transcripts, etc), which would have been more helpful than the authors' heavily theory-laden summaries and interpretations.
Sharing, Gifting, and the Moral Evolution of the Social Web
I really like the image at the top of the article, and that by itself makes this article worth sharing. But I wish to be on the record as saying that (a) 'gifting' should not even be a word, much less a concept, and (b) the concept of 'gifting' proposed here should not be seen as some sort special and privileged type of sharing. Here's the concept: "Gifting is motivated by the desire to earn ‘reputation capital’ — community reputation and esteem." That's how we are supposed to know that it is sharing with the specific intent of helping a particular community. That's not a type of sharing, no more than Uber drivers 'share' rides with others, or AirBNB proprietors 'share' their houses with others. It's commerce, commercial exchange, a form of buying and selling influence (and hence, more apt to be gamed for personal profit than to lead to social good, intentional or otherwise).
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