by Stephen Downes
Nov 02, 2015
Language of Protest
Inside Higher Ed,
As Brian Leiter says, this needs to happen more. "All six editors and all 31 editorial board members of Lingua, one of the top journals in linguistics, last week resigned to protest Elsevier's policies on pricing and its refusal to convert the journal to an open-access publication." It's a lot easier for these established academics to take a stand than it is for young writers. And when college libraries cannot afford the journal (or in some cases to even find out how much it costs) it's clear that the time to take a stand is now.
Nearly all children under 4 have used mobile devices, U.S. study suggests
The study (9 Page PDF, press release) was actually limited to a low-income area of Philadelphia, so the sweeping conclusion in the headline should not be drawn. Nonetheless the study suggests wider adoption of mobile devices (though not necessarily smartphones) than previously expected; even as recently as 2013 a divide still existed in the same community. The publishers of the study urge limitations on child screen time, based on concerns about the impact on language learning. I'm not so sure I would jump to the same conclusion; music, audio, graphics and text are the core elements of communication, and exposing them to the child would, it seems to me, accelerate language learning. But having said that, I would urge that this be studied as soon as possible, so we have some data one way or another.
Philip J. Kerr,
Adaptive Learning in ELT,
The main takeaway from this summary of a research article is the diagram, but the discussion is worth a read too. Philip J. Kerr summarizes: "Murray and Pérez (15 page PDF) set out, anyway, to explore the hypothesis that adapting instruction to an individual’s learning style results in better learning outcomes. Their study compared adaptive and traditional methods in a university-level digital literacy course. Their conclusion? This study and a few others like it indicate that today’s adaptive learning systems have negligible impact on learning outcomes." What makes this interesting is the comparison between learning styles and adaptive learning. Kerr suggests that since the former hasn't produced anything of note, neither should we expect the latter to. And he points to the still nebulous argument at the end of the article suggesting there's more to learning than outcomes. "They point out that learning outcomes are only one measure of quality. Others, such as student persistence and engagement, they claim, can be positively affected by the employment of adaptive systems." As well, there is "the intuitively appealing case for adaptive learning systems as engines with which institutions can increase access and reduce costs."
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