by Stephen Downes
Dec 21, 2015
Put Down Your Damn Cell Phones
Jadelin Pikake Felipe,
Inside Higher Ed,
The original title for this post was "Colleges need to teach healthy digital boundaries," which I guess wasn't click-bait enough for the IHE editors. And my first thought on reading it was that, if they're going to teach about healthy boundaries, they should know how to recognize healthy boundaries. "Every day, I see two people having lunch with one another, both glued to their cellphones, not talking. And I cannot help but think: something valuable is being lost." Oh, how awful. But where were these complaints when you would see, say, two people reading a newspaper, or two people reading paperbacks? The only thing wrong with this picture is the judgement. It's unhealthy to use a mobile phone when you're driving. At the lunch table, it's perfectly fine, and very definitely not unhealthy. Image: Candace Smith Etiquette.
College at Oxford Will Remove Cecil Rhodes Plaque
Inside Higher Ed,
I have always been opposed to the Rhodes Scholarship. Not only are the obvious reasons to oppose it - as in the case of the monument, the scholarship "an uncritical celebration of a controversial figure, and the colonialism and the oppression of black communities." There are less obvious reasons (and the ones that were more immediately apparent to me when I would have applied) - it was and is itself an instrument of discrimination (to this day it is still open only to people who graduated before the age of 25, eliminating people like me who had to work and struggle before being admitted to a university). Perhaps that may seem petty on my part, in the face of the real oppression people face. But honestly, when you're up against a wall, all you see is the wall, and that's what I saw at the time.
25 years of the web
True for learning technology as well: "The people we celebrate as heroes of tech are the ones who made the most money, and that money is directly proportional to the amount of diversity they destroyed. They are the opposite of heroes. They are carpetbaggers, foreclosers, stealers of the future. Someone was generous enough to leave some money on the table, so they grabbed it."
Reimagining Online Education
Inside Higher Ed,
"As long as aviation pioneers tried to mimic birds, controlled, heavier-than-air human flight proved impossible," writes Steven Mintz. "Along somewhat similar lines, it is only by breaking decisively from traditional face-to-face models that it will be truly possible to create the kinds of immersive, social experiences in online education..." Fair enough. Fair enough. But while the University of Texas System's Institute for Transformational Learning described here looks a lot like nothing more than a a bird with more features. It's still a course, and it still "scaffolds, supports, and mechanisms for monitoring student progress." The poor bird is too overweight to get off the ground. Mintz says we need to rethink "motivation, learning acquisition, the student experience, and assessment." I agree, but let's actually rethink these things.
- Motivation - is best addressed by focusing on areas where the person is already motivated rather than creating artificial motivation-enhancing devices such as games and leader boards.
- Learning - is not "acquired" or "discovered" - it is grown through authentic experience in meaningful environments (yes, including simulations, but simulations preparing for real experiences)
- The student experience - isolation, pace and confusion are not addressed by creating a whole artificial community, but are better addressed by tapping into existing real-life communities
- Assessment - is not best managed by testing and assignments (even if they address all aspects of Bloom's taxonomy) but by actual performance in authentic tasks and environments
Education doesn't more features. It needs authentic propulsion and sound aerodynamic design. Sadly, most educational professionals don't study aerodynamics, they study ornithology.
10 challenging ways to get the best from your SMEs
Donald Clark Plan B,
In his tweet Donald Clark says the "SME bridge into online learning production [is] often wobbly, even catastrophic." I wouldn't go quite so far as that, but I do appreciate the need to be clear about the role of the SME in learning design (I still remember working with one instructor in the Business Division who used nothing but Excel to author his course - to this day I become very annoyed when people use spreadsheets as text management tools, which is a total misuse of the technology). probably the best advice: "I highly recommend a workshop that covers all of the above and more, to prepare and inform SMEs about what is expected and the rules of the game." Remember, many SME (and many teachers, for that matter) are not self-learners. Often, you'll have to lead them through the process (on the bright side, their children will pick it up much more quickly.
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