by Stephen Downes
Jan 05, 2016
'A Bit Of A Montessori 2.0': Kahn Academy Opens A Lab School
Education : NPR,
I confess I don't see the logic of this. The Khan Academy, which defines its core duty as helping provide "a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere," has opened a "new $23,000 a year ($25,000 for grades 6-12) brick-and-mortar Khan Lab School in Silicon Valley." Sure, I can see the business model: give the people who can afford such a thing good progressive "Montessori 2.0" education for their children. "We don't just want to create another one-off, progressive, private school," says Khan. "So everything that we're doing in this lab school we're sharing — we're sharing with local public, private schools." Sorry, this is just ridiculous. Schools - including private schools - share their work with each other. A lot. So Khan isn't pioneering anything, really. He's just executing a business plan.
Higher ed thought leaders forecast 2016 trends
These are short predictions from U.S.-based university and e-learning company executives. They're pretty light, but give us a look at some of the main themes to expect through the next twelve months: adapting technology, new university business models, continuing funding stresses, nanodegrees and competencies, predictive analytics, cloud computing, and such. Note that one executive cited, Blackboard's Jay Bhatt, has already been replaced. Blackboard announced its new CEO, William Ballhaus (pictured), yesterday.
Open journals that piggyback on arXiv gather momentum
We're beginning to approach the era of post-publication peer review through the use of preprint exchanges such as arXiv and journals that draw from them. These journals are called 'overlay' journals, and essentially what they do is collect the best-reviewed preprints and publish them in an issue of the journal, giving the articles status (and a DOI). See, for example, the Open Journal. "Development of the software that powers the journal's peer-review system was led by Arfon Smith, chief scientist at the popular code repository GitHub... traditional journals and their associated costs are no longer needed in fields such as astrophysics and cosmology, because most researchers already both submit their work to arXiv and read papers on it." There's another platform called episciences, which overlays both arXiv and HAL.
MOOC for teachers: why to bring coding to school?
Teemu Leinonen writes about the Code Alphabet MOOC, designed to help teachers bring coding to their classes in Finland. "Why are we doing this?" he asks. "What is the point of teaching all teachers to code? Why they should introduce coding for their students? Do we think that everyone should know how to code?" No, not everyone, he agrees. But everyone should understand computational thinking, that is, how to "understand automatization and how to use it in problem solving." The purpose isn't simply to get jobs in computer programming. Rather, it's "to see coding as new type of literacy and personal expression." And there are "more fundamental reasons... related to power, social justice, equality and do I dare to say (?) . . . our attempt to build a better world." Related: Finland's e-learning strategy for the future.
A better start for children in Tonga
Account of a World Bank effort to support community play-based activities programs in Tonga. The fact that it's Tonga makes it interesting, because there isn't a lot of news from Tonga. But more significantly, it highlights the importance of early childhood development with respect to longer term learning outcomes. Nutrition, as always, is key. But also, "From birth to age 5, young children develop the foundations for language, thought and learning processes, as well as movement and coordination. They also gain important social and emotional skills by interacting with adults and other children in non-familiar settings." It's part of the the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning (PEARL) Program. Related: poverty shrinks brains of children; "they suspect that environmental exposures such as stress and nutrition are more important and begin even before the babies are born."
for the love of learning,
I didn't know Joe Bower, didn't read his website, and hadn't heard of him before today. That, very obviously, was my loss. On reading today of his passing and having a look at his work, I have to say, he is a person we should take note of and recognize for his good work. David Wees talks about some of the conversations he had with Joe Bower: "Why do we give grades to students anyway? Does this help them learn? What about homework? Does this practice help students learn? If not, why are we still doing it? What about school discipline? Do our current practices help students? If not, why not change them?" I think his website is a fine legacy and I hope it doesn't simply disappear.
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