by Stephen Downes
Jan 13, 2016
Making Networked Sharing Socially Beneficial, Not Just Predatory and Profitable
News and perspectives on the commons,
The so-called 'sharing economy' will almost certainly impact education, but what form will it take? Now is the time to be thinking about it. The economy actually breaks down into four types of practice, according to this article (quoted):
- the “access economy” that is renting things rather than selling them permanently;
- the “gig economy” that hosts contingent work in digital marketplaces;
- the “collaborative economy” that fosters peer-to-peer governance and production processes; and
- and the “pooling economy” that enables collective ownership and management.
Each of these is structured differently, and each impacts on the traditional economy and wider society differently. To counter 'free riders' like Uber from exploiting existing infrastructure while providing no social return, policies need to be in place to address the following (again quoted from the article):
- impacts, including tax avoidance, unfair competition and violations of local and regional regulation;
- personal economic security and social welfare (such as pay, working standards, benefits);
- open data sharing for public purposes, allowing newcomers into the market;
- trust and reputation must be accurately and independently managed.
I think one of some of the major bodies in education (a foundation, UNESCO, CoL or OIF, etc) should tackle this conversation with respect to learning.
Personalization, Not Isolation
Personalized learning, writes Jennifer Carolan, is on everyone's minds these days. But effective teachers know that personalization means much more than simply working on one's own. "More powerful learning comes from interaction and idea sharing that drives greater understanding and empathy." For example, an application called Newslea outputs versions of news articles at different reading levels so people at all levels can contribute to a discussion about the item. "The most promising new school models," she writes, "go forward with the mindset that personalization will help achieve a constellation of goals — both personal and community — that are higher and broader, aimed at serving the larger, democratic society."
Supporting Open Textbook Adoption in British Columbia
Mary Burgess, David Porter,
Short article, supplemented with video clips from innovators such as Brian Lamb and Scott Leslie, on the progress and development of the Open Textbook project in British Columbia. "It hasn’t been a straight-line development process over the past 13 years," say the authors, "nor has it been completely planned and there have been many of twists and turns, all the while building a community from the successes and the missteps along the way."
Ed-Tech Patents: Prior Art and Learning Theories
Good overview of some recent history regarding the (now-abandoned) Blackboard patent, as well as some more recent patents held by the Khan Academy. What's interesting is what is essentially a two-step method of shifting discourse in the field: first, the data-driven approaches described by companies like Khan are held to be "theory-free"; then, second, the method described in the patent embodies what we would previously have called the theory. For example: the method of "method for providing computer programming instructions," which bears a striking resemblance to "languages like Logo and Scratch as well as a plethora of online tutorials." Or for example: "a patent for using A/B testing to determine the “effectiveness” of an educational video." Audrey Watters comments cynically, "One might say then that Khan Academy does have a theory of learning; but I’d suggest that it’s behaviorism." But "Regardless, all these practices – these 'systems and methods' – are now going to be patented if the pressures and culture of the tech sector hold sway."
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