by Stephen Downes
Apr 26, 2016
Strategies for Personal Learning
Stephen Downes, Apr 25, 2016, VI e-Learning International Conference 2016, Madrid, Spain, online via Zoom
In this presentation I draw the distinction between personal and personalized learning and the outline the major strategies supporting personal learning: sharing, contributing and co-creation.
Diversity, as I have observed frequently in these pages, is one of the four elements of the 'semantic condition', which are the criteria for successful networks. For a lot of people 'diversity' means language and heritage. But it's a lot more than that, as this post demonstrates. Consider: “In the company we are all are from a certain prototype: super kind, generous, enthusiastic, extroverted, and proactive. The company uses the services of a big data company to help find the right people from all over the world.” The result, though, is "creating a situation in which companies will be very diverse in appearance, but intrinsically homogenous... Thus the company will appear diverse — but we know that appearances can be deceiving." The idea of diversity is based on people having different perspectives. Creating a 'cultural fit' works against that.
According to this article, "the United Nations is to call for the world’s media to take a more 'constructive' and 'solutions-focused' approach to news to combat 'apathy and indifference'." I can't see that happening in the news media. But surely this is the role of education, isn't it? "We need responsible media that educate, engage and empower people and serve as a counterpoint to power. We need them to offer constructive alternatives in the current stream of news and we need to see solutions that inspire us to action."
Mike Caulfield takes on a persistent truism in the OER world: that we need one central location where everyone can find open resources. This has never been true, and when tried it has never worked. So what does? Publishing them everywhere. "This graphic of the Buzzfeed network reminds me of that fact. Buzzfeed is one of the most recognizable destination sites on the web. If anyone could survive making people come to them, it would be Buzzfeed. And what does Buzzfeed do? They put it *everywhere*. They publish in something like 30 platforms, an 80% of their views come from places other than Buzzfeed." That's what I do with OLDaily (to a lesser extent, but I should step it up).
This is an odd article that one the one hand says that Oxford should embrace online learning to increase access and remain relevant, and that it should go private (but raising its own endowment) so it doesn't have to respond to government demands that it, um, increase access. "We’ve moved a long way, but it’s very difficult recruiting from within the UK properly qualified undergraduates from the social and educational backgrounds that the state would like us to take people from," says Laurence Brockliss, author of Oxford’s official history. It's an odd sort of logic. By becoming a 'global university' Oxford could remain exclusive, yet still attract a culturally diverse mix off students. As for actually being accessible to poor people without a privileged educational background, well, let's just not go there.
In 1991 a 19-year old Gwen Jacobs took off her shirt on a sweltering Guelph, Ontario day and was promptly arrested. The case is well known for being the precedent that allows women to go topless in Canada. Mostly, though, they don't. "Women don't walk around topless because they get hassled, they get harassed if they do. People stare at them. It's cultural, something about North America and the Puritan history." 25 years later, a young woman argued for the right to wear a niqab during her citizenship ceremony. The Prime Minister said, "Most Canadians believe that it is offensive that someone would hide their identify at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family," The Prime Minister was overruled (and soundly defeated in the election), and he right was again upheld, but again, most women don't wear niqabs.
This prelude, of course, is intended to show that it's a matter of perspective. And, moreover, it is to note that the right of women to choose what they wish to wear is a very recent thing even in very open and democratic countries (dating to just a few weeks ago in the case of the niqab). Maybe Saudi Arabia will change, maybe it won't, but people who live in countries that still regulate how women should dress should think twice before accusing others of the same. And it's not just women's rights, it's all rights. Countries that would imprison and even torture the likes of Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden should think twice before criticizing how other countries treat their dissenters.
The fact is, the state of human rights worldwide is deplorable. And in fact, very basic freedoms are denied everyone. For example, the right to go, live and work where we want. Just ask the Syrians how well their rights are respected in Europe. Or America. And then to talk to who we want and say what we want. Let's get it right here, before we start casting stones there.
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