by Stephen Downes
May 17, 2016
The internet used to be so cool. But now people are afraid to use it. That's the gist of this article in the Washington Post which cites statistics showing that privacy and security fears are preventing people from using the net the way they'd like to. There are many aspects to this, ranging from spying and intrusion, hacking and identify theft, catfishing and fraud, spam and spoofing, cyberbullying and more. I read from time to time (and people tell me in various meetings) that people aren't really so concerned about these issues, that it's the new reality. I don't buy it. I think people crave a secure and safe internet.
This article has the most awkward title ever, but represents a logical progression from Friere's characterization of the 'pedagogy of the oppressed' (and more positively, 'pedagogy of hope'). The pedagogy of fear "stunts the active and vital educational growth of the young person, making him/her passive and dependent upon external disciplinary sources. It is motivated by fear that prevents young students—as well as teachers—from dealing with the great existential questions that relate to the essence of human beings." It's based on two major ideas: "The child as 'not-knower'" and "The model of demand as the pedagogic basis." I think this is a good insight. What would pedagogy look like if we removed these two constraints? (Other 'pedagogies of fear': Leonardo and Porter, Mcdermott, Lumenfeld). Image: Pinterest.
I wasn't expecting much from this report as the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) typically parrots a hard-right neo-liberal political agenda, but it is actually fairly comprehensive and reasonably accurate. Cleaning up the prejudicial language a bit (especially in the introductory paragraphs) would go a long way to making this a credible report. Where it goes wrong is in its pointless criticisms of 21st century learning initiatives; these have long been a bugbear of AIMS and related institutions, despite their being a key feature of online learning. Aside from that, the report captures some of the major problems with the approach in Atlantic Canada, especially the top-down provincially-based organization and management (which makes the system especially sensitive to politics and changes in government (which is the main reason innovation has not been sustained in this part of the world)). Overall I would support the 9 recommendations listed in the article.
In what looks like "a direct response to the Canvas Network," Moodle's Gavin Hendrik has announced the Moodle Academy, "a centralized MOOC hosting platform run and managed by Moodle. This is for institutions or Moodlers who want to hold a MOOC but don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to deal with the short term (massive) hit on their internal resources from a much heavier user load." Unless this platform is open in ways I don't know about, this appears to me to be more of a response to things like MoodleRooms. I'm guessing it will be located here - http://www.moodleacademy.org/ - since we have a pre-splash page Moodle install (and http://www.moodleacademy.com is still up for sale). But hey, I've been wrong before. Anyhow, the biggest problem for the use of Moodle with MOOCs has always been the need to sign in to do anything - for example, to access this page to ask Gavin Hendrik for more information. See the rest of the Moodle Moot keynotes here.
Ah, chatbots. Everyone's favourite potential robot teacher. They've been around for a while - here's me interviewing one that ran for president in 2000. Today they're a lot more sophisticated and sometimes even passing the Turing test (here, here and here). But bots come in all shapes and sizes and as this article suggests are already pervasive. "There are already bots for property searches, getting up to date news bots, as well as for booking hotels.... Esther created her own resume bot.... there is now talk of the “conversational office” (which Slack is spearheading) and how messaging bots will change workplace productivity over the next five years."
Logo was an almost magical tool in its time designed to help students learn to program. "Of course, it wasn’t 'real programming,' writes Doug Peterson. "That was reserved for the assignments given in class. This was just fun, trying to design the most intricate things that we could." As it turns out, though, it was 'real computing' - more real than the other sort. Today, students have many more options for programming creativity. "Students might get a chance to learn using Lego Mindstorms or any of the other languages that have been created with developing coders in mind – Hopscotch, Scratch, and so much more. With the right budget, you might even get a programmable device like Sphero." For me, languages like Basic and C were my toys, and I created games.
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