by Stephen Downes
May 30, 2016
Best analogy for 'grit' thus far: "when faced with a decreasing demand for a product in one market segment, the internationally massive and multi-billion dollar testing industry would look to create a new product that meets the increasing demands of another," writes Grant Frost. "I believe that, in testing for grit, we may have encountered the educational world’s latest version of a bottle of air." Good post authored by someone I should have found long before now. Image: CNN.
I confess, I read this item because I wondered what the author considered "the biggest problem in education." Here's what it is: "of the hordes of students that sign up for massive open online classes (MOOCs), an average of less than 7% finish." Well, education has its problems, but I think this is far from the biggest of them. It's like saying that the biggest problem in music is that people just listen to one song instead of a whole album. Maybe the biggest problem in education is something else - something like, say, engineers and developers designing teaching systems based on their shallow and folk-psychological knowledge of learning and education. P.S. I can't even begin to list all the things that are wrong with the image accompanying this article.
I've read a dozen or so press releases and articles about the recently concluded eLearning Africa conference in Cairo and this one seems to summarize best the general tenor of the discussion. "There is growing frustration at the time it is taking for e-learning to truly become a reality in Africa, with attendees at this year’s eLearning Africa conference in Cairo, including ministers, businessmen and education experts, expressing impatience." (Note to self: add 'have dinner by the pyramids' to the list of things to do.) See also this reflection from Donald Clark, who was there.
There's open source and then there's open source. One type of open source is more properly called 'community source', and that's what Sakai is. It was a large and complex LMS, designed by and for major institutions, with no real expectation of a community outside that exclusive group. Michael Feldstein describes the concept - and its failings - in his post from two years ago, Community Source is Dead. "Community Source borrows the innovation of the open source license while maintaining traditional consortial governance and enterprise software management techniques." Given this analysis, this week's collapse of the Sakai installation at UC Davis should not come as a surprise.
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