by Stephen Downes
May 31, 2016
"This paper proposes a framework that focuses on the ethical significance of a particular group of educational technologies usually referred to as open education," writes Robert Farrow, noting " is “a paucity of literature” addressing the socioethical dimensions" and the suggestion that while open learning such as MOOCs is intended to extend access to learning, it tends to support the already privileged. There is also the sense in open education can be seen in the sense of non-sanctioned experimentation on human subjects, especially as " research activities are increasingly taking place outside institutions using open, publicly available data and technologies to collect and analyze data as well as disseminate findings," a practice known as "guerrilla research". The framework itself considers these questions from the perspective of three ethical views: the deontic (duty-based), consequentialist (or pragmatic), or virtue and character based theories. I think it's a bit light, but overall the subject is given a decent treatment. 17 page PDF.
The best part of this article (7 page PDF) is the last page, where the author draws a number of interesting conclusions from a ten-year review of OpenLearn, an Open University open educational resources (OER) initiative. The paper itself is a bit loose (possibly because of brevity) so we don't see how these conclusions are established (presumably as results from the survey?) but it is the conclusions themselves that are work looking at:
All of these go against traditional practice (and traditional wisdom) in one way or another. But they do so in a way that makes sense to me.
More papers from the current issue of Open Praxis, selected papers presented at the Open Education Consortium Global Conference, held in Krákow (Poland) on April 12-14, 2016.
Good overview article looking at the evolving system of credentials management in U.S. education. But will the One True System do the job? "This new effort, which is linking previously disconnected actors, can be best understood via a new Connecting Credentials platform for these actors to learn and share from each other. Rather than a separate set of definitions for each credentialing pathway, there will be a universal taxonomy to connect all credentials." I've seen efforts like this before and their track record is not good. My preference would be to allow credentials to be expressed independently, and then to build systems that can comprehend and interpret these statements.
This list shouldn't surprise readers, though it's interesting to note the influence of consumer technology on the enterprise sectors. The top technologies to watch include MOOCs, microservices, public and hybrid cloud, user experiences, team collaboration, social enterprise, and more. The best bit is at the end, though: "the real trend that we see with digital leaders is actively enabling of mass digital innovation on the edge through techniques such as the use of empowered networks of internal/expert change agents or using hackathons and developer networks on top of open APIs." If you're still centralizing, you're behind the curve.
Criticism of a recent report from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies (AIMS) on online learning in eastern Canada. I covered the report reasonably favourably. But the Nova Scotia Teacher's Union (NSTU) was not happy and neither was Grant Frost, both of which call the report's author to task for understating the scale of online learning innovation in the province. "Close to 30,000 of our approximately 119,000 public school students are engaged, at some level at least, in online learning," writes Frost. Well, he has a point - the AIMS study uses misleading and sloppy statistics to argue that only 2.2 percetn of students are enrolled in online learning. And there's the ubiquitous pro-privatization argument that mars anything AIMS does.
But from the other side of the ledger, I would argue that 25% - the number Frost gives is - is low. In 2016, in an advanced information age economy, the number should be close to 100%. Can you imagine that 75% of students aren't doing any online learning? I have no doubt about the teachers' commitment. But provincially (across Atlantic Canada) there is a failure to invest. And a failure to invest is exactly what creates openings for things like this AIMS article. It wobbles the mind.
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