by Stephen Downes
Jun 28, 2016
Short note summarizing the Gates Foundation's SRI study (53 page PDF) on personalized learning grants. First of all, Feldstein writes "this is not a report that screams, 'Wow, adaptive courseware works!'" But secondly, and more interestingly, he writes, "Large-scale educational research is incredibly hard and may actually be impossible to do rigorously for certain kinds of questions." Feldstein explains, "one reason the conclusions are murky is because there so many variables in each class—not just each course subject, not just each course at one university, but even with each section of each class taught by one teacher—that really matter." I've commented on this before.
To be clear, the term 'Andragogy' does not mean (as suggested in this article) "self-directed learning". The term refers specifically to adult learning - "andr (meaning ‘man’) could be contrasted with pedagogy (paid- meaning ‘child’ and agogos (meaning ‘leading’)". And educators do love their levels and series of progressions, hence the movement in this article from pedagogy to andragogy to heutagogy (from 'heut', meaning 'self). All of that said, the PAH framework (educators do love frameworks) could serve as a useful guide for thought in the area.
Tony Bates summarizes the recent EDEN conference, writing "I was surprised at how much importance European institutions are still giving to MOOCs. There were by far more papers on MOOCs than on credit-based online learning or even blended learning. Even the Oxford debate this year was on the following motion: We Should Focus in the Short Term More on MOOCs than on OER." The resolution, Bates writes, as to his relief soundly defeated. But I would have won that debate, in my humble opinion, by talking about the critical role OERs play in MOOCs (our MOOCs) and the role MOOCs play to stimulate the use, production and reuse of OERs.
In his monumental work The Idea of the Holy Rudolf Otto wrote of the 'numinous' as mysterious, (mysterium) terrifying (tremendum) and fascinating (fascinans). This post seems to want to do the same thing for education. The key of the tremendous and fascinating is that it holds us in awe. "Awe is a driving force for learning that will not just benefit our students now, but also well into their future. However, traditional views and functions of school deprive many students from experiencing the joy and power of awe as a catalyst for meaningful learning." I am not troubled by a sense of awe - I get it every time I stare into the night sky or look at a butterfly, which is often - but I'm not sure it should be an objective of learning.
One of the major reasons I use AdBlocker is that it blocks many third party scripts. These are bits of code web page owners place on their pages to display the advertisement - and to do a lot more. I don't really care about the ad. It's the rest that concerns me. For example, as this post notes, "eavesdroppers can track things like your email, username, full name, home address, purchases, location, history, IP address, and preferences." Additionally, "Third-party scripts frequently cause pages to load slower. For example, Business Insider's actual site loads in about 1 second, while third-party scripts account for the majority of the 7 to 15 seconds of load time." This includes scripts that impact the performance of the page even after it has been loaded; for example, some scripts slow down page scrolls. That's why I'm back on Firefox (Chrome was having difficulties loading AdBock Plus). That's why I'll keep the adblocking software running.
This article talks about "the American led movement on behalf of the MOOC" though what it really should say is something like "the MOOC movement as seen through American eyes". It depicts MOOCs and Open Educational Resources through a puzzling history beginning "the many kinds of free instructional resources in MIT’s OpenCourseWare project (and) culminating (for now) in the MOOC." There is no question of an American role and influence in these movements, but I think the article would have done better to contrast this role with the concurrent and sometimes leading roles played by people outside the U.S. Either way, though, the article's central premise holds - that what started as a benign movement supporting personal and international development can be seen as having been co-opted to support national and international ambitions. "For critics like Robert Rhoads and his UCLA colleagues the OER movement is primarily an expression of economic 'neoliberalism' and, as presently organized (in the U.S. at least), has little chance of fulfilling its lofty claims for democratizing education across the globe." It's not just the critics who see this though. It's also many of the originators of open online learning - myself included - who see this. Image: Carolyn Fox.
LittleSis describes itself as "an involuntary facebook of the 1%." It is essentially a network graphic tool showing connections between the powerful and influential in (mostly Amercian) society. It " documents personal and business connections in the worlds of government and business. For instance, here's George Soros. And Dick Cheney." We really need an international version. The record for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is just a placeholder. So is the record for Vladimir Putin. The mnoted website 'They Rule' was created with the assistance of LittleSis.
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