by Stephen Downes
Jul 06, 2016
Following the retirement of Helen Galatis, ACER Research Fellow, who has curated Australia's Digital Education Research Network (DERN) newsletter since 2012, and maintained the research reviews following Dr Gerald White's retirement., DERN (Distance Education Research Network) services are being reviewed. For those who use DERN a survey is available to allow you to provide your feedback.
I wonder how much of this is genuine concern and how much of it is a campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt. True, some materials were genuine infringements and removed from Amazon's OER site. On the other hand the service runs squarely against the business model of sites like teacherspayteachers.com, described by the NY Times (accurately) as "a rival instructional resources site where educators offer lesson plans they have created." For the most part, resource sharimng among teachers is free and unfettered (and one wonders how many open resources have found they way into teacherspayteachers content). But when open content sharing is commercialized, as it is on Amazon, suddenly the standards rise. As soon as someone slaps a copyright on some material, whether justified or not, all instances of that material are called into question.
There's a book on critical thinking in me somewhere trying to get out. But in the mean time people will have to make do with the many resources already available on the internet, for example, this set of videos on the fundamentals of critical thinking. Where I think traditional critical thinking goes wrong is that it is mostly based on formal reasoning methodologies. These are important, but our thinking and reason encompass far more.
The short answer to this question in that, yes, they are a bad mix. They offer choice, but "these publicly financed arrangements come with great risks, however, due to the high failure rates of charter schools." Additionally, there is the danger of loss of control of the school system. "Charter schools, for instance, are fundamentally less democratic than public schools... a system in which charter school real estate and operations are controlled by private equity takes control out of the community." See also the New York Times, When you dial 911 and Wall Street answers. Image: Eton, from geograph. See also SpinWatch: The final frontier for privatisation: schools.
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