by Stephen Downes
Jul 15, 2016
This essay makes one good point and a bunch of bad points. The good point is that the 'wisdom' in the wisdom of crowds isn't going to be taken merely by counting votes or taking averages. There's plenty of evidence that this is the case. The bad points are made around the idea that "some people’s judgments deserve greater weight than others," based on what the author calls "metaknowledge". The mistake being made here is in assuming that the purpose of the crowd is to 'select' some 'right answer' from a range of possibilities put forward by its members. But the wisdom of the crowd isn't in doing things like predicting winners of elections, counting jelly beans or even guessing correct scientific theories. The crowd has different knowledge from an individual's knowledge; it isn't just a reification some one smart person's point of view.
That moment when things go off the rails: "There was a little bit of an 'Aha' moment, that wait a moment, this thing that I want personally actually calls out for the kind of solution, like a platform solution, a systemic solution, a network solution, that I kind of know how to build, that I’ve built many times and this team has built many times before." Thanks, Norm.
"Imagine how helpful a fully vetted, fully automated, personally controlled digital resume would be for both the individual as well as potential hiring managers in military, academic, and corporate organizations," says the invitation to this webinar (register here). This work is very similar to the personal learning records project we were running. "Rhe Military Micro-Credentials (MIL-CRED) project aims at designing, developing, and testing a standardized micro-credential model that facilitates transition of military personnel to civilian careers and educational opportunities. MIL-CRED features multi-level granularity and relational nesting of macro-credentials, tracking of in-progress credential requirements, and a taxonomy of links to facilitate competency equivalency across domains. This work will produce a fully vetted, fully automated, personally controlled digital resume."
Report (36 page PDF) providing "a set of guidelines designed to support decision making about the sorts of quality measures that are appropriate in different contexts." The report includes input from a 2016 experts meeting, in which I took part. Importantly, "The starting point for MOOC QA is to consider the purpose of a MOOC." MOOCs are not simply replacements for existing courses; "they are viewed by governments across the Commonwealth as a way to extend access to higher education." Others may view them as a way to provide practice, a way to spread a message, or a way to publicize an institution or an issue. So different stakeholders view the question of quality in MOOCs from different perspectives.
This appears to be a prospectus (11 page PDF) for Bridge International Academies, a global education company specializing in offering low-cost learning to impoverished children. It operates in Kenya ("total of 359 academies and over 100,000 pupils!") and Uganda with plans to expand into Nigeria and India. It is not without its critics, including Graham-Brown Martin: "We wouldn’t accept a healthcare system where 'Big Pharma' also owned the hospitals and employed all the doctors but that’s exactly the kind of closed loop system that’s happening with 'Big Edu'." The model is essentially based on 'scripted schooling', "asystem in which every step of the learning process is remotely dictated." Public investment in the agency has been criticized. "'Aid is being used as a tool to convince, cajole and compel the majority of the world to undertake policies which help big business, but which undermine public services emerging or thriving,' Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said in criticism of the World Bank’s $10m investment in Bridge."
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