by Stephen Downes
Aug 04, 2016
Passing this along from OERu: "As a charitable organisation, YouTube has approved a Youtube for non-profits account for the OERu. We have met all the requirements to qualify for a custom url for the new channel, expect that we need 100 hundred subscribers. We need your help - please subscribe to the OERu Youtube channel so we can qualify for a custom url. This will make it easier for learners to find more affordable options for higher education and higher education institutions to become more sustainable."
The real "smart person's guide" is probably an academic paper or two, not a light web read from Tech Republic, but this will probably do. "It uses a branch of AI called machine learning, which can include approaches like deep neural networks and reinforcement learning to make predictions. This can rely on massive data sets, sometimes manual data labeling—but sometimes not."
If it were really a revolution there would be new people in charge after the dust settles rather than the same old gang. But there's no suggestion of this in this blog post from Pearson. For example: "How we can recruit the art and science of delivering change at the system level to the goal of making available – to all students – the type of learning that Charlie Leadbeater has recently beautifully described (112 page PDF)?" This model still depicts them as working in jobs for the usual crowd and for the usual purposes, but just working at these jobs differently. Or this: "How can we ensure there is a much needed Renaissance in Assessment that will allow us to measure the full set of skills and capabilities that learners need to secure, and thrive, in a job?"
What this article shows most clearly is that there is no end to the reasons the rich can give to justify keeping their wealth to themselves. In this case, the proposal is that universities with large endowments could top their spending from endowment funds to reach the 5 percent minimum spending benchmark required of private nonprofit foundations. This money could add hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance to poor students. But, ah, no. "They ignore that access and affordability are only part of the equation that schools are dealing with when they’re trying to meet their public purpose." Well, no. Rather the contrary - we realize exactly that, and suggest that access and affordability ought to rank far higher in these institutions' priorities than they currently do, as suggested by this new report (12 page PDF). Or, as also suggested, maybe we'll start taxing them and spending the money on actual social priorities, rather than on new polo fields.
I've seen these points raised before but I'd like to frame them with a question, which follows. The author asserts "the importance of using technology and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles to provide personalized, flexible, and accessible learning opportunities." Here they are:
So here's the question: are these principles equally applicable in the case of the single learner? Yes, we can see that for a class of people we would want to allow room for people to choose one option or another. But does that need extend to the single case? For example, if I were offering a course to a global audience, I might want to make sure there's a version available in Urdu. But if I'm offering a course to one person in Ireland, the Urdu version probably isn't necessary.
According to the (anonymous) author of this article in the Walrus, "Academia has become a high-stakes gamble—and the losers can barely afford pants." It's a fair point, but as critic Melonie Fullick writes in University Affairs, "the piece is basically written as if he is the first person to have discovered this is an issue that might be worthy of discussion." Neither piece really comes to grips with academia's increasing reliance on serf labour to balance the books.
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