by Stephen Downes
Aug 17, 2016
The problem with assessing anything - including (but not limited to) teaching - is that while it's tempting to employ an index of indicators, quality teaching (and anything else) is not reducible to these indicators. Nor, for that matter, is it necessarily any easier to measure each index value than it is the practice in the first place. As a case in point, we have Alex Usher, who recommends that we assess quality teaching in Ontario with reference to Chickering & Gamson’s classic Seven Principles for Good Practice. Nobody particularly objects to the index (insofar as we are referring to classroom teaching). But quality in teaching is not limited to these seven principles, nor is it explained by these principles. And it's just as hard to measure "develops reciprocity and cooperation among students" as it is to measure "quality teaching". Usher suggests we "ask students about whether they see those practices in the classroom." It's hard to believe this would be a reliable indicator. Image: TES.
What's interesting about the Lesson Plan Tool for Docs is that you can access a list of educational resources offered by OpenEd and import the reference to the resource into your document. In that way it's fairly basic but it offers a glimpse of how external resource libraries can be added to editing tools to help you create better resources. It's tricky to find the tool - it didn't show up in a search for 'Lesson Plan', so you have to scroll through the list of educational add-ons and add it manually (I've circled it in the diagram). After you install the add-on, you have to select it from the Add-Ons drop down and click 'Start'. This video from Richard Byrne was quite helpful.
Luis Suarez has never taken his online interaction for granted - for example, he engaged in a multi-year 'no email' project to encourage people to communicate with him more efficiently. Like the rest of us, he saw trhe potential of social networks: "building your online social networks was all about connecting with people who would share similar interests on a particular topic with you, so that people would have an opportunity to collaborate and learn more from one another." But "Little did we know that, fast forward to 2016, all of those networking activities would come with a really high price tag: your own data in unwanted hands." And now social; network sites are "depressing and equally horrifying user experiences with a single goal in mind: to have you glued to their screens constantly scrolling through, mindlessly thinking ‘why the heck have I ended over here in the first place?’" Yeah.
And he writes: "I decided, I guess, to break my own chain initially and start making less use of most of the social tools I still rely on and instead blog more. Regain control of the conversation, on our own turf, i.e. the Internet blogosphere, remember? ... The choice is ours and ours alone."
The Public Knowledge Project (PKP), which creates things like the Open Journal Systems software (OJP), has joined the scientific identity registration system known as ORCID. Yes, even I have an ORCID identification. They write, "So far, all of the OJS integration work has been done using ORCID’s public APIs. Through PKP’s ORCID membership, we will now be able to work with their full range of member APIs and identify options for more extensive interoperability between the two systems." (Interestingly the author of this press release is identified only as 'kevin' on the PKP site - I had to do some looking up to find out who he was.... that happens a lot, and takes a lot of my time).
From massive access to cooperation: lessons learned and proven results of a hybrid xMOOC/cMOOC pedagogical approach to MOOCs
Ángel Fidalgo-Blanco, María Luisa Sein-Echaluce, Francisco José García-Peñalvo, International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 2016/08/17
"What MOOC factors exert greater influence on dropout rate: participant profile or the underlying model?" ask the authors of this paper on different approaches to MOOCs. They propose a hybrid of xMOOC and cMOOC that "incorporates cooperation to create knowledge sharing among participants and combines characteristics of xMOOCs and cMOOCs." This reminds me of Matt Crosslin's work toward the same objective. The authors present case studies based on of two MOOCs implemented on the MiriadaX platform. The authors argue that "completion rate relates more to methodology than to the platform, theme or profile of enrolled participants." The hybrid model "doubled the completion rate for MiriadaX MOOCs." Terminological note; I will refer to these in the future as hMOOC.
This is a first rate intellectual synthesis (8 page PDF) of what are at first glance two very approaches to cognition, Iain McGilchrist's thesis of a division of responsibility in the brain, 'the master and the emissary', and my own description of knowledge as 'recognition'. "The differences," writes McGilchrist, "lie not, as has been supposed, in the 'what' - which skills each hemisphere possesses - but in the 'how', the way in which each uses them, and to what end." The 'emissary is concerned with abstraction and categorization and the identification of salient facts we need to exist in the world, while the master is the thick jungle of overlapping connections and perceptions from which that salience emerges. It's an interesting picture, and as a metaphor I certainly see a lot to recommend it - provided we care clear that the 'what' (categories, abstractions, languages, things) are not the 'how' of cognition.
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