by Stephen Downes
Aug 24, 2016
The point of this article isn't that there is no skills gap. There is. But as my one-time colleague Jim Stanford writes, according to the skills-shortage perspective, "the biggest challenge facing our labour market is adjusting the attitudes, capabilities and mobility of jobless workers… The problem is with the unemployed." Indeed, as Rozworski writes, "employers in Ontario spend dramatically less on employee training than they did just two decades ago." And "the obvious solutions to attracting more workers, raising wages, gets nary a mention." All true. But it's also true that people cannot just self-qualify for these high-skilled jobs. You can't just do nothing. But there shouldn't be any breaks for these companies that don't invest in training and development. Support should to students directly, and not for simply job training but for the means and opportunity to compete against the companies that wouldn't lift a finger to invest in them.
Contemplating Daphne Koller's departure from Coursa: "It’s not useful (or smart) for anyone to look at the 'end' of MOOCs and to happily pronounce “well, I’m glad that’s over with and I’ll never have to worry about that again," writes Steve Krause. "There are many players still involved in the MOOC biz, and the ones outside of the U.S. have different reasons and means of support than the ones inside the U.S." Krause mentions George Siemens, Dave Cormier and I. I'm pretty sure none of us have the "libertarian ideals and neoliberal governmental policies" critics of MOOCs have raised in the past. Now that the hype is over, maybe we can get on with the real agenda again, and leave the one percent to go find their next new passion.
I know that this isn't exactly an education or learning technology story, but this account of a woman stopped at customs and turned away from the UK for accepting an honorarium should give a lot of academics pause. It's not simply that people should be really careful to research the rules before traveling abroad (though they should). It's that anyone who travels faces this sort of risk, whether or not they're infringing any rules, and that academics should be aware that they are increasingly under constraint and scrutiny worldwide. "There are themes here, on how we treat other human beings who don’t look like 'us,' how we make laws to make ourselves feel safe that just make everyone less safe, on bureaucracy and systems that punish honesty."
Read this one, I guess, before it disappears from the web. I think that web writers (like me) all know that they're one offended billionaire away from being deprived of their lot and livelihood. We're also aware how skewed the judgements are. "In one span of a little more than a year, not very long ago, the New York Times mistakenly accepted (and cheered for) a failed Venezuelan coup, printed falsehoods that helped carry the case for invading Iraq, and saw its top editors resign after a humiliating plagiarism scandal.... nothing in that time (at Gawker) was as shameful to me as a story the Times had put on its front page the month before, slanting the results of a study to argue that police weren’t really disproportionately killing black people," writes Tom Scocca.
"Humboldt," Chomsky says, "argued, I think, very plausibly, that the core principle and requirement of a fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create constructively, independently, without external controls." That sounds about right to me, and is certainly the sort of education I aspire to. Of course there's no shortage of people working to make sure that never happens for the population at large.
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