by Stephen Downes
Sept 16, 2016
Longish interview with the philosopher Ernest Sosa, well known for his work in epistemology (that is, the philosophy of knowledge). I don't really agree with him, but it's an interesting approach: "Knowledge in my view," he writes, "is a form of action. It involves endeavors to get it right, and more broadly it concerns aimings, which can be functional rather than intentional. Through our perceptual systems, we represent our surroundings, aiming to do so accurately, where the aiming is functional or teleological, rather than intentional. And the same goes for our functional beliefs. Through our judgments, however, we do intentionally, even consciously, attempt to get it right." There's an extended discussion of epistemology as it relates to archery: what do we aim for, how do we know, what counts as a 'good' shot?
This is a short post that could benefit from much more detail. After describing various aspects of open learning (open practice, open access, open standards, open participation, etc.) the author says "the concept of open learning analytics covers all the aspects of ”openness” outlined above. It refers to an ongoing analytics process that encompasses diversity at all four dimensions of the learning analytics reference model." All very good. But does the platform exist? It doesn't seem to. And the core question here is whether people care enough about learning analytics (I know I don't) to build such an open platform.
I missed this when it came out in July but happily quality bubbles to the surface more than once. This is a terrific article from Michael Caulfield on the topic of 'choral explanations'. Here's the idea: creating a single and authoritative explanation of complex topics is difficult and expensive. It's also not necessary; people benefit from having a variety of different versions to choose from. Think Stack Exchange as compared to Wikipedia. So instead of thinking of a textbook as a single authoritative explanation of a concept, think of it as a backbone or skeleton from which to hang these individual contributions. This is a long read, so set aside some time. But make the time; the future of open online learning looks a lot more like this than it does the traditional text or encyclopedia.
People do not value education not because we have educational institutions. Rather, we have educational institutions because people value education. And educational institutions are only one of many ways people support their own education, because what people value is the education, not the institution. The people inside educational institutions often miss that point. We need policies that support education (or, more broadly construed, knowledge and learning). Because these are the things that are valued. And because people value education (and knowledge and learning), I believe they will value open access - indeed, that they have shown this to be the case - even though educational institutions do not. Institutional change, in this context, is about saving the institution. But if the institutions don't change, culture will find another way. It always has.
Food for thought. "Young people arrange their learning, livelihoods and social practices according to their needs, lifestyles, traditions and evolving environments. Future farmers learn from their parents and role models. Even with limited literacy skills, young people find ways to benefit from mobile phones to obtain information that they need. When it comes to knowledge and skills for agriculture and rural livelihoods, for many of these young people, schooling plays a relatively minor role. Rather it is valued as a means to pave the way for employment in the formal sector, and to develop their social status and image." 144 page PDF.
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