by Stephen Downes
Sept 30, 2016
Audrey Watters gasps, "Can you believe no one has ever thought about adding 'social' to online education until now?!" It boggles the mind, to be sure. But Carolyn Rosé's project is a bit more interesting than that. The EdSurge article discussing Bazaar misrepresents the real story. Of course, everyone would like to see more social interaction in online learning and people have been working on this for decades. What's unique here is that students can "enter an online chat group where they discuss and apply what they learned [and a] computer agent—a chatbot—prompts them to discuss amongst each other." The chatbot is the focus of the Bazaar project mentioned in the article. Here's the GitHub. It's related to their wider DANCE project - Discussion Affordances for Natural Collaborative Exchange, which is an effort to promote similar interactivity inside EdX.
According to this article, the Open University of Brazil (UAB) "has just announced its open educational resources repository — eduCAPES, during the 9th meeting of UAB Coordinators in Brasília. The repository is part of a series of activities aimed at promoting OER within the UAB System."
What I want to flag here is the use of the term "professional learning community" by Microsoft. According to this article, " Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide the support educators need to continue to grow new teaching skills with their peers. Groups of educators can work and learn together to improve student achievement through book study, action research, or learning a new best practice through PLCs." The term has been around for a while. Here's a 2004 article describing PLCs: "People use this term to describe every imaginable combination of individuals with an interest in education." In 2009 Edutopia wrote about how to create a PLC. The province of Ontatio used it as a model in 2007. This article from 2005 credits Coral Mitchell and Larry Sackney with a definition of the term. Reference go back to 1997 and earlier.
Google has rebranded and relaunched a number of services for enterprises, including education, under the heading of Google Cloud. "Google Cloud spans every layer of the business, including all of Google Cloud Platform; our user facing collaboration and productivity applications — now named G Suite; all of our machine learning tools and APIs, the enterprise maps APIs; and the Android phones, tablets and Chromebooks that access the cloud." G Suite mnight be a tough sell. "We believe that when organizations break down silos, connect people and empower them to work together, we get the speed, agility and impact needed to compete in today’s market... With G Suite, information can flow freely between devices, apps, people and teams." My experience has been that enterprise wants tgo lock down its information, not let it flow freely. I would like that to change, of course, but as I say: tough sell.
This is probably the last result to come from 'The Official Google Blog'. Google has a new blog, called The Keyword, which unites all other blogs. There is an RSS feed but you have to search for it, since they're not using RSS autodiscover. You'll find a four-paragraph article on 'helping prospective students make decisions about their future' in today's issue. Four pathetic paragraphs. :(
This article is much better in its articulation of the criticisms of private schools than it is in offering a resolution. Former Chilean presidential candidate Andrés Velasco explores three areas of criticism (quoted):
These are all good points and I would contend that the private sector has not addressed any of them adequtely. But Velasco suggests "it makes sense to consider how to combine the virtues of both systems, instead of simply choosing between them." He cites a recent paper that argues "for-profits appear to be at their best with well-defined programs of short duration that prepare students for a specific occupation." How does this address these three points? We don't know.
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