by Stephen Downes
Oct 17, 2016
Stephen Downes - AnaCristinaPratas - Interview
Stephen Downes, Oct 17, 2016, ,
This could be really handy for a lot of people. The idea is "to help postsecondary decision-makers make informed selections of digital courseware products, and support effective adoption and implementation of these solutions." The Courseware in Context (CWiC) Framework is not a framework in the traditional sense, but is composed of the following tools (quoted):
The resources are available as a PDF and Excel spreadsheet. There are no company or product listings (you have to do that yourself - the tools help you do this). An interactive-web-based version is planned but not yet available. You'll be required to provide name and email in order to access the materials.
The idea has been making the rounds recently. This article summarizes some comments in favour from Martin Weller, opposed from Audrey Watters, and breezes through some comments take take the discussion in all sorts of directions. "I’m left with the feeling that maybe a discipline isn’t what we need," says Tim Kapdor in this post, "but we do need something." Right now PopEdu gets all the attention - Sal Khan and the Gates megamoney. Against this, "Ed-tech and using digital technology for learning is something distinct and relatively new. It’s not computer, neuro or information science, or humanities or education – it sits outside the normal traditions. It needs staking out, research, evidence and practices in order to take a seat at the table." I get the point - there needs to be a way to weed out the fads and fashions, the quacks and the cretins. But pretending that we're physicists isn't the answer either. If there is to be a centre to this discipline, it needs to be an open centre. Because as Maha Bali says, "I don’t know how becoming a discipline won’t again exclude certain people from the table."
Education, says Hank Green, is impossible to optimize. Hank and his brother John are the creators of Crash Course, a YouTube educational channel, now being touted on Patreon. "We create free, high-quality educational videos used by teachers and learners of all kinds," says the Patreon description. "That's all we want to do. After 200,000,000 views, it turns out people like this." In this article Green writes about talking to rich people about the success of Crash Course. "They get really excited really fast," thinking they could scale it up and 'fix' education. But there's no one-size fits-all. "Different schools face different problems. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. You can’t innovate your way into the kind of traditional cost-savings the internet brings." So instead "we keep doing what we’re good at…making great content about difficult subjects that help students and teachers." And giving them away for free.
This is an interesting discussion but actually very light on the explanation it promises. A close reading reveals it to be this: first, VCs confuse size and scale, preferring to create large institutions in an industry that depends on local impact. Second, scope and scale do not always mix. They try to reform the entire education system rather than focusing on a specific activity or domain. Why do theey do this? Ego plays a role, but ultimately the cause is found in their desire to do good (which runs counter to the need to make money ("one cannot do good for very long if the business does not do well enough to survive")). The consistent failure of private institutions, argues the author, gives ammunition to those who oppose privatization, but "that sphere will always comprise public and private, nonprofit and for-profit institutions, and for-profit businesses play an essential role."
The assignment bank was one of those details that made DS106 so innovative. Basically the idea was that people submit suggestions for assignments, which other people then browse, select from, complete and contribute. Some of the earliest posts in my art blog (now used for my photos of the day, but always subject to change) are from the DS106 assignment bank. The title is also from the DS106 course. Anyhow, this post reconstructs the history of the assignment bank. It begins from a Michael Cauldfield post in which part of this history became the subject for discussions. Alan Levine drills deep into the historical archive and concludes "the Assignment bank is totally the idea and prowess of Martha Burtis." He also comments on the difficulties of doing digital history. I can relate; I've been updating my Presentations files recently. When people tell you "the internet is forever" don't believe them. So much has already been lost. Take some time now and repair your archives. The future will thank you. Image: one of my DS106 contributions, The Long Goodbye.
In keeping with the learning communities theme from last week have a look at these presentation resources shared by Lucy Gray on the Global Education Conference and the Highly Connected Global Educator. There's a fair bit of overlap between the two slide decks (the latter is the better deck) but you'll see listings of learning communities and networks, overviews of global education projects, and related resources. The focus of these projects, writes Gray, is not on the technology or the content but on the people.
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