by Stephen Downes
Nov 29, 2016
It is always a subject of astonishment to me that behaviour that is otherwise normal is deemed by some to be (a) not acceptable for teachers, and (b) not appropriate on the internet (or Facebook). The case this time (as it is so often) involves the posting of a photo of oneself relaxing on the beach. Or maybe having a beer at the local pub. What we are seeing is a case where people are told there are special codes of behaviour if they are (a) teachers, and (b) women. If I were either (a) or (b) I would be telling the guardians of my morality where they can put their directives. These behaviours are not wrong and there is thus no need for prohibiting their depiction on the internet.
I can't say I have a lot of confidence in Facebook's ability to design a learning program, but there it is. It's "a new personalized learning system called Summit Basecamp this school year that gives students more control over their learning." It's being provided free to schools (for now) and is composed of three major areas: a self-study mode, a collaborative learning mode, and a mentoring option. Says one teacher, "It's been very different because it allows the kids to have responsibility and ownership for their learning. They're learning how to learn." The article is a fluff piece but the subject is worth a deeper look.
I'm not sure how to judge this paper (the sentence fragment in the abstract does not reassure) but there's enough good that I don't want to overlook it. The proposal is for "a groundwork for allostatic neuro-education (GANE)" which views education as a process of growth and development. "Organic education compares the learner to a plant or blossoming flower. For education in the service of cognitive acquisition, the learner has inputs and outputs, comparable to a machine or other functional instrument. For the constructivist, the learner is understood to be engaged in a constant dialectic with the environment." It's based on the concept of allostasis, "maintaining stability through change, is a fundamental process through which organisms actively adjust to both predictable and unpredictable events." On the one hand I want to regard this paper as nonsense, and on the other I see it as an effort to comprehend phenomena that have been observed elsewhere. Via Matt Scofield.
Here's the pitch: the authors describe a learning analytics system that can divide a class of students into different skill levels in order to determine how much they can learn. This paper is not a stellar example of academic writing; the grammar is atrocious and we can only partially grasp the authors' intent. That said, the paper serves to raise the question: should we divide a class by ability and differentiate instruction accordingly? This is an open access paper, but you may have to sign up to access.
This article states, "According to the jobs-to-be-done theory, customers hire products or services to do a specific job for them, and those providers can adapt their offerings by understanding the job they've been hired to do." OK, fair enough. So what is the job students expect MOOCs to do? It depends on the student. "Students straight out of high school want the coming-of-age experience that goes with attending a campus in person," and online learning doesn't really help with this. Adult learners, by contrast, want "a more flexible way to earn a degree that may help them get a better job." This may all seem pretty obvious, but universities still get it wrong. That said, keep your eye on the 'job to be done'. It's a moving target, a strange attractor.
If you're wondering whatever happened to Wikia, wonder no more - it was renamed Fandom and has taken on a much more entertainment related theme. This I guess is where the money is. But now and then the site remembers its roots, as with this article on how staff use the wiki to collaborate. "Wikis are based around collaboration—we've talked about that before, and it's ingrained into the site's DNA," writes Ted Gill. "That started with Wikipedia, and it evolved into the many thousands of Fandom wikis we have today. That's how we were able to grow into the largest entertainment fan site in the world." So there you have it.
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