by Stephen Downes
Jan 17, 2017
Another publication in our field. As always, I welcome the new voice and look forward to future news and opinions from another perspective. The magazine "focuses on helping L&D departments do things differently and do different things in order to provide an effective service for today’s workforce." I've followed the feed and will pass along articles of interest. Articles so far by Ed Willis and Jane Hart.
I found this an interesting concept. The five tools are: "disciplinary scholarship, policy analysis and popular writing, convening and shepherding collaborations, providing incisive commentary, and speaking in the public square." The list is an attempt to explain Rick Hess's "Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings" (probably far more relevant to American readers than, say, me). But it led me to consider what we ought to value in scholarship. In my office, they look for leading edge scholarship, project and program development and management, and client relations and revenue generation (in response I suggested they also look for sainthood). Hess adds a 'public scholar' component that we are missing here. And he includes wading in the education policy cesspool, an activity probably best reserved for the partisans and pundits.
Excellent article from Columbia Journalism Review on a controversy that enveloped the student-run Wesleyan Argus. It involved a column written by a staff member about Black Lives Matter that led to calls for the student association to withdraw financial support for the newspaper. This was a case that went to the heart of freedom of the press, the autonomy of the student press, and social responsibility in the press, all of which were front and centre in my own life for several years as I sat in The Gauntlet's editorial chair. The story not being reported, according to CJR, is that "Relations between The Argus and its critics, meanwhile, have improved significantly... (and) the campus has recognized the value of having contrarian voices."
Interesting commentary from Daniel Lemire. "Formal definitions," he writes, "are less useful than you think." Consider science, where we typically say "You start with a hypothesis and then you try to falsify it." If this defines science, then a lot of science isn't science. "A clearly stated hypothesis is often the end result, not the starting point," writes Lemire. This accords with my own experience. A lot of what I do depends on messing around with things and seeing what results, rather than trying top test some preconception. Sure, a hypothesis is a useful tool. But it hardly defines science. "Feynman described science as the belief in the ignorance of experts." Image: MIT Technology Review.
Continuing an important conversation: "The reason so many fail isn’t because they aren’t well meaning or smart. It’s because the incentive structure of online news is fundamentally broken. Companies from Medium to The Washington Post to Mashable to Buzzfeed all eventually run into the same unthinkable truth: The methods used to fund modern journalism simultaneously undermine trust in the news outlets." These same truths apply to education. If we replace learning and social incentives with commercial incentives, we do so at our own peril. Excellent article, long and detailed.
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