by Stephen Downes
Feb 10, 2017
The conceptual framework in this paper employs the metaphor of a pulley system whereby scientific, engineering and mathematical thinking lead to integrated educational approaches. The idea is to promote STEM and a metadiscipline offering "an integrated effort that removes the traditional barriers between these subjects, and instead focuses on innovation and the applied process of designing solution to complex contextual problems using current tools and technologies." The really interesting part of this paper, though, is the comparison between scientific and engineering methodologies. The paper also looks at the engineering perspective of technology as compared to that found in the humanities. These create tensions, and the model essentially uses a community of practice as the 'rope' to mediate between them and integrate the educational program.
As the story (34 page PDF) says, "InBloom was a $100 million educational technology initiative primarily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aimed to improve American schools by providing a centralized platform for data sharing, learning apps, and curricula." It collapsed three years ago amid accusations of privacy violations. This article depicts it as in part "a clash between Silicon Valley-style agile software development methods and the slower moving, more risk-averse approaches of states and school districts" and in part a problem of communication. "InBloom’s communication materials and messaging were developed by consultants rather than in-house experts and explained the technology solution without conveying any useful purpose, thus failing to communicate a compelling value proposition to teachers, parents, and students." But in racing for federal dollars, the project also scaled up too quickly, attempting to achieve overnight a vision that did not take into account the public's interests and concerns. Via EdWeek.
This article fits a standard pattern worth exploring. The lead author is a well-known politician (in this case former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard). The article has four major sections:
Textbook. And it's published in a major newspaper in Ottawa.
This article describes a learning program in Sudan where tablet computers with learning resources are made available in learning centres in communities, where the learning centres are themselves solar powered. On the surface it looks like a good program, and though it has yet to be evaluated is similar to other programs with the same objectives. The story itself led me to follow links to the Center for Educational Innovations, which ran the story, and its parent, Results for Development. Like many US-based initiatives, the organization tend to look for private-sector based responses to social challenges.
If I see a clock, my perception of the clock is caused by the clock. Right? This is the so-called 'folk intuition' about perception, but not only is it not clear that it is true, it is not even clear that ordinary people (aka 'folk') think it is true. This paper reports on a test of folk intuitions about perception and finds that, instead of the strong 'causal' theory of perception, folk are content with a much weaker 'non-blocker' theory of perception. We don't feel obligated to say that there actually is a clock when we report having seen a clock. This has all kinds of implications for our understandings of testing, experience, and learning. Image: Böhm and Pfister.
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