by Stephen Downes
Feb 28, 2017
I amde a small contribution to this as one of the "49 experts". The top three over all were mobile, microlearning, and video. I can't criticize that list too much, except that I would have pegged it as the 2016 list, not 2017. My own predictions were mobile, subscription-based learning, and e-learning platforms. The full e-book (101 page PDF) is available but the textual content is pretty sparce. My full comments: "These are core trends, not fads like VR or blockchain. They reflect both the demand for wider (and cheaper) access, plus the rise of new distributed technologies that make it possible. The crucial (but non-sexy) word for 2017 is 'provisioning'."
This article mostly quotes George Siemens and myself about the value of MOOCs in corporate learning, plus a few remarks from MOOC critics. We're both agreed that MOOCs can extend corporate learning, largely because it's open, and largely because it can be used to support niche learning. Note the bit at the end where I talk about MOOCs as part of a larger ecosystem. "They can be defined as cloud technologies and integrated with other types of services. A MOOC or an online course would therefore function as a mechanism for scaffolding or facilitation around a set of content resources, including content created in workplace environments or training departments."
I often hear people in our field talk about a theory as a "lens" through which to view research. I think this is a misapplication of the concept. I think that what people really mean when they use the word 'theory' in this way is 'conceptual framework', as described by Gardner Campbell in this post. Conceptual frameworks are useful; I use them all the time. But I do not confuse them with representations of actual states of affairs in the world. A conceptual framework, for example, might divide people between 'men' and 'women' based on obvious superficial characteristics, but we know that the differences and similarities between people run much more deeply than that, and that as handy a lens such a distinction may be, it is a structure we impose on our enquiry and may or may not be reflective of salient reality. Now Campbell, in this post, is concerned about the lack of a conceptual framework on the part of many students, or worse, "these efforts are obscured or smothered by a rush to a set of standards, or learning outcomes." Quite so. Master the tool first, then master the material.
This is an interesting idea. Use RSS (or other syndication formats) to distribute learning resources to people. OK we've see this bit. Then use xAPI to record reads. It wouldn't be that hard to do this (though feed reading software would have to export this data, which I don't think they currently do). The xAPI statements could be uploaded into a Learning Record Store (LRS) where they will await a welter of applications to analyze and synthesize the data. This (presuming we can keep the charting bots out of the system) would be an excellent way to supplement personal learning records as well to assess the distribution and reach of learning resources. I like this idea.
The 74 Million is a generally pro-charter lobbyist group, so though I've been reading them for a while I haven't found much to pass along. But this item should be looked at, for two reasons. First, it presents a substantial case that achievement in online charter schools is weaker. I consider that case to be made, and would require substantial evidence to accept the contrary. But it defends the schools saying, essentially, that online schools can reach students other schools can't. Again, also a given. But the sort of online school that would and has achieved good results - public (aka state-supported) online schools, or at least online classes - is resisted. "Politically powerful online charter operators would almost surely oppose either of these changes." The idea that private interests could and would lobby successfully for legislation against public- or state-supported online learning is offensive, and runs exactly contrary to the core values of education.
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