This is George Siemens's latest new project. "The project, University Networks, involves working with a small number of universities, or specific faculties and departments, that are committed to rethinking and redesigning how they operate. My goal is to bring on 30 universities and over a period of 4 years, rethink and redesign university operations to align with the modern information and knowledge ecosystem." OK. But he writes, "They need to start with a basic question: If we were to create a model of higher education today that serves the needs of learners and society, what would it look like given our networked and technologically infused society?" I think the question needs to be even more basic: If we were to create a model of higher education today, who or what would it serve? Because I don’t see learners and society ranking high on the list most academics would write. Image: Pomona College.
As Audrey Watters points out, these days the term 'personalized learning' can mean almost anything you want it to mean, and in a sense the ideas it encompasses go back to Rousseau, Aristotle, Dewey, and various others. But there's a more modern sense we generally comprehend, and the history of this idea, she says, is a relatively recent invention, replacing 'individualization' in the late 1990s. This concept, the "tailoring a service or product to accommodate specific individuals, sometimes tied to groups or segments of individuals," is a salve, a product, and an ideology, she says. "Individualization through teaching machines is therefore a therapeutic and an ideological intervention, one that’s supposed to act as a salve in a system of mass education. And this has been the project of education technology throughout the twentieth century." And while it's sold as "meeting the needs of students", in the hands of Silicon Valley ideology, it also becomes a method of "placing all responsibility on the individual". She asks, "can we maintain a shared responsibility for one another when institutions are dismantled and disrupted?"
According to this article, "Toio is the result of 5 years of research into developing a toy that’s simple enough for kids to use, but also sophisticated enough to create a figurative sandbox where kids can explore the inner-workings of robotics engineering." How simple? It's just a pair of blocks that move on wheels. But "they respond to motion, are able to detect the exact location of the other, and can be programmed but also remote controlled." The visuals in this article make the case. I can imagine how these would be endlessly fascinating.
I haven't covered libraries and librarianship a lot in these pages because my perception has been that the both have become increasingly marginal over the years. Sure, there's a digital-age story we can tell about the role of information professionals, but this story was resisted by those already in the field. As this article relates, people advocating new roles and new definitions would be told "You are what is killing librarianship" by traditional librarians. And I have to say, I read no small number of librarian posts of this ilk. But maybe this is beginning to change. As the author says, "We need to consider critical inquiry, reflection, discussion, and revision of our professional values and practices as an integral part of our work. The only thing that will ever 'kill' librarianship is our inability to reflect and discuss our interpretations of our professional values and practice." Image: Walter Lim.
It makes sense for a platform to want to be a platform, and so it's no surprise that Facebook would look with eager eyes at online learning. And it's integrated deep into Facebook functionality. The course is offered as a service within a discussion group, rather than discussion group offered as a service within a course. "Moderators of some Facebook groups listed as school or class have recently noticed that they can add course units that link to one another. As members of the groups work their way through the units, their efforts are tracked by a progress bar."
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