I've signed up or this (specifically: the email list, the Slack channel, and the draft working document) mostly because I advocate open education, and a little bit less because I think an organization like Creative Commons can deliver on it. It's part of CC's new "platforms" initiative. "Part of the new strategy is to establish defined areas of focus, or “platforms,” which will drive CC’s global activities. Platforms are how we organize areas of work for the CC community, where individuals and institutions organize and coordinate themselves across the CC Global Network." I'm not sure I like the term - depending on your perspetcive, it makes you think of either a political party or a social network service, neirther of which have done education (or democracy, or equity) any favours lately. But I'll begin with an open mind. Image: Alan Levine.
Alan Levine delivers a classic take-down of some online learning shovelware (it takes me back a couple of decades to read criticism like this). "This course had no voice, no character, no personality," he writes. "This is brutal, content-centric, non-human, un-empathetic design."
I've seen this cited in a bunch of places (eg. Larry Cuban, Tim Stahmer, Doug Levin), and I've seen any number of the teacher-brands the article refers to (they're also the one's getting their students to vote for them in various contests). The tenor of the article (and most of the commentary) is that what they're doing is wrong. Accepting technology in exchange for endorsements is "a very questionable activity," says Fordham's Joel Reidenberg. And the article criticizes teacher certifications, saying they are like a "Google certified doctor" or "Pfizer distinguished nurse". But endorsement by private corporations is widespread. Doctors and nurses are affiliated with hospitals and HMOs. Nobody questioned things like "certified Novell Engineer" or PMI certification for managers. Or for that matter a Harvard MBA. So how does it become wrong when teachers engage in the same practice of endorsement and marketing. Sure, it's not for me (but then, I'm not living on poverty-level wages). But I don't think it's reasonable to expect teachers to play by different rules than all those people making more money than they are.
I agree that "providing appropriate guidance in critical thinking needs to become a central part of the college value proposition," but I don't think this article makes the case very well. It's based on a Wall Street Journal examination of the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) test, described as "a standardized testing initiative designed to measure college students’ critical thinking skills." Examples here. They studied one school "critical thinking is baked into many different courses, rather than being the formal subject of any one course" (which is contrary to the usual recommendation, which is probably why "similar courses at other schools did not achieve similar success"). Next it cites a survey where "university admissions officers report that students have a hard time remembering facts," which is both a poor data source and also irrelevant to the subject of critical thinking. The main point seems to be to criticize world views where "facts exist independently of reality" (what would Wittgenstein say? (hint: these tests that purport to be objective assessments aren't)).
I'm going to agree with David Wiley today. The problem of education (and of open educational resources (OER)) is not a search problem. " If I’m going to mostly find resources I could have made in 15 – 30 minutes, how much time can I possibly save by decreasing mean time to discovery?" On the other hand, says Wiley, "if I work the other side of the problem – creating larger, more useful OER – there’s an opportunity to create significant leverage." That is, if large and more useful OER are what is needed. It might be that the 100-hour OER does the same job as the 15-minute OER (it wouldn't be the first time I've seen that). But, in general, we agree: the focus on discovery is of limited value.
I don't think this article is nuanced enough in some important ways, but it is interesting in its own right and serves as a breezy introduction to some of the major theories of learning and pedagogy. It begins by defining what a theory is and then identifying three major branches of theory: behaviourism, cognitivism, and social constructivism. It then looks at "extensions" of these approaches, including the Community of Inquiry and Connectivism. Pulling the concepts together, it describes Anderson's 2011 model, and from there, drafts a simplified account that can be used to characterze different types of theory. Where it fails, I think, is where most such theories fail: it is to a large extent a taxonomy, defining theories in this case by different types of interaction. But taxonomies are not theories. They merely describe, and do not explain, and without an explanation, a description is arbitrary and subjective.
The Community of Inquiry model (CoI) postulates three types of presence: social, teachning, and cognitive presence. These presences can be direct, or they can be mediated through technology (such as books or digital communications). This paper (13 page PDF) examines an extension of that model, proposed by Shea and Bidjerano (2010), to include learning presence, described as "students’ proactive use of specific processes such as goal setting, strategy selection and personal monitoring of effectiveness." The authors studied a blended learning course for evidence of learning presence and found that "learning presence was established in this blended learning course, but it was influenced by the self-regulation skills of the students." I have always liked the idea of 'presence' - it's he difference feel when talking with a human and talking with a robot - but as a subjective feel is is difficult to describe and measure with clarity.
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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.