I'm thinking that the definition of 'book' ought to be changed for the purpose of such lists, because it seems to me highly unlikelt that the ten most important long-form reads of 2017 were published only by the likes of Routledge and Springer. I think that publishers have masterfully created this exclusive category of 'book' as something only they produce, and elicit free publicity for their product through member-only lists such as this (we see the same effect on radio shows such as CBC's 'The Next Chapter'). I listed dozens of book-length publications through the year that belong on any list of 'Top Ten Books on Online Learning. To recognize a category whose defining feature is that it is not accessible online seems to me to be so last century. I think that if people have something to say about learning today, they should be doing so openly, and online, where they can face the full glare of criticism.
More on AltSchool's pivot from running schools to selling personalized learning software as reported in December (more), including numerous criticisms of the company. AltSchool also reports that it has discontinued surveillance technologies that "included fisheye ceiling cameras and constantly running audio recorders to harvest massive volumes of data on its students." Not because they were wrong, of course, but because "the team has recognized that the utilities of some of those [data] is less than they had hoped for."
The real headline isn't in the story but in the comments. "Is Pearson now in the business of awarding degrees?" asks Betsy Smith. Well, what if they are? What happens should the major publishers and content compabies obtain permission to grant degrees? The crisis that has been stalking higher education for more than a decade would suddenly appear as though overnight. Something like this is coming. If not today, if not with this contract, then some time, with some contract. When the education is offered for free to students, as in this case, it's hard to say no to the enabling factors.
It's one thing to talk about robot teachers in an environment where human teachers abound, but in an environment like India's tech industry there is no possibility of the teaching load being carried by traditional educators. Hence the headlines. For example, "in a crucial deal struck between Indian IT major Tech Mahindra and edX... edX would reskill 117,000 of its employees in India and around the world in skill sets that are desperately sought-after today." Meanwhile "Coursera has attracted an astonishing 2 million learners in India and is tacking on 60,000 new learners every month." Meanwhile, "homegrown (Indian) companies such as AcadGild, UpGrad, Simplilearn, and Emeritus -- who are all experiencing unprecedented interest and business in their online offerings -- will continue to prosper."
Perhaps unaware of Harry G. Frankfurt's publication employing the same rhetorical device, Christian Smith launches into a tirade lashing the contemporary university for everything from "universities hijacked by the relentless pursuit of money and prestige" to "third-tier universities offering mediocre graduate programs to train second-rate Ph.D. students for jobs that do not exist." Ah, but I love a good rant, and this is a good rant. I think that there's a point to many of his critiques, but I think my response to them on many would be the opposite of his. Also, a note on the artwork: the excrement of note is a flat, round pie-shaped deposit, not the organized pile depicted in the article, as any student in the field would know.
The argument against grade inflation is based on the absurd premise that education isd a competition that ought to have far nore losers than winners. That, at least, is my view. This article points out "There is no doubt that improvements in primary and secondary school education have better-prepared students for their transition into higher education." As well, students "in a market economy and paying fees of £9,000+ per year, are demanding better degree outcomes." But let's not forget the real victims here. "With more students gaining higher grades it has become difficult for employers to distinguish between candidates using degree classification alone." Yeah, I feel for them.
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Copyright 2018 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.