Why Online Courseware Can't Replace A 4-Year Degree
Andrew GrauerAndrew Grauer, ForbesForbes, 2012/12/28

More techno-scepticism following in the wake of this year's MOOC hysteria. Andrew Grauer argues that online learning will not replace traditional learning until the resolution of "key issues currently plaguing the advancement of online education." All very fine, but the "key issues" he flags are ridiculous:

  • teaching methods to deliver the same lecture experience via your computer as in a live classroom
  • online communities that are sufficiently collaborative yet plagiarism free
  • easily and readily connecting with a professor, tutor or classmate when a question arises during a lecture

The supposition, of course, is that replicating the classroom experience is what online learning should strive toward. But i think we can do rather better than that. To paraphrase an example used in the article, if the skill being learned is how to play golf, taking a class is like being told how to play golf, watching videos is like watching golf, while online learning is like a golf simulation system. Sure, it's not golf - but it's a lot better than a lecture about golf. And that - I might add - is why online learning will replace traditional learning. Not this year. But soon.

Today: Total:56 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Do Not Listen to Peter Cohan and Cut the Humanities Departments
Rahim KananiRahim Kanani, ForbesForbes, 2012/06/01

In 1982 I made a decision that felt right at the time but which made no objective sense at the time: to switch majors from physics and instead to study philosophy. Here's what Peter Cohan, an author at Forbes, would have advised me: "Those students could skip college and go right to their jobs as waiters and receptionists." What he fails to understand is that I could not have become the researcher I am today without that philosophy degree. Hence the rather more sane advice from Rahim Kanani, also in Forbes: "the humanities instill a rigor of the mind that is purposeful, logical, independent, and creative (and hence) the need for the study of humanities has never been greater."

Today: Total:37 [Comment] [Direct Link]
What My 11 Year Old's Stanford Course Taught Me About Online Education
Joshua GansJoshua Gans, ForbesForbes, 2012/05/11

Good article that gives the reader an observer-level feel of what it was like to take the Stanford AI massive online course. The author watches as his 11-year old son tool the course. I think we can ignore the author's conclusions ("online education is more of a complement than a substitute for offline experiences") and focus on the details ("the most important button for video lectures is not 'play' but 'pause'"). It was interesting to me to see that while the son learned about decision theory his application of it in practice was so ethically lacking. Context does matter, I suppose.

Today: Total:29 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution
David KirkpatrickDavid Kirkpatrick, ForbesForbes, 2011/09/13

There's change coming to the corporate (and educational) world, according to Forbes, and managers are not going to like it. "This social might is now moving toward your company. We have entered the age of empowered individuals, who use potent new technologies and harness social media to organize themselves... In this new world of business, companies and leaders will have to show authenticity, fairness, transparency and good faith... Says consultant and author Gary Hamel: 'The idea of a hierarchy that fundamentally empowers the few and disempowers the many is more or less dead.'" I, for one, am looking forward to this new environment. See also, Social Learning doesn’t mean what you think it does, Part Two. Today: Total:22 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Universities On The Brink
Louis E. LataifLouis E. Lataif, ForbesForbes, 2011/02/04

The education funding crisis is well and truly upon us. As Forbes reports, the ever-increasing cost of education is not sustainable. So what are institutions doing? Three basic responses:
- The first is to turn to the private sector, for long a favourite move in the US, and now spreading across the world.
- A second strategy... is to increase revenues by introducing and/or raising student fees, whether through a deferred loan system or pay as you go.
- A third strategy is to reduce costs... replace permanent faculty with part-time workers, or use short-term contracts.
None of these address the underlying issues of cost, however. The first two simply raise revenues elsewhere, a temporary solution. The third simply reduces services, also a temporary solution. Via Robert Cosgrave. Today: Total:37 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Education As We Know It Is Finished
Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. HornClayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, ForbesForbes,

Education as we know it is finished, says Forbes. There's a lot to like about that - the era of industrial-age schooling was due for an overhaul anyways. And there are all these new technologies we can use to make learning personal and personally relevant. The bean counters at Forbes, however, have a different set of priorities. "With big budget cuts looming, online learning is likely only to grow, as students increasingly look to it to for courses they want to take and credits they need for graduation." Or as Mike Klonsky summarizes, "It will be much cheaper without teachers." We need to be clear (and this is a bit of a theme for today) about the direction learning technology will take us. I would be very disappointed, and indeed more than a little concerned, about the death of public education. At the same time, it is critical that we do more to make learning more accessible, and more relevant, to learners. We have to walk a fine line here, between the marketers and hucksters on one side, and the fossils and demagogues on the other. Today: Total:62 [Comment] [Direct Link]

China's Changing, Learning-Minded Party
Robert Lawrence KuhnRobert Lawrence Kuhn, ForbesForbes,

China is embarking on a national learning initiative, according to this Forbes article. "In recent years President Hu Jintao has called for further reform, empowered by a new kind of mental emancipation. Circumstances have changed; the world is more complicated, variegated. This is why Hu stresses creativity and innovation in all areas: science and technology, industry and commerce, global partnerships, political participation, and cultural and spiritual life in all their diverse expressions." Today: Total:44 [Comment] [Direct Link]

12 Steps to Economic Recovery
Rich KarlgaardRich Karlgaard, ForbesForbes,

The very first sentence in the very first step in this Forbes article is, "Admit our mistakes." The author then proceeds to recommend exactly the same sort of thinking that led to the downturn in the first place (a far more sobering - and sober - reflection can be found in the New York Times article by Michael Lewis and David Einhorn, as well as this column from Paul Krugman). After a paean to tax breaks, cuts to medicare and welfare, drill baby drill, and xenophobia, Rich Karlgaard addresses education: "we'll have to break the teachers unions." As though underpaying teachers will really solve any sort of economic (or educational) problem. Isn't this sort of vindictive, partisan, narrow-minded thinking not thoroughly discredited yet? They have wrecked the world's economic system. Why is anyone listening to these people? Why is anyone publishing them? Today: Total:34 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Where Are the Cures?
Michael HellerMichael Heller, ForbesForbes,

As Michael Masnick comments, "the rise of patents in the pharma and biotech world is not leading to new cures. In fact, it's actively stifling them, by making it nearly impossible for certain types of research to be done." Today: Total:30 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Educating Our Children
Various AuthorsVarious authors, ForbesForbes,

Forbes is doing a special issue on education. What strikes me after reading the articles - authored by business executives and founders of private schools like KIPP and Edson - is the dearth ideas. It's like they have no expertise (or insight) in education at all! And as George Siemens says, "Missing, however, are the views and opinions of teachers, parents, and students." Today: Total:42 [Comment] [Direct Link]

You Can't Predict Who Will Change The World
Nassim Nicholas TalebNassim Nicholas Taleb, ForbesForbes,

This is a good post, up to the point where it becomes jingoistic. This much seems true: "if the success rate of directed research is very low, though, it is true that the more we search, the more likely we are to find things 'by accident,' outside the original plan. Only a disproportionately minute number of discoveries traditionally came from directed academic research." Today: Total:39 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Stanford On ITunes Is For Everybody
Kate DuBose TomassiKate DuBose Tomassi, ForbesForbes,

The author states that it is "an unprecedented move" as Stanford moves with Apple to podcast "a wide range of lectures, speeches, debates and other university content through iTunes." I am at a bit of a loss to figure out what's unprecedented. Podscasting lectures? No, I've been doing that for two years, and I am by no means alone. Allowing free public access to university course content? No, MIT has that pretty much sewn up with OpenCourseWare. Maybe it's just "unprecedented" for Stanford. Or maybe we're seeing celebrity tabloid journalism as it plays out in the field of instructional technology. More here, from Gizmodo (tabloid journalism for gadgets). Today: Total:33 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Can You Tell Blogs From 'Real' News?
Lisa DiCarloLisa DiCarlo, ForbesForbes,

Yahoo! has started providing blog posts alongside news listings (here's a sample; you won't see it on main news pages), leading to the question posted in the title of this article (a bit of a moot question, because the blog posts are very clearly a sidebar). But it moves us to wonder whether we will one day ask whether we can distinguish between professionally published and student-authored learning resources. Hm? Today: Total:33 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Grokster Loses Copyright Case
Arik HesseldahlArik Hesseldahl, ForbesForbes,

Americans are still weighing the impact of today's Supreme Court essentially ruling against Grokster and other file sharing services. "We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement," wrote Justice David Souter in the majority opinion. Michael Geist says it's not so bad: "P2P technology didn't lose... By seeking to retain Sony but build in active inducement, it is trying to navigate a difficult fine line... premised on 'purposeful culpable expression and conduct.'"CRLFOthers are less sanguine. The internet is now awash with opinion; I'll just say it's a bad decision and leave it at that. Today: Total:20 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Extreme Blogging
Matt RandMatt Rand, ForbesForbes,

Having spent several hours on a bus, I am not in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I'll give a talk on educational blogging at Mount Saint Vincent University tomorrow. Then it's off to Wolfville, where I'll talk on the same topic at Acadia University. So today's issue is a bit later than usual - but the quality of the items I'm linking to today can't be matched. We lead off with this item about the corporate market for wikis (don't ask me to explain the title). Today: Total:22 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How to make Technology-based Training Work
Brandon HallBrandon Hall, ForbesForbes,

Forbes weighs in with a special report entitled "How to make Technology-based Training Work." Caution, though: this is an advertising feature sponsored by Brandon-Hall, Digital Think and a half dozen others. And also, though I'm including this link in today's newsletter, I'm still waiting for the first page to finish downloading... may you have more luck than I. Today: Total:30 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Go Ahead and Sue

Interesting article about hacking 'expert' John Vranesevich, who has been adopted by the news media as an authority despite his general disregard in the hacking community. By Adam L. Penenberg, Forbes Online, September 27, 1999 (if the link above doesn't work, try this archive link). Today: Total:20 [Comment] [Direct Link]


(Still working on this)