The Quick and the Ed

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Review of New Fordham Digital Learning Papers
Bill Tucker The Quick and the Ed 2011/11/21

Bill Tucker reviews two papers released by the Fordham Institute on the impact of digital media on teaching, Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction and School Finance in the Digital-Learning Era. The first, he writes, "outlines the varied roles that teachers play, including helping with motivation, social and emotional support, and stretching critical thinking and analytical skills. It concludes that the future is a much more differentiated field, with a smaller number of higher-paid, more empowered teachers acting in teams with a variety of specialized and lower-paid support personnel." Oh hey, that sounds familiar. The second paper "details how current school funding systems conflict with new forms of digital learning that cross school, district, and time boundaries." Via Jesse Moyer. Today: Total:1152 [Comment] [Direct Link]

We Do, In Fact, Need Some (Non-Stinking) Badges
Kevin Carey The Quick and the Ed 2011/05/18

I agree with Kevin Carey basically never. But he touches on something that has been a long time in coming, open credential systems. An analogy makes the point. "The bar exam is an open badge. It's an independent assessment that, in theory, anyone can take, based on a distinct body of knowledge and skills determined by a professional guild outside of higher education." Given the existence of an independent assessment system, there is no reason a person would have to undergo training at a registered institution. We "are beginning to form an entire ecosystem for teaching and crediting human knowledge and skill, one that exists entirely outside the traditional colleges and universities that use their present monopoly on the credentialing franchise." The trick is to avoid having the existing monopoly replaced with a new corporate McMonopoly. Today: Total:1894 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Three Things the NY Times/Florida Virtual School Article Missed
Bill Tucker The Quick and the Ed 2011/01/28

I'm generally supportive of the observations in this post of things misted the recent (and widely criticized) article in the NY Times on online learning:
- online Learning is Not Anti-Teacher
- traditional notions of class size make no more sense for online learning
- the Times article is shockingly bereft of any reference to actual research
Now of course we here are doing actual research in online learning. And it makes me want to reflect a bit more on the first point. Because while teachers play an important role in online learning (what do you thing I do?) it is nonetheless true that the traditional role of teacher is abolished. The idea of the teacher as a wage-labourer producing class after class of identical student output is dead, dead, dead. The only people who don't know this yet are (a) teachers, and (b) educational administrators and 'reformers'. See The Role of the Educator. Today: Total:1112 [Comment] [Direct Link]

That Was Then
Kevin Carey The Quick and the Ed 2010/12/16

This post is worth reading strictly for the Diane Ravitch quote (originally in audio, here). Ignore the petty, mean-spirited and presumptuous criticism offered by Kevin Carey that surrounds it. Here's the quote:

"These are indeed two different worlds. Different definitions of success. Different career ladders. Think-tankers blog. Blogging counts for nothing in ed school world. Academe requires peer review before publication; thinktankia does not. Ed schools focused on ideology, methods, closer to schools and practitioners. Thinktankia focused on politics, outcomes, 'results,' connections with policymakers. Ed schools tend to see education issues from ground up. Think tanks from top down. Ed schools see through eyes of practitioners. Think tanks through eyes of policymakers (seeing like a state). Ed schools veer to left. Think tanks veer to right. Ed schools identify with powerless. Think tanks identify with powerful."
Today: Total:854 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Broken Accreditation System
Ben Miller The Quick and the Ed 2010/08/06

I have long said the accreditation monopoly will be ended, and though this looks like an attack on the for-profits, it is actually the first brick through the window of the accreditation system. Not that the for-profits are blameless - far from it. They have gamed the system mightily. "The first two hours of the hearing were devoted to damning undercover video of admissions counselors encouraging prospective students to lie on aid applications; inflating career earnings potential; and admitting they weren't going to repay $85,000 of their own loan debt." But as nothing will change the nature of the private sector, the only locus of reform will have to be the accreditation system itself. Thus we read, "there are some fundamental problems about accrediting agencies and the accrediting system that hurt its ability to provide the oversight and accountability functions we desire." This will end only with the end of legislated accreditation, and though the government money may be harder to obtain (as, inevitably, it will be) the floodgates will be opened. It can end no other way. Today: Total:1654 [Comment] [Direct Link]

U of Phoenix Makes History
Ben Miller The Quick and the Ed 2010/07/20

Interesting, and I'm not sure what to make of this: "the University of Phoenix became the first college in the history of the United States to take in more than a billion dollars worth of Pell Grants disbursements in a single academic year." More and more government money is pouring into private institutions. "The general growth in the proprietary sector is astounding," writes Ben Miller (who by 'proprietary' means 'private'). "For-profits received $7.34 billion in the 2009-10 academic year, or 70 percent more than they got the year prior. The sector took in $44 million less in 2009-10 than it did in the prior two years combined." Today: Total:1374 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Harvard vs. the Internet
Kevin Carey The Quick and the Ed

Kevin Carey is engaged in a war of words after calling Harvard Summer School "fake" in a Chronicle column. If the comment had been voice in Carey's regular blog, a neo-libertarian blague called Marginal Revolution The Quick and the Ed. But posting as he does in the Chronicle, he has been given the appearance of authority, which prompted a response from Donald H. Pfister, Dean of Harvard's Summer School. I think that deans from Harvard - a school that still refuses to recognize any online credit whatsoever - are ill-equipped to enter into online debate. Pfister certainly fails to realize that he was waded deep into Carey's home territory, an online flame war of dubious substance, one which sees a Harvard dean saying "we accept the credits" from the Summer school and Carey saying "no you don't." As for the accusation of "fake", by definition Harvard cannot issue a fake Harvard credential, therefore the worst that Carey could accuse them of offering is "an alternative but incompatible credential." That, though, doesn't pander. Today: Total:1635 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Colleges Matter
Ben Miller The Quick and the Ed

It didn't matter that I took five years on my BA because I finished my Masters in one. I took five years mostly because I worked 16 hours a week, and because of the time I spent working on the student newspaper. If colleges want students to finish more quickly, students need to be able to live while studying, and to have quality educational experiences like the student newspaper. As for statistics showing highly selective private colleges have the best completion time, that's like saying that diet programs that select for thin people have the best results (yes, the analogy is from Anya Kamentez's book, which I'm reading now). Today: Total:988 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Steady Long-Term Trends Rule the World
Kevin Carey The Quick and the Ed


Kevin Carey reports on a new report released from the Sloan Consortium reporting a steady rise in student enrolments in e-learning classes. The report states, "Over 4.6 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2008 term; a 17 percent increase over the number reported the previous year. The 17 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.2 percent growth of the overall higher education student population. More than one in four college and university students now take at least one course online." Carey reports (accurately), "The report didn't get a great deal of media attention, because the media has a terrible bias toward unpredictable short-term change." But the trend, he argues, strikes directly at the heart of the existing system. he cites a Kaplan University advertisement and observes that "It's striking how direct and harsh a critique of traditional colleges and universities this is. 'Steeped in tradition' is generally taken as a good thing in higher education, not grounds for denunciation." Today: Total:2176 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Crossing the Finish Line: The SAT and ACT
Chad Aldeman The Quick and the Ed

A couple of links today focused on this new report, the result of a massive (more than 200,000 students) study which makes, as arguably its most important conclusion, the satatement that the SAT and ACT do not matter in predicting college success. "High school GPA is a better predictor of college graduation rates than SAT/ACT score. This findings holds true across institution type, and gets stronger the less selective an institution is." There are some obvious implications: "colleges and universities need to take a hard look at this new research... [and] higher education rankings need to drop the SAT and acceptance rate as measures of institutional quality." But also, what does that say about high stakes tests as measures of achievement? Today: Total:1882 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Assault on Online Learning? Not Really.
Bill Tucker The Quick and the Ed

There are criticisms, not at all surprisingly, that the Obama government's investment in open course content endangers private industry. Rick Hess, writing for the National Review Online, says, "It is not clear what problem the administration is seeking to solve. The kinds of online courses that the administration is calling for already exist, and are offered by an array of publishers and public and private institutions…. However, once the Department of Education is sponsoring a freely available course financed with taxpayer funds, it will be difficult for any but the most expensive or distinctive institutions or providers to justify paying for an alternative offering." Today: Total:1304 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Don't Fear Open Content, Eduwonk
Bill Tucker The Quick and the Ed

It's kind of funny watching the U.S. education policy bloggers discover open learning and open educational resources, and struggle with it, as we see in Eduwonk. "The risk here is quality. There is something to be said for a formal editorial process in news-reporting and in education publishing and media." Maybe they'll connect the promise of free and open learning with the 225,444 borrowers from the current cohort defaulting on their student loans in a two-year window. Today: Total:902 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Wall Street Journal Continues Quest to Write Bad Editorials About Student Loans
Ben Miller The Quick and the Ed

This deconstruction of what appears to be an erroneous and misleading editorial in the Wall Street Journal (certainly wouldn't be the first time!) is not to be missed. "Just like its last foray into federal student loan policy, the Sept. 12 editorial distorts facts, omits details, and misuses anecdotal evidence with the best of them." The WSJ is opposed to the proposed plan to end the bank-based program and replace it with a government-based program, its main argument being that it will only save $47 billion. Today: Total:1498 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The School Poverty Gambit
Kevin Carey The Quick and the Ed

We're seeing more school cuts in the U.S. (it is actually getting pretty ugly) and we see the new right saying that this is a good thing. And now I find myself agreeing with Kevin Carey: "Investors and shareholders are being forced to take a haircut because the greedy, incompetent companies they own drove themselves into bankruptcy. Teachers are supposed to take a haircut because--just because?" Cutting funding to education will not make it better. "In reality, the most likely consequence of massive school budget cuts--besides taking a lot of money out of the hands of middle-class workers who will respond by reducing consumption and driving us further into a Depression--is to cause everyone to hunker down in survival mode and make school reform harder." Today: Total:14861 [Comment] [Direct Link]

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