Criticism of a recent report from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies (AIMS) on online learning in eastern Canada. I covered the report reasonably favourably. But the Nova Scotia Teacher's Union (NSTU) was not happy and neither was Grant Frost, both of which call the report's author to task for understating the scale of online learning innovation in the province. "Close to 30,000 of our approximately 119,000 public school students are engaged, at some level at least, in online learning," writes Frost. Well, he has a point - the AIMS study uses misleading and sloppy statistics to argue that only 2.2 percetn of students are enrolled in online learning. And there's the ubiquitous pro-privatization argument that mars anything AIMS does.
But from the other side of the ledger, I would argue that 25% - the number Frost gives is - is low. In 2016, in an advanced information age economy, the number should be close to 100%. Can you imagine that 75% of students aren't doing any online learning? I have no doubt about the teachers' commitment. But provincially (across Atlantic Canada) there is a failure to invest. And a failure to invest is exactly what creates openings for things like this AIMS article. It wobbles the mind.
Best analogy for 'grit' thus far: "when faced with a decreasing demand for a product in one market segment, the internationally massive and multi-billion dollar testing industry would look to create a new product that meets the increasing demands of another," writes Grant Frost. "I believe that, in testing for grit, we may have encountered the educational world’s latest version of a bottle of air." Good post authored by someone I should have found long before now. Image: CNN.
I confess, I read this item because I wondered what the author considered "the biggest problem in education." Here's what it is: "of the hordes of students that sign up for massive open online classes (MOOCs), an average of less than 7% finish." Well, education has its problems, but I think this is far from the biggest of them. It's like saying that the biggest problem in music is that people just listen to one song instead of a whole album. Maybe the biggest problem in education is something else - something like, say, engineers and developers designing teaching systems based on their shallow and folk-psychological knowledge of learning and education. P.S. I can't even begin to list all the things that are wrong with the image accompanying this article.
I've read a dozen or so press releases and articles about the recently concluded eLearning Africa conference in Cairo and this one seems to summarize best the general tenor of the discussion. "There is growing frustration at the time it is taking for e-learning to truly become a reality in Africa, with attendees at this year’s eLearning Africa conference in Cairo, including ministers, businessmen and education experts, expressing impatience." (Note to self: add 'have dinner by the pyramids' to the list of things to do.) See also this reflection from Donald Clark, who was there.
There's open source and then there's open source. One type of open source is more properly called 'community source', and that's what Sakai is. It was a large and complex LMS, designed by and for major institutions, with no real expectation of a community outside that exclusive group. Michael Feldstein describes the concept - and its failings - in his post from two years ago, Community Source is Dead. "Community Source borrows the innovation of the open source license while maintaining traditional consortial governance and enterprise software management techniques." Given this analysis, this week's collapse of the Sakai installation at UC Davis should not come as a surprise.
In this, "the final weekly newsletter from Iain Martin, Editor of CapX," the blame for the fall of media is laid squarely at the feet of social media, criticizing "those ostensibly up-market titles that opted for a friendly approach, cosying up to Facebook, pumping out more and more free rubbish," and of course, lamenting that "the tech giants blend inherent anti-conservatism, liberal elitism and hatred of regulation."
My first visit to the UK was in 1976, long before the web and social media. I asked for a newspaper at my hotel room door. "Which newspaper?" I was asked. Well I would like world news, I replied. "How about News of the World?" Perfect! I said. Imagine my surprise to see a scandal rag complete with pinup girls the next morning. Yes, the press may have outed the occasional politician, as Martin notes, but it has been an abject failure otherwise, completely ineffective in response to real world problems: environment, the concentration of wealth, militarization and corporate corruption.
Democracy was in peril long before the internet. We who turn to social media do so because there is no free press, and indeed, has never been in our lifetimes. It certainly did not exist in my childhood, and the press of the present day slavishly prints whatever its well-heeled employers demand.