by Stephen Downes
Oct 02, 2015
Where are MOOCs Going? What is the Future of Distance Learning?
Stephen Downes, [Sept] 26, 2015,
International MOOC Conference 2015, Anacapri, Italy
In this presentation I outline where the new MOOCs missed the real innovations in our connectivist MOOCs - not just the idea of 'open', but also the distributed architechture. From this foundation I describe the new approach to personal learning based on an experiential and immersive approach to learning. Slides are similar to my recent talk in Glasgow but the content is quite different.
MOOCs: A Toolbox for Course Designers?
educational technology & change,
This makes me happy: "The most significant breakthrough is anywhere-anytime learning, which automatically eliminates the space and time barriers that traditional classrooms represent. Completely online courses already do this, but MOOCs are rattling the concrete and steel infrastructure that has defined course development in higher ed for the last century.... MOOCs are a liberating force, adding options to their palette that they couldn’t imagine just a few years ago." It comes in the context of an interview with FutureLearn CEO Jonathan Moules.
Innovation in Your Classroom
This is less a report and more a list of activities and resources available to teachers in Europe to foster innovation in their classrooms. The document lists a number of online courses, webinars, and teacher communities such as Scientix - "that supports the exchanges of ideas, practices and experiences essential for the teaching of STEM to be fresh, relevant and engaging."
A tumor stole every memory I had. This is what happened when it all came back
This is an excellent article in its own right, but additionally offers an interesting glimpse into the formation and recovery of memories. What I found most interesting was that memories can be formed without their being perceived (of course, it takes a misbehaving tumour to make this happen), and additionally, that when the memories are finally rediscovered, they're "a type of freak-show journey through a wasteland of aberrant experience over which I had no control" where one memory follows another over and over until the associative trail is exhausted. I think remembering and experiencing are two sides of the same phenomenon, and this account reinforces that belief.
Here are the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015
Jane Hart routinely surveys educational technologists to find their favoured toolss. This is the list for 2015 (or, at least, this version of the list for 2015). "For the 7th year running Twitter is the No 1 tool on the list, although this year it is very closely followed by YouTube, and once again, the list is dominated by free online tools and services. I can also see some interesting new trends in the tools that are being used for both personal learning and for creating learning content and experiences for others."
A Terrific and Dismal View of What Influences CS Faculty to Adopt Teaching Practices
Computing Education Blog,
According to the study summarized here (but paywalled, so we can't evaluate it for ourselves), the major variable determining whether computer science teachers use a new pedagogical too is "whether students liked it." As one teacher comments (language warning) "You can do something that you think, ‘Wow! If the learning experience was way better this term, the experiment really worked.’ And then you read your teaching reviews, and it’s like the students are pissed off because you did not do what they expected."
Why GE had to kill its annual performance reviews after more than three decades
If performance reviews and grading by the curve are becoming a thing of the past at the auto plant, can they last long in schools and colleges? "'Command and control is what Jack was famous for. Now it’s about connection and inspiration,' Krishnamoorthy recently told a group of HR executives at a conference. ... There’s an emphasis on coaching throughout, and the tone is unrelentingly positive. The app forces users to categorize feedback in one of two forms: To continue doing something, or to consider changing something." See also: the myth of the bell curve.
Are School Internet Filters the Forgotten Equity Battleground?
I haven't written about school internet filters for a long time. They've become generally background, standard, and annoying. But of course they have been quietly shaping students' internet experience for more than a decade now. And what is that experience like? One of the first things to be silenced is the student voice, according to this article, with social network services like Facebook and Twitter hidden behind the barrier. And arguably, "prohibiting students from accessing the tools to create digital stories, share and access other people’s ideas on current events, and watch video lessons restricts their intellectual rights."
New reforms threaten future of Japanese language study in England
Another good reason why you should not subcontract hyour education system to a commercial publisher: "From 2017, education firm Pearson is planning to scrap A and A-S levels in Japanese." They say it's due to the need to redevelop the exam, but one wonders why then they would be in discussions to "save" the qualification (hint: they want more money). "A total of 13 lesser-taught language A-levels — including Polish, Turkish and Arabic — are being ditched, leaving only six: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Russian."
Hate Unicorns and the Culture They Breed
I can't even print the title of this item without a language warning, so skip past this one if you dislike obscenity (I'll never understand why a certain type of writer thinks it's ok to offend a large segment of the world's readership). That said, I do recommend the article for its content. The argument is essentially that the myth of the instant-fame startup (aka 'unicorn') is harming real development in the tech industry and beyond. "And of course it’s not just our industry – it’s pervasive in society, this short-cut mentality." It's also pervasive in educational technology. Real growth and progress takes time and effort. We've been subject to this unicorn mythology, expected to revolutionize industry before the product has even been built. Give it time. Progress is coming. But it takes effort.
IMS Global's Learning Tools Interoperability
Rob Abel writes, by email: "If (you are) interested in LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) support there are two public lists that are keep up to date daily. One is the “catalog” of LTI platforms and apps/tools. The left most column shows the learning platforms that are certified to run LTI (“so-called “LTI consumers”): imscatalog.org .... An alpha product by product listing (showing product version and which version of LTI they are certified to) is shown here: imscert.org"
Inside Higher Ed,
I find this interesting - from my perspective it looks like an effort by U.S. colleges to reassert their position with respect to learning and credentials. Here are the major elements of the initiative:
- a high school student portfolio started in grade 9
- portfolio-based interaction with high school students
- a new application system that departs from the existing common application system (ie., each college will now ask its own set of questions)
Why do this? We are told that the existing system "has lost its ability to help students and colleges find a good match" But it could also be because "CollegeNet last year filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Common Application."
If at First You Don’t Succeed: Toward an Adult Education and Training Strategy for Canada
Torben Drewes, Tyler Meredith,
Institute for Research on Public Policy,
According to this study (38 page PDF), Canada's education system "does not provide sufficient support to meet the learning needs of adults who may be working but require a 'second chance.'" Although education remains a good investment as late as 40 years old, they say, older people face difficulties finding time and resources. Additionally, they are afraid of potentially unsuccessful outcomes. The report calls for "an ambitious pan-Canadian adult education and training strategy centred around three key reforms: 1) Improving labour market information and research... 2) Developing a comprehensive, income-contingent loans system targeting older adults; and 3) Overhauling provincial apprenticeship systems." Ithink the intentions are good, but doubt that these would address the issues (it would more likely produce a Canadian Council on Learning Phase II , which would achieve about as much as Phase I did).
The internet is eating your memory, but something better is taking its place
According to the author, fears that that we are losing our ability to remember are ungrounded. Sure, we may remember less, but that's only because we know we have the information stored online somewhere, and meanwhile we are saving our memory for more important stuff, like where the other memories are located. But the more interesting part of this post is a reference to earlier work describing the way we can do this together as a society, forming a computer network model of human transactive memory, as described by Daniel Wegner in 1995. "Human beings in pairs and groups form message-passing directory-sharing memory systems. This means that in social networks we get many of the benefits of having greatly expanded memory systems."
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