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by Stephen Downes
June 29, 2010

Skin in the Game
Anya Kamenetz says I am not a journalist. "You write a newsletter and a blog about a field in which you yourself are employed. It's entirely partisan and entirely for insiders–you have no obligation to ever speak to anyone who disagrees with your basic premises, nor to make your writing intelligible or interesting to anyone outside that inside circle. More of a journaler than a journalist."

Well, I'm not so disinterested in the field I can be simply used by publishers to advance their privatization agenda (and I am involved enough that I would recognize it were it being done to me). So yeah, I'm partisan - like every other journalist on the planet. Regular readers know I regularly read and speak with people who disagree with me. As for making my writing "intelligible or interesting" - if you're asking, do I pander, then you're right, I don't.

I still haven't finished the book, but when I do, I'll review it. Honestly and fairly. Intelligently, and with a detailed knowledge of what I'm talking about. Because that is what journalism is. And what I practice. Every day. In this newsletter. Anya Kamenetz, DIY U, June 29, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Tools for Building Tutors, and Tutors for Computing Education
I was going to pass on this - but then: wait a second, tools for building tutors? Mark Guzdial writes, "The Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools (CTAT) that the CMU folks have built are amazingly cool! They've built Java and Flash versions, but the Flash version is actually totally generic. Using a socket-based interface, the CTAT for Flash tool can observe behavior to construct a graph of potential student actions, which can labeled with hints, structure for success/failure paths, made ordered/unordered, and made generic with formulas. The tool can also be used for creating general rule-based tutors. CTAT really is a general tutoring engine that can be integrated into just about any kind of computational activity." Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, June 29, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Instructional Design Models
I'm posting this up-to-date page for our local newspaper, which made a mash of both Diane Ravitch and instructional design models in a single column this morning which regales us with a simplistic (to the point of trivial) model of 'vertical' and 'horizontal' instructional design. And we are told that Ravitch is telling us that "student teachers do not know that the horizontally organized curriculum they have experienced throughout their careers in school is not the only design for curricula." This is typical of the writing that some Canadian politically-oriented 'economic think tanks' (I use the term very loosely) have been publishing in Canadian newspapers in an apparent effort to import a certain way of thinking about schools.

I'm so lucky to be able to be able to read Ravitch for myself rather than depend on the politically motivate claptrap in our local newspaper, and so read (in complete contrast to the 'think tank' position) from Ravitch that "If I could succeed in getting the powerful in D.C. and in the foundation world to rethink their commitment to high-stakes testing, closing schools, and firing teachers; if I could persuade them that poverty does impair school achievement and that schools alone can't close the many gaps that are rooted in income inequality; if I could get them to seek positive ways to help schools and strengthen the teaching profession, I would be happy indeed." Amen. Martin Ryder, Website, June 29, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Advice for Teachers Scorned
"I'm thankful that I teach in Asia - because Asia is thankful for it, too," writes Clay Burell. Your wake-up call for the 21st century. Great post from Burell, who adds, "Teachers have 'asked what they can do for their country,' and they do it. Daily. But they should have the good sense to also ask what their country is doing for them, patriotic martyrdom propaganda aside. If their country has reached a 'tottering, chaotic' point at which it 'loathes' them, then teachers do have choices." Clay Burell, Beyond School, June 29, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Innovate or die: a message for higher education institutions
Innovate or die: that's the message for learning institutions. As Tony Bates notes, "governments are moving away from stimulus funding to deficit and debt reduction." While on the one hand this will probably trigger a prolonged depression, it will on the other hand force massive change in an education system completely unprepared for change. The crisis is nigh upon us. Bates cites four reports calling for support for innovation in education. "Universities and colleges are critical to developing graduates that can support innovation in the work-place. Perhaps even more importantly, though, the institutions themselves will have to find ways to innovate to provide quality services with less money." Tony Bates, e-learning & distance education resources, June 29, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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