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by Stephen Downes
August 27, 2010

How Do You Measure the Effectiveness of Professional Development?

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's account is basically rehashing of Bloom's, but I want to draw readers' attention to the embedded diagram depicting action learning. And the good point he make is that the effectiveness (if you want to call it that) of a learning event isn't measurable at the time of the event - you have to wait for the cycles to complete. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Powerful Learning Practice, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

In For a Penny, In For a Pound… My Promotion Case for Support
Tony Hirst, after calling for input a few weeks ago, posts his promotion case online. "Throughout my career," he writes, "I have explored new methods of digital scholarship and ways of using technology to transform research, dissemination and knowledge construction, developing an international reputation as an advocate of emerging web technologies through community engagement." Absolutely the hardest kind of writing to do is writing that promotes yourself (and does so in an honest non-blatant way) and it is consequently the most difficult to post online. Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

An emerging model for open courses
Why offer open courses at all? What's the motivation? This is the question Dave Cormier tried to address at a recent talk, only to be met with "a sea of faces who didn't really get what I was trying to explain." It can be tough. Cormier argues that the reasons include (a) "the value that comes from opening your discussion to the world marketplace," (b) "broad participation and new people to interact with your membership group," and (c) "a chance to have an open debate on important issues in the field." For me, when asked a similar question, I responded that it comes down to access. Traditional university courses simply help people who already have an advantage increase their lead. They help the rich get richer, as they are restricted to people who have qualified to be admitted to university and who can afford to pay the tuition fees. I would much rather spend my time helping people who do not have all those advantages. They have much more to gain, and ultimately, I believe, will have much more to give. Dave Cormier, Dave's Educational Blog, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Taking Stock of Lifelong Learning in Canada (2005-2010): Progress or Complacency?
In what has all the appearances of a wrap-up, the Canadian Council on Learning's 'Taking Stock' report is intended "to consolidate our key findings, insights and recommendations, and report back to Canadians on where progress has been made and which areas are still in need of improvement." The CCL continues to urge changes to Canada's education system. "As we stand still," writes CCL president Paul Cappon, "we are losing ground. We insisted bluntly that Canada put its house in order. We described the consequences of failing to recognize the urgency to act." It's a difficult point to make, as Canada is demonstrating strength and improvement across the board - a fact that CCL reconciles by calling it a "paradox" that reform is still needed. What do they say we need? Well, the usual - "appropriate measures to provide greater understanding of quality... a comprehensive framework for accessing the quality of our PSE..."

What the CCL doesn't explain is why Canada needs to embrace these reforms. CCL has had, almost from the outset, it seems, the wrongheaded idea that you could create quality by measurement. It's as though they wish to emulate the reforms taking place south of the border - reforms, however, that do not mark an improving educational system, but rather one that is middle of the pack and continuing to decline. We know what happens when we put the economists in charge of the educational system; we have seen it fail elsewhere. We should continue, as we have in Canada, to leave the educators in charge. The evidence simply does not support CCL's argument that we need major reforms - indeed, supposing that it does results in a paradox.

CCL's data has been made available online. Ironically, "most of the data CCL relies on is obtained from Statistics Canada." Paul Cappon, Canadian Council on Learning, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Set of slides and photos from the Centro Cultural Canada festival in Cordoba, Argentina, that I attended in May. I had a great time in Cordoba, and by all accounts the festival was a great success. Various Authors, Slideshare, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

#Reinventate 2.0
luzpearson tweets, "@Downes @gsiemens We are launching openonlinecourse #reinv2010, you2 are our inspiration. Thanks! About reinventing us." The course is in Spanish. "La transformación puede tener varias explicaciones (muchas de las cuáles se relacionan con el impacto de las nuevas tecnologías de la información y la comunicación) y una sola emergencia: reinventarse o morir." If you are launching an open course this fall, send me a note, and I'll pass your link along. Various Authors, Open Course, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

What are Learning Analytics?

"Learning analytics," writes George Siemens, "is the use of intelligent data, learner-produced data, and analysis models to discover information and social connections, and to predict and advise on learning. EDUCAUSE's Next Generation learning initiative offers a slightly different definition 'the use of data and models to predict student progress and performance, and the ability to act on that information'." My own interest in learning analytics is pretty minimal (let's get AI right before working on applied AI) but a lot of people are very enthused about it. George Siemens, elearnspace, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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