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August 12, 2011

UnCollege Manifesto
Dale J. Stephens, Website, August 9, 2011.

Lisa Nielsen links to this manifesto by Dale Stephens. I took a quick look through the very light 25-page PDF and while it's better than the Edupunks' Guide, it's only marginally better, and it's still not what self-educators need to read. But at least it makes the point that learning for yourself is hard. "If you want to take the easy path to mediocrity," writes Stephens, "I encourage you to go to college and join the masses." But I'll take this for what it is - a manifesto, as opposed to a guide - and put the blog into my newsreader, and we'll see where it leads (but what's up with publishers giving out book deals for this stuff?).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books]

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Letters to Children from Cultural Icons on the Love of Libraries
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, August 9, 2011.

files/images/childrenoftroy_seuss.jpg, size: 378607 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I love stuff like this. On the opening of a new library, an audacious librarian, Marguerite Hart, wrote to writers, actors, musicians, politicians, even astronauts, asking them to encourage the children of her community to use the library. And they responded! The resulting collection - now available online - became known as the Letters to the Children of Troy.

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Is the teaching of IT/CS in high school turning people off?
David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, August 9, 2011.

This post explores a fascinating thesis, the idea that our efforts to offer instruction in computer science and information technology is actually creating shortages of labour in the fields, because people are so turned off by the instruction. There seems to be some empirical support for it. "This post from Mark Guzdial is the last of three looking at a PhD thesis examining the influence of using computational/programming approaches to teaching physics. This post talks about the finding in the thesis that students attitudes towards computational modelling became more unfavourable after instruction."

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Why the current professional development model is broken
Tony Bates, e-learning and distance education resources, August 9, 2011.

Tony Bates argues at length that the 'professional development' for instructional staff at universities is broken. This is a follow up,in which he criticized a series of videos showing staff how to teach online. "They are,`he writes, "symptomatic of a system of training that is completely broken, at least as far as online learning is concerned (and probably also inadequate for classroom teaching, but that’s another matter)."

How so? "There is no requirement to have any training or qualification in teaching to work in a university in most Western countries," he writes. "The lack of comprehensive and systematic training in online learning at a pre-service level places a disproportionate burden on ongoing professional development, which is at best ad hoc and variable in both quantity and quality. Above all, it is an entirely voluntary system." And finally, "most faculty and instructors do not base their teaching practice on empirically-based evidence or research on the effectiveness of different approaches."

Honestly, I think our mistake is in asking researchers to become (traditional and/or traditionalist) teachers. People don't get PhDs in physics or engineering or biology because they have an abiding desire to be teachers; they do so because they want to be physicists, engineers and biologists. We need to begin with this fact, because it's not going to change.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, Research, Online Learning]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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