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August 26, 2011

Principles for Rethinking Undergraduate Curricula for the 21st Century
Yehuda Elkana and all Curriculum Reform Signatories, UNESCO Chair in e-Learning, August 25, 2011.

Presentation of eleven principles "designed to inform an international dialogue and to guide an experimental process of redesigning university undergraduate curricula worldwide" (they are almost incomprehensible but I've tried to summarize for clarity here; notice that after number five they begin to repeat themselves):
- teach disciplines rigorously in introductory courses
- highlight the challenges, open questions and uncertainties of each discipline
- create awareness of the great problems humanity is facing
- demonstrate and rigorously practice interdisciplinarity
- treat knowledge historically and examine it critically
- provide basics of the humanities, the natural and the social sciences
- engage with the world’s complexity and messiness.
- emphasize a broad and inclusive evolutionary mode of thinking (??)
- familiarize students with non-linear phenomena
- fuse theory and analytic rigor with practice and the application
- rethink the implications of modern communication and information technologies

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On Leadership
Vicki A. Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog, August 25, 2011.

Vicki Davis writes, "Doling out shards of anger are like stealing $10 out of someone's wallet." While I agree with the sentiment, I have issues with the agreement, and I express these isues here, because it's a problem that is becoming increasingly common, especially (and disturbingly) among teachers. (Note that this is not particular to Vicki Davis, her post just happens to be the one in my sight at the moment).

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The bar has been raised
Lyn Hilt, Connected Principals, August 25, 2011.

files/images/Screen-Shot-2011-08-05-at-7.14.38-PM-300x215.png, size: 114289 bytes, type:  image/png Here's a myth that ought to be dispelled, and Lyn Hilt does it. From Scott McLeod (who IMHO panders to the leaders) we hear "if the leaders don't get it, it's not going to happen." False. Just ask people like Mubarak and Qaddafi. Hilt responds, "In my opinion, it can happen…. I’ve seen many rogue teachers propel their classes forward in a manner not necessarily supported or understood by the administration. But it’s not easy. And it’s not systemic." Right. It's better if the leaders get it. But let's revise the McLeod quote to something more accurate: "If the leaders don't get it, they're not going to be leaders much longer." Leading by holding people back is, in the long run, not effective.

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Absence of Trust
George Couros, Connected Principals, August 25, 2011.

files/images/Screen-shot-2011-08-18-at-9.06.25-AM-300x278.png, size: 164795 bytes, type:  image/png OK, it's time to cut down this meme before it grows. George Couros writes, "…there are two places that are making efforts to ban social media in the world; China and schools." So inaccurate. There are dozens of countries around the world where social media is restricted or blocked. But not just that. The blocking of social media in the corporate environment is widespread. I think the prevalence of social media is a good indicator of democracy: where social media is blocked, or curtailed, democracy has failed, or been curtailed. And I guess what surprises me most is tat people don't expect to find democracy in the schools, or in the workplace, and yet these are the places where it would have the greatest impact and benefit.

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Home About Computing Education Blog Eric Mazur’s Keynote at ICER 2011: Observing demos hurts learning, and confusion is a sign of understanding
Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, August 25, 2011.

Interesting result that someone ought to try replicating: "observing a demo is worse than having no demo at all! The problem is that you see a demo, and remember it in terms of your misconceptions. A week later, you think the demo showed you what you already believed. On some of the wrong answers that students gave in Mazur’s study, they actually said 'as shown in the demo.' The demo showed the opposite! The students literally remember it wrong. People remember models, not facts, said Mazur. By recording a prediction, you force yourself to remember when you guessed wrong." We see what we expect to see, which is why it is necessary to be conscious of our expectations as we observe - which in turn suggests a need for an interactive and engaged learning process. "Confused students are far more likely to actually understand. It’s better for students to be confused, because it means that they’re trying to make sense of it all." So, what does this say to the 'worked example' set? Here's more from ICER 2011.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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