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November 14, 2011

We don’t need no educator: The role of the teacher in today’s online education
Stephen Downes, November 13, 2011, NFF konferansen: Utdanning i bevegelse, Oslo, Norway

How often do we read about the importance of teachers in education? It must be every day, it seems. We are told about "strong empirical evidence that teachers are the most important school-based determinant of student achievement" again and again.

The problem with the educational system, it is argued, is that teachers need to be held accountable. We are told we must fire incompetent teachers. Not just in the United States, but in the UK and elsewhere, the concern is that bad teachers must go.

The problem with focusing on the role of the teacher, from my perspective, is that it misses the point. Though there may still be thousands of people employed today with the job title of "teacher" or "educator", it is misleading to suggests that all, or even most, aspects of providing an education should, or could, be placed into the hands of these individuals.

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My Teacher Is an App
Stephanie Banchero and Stephanie Simon, Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2011.

files/images/OB-QM136_ONLINE_D_20111108155707.jpg, size: 19436 bytes, type:  image/jpeg The Wall Street Journal discovers online learning. "In a radical rethinking of what it means to go to school, states and districts nationwide are launching online public schools that let students from kindergarten to 12th grade take some—or all—of their classes from their bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens." The WSJ, of course, always has an agenda: to push the privatization angle: "many hire for-profit corporations.... The companies hire teachers, provide curriculum, monitor student performance—and lobby to expand online public education." And, of course, the WSJ has its usual villains: "The drive to reinvent school has also set off an explosive clash with teachers unions and backers of more traditional education." Sure, there are issues, such as poor test scores. But with proponents like Jeb Bush and Rupert Murdoch, both of whom are cited in the article, how can online learning be wrong? It's just a matter of time before the right model can be found. Personally, I don't think that private companies are an adequate substitute for full publish investment in online learning, and people reading my own support for online learning should not automatically place me in the WSJ camp, whatever the newspaper may say.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Books, Online Learning]

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The DIY Toolkit (for filmmakers who are broke)
Rocco Penn, Topcultured, November 13, 2011.

I don't think much of the infographic (because, really, have they ever tried to purchase a wheelchair? Not cheap. And it's not exactly like broke filmmakers have camcorders hanging around, and DSLR cameras cost a pretty penny - believe me, I know). But the concept is good, and you can substitute your own gear (rolling chairs, and this Lumix camera records top-notch HD video, excellent for the low-budget photographer) to create your own video. The main thing here is to observe the techniques - the camera olly, the steadicam, the boom mic, the tripod jib - that can be used to create much more than the traditional tourist hand-held video recording. Via Elearning Examples.

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

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17 Signs Your Classroom is Behind the Times
Lisa, I Heart Ed Tech, November 13, 2011.

Short pithy list of signs your classroom is mired in the previous century. Articles like this aren't really my favourites, but as always, the story behind the article is more fun than the article. This link comes via Kelly Ehman, one of the participants in the EC&I 831 class I spoke to last week. She adds another excellent role to the list of roles of educators I presented: that of scientist. The '17 signs' article, meanwhile, comes from a site called Simple K12, a resource site for teachers with blog posts, articles and webinars. There's also student curriculum and an ebook. It's a bit of a content mill, and I'm sure there's a business plan on the other side, but it's light and breezy and might be perfect for someone new to ed tech.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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