OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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May 30, 2012

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The US public school system is under attack
Liza Featherstone , Al Jazeera, May 30, 2012.

This topic is the subject of a lot of discussion in the blogsphere today. "In Philadelphia, the privatisation of the public school system isn't working," says the article, "yet the stage is set for even more." I thiink it's true - I think there is a concerted effort to privatize the school system, and I think educational technology is being used as the means to do so. That's why it's so important for supporters of the public system to understand what educational techn ology can do (you won't learn about it reading your local newspaper or watching TV news) and to be ready to adapt and improve the public system in such a way as to counter the privateers. This I think is true: "In US public schools, privatisation and austerity are presented as solutions to problems largely caused by - wait for it - privatisation and austerity." Quite so. But you can't respond to these threats by simply being opposed - you have to stake out some ground, set out an agenda, show how you stand for some core values - like individual autonomy, cultural diversity, equity of opportunity, personal freedom, etc. - that can compete and stake out a higher ground.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Video, Web Logs, Online Learning]

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It's Time for a New Kind of High School
Jerry Y. Diakiw, 21st Century Fluency Project, May 30, 2012.

You might think this comes from some wide-eyed idealist, or from me, or something: "Whichever paths we take, classrooms have to change. If 70 percent of students are not intellectually engaged in classes, a revolution has to take place inside them. The time has come to stop tinkering with an antiquated model. We are delayed in our thinking because those who were able to suffer through or even thrive in this dying high school model have grown up to be teachers and lawyers and businesspeople who now advocate for reforms through the prism of their experiences. But the vast majority do not have the same fond memories of those halcyon high school days. For these students, the "high school experience" has failed. It is not only an economic issue, but a moral one of providing the very best opportunities for our young at all socioeconomic levels to flourish in a rapidly changing world. Long live the new high school!" It comes from Jerry Y. Diakiw, a former superintendent of schools with the York Region Board of Education, in Ontario, Canada.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Patents, Experience, Canada, Paradigm Shift]

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A Critique of Connectivism as a Learning Theory
M.C. Wade, Cybergogue, May 30, 2012.

Extended critique of connectivism as a learning theory. "Logically speaking, connectivism ought not to be considered a learning theory: it currently lacks the capacity to explain what constitutes learning, as defined by Hilgard (1958) alone. A primary element of a learning theory is that it attempts to be universal, not partial. Maddock and Fulton (1998) assert that, “If a theory cannot explain all facets of human behavior, then it cannot explain any” (p. 9). Calvani (2008) notes the lack of originality in connectivist concepts, and referred to various other theorists who did pioneer the ideas which are stitched together in different ways to inform the connectivism framework."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism]

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Bukobot’s $600 open-source 3D printer close to being a reality
Lindsey Compton, VentureBeat, May 30, 2012.

As I envision a future home filled with plastic or rubber creations printed from my home printer (and big copyright battles over whether it's legal to print your own version of Yoda, and whether scanners are going to be considered 'inducement to violate copyright') and all the rest, I find myself asking what I would actually do with a home 3D printer. Make my own dishes? Toys for the cats? Or just copy after copy after copy of (tm) Yoda statues. Here's the Kickstarter page for the printer, which looks like it will retail under $1000.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Copyrights]

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MOOC Mythbuster – What MOOC’s are and what they aren’t
Debbie Morrison, online learning insights, May 30, 2012.

Useful post that contrasts some of the more hyperbolic statements about MOOCs with things that have actually been written about them by people like me and others who had a hand in developing the concept. "Online learning can be a vehicle for implementing much needed reform in education in order that  K-12, college students and adults have access to educational opportunities that will result in dynamic, skilled and innovative individuals that become life-long learners."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Adult Learning, Online Learning]

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Blowout Quarter at LinkedIn: Now the Talent Acquisition Machine
Josh Bersin, Berson & Associates, May 30, 2012.

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I admit it; I connect to people on LinkedIn because I want access to professional opportunities - employment, should I need it, or a place to advertise positions, in the (less likely) even that I am in a position to hire people. Adding Slideshare (and hundreds of my presentations) to the mix just enhances both. "Watch LinkedIn continue to grow faster than other HR software companies because it leverages its huge treasure trove of data. The acquisition of Slideshare drives even greater data value - fueling both memberships and recruiting revenue." In the long run, I think HR analytics (and not, say, some theory about poverty being more motivating) is the best way to address projected skills shortages

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Membership, Marketing]

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The Khan Iceberg
Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed, May 30, 2012.

It is not a surprise to see increased resistance to things like Khan Academy and the recent MOOCs, as they represent what amounts to wholesale changes in education. But I think it's exactly the wrong thing to be defending the existing model in the belief that this will protect incomes, job security and retirement funds. Yes, there are people out there who are in the process of stealing all three. But the way to respond is to get out in front of this, to be the people promoting wider access to better education, rather than the anchor dragging down the entire enterprise. Remember, they are the reactionaries - as Will Richardson says, "The model is not changing; this is still delivery. What’s changing is the narrow pipe of delivery that schools currently represent." More here, and a debate between myself and Jonathan Rees in the comments here (Rees believes, obviously without evidence, that I see "a new MOOC-y world where today’s adjunct can be tomorrow’s superstar.")

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Security Issues]

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U-15 begins to formalize its organization
Peggy Berkowitz, University Affairs, May 30, 2012.

Wow, that's audacity: "We’re not there to diminish any other piece of the agenda. We’re there to add a spotlight on the issues that are most important to us. I understand that there is potential that … smaller comprehensive universities may feel we have a louder voice and steal more of the agenda, but arguably more of the federal money comes to our community anyway." So says Suzanne Corbeil defending the newly-formed U-15 group representing 15 of Canada’s most research-intensive universities (note to numbers 10-15: they'll throw you under the bus too if it becomes convenient).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Research, Canada]

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Twain on Creativity
Alex Wexelblat, Copyfight, May 30, 2012.

Mark Twain was someone who saw through the more persistent myths of his time - and ours. "It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing--and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite--that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that." I have seen this phenomenon time and time again, and have discussed it here. Copyfight, meanwhile, is grappling with the issue as it relates to movies based on comic book heroes.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Cheating]

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Learning Styles and Pedagogy in Post-16 Learning A Systematic and Critical Review
Frank Coffield, David Moseley, Elaine Hall, Kathryn Ecclestone, Learning and Skills Research Centre, September 1, 2008.

My thanks to Francis Bell and Karyn Romeis for pointing to this work, an exhaustive (book-length) review of learning styles. While on the one hand it offers a sceptical look learning styles, the analysis also refrains from such blanket statements as "there are no learning styles" and, indeed, even identifies one approach (Allinson and Hayes) that satisfies all four evaluative criteria (consistency, reliability, construct validity, predictive validity) and several others that come close. Do take the time to read this. Should the study of learning styles form the core of education policy? Probably not. But not because it is 'false', not because 'there are no learning styles', only because other matters are more urgent. The study authors write, "as Lave and Wenger (1991, 100) have argued, the most fundamental problems of education are not pedagogical. Above all, they have to do with the ways in which the community of adults reproduces itself, with the places that newcomers can or cannot find in such communities, and with relations that can or cannot be established between these newcomers and the cultural and political life of the community." So many things comes into play when we are looking at learning. It is arguable that many learning styles theorists - and their critics - do not have a sound understanding of what constitutes learning itself, much less what constitutes the imparting of learning and the measurement of learning.

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[Link] [Comment][Tags: Learning Styles, Adult Learning]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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