OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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December 28, 2012

For a Better Society, Teach Philosophy in High Schools
Michael Shammas, Huffington Post, December 28, 2012.

I agree with Michael Shammas that philosophy should be taught in schools, but not for the reasons Shammas states. He argues that philosophy "creates and nurtures thoughtful minds, minds that can -- as Aristotle suggests -- entertain a thought without accepting it." Maybe sometimes, but - based on my experience with philosophers - not nearly often enough. Philosophers can be petty and closed-minded too, believe me. No, to my mind, the reason philosophy should be taught in schools is for the skill set: philosophers learn how to argue, how to formulate hypotheses and propose explanations, how to speak and write clearly and with precision, and how to observe and describe their environment.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Experience]

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Why Online Courseware Can't Replace A 4-Year Degree
Andrew Grauer, Forbes, December 28, 2012.

More techno-scepticism following in the wake of this year's MOOC hysteria. Andrew Grauer argues that online learning will not replace traditional learning until the resolution of "key issues currently plaguing the advancement of online education." All very fine, but the "key issues" he flags are ridiculous:

  • teaching methods to deliver the same lecture experience via your computer as in a live classroom
  • online communities that are sufficiently collaborative yet plagiarism free
  • easily and readily connecting with a professor, tutor or classmate when a question arises during a lecture

The supposition, of course, is that replicating the classroom experience is what online learning should strive toward. But i think we can do rather better than that. To paraphrase an example used in the article, if the skill being learned is how to play golf, taking a class is like being told how to play golf, watching videos is like watching golf, while online learning is like a golf simulation system. Sure, it's not golf - but it's a lot better than a lecture about golf. And that - I might add - is why online learning will replace traditional learning. Not this year. But soon.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, Cheating, Simulations, Online Learning Communities, Experience, Online Learning]

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Nepal_Indira_630.jpg, size: 274472 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
Photo Essay: When a Kid's Bedroom Isn't a Room
James Mollison, Mother Jones, December 28, 2012.

fascinating photo essay comparing children from around the world. To be sure, the subjects chosen are at the extreme end of variability. But the wide range of backgrounds and interests (and jobs) will cause anyone working in education to take pause.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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