OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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October 17, 2013

Mooc creators criticise courses’ lack of creativity
Chris Parr, Times Higher Education, October 17, 2013

The Times Higher Education supplement published an article on the origin of MOOCs today, relying on interviews with myself, George Siemens, Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander to tell the story. Overall, it's a good article, accurate in its reporting, and generally faithful to my own views (and I presume, the other three).  I have posted the full text of my interview with author Chris Parr. For those wondering, the photos are from my Flicker account; the first is me high atop the ANTEL building in Montevideo, the second if my photo of George Siemens at the D2L conference in Memphis in 2008.

I think it's wortn comparing our approach to the challenges of democratizing education with that offered by Gianpiero Petriglieri in the Harvard Business Reviews blogs. He writes, "the techno-democratization of education looks like a cover story for its aristocratization. MOOCs aren’t digital keys to great classrooms’ doors. At best, they are infomercials for those classrooms. At worst, they are digital postcards from gated communities." His response is simple: stop sendfing postcards. Yeah, that will fix it. I think what we came up with is more nuanced, and in the long term, more effective.

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Reading Chapter One of Leaders of Learning
Michael L. Umphrey, Teacherlore, October 15, 2013


I don't like this style of criticism, because it's not credible, and so while I agree with Michael L. Umphrey characterization of Dufour and Marzano's Leaders of Learning I think it could have been done much more effectively. In a phrase, it's important to keep your exposition separate from your criticism. Critics should present the books case in the most compelling way possible, then respond with the counterpoints that really matter. When you read a critic write, "Chapter One begins with sky-is-falling prognostication..." you know they're not going to give the book a fair shake; the criticism has been made even before the text has been presented.

What's worth reading in this review is at the very end: "The chapter ends with the 'three big ideas that drive the PLC process.' (1) The fundamental purpose of schools is that all students learn 'at high levels,' this requires us to work in a collective, and the collectives need to be focused on data–'every policy, program, procedure, and practice needs to assessed' on the basis of such data. What is most notable about these ideas is that they deal entirely with process, and that everything that matters is left undefined and undiscussed. Everything that matters is outside the scope of the collective." See? If he had started with this, imagine how much more compelling the chapter summary could have been.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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