OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
March 17, 2014

How To Think
Shane Parrish, Farnham Street, March 17, 2014

Doug belshaw shared this piece over the weekend and while I think it's an inspirational story I think that it's misleading in a fairly pernicious way. In a nutshell, the basis of the story lies in describing the methods used by an inner-city school with poor and minority students to create chess champions out of them; all the other champion schools, we are informed, are private or elite schools. They key to this achievement is to work closely with the students, making them slow down, think through alternatives, and display grit and resiliance (every time I see the word 'grit' I think of those advertisements from when I was a kid asking prospective entrepreneurs to 'Sell Grit', which was some sort of newspaper, so to this day when I see the word 'grit' I think the word 'scam').

The thinking program offered here reminds me a lot of Edward deBono, and it might even work for chess, but I don't think it would work for the much wider range of less-structured problems people will face in their lives. Now I too was a chess champion while in school and what I learned was that winning wasn't so much about 'seeing x moves ahead' (though this was definitely useful as it was seeing and recognizing board configurations as a whole - you'd go way beyond the other player's perspective of seeing the game as pieces and moves and begin thinking of it as patterns and outcomes. But this has nothing to do with yelling at little kids and making them fear failure.

[Link] [Comment]

Serious Elearning Manifesto
Michael Allen, March 17, 2014

For those who waited with bated breath for the release of the 'Serious E-Learning manifesto' and then (like me) missed the carefully timed launch because they were doing other things, well, here it is, fresh from last Friday. Basically the manifesto emphasizes "continuous assessment of learner performance" in order to "optimize use of the learner’s time, individualize the experience for full engagement, address needs, optimize practice, and prepare for transfer of learning to performance proficiency." The manifesto is relentlessly provider-focused, which is unfortunate. If I were writing a manifesto it would be more about making my profession unnecessary, so that people wouldn't need specially designed materials in order to learn, but rather, could forge learning out of raw materials for themselves.

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Online university courses can't change the world alone
Gayle Christensen, Brandon Alcorn, New Scientist, March 17, 2014

According to New Scientist, "Ultimately, MOOCs are not by themselves a mechanism for development but require certain levels of education and technology. They are reaching millions of people around the world, but to truly revolutionize access, improvements in the broader education and technology ecosystem are vital." I guess this is true, but would be true of any form of education. Traditional learning, for example, requires a massive global investment in buildings, school bus networks, teacher colleges, and of course, literacy. This is why development in societies where primary education was not sufficient remains such a challenge. Now, our news media could continue to repreat the results of that single Coursera study at UPenn for the rest of all time, or it could broaden its enquire into just what learning and development actually require, what can be provided help people with means and motivation, and what specific interventions are required to provide broad equality of opportunity. Thus far, the media as (alas) taken the easy route.

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Creative Commons engage Cetis to co-lead the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative
Press Release, CETIS, March 17, 2014

From the press release: "Cetis has been commissioned by Creative Commons to help manage the third phase of the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI). The project, which builds on the work of Schema.org, aims to support the discovery of relevant education resources on the web." I'm not sure how exactly Creative Commons ended up doing learning resource metadata (I remember the heady days of a few years ago when it was done by organizations like IMS and ADL; now LRMI is co-led by Creative Commons and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP)). This is about the most informal press release I've ever read; the major players from CETIS are introduced as "Phil and Lorna" (no last names anywhere, but I assume they mean Phil Barker and Lorna Campbell). The press release was posted by a "christina" (no last name and not even a capital 'C') who is probably Christina Smart. I am meanwhile wondering about the comfortable relationship between Creative Commons and a publishers' association - but maybe that's just me.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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