OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

[Home] [Top] [Archives] [Mobile] [About] [Threads] [Options]


by Stephen Downes
June 16, 2014

Theory of Change in Education
Oliver Quinlan, June 16, 2014


So here basically is the basis for instructional design: "Start with what you want them to learn, design an experience that will cause them to learn it, build in some checks that this is happening along the way and has happened by the end. This is one of the core lessons of teacher education, and something all effective teachers master, whilst they may decide to tweak it and experiment later." In this post about change Oliver Quinlan looks how this core idea gets lost as, say, new technology takes centre stage. "I see tweets on a fairly regular basis from educators describing how their school has just bought a set of tablet computers, and only now they are looking for how they can be used for learning outcomes." He proposes a theory of change model to address this. Fair enough, but my experience is that change brings with it new problems, new things you want to learn, and new opportunities. You can't just bring in new technology to solve old problems.

[Link] [Comment]

Ed tech behaviorism
Scott Mcleod, Dangerously Irrelevant, June 16, 2014

Although behaviourism has several flavours, it is in general the idea that you can (only) talk about mental phenomena, such as learning and cognition, in terms of behaviour. The mind in behaviourism is treated as a black box, to which we do not have evidentiary access. This for the most part remains the case today, which means that most all educational theory belongs either to the category of (a) continuing to use the black box, or (b) making stuff up that we think characterizes cognitive phenomena. That is why technologists continue to employ what we would still call behaviourist methodology. Technology cannot respond to made-up phenomena (like mental 'constructions' or 'intentions') that we can't detect or measure. Nobody's happy with the current situation, but until we get accurate neural mapping, that's what we're left with.

To see my point, take a look at this account of the 'affective context model', which according to Nick Shackleton-Jones, "explains how learning takes place": "As we experience the world our brains need some way of deciding what to encode and how to encode it, so as to retrieve it in a way which is useful. Our minds solve this problem by encoding information along with its affective context – that is, our affective response to what we experience." This explanation is filled with made-up entities - like the brain "needing" to decide, it "encoding" it, it "retrieving" it, even the idea of "information" in our brain, let alone the "affective context" itself - none of this can be measured or observed, and that's why technologists measure responses rather than (say) 'encodings'.

[Link] [Comment]

Going All In: How to Make Competency-Based Learning Work
Katrina Schwartz, Mind/Shift, June 16, 2014

Examination of the employment of competency-based learning in New Hampshire and a discussion of the issues around competency-based learning in general. For my own part, I think something like competency-based learning is the way of the future, but not for the reasons suggested. Katrina Schwartz quotes Paul Leather, deputy commissioner of education: “You can’t truly do personalized learning and also continue to have common expectations without competencies,” Leather said. “They take state standards and put them in the hands of students, teachers and parents and make them real for them.” But why, I would wonder, would you have common standards. The beauty of competency-based personal learning is that everybody can become competent at some thing without the requirement that they become competent in the same thing.

[Link] [Comment]

Qualt, June 16, 2014

Qualt advertises "Free mobile courses in internationally recognised professional qualifications. Anytime, anywhere." The courses are available for mobile devices only. The first course, which started in May, is based on a professional accounting course. "Qualt are based on courses developed by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), Google, the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) and other professional bodies." To date the site has a dozen courses listed.

[Link] [Comment]

Looking at Link Between Violent Video Games and Lack of Empathy
Nick Bilton, New York Times, June 16, 2014

OK, I'll confess, I watch 'fail' videos on YouTube. If you're not familiar with the genre, it consists generally of people doing things which end badly. Sometimes you just know the person felt some pain at the end of it. In my case, at least, there is an empathetic response - I experience an involuntary shudder as though it were me about to experience that fall. It's hard to self-monitor, but it seems like I'm reacting less over time to these fail videos. Now, I've also played violent video games, but I've never felt that empathy. So - what all this leads me to think is that violent games have no impact on empathy because they never induce it in the first place, but that violent video, which does initially cause empathy, might reduce empathy as we gradually become inured to it.

[Link] [Comment]

Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie
Tamar Lewin, New York Times, June 14, 2014

My first reaction to this was to laugh. Yes, of course, she should not have misrepresented her credentials. But it turns out that she did not even have an undergraduate degree. What does it say about the need for a university when you can even be a successful as a dean at MIT without having earned a degree? "Ms. Jones had received the institute’s highest honor for administrators, the M.I.T. Excellence Award for Leading Change." Sure, you can't (legally) get the job without a degree. But it certainly appears that you can do the job without one.

[Link] [Comment]

This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.