by Stephen Downes
[Sept] 23, 2014
A shift toward efficacy
Discussion of the Pearson report published in 2013 The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomes, which “outlines Pearson’s own efficacy programme and shares the company’s strategy and initiatives in its first phase.” I think 'efficacy' is a nice non-threatening way of saying 'outcomes' (it's like they have writers or something). I am sympathetic with the desire for a meaningful evaluation of learning - there are good reasons. But this language troubles me: "all future projects would be evaluated based on the change that they would produce in the world. The organization explicitly defined change as a measurable outcome." It's the 'measurable' bit that is a concern: the data may say something isn't useful in general, but humans don't generalize. It's the specific case that matters. And if the person evaluating the outcome doesn't care about the specific case - well, this is exactly why I think education needs a "do no harm" provision.
Solving the Textbook Cost Crisis Through OER
Good slide deck from Nicole Allen, who has been representing SPARC recently. "The cost of college textbooks has grown to a point that virtually every campus is now seeking solutions. While many institutions have successfully reduced costs for students through stop-gap measures such as rental programs, lending libraries and licensing deals, the greatest potential for permanently solving the problem lies in Open Educational Resources (OER)." The argument is well substantiated with references and statistics (useful for using in your own presentations).
The MOOC Misstep and the Open Education Infrastructure
iterating toward openness,
Useful and interesting article by David Wiley saying some of the things that needed to be said without pulling any punches: "The horrific corruption perpetrated by the Udacity, Coursera, and other copycat MOOCs is to pretend that the last forty years never happened. Their modus operandi has been to copy and paste the 1969 idea of open entry into online courses in 2014."
He then proposes that we be clear about defining a sense of 'open' that is "worth the name". This type of 'open' includes "free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:" retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute. As he writes, "These 5R permissions, together with a clear statement that they are provided for free and in perpetuity, are articulated in many of the Creative Commons licenses."
That's true. And I would include the CC by-NC-SA licenses I use. I think it's consistent with the 5Rs. But - and I think this is really important - the doctrine of fair use should also support these. All these 5Rs were things that I could do with print texts and vinyl LPs and radio broadcasts and the like when I was a kid. It's not that long ago. We shouldn't have to have a special license that allows us to to these things. Unless we're creating some sort of business out of it, we should already have these rights, out of the box.
It wasn't the file-sharers that produced piracy. It was the publishers. It was the expansion of laws governing commerce to include personal and private use. It was the redefinition of formerly legal acts into some new sort of crime. These are the things that produced piracy. The creation of Creative Commons tacitly acknowledged that expansion of copyright limitations as a fait accompli. I don't accept it.
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