by Stephen Downes
Oct 01, 2014
How Diversity Makes Us Smarter
Katherine W. Phillips,
I have frequently cited diversity as one of the key ingredients of network design. This is not an arbitrary choice; emergence is not possible without diversity. So it's not surprising to see articles like this pointing to how diversity makes us (ie., society) smarter. "Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving." The lesson to draw from this is that diversity is equally important in learning. "This is how diversity works: by promoting hard work and creativity; by encouraging the consideration of alternatives even before any interpersonal interaction takes place. The pain associated with diversity can be thought of as the pain of exercise."
Adaptive Learning in ELT,
Knewton's sales representative, Jose Ferreira, is making some big claims. "We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.... We literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything." Except, responds Philop Kerr, it's not that simple. "The basic premise here," he writes, "is that the more data you have, the more accurately you can predict what will work best for any individual learner" But is this true? Not without good theory. "Knewton’s claim that they know how every student learns best is marketing hyperbole and should set alarm bells ringing." Moreover, I would add, it should set everyone's privacy alarm bells ringing. Do we really want textbook publishers to know everything about us?
'Connectivism': Creating Learning Communities
Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ),
Short, crisp and well-written article on connectivism connecting it to Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory and "the early notion of 'Bildung' that sees education as the process of shaping oneself and the world as put forth by German writers and thinkers Wilhelm von Humboldt and Friedrich Schiller in the late 18th and early 19th century." I think, though, connectivism is characterized not by the Brown and Adler quote, but by this variation: "We think, therefore, we am." See also more trends in open innovation at GIZ - a lot of good stuff here, including sections on tech hubs, crowdfunding, Africa's mobile revolution, and more.
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