by Stephen Downes
May 06, 2015
How do you promote e-learning?
Grainne Conole has the task "to promote the use of technology for learning, teaching and research" in her new position at Bath. My first reaction was, people still need to be convinced? But, OK, I get that. Then I looked at her suggestions for activites, and to me at least, they seemed to be based mostly on in-person events, or in one case, participation in e-learning sessions. This caused me to reflect on how I would do it, if I were in a similar role. When I was at Assiniboine Community College in 1995 I had a similar task (hence my first reaction, some 20 years later!) and the one thing that had the greatest effect was to send all staff a copy of the budget through their email even before it was covered in the evening news. And I think that's key -- don't tell them how, make them see ehy. If they understand it's important, they'll figure it out (and then you can't help), but if they don't get it, all the how-to sessions in the world won't help.
The Hague Declaration
I've only signed one of these declarations that have come out over the years, and that was the Cluetrain Manifesto, which really did seem to me to represent a new way of looking at the world. Generally, though, the manifestos are too narrow and too parochial to allow me to sign. Such, it seems to me, is the case here. The Declaration calls to free access to the tight to data-mine intellectual property. "Licences and contract terms that regulate and restrict how individuals may analyse and use facts, data and ideas are unacceptable," they argue. "It is unacceptable that technical measures in digital rights management systems should inhibit the lawful right to perform content mining." I sort of see where they're going with this - but at the same time, it leaves me wondering whether my robots.txt file runs afoul of their objectives (or would, if it were more restrictive). And I'm definitely not in favour of "CC-BY for publications and CC0 for research data" - this just turns all my stuff into grist for commercial content mills, which is not what it was created for.
Canada is a Hot Spot for Creative and Imaginative Developments in Online Learning
As the author says, "Canada is a hot spot for creative and imaginative developments in online learning and open educational resources (OER)." There's a list of names, far from comprehensive - I could easily double it with equally significant contributions. The 'hot points' miss the mark a bit (OERs, French language, First Nations, innovation, PSEs), as do the trends (growth, collaboration, quality). But it gives a glimpse of what Canada has contributed to the field.
The Word David Brooks Dare Not Speak
Inside Higher Ed,
This article is useful for exposing, as the author says, the Rosetta Stone of David Brooks's account of character. "We first have an admission that indeed, capitalism is not without flaw, though in classic Brooks dialectic, the problem is not structural, but individual, moral." Why? Because capitalism, if based strictly on greed, doesn't work. "If everybody is just chasing material self-interest, the invisible hand won’t lead to well-functioning markets. It will just lead to arrangements in which market insiders take advantage of everybody else." But regulations and structural reforms won't address this, he argues. Only individual character - and specifically, the pursuit of something other than material self-interest - will work. Personally, I find the flaws in this reasoning self-evident.
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