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by Stephen Downes
May 08, 2015

The Never-Ending Debate Over John Oliver’s Testing Segment
Alexander Russo, Washington Monthly | The Grade, 2015/05/08


Alexander Russo has a new blog on The Washington Monthly called "the Grade". Think of it as NPR's On the Media for education, he writes. Well, I can try, but what I see here is far from what I see there. In this, one of his first segments, he takes on John Oliver's excellent commentary about schools and testing. He doesn't find it very funny, which is fine, as not everyone likes insightful and cutting humour. On Monday, in his other blog, he complains that it's one-sided. "It ignored the benefits of testing and reporting achievement data for poor and minority kids," he said. Let's revisit that On the Media segment again, shall we? He mention's Pearson's response in the Valerie Strauss's Washington Post blog but comments only, "No word yet that I know of from the HBO show team — or from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker." On the Media meanwhile cites has good coverage of Pearson from parent WNYC. The really great thing about On the Media (and I'm a regular listener) is that gets well beyond the snark, and dives deep into issues. That's what he needs to do if he wants to be seen as the On the Media of education.

[Link] [Comment]

Manifesto for OER
Various authors, Open Oregon, 2015/05/08

Now this is what a manifesto looks like. Cable Green writes by email "Lane Community College (Oregon) has released an "Open Education Manifesto" poster designed by graphic design student Char Houweling." Here it is:

  • We call on educators and learners to actively participate in the emerging open education movement
  • We call on educators, authors, publishers and institutions to release their resources openly
  • We call on governments, school boards, colleges and universities to make open education resources a high priority

Contrast this with the Vague Declaration. There's no moralizing about By-SA or CC0 licenses or underlying commercial motivation - just plain and simple open access to learning. Hal Plotkin: "Right on, right on, right on! Students rising up! If the students lead the leaders will follow. Their demands are just, practical and timely. Good for them!"

[Link] [Comment]

Amazon makes toy department gender neutral: 'Boy' and 'girl' search filter removed from online market
Katherine Rushton, Daily Mail, 2015/05/08


Another step in the right direction. "the online retail giant has deleted the ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ buttons from its online menu, which is designed to help shoppers choose which toys to buy." Critics are complaining that it is an attempt to ‘nanny’ shoppers. But of course it is the opposite of nannying. It's letting people make their own decisions. One critic says, "There is a biological difference. We should stop trying to blur the gap between sexes. If you want boys to be girls, and girls to be boys, this is how to do it." Exactly. If we want to do away with rampant gender-based stereotyping, this is how to do it.

[Link] [Comment]

The Civics Teacher Who Turned His Arrest Into A Classroom Lesson
Erika Beras, NPR, 2015/05/08

I have in the past said that "to teach is to model and demonstrate." The aspect of being a role model cannot be underestimated. This article is about a civics teacher who was arrested for no reason (his 'crime' was turning on his audio recorder while the police offer was questioning him; he was being questioned for standing at the side of the road talking with a reporter). He took his experience back to the classroom (and to the wider world) to make his point. "In the courtrooms," Henderson bellowed. "So it's very important that we can go marching and protesting and being as mad as we want. But, until we actually have more of you guys working in courtrooms ..." (But not just the courtroom, right?)

[Link] [Comment]

5 Ed-Tech Ideas Face The Chronicle’s Version of ‘Shark Tank’
Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education | Wired Campus, 2015/05/08

This is from last week but was enough fun to merit highlighting in any case. Five 'ed tech ideas' are put in front of a panel of Chronicle critics playing the role of 'sharks' (or, in Canada, 'dragons') who determine whether or not they think they should fund the idea. Not all of the ideas are strictly 'ed tech' ideas (just as well; they need something to get behind). The 'products' include:

  • a tool to help professors build interactive online materials
  • gap-year program to possibly replace the need for residential colleges
  • career-services tool for college students
  • an argument to do away with the credit hour
  • pay-per-use textbook-rental service


[Link] [Comment]

Berkeley to Stop Adding Lecture Videos to YouTube, Citing Budget Cuts
Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education | Wired Campus, 2015/05/08


I think the headline should read "Berkeley is seeking a $300K donation". That's what it will save by cutting its long-running program of posting lectures to YouTube. I think it's interesting that most of the cost involved had nothing to do with actually posting the lectures. "The money was paid to staff members for such tasks as editing out chatter at the beginning and end of the lectures and making sure copyrighted material was removed before posting." The Chronicle also can't help but to take a swipe at the videos. "The popularity of the lecture videos on YouTube has been mixed. Many of the videos have drawn only a few thousand views." Let's keep in mind that even only "a few thousand views" is orders magnitude greater than the viewership in the actual room.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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