by Stephen Downes
Jun 05, 2015
Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?
Four major themes from this report from UNESCO describing education as a "common good":
- Education is not the only force to sustainable development, but it is one of the most important ones
- We need to keep the human element of education (things like culture, society, inclusiveness) and not just the utilitarian aspects
- We need more flexible methods of delivering and validating learning in a complex employment environment
- Knowledge and learning are not just public goods (ie., provided by the public) but are common goods, ie "necessary for the realization of the fundamental rights of all people."
"If education is seen as this deliberate and organized process of learning, then any discussion about it can no longer be focused solely on the process of acquiring (and validating) knowledge. We must consider not only how knowledge is acquired and validated, but also how access to it is often controlled and, therefore, how access to it can be made commonly available." 85 page PDF. Good stuff.
Objections to the OECD's AHELO
Inside Higher Ed,
One major condition for measuring things like educational outcomes is measuring the right thing. Colleges and universities are arguing that OECD does not do this. “The AHELO (Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes) approach fundamentally misconstrues the purpose of learning outcomes, which should be to allow institutions to determine and define what they expect students will achieve and to measure whether they have been successful in doing so. AHELO, which attempts to standardize outcomes and use them as a way to evaluate the performance of different institutions, is deeply flawed,” states the joint letter dated May 7 from ACE (American Council on Education) and Universities Canada.
Does Harvard Need Your Money?
Inside Higher Ed,
All I will say about this issue is that this is yet another example why essential public services such as health and education should be funded publicly by governments through taxation, rather than funded privately by individuals through charity. Taxation not only ensures to a greater degree that revenues are collected fairly, it also ensures to a greater degree that revenues are spent more fairly.
Questions for the University of Guelph on its trademark of OpenEd
Why oh why would the University of Guelph feel the need to trademark the term 'OpenEd'? Why would any trademark office give it to them? This especially when the 'OpenEd' conferences have been held for years in various locations, last in Canada in 2009. Ironically, when I spoke at it in 2004, this was exactly the sort of thing I warned about. And as Brian Lamb notes, that the University of Guelph doesn't even seem to know anything about the concept. "Looking at the University of Guelph’s Open Learning and Educational Support website, I could find no mention of open educational resources, open textbooks, open pedagogies, open source, open access, open licensing, etc… So perhaps you were unaware of the existence of an “open education” community, one that frequently uses “open ed” as an abbreviation, or for functions such as URLs, or as a Twitter hashtag. Were you indeed unaware that “open ed” was a thing? If so, when did you become aware of it?" Of course, since I spoke in Guelph in 2005, some people there should be aware. See also Clint Lalonde, who gives a detailed account of the dispute.
Reflections on the Closure of Yahoo Pipes
I haven't used Yahoo Pipes in a long time, mostly because I can get IFTTT to do much of the same thing more quickly, and I can do the rest with my own software. But as Tony Hirst writes, the shut-down of Yahoo Pipes signifies a change in the nature of the web. We're drifting one peck at a time from openness and interactivity to a number of large and locked-down domains accessible only via specialized APIs. He writes, "At the time as the data flows become more controlled, the only way to access them comes through code. Non-coders are disenfranchised and the lightweight, open protocols that non-coding programming tools can work most effectively with become harder to justify. When Pipes first appeared, it seemed as if the geeks were interested in building tools that increased opportunities to engage in programming the web, using the web. And now we have Facebook. Tap, tap, peck, peck, click, click, Like. Ooh shiny… Tap, tap, peck, peck…"
A Personal API
This part of a wider conversation around the idea of "a domain of one's own", a concept Jim Groom has been talking about for a number of years now. An API of one's own extends the idea, embracing the concept of data connectivity along with that of a personal server. As he suggests, though, actually implementing the idea can get "a bit hairy" because you can no longer lock down the sort of data structures students want to use. Of course, from my perspective, this is a feature, not a bug.
Tricky GCSE maths exam sees pupils take to Twitter
I was interested enough in this problem that I Googled to see what the question was, thought about it, and when I didn't solve it in ten seconds or so, looked up the answer. Would I have solved it? Yeah, eventually. But what this question tells me is the difference between learning some mathematics and thinking mathematically. If you've just memorized some formulae, you're going to be thrown off by the two parts of the question. But if your approach to probabilities is to automatically set up the (correct) formula, you can actually solve this in your head in a couple of seconds. Can you show that (6/n)*(5/n-1)=1/3 means (n^2)-n-90=0? Sure, easily.
Towards the Post-Privacy Library?
Go To Hellman,
Suppose I read about having a baby or stealing uranium at my local library. I'm not going to be plagued with advertisements for diapers or probing questions from the security agency. But in the online library of the future, this all changes. People are very interested in what you're reading. Sometimes it's for the puerile purpose of selling you stuff, while in other cases it has to do with the much more adult concerns of state and security. Either way, the question of what you can do in a free society has been changed. And this has direct implications on learning. See more in American Libraries on digital futures.
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