by Stephen Downes
Aug 12, 2015
Perspective and Empathy
This diagram has been making the rounds in social media recently (reminding me that I wish Facebook would remember what I've seen and not show me the same memes over and over). It's a useful diagram in that it shows how two apparently contradictory perspectives - orange square vs blue circle - can be perfectly consistent and both perfectly true. I have just one really important thing to add: we can't access the object in the middle. All we have are our various perspectives, and they under-determine the many possible shapes of reality. We have to keep this in mind when we proclaim that we know 'the truth'. Nobody knows the truth.
Classroom Blogging Options (August 2015)
Wesley A. Fryer,
Moving at the Speed of Creativity,
It has been a while since I ran a good 'blogging in schools' post, but the activity - and the advice - still makes as much sense today as it did in the heyday of blogging. Maybe even more sense, because unlike the early 2000s, there are many other shorter and less-structured ways students can communicate online, and blogging pulls them back into the realm of extended descriptions, arguments, explanations, and actual efforts to communicate thoughts and feelings rather than quips and reactions (or should I say, reax). Theere are many reasons to write; conveying information is just one of them. Wes Fryer also summarizes a number of the tools available as we start the 2015 fall session. Nice graphic, too.
Is It Really Possible to Re-do Ed Tech From Scratch?
As Matt Crosslin summarizes, "Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris asked an interesting question at Hybrid Pedagogy a couple of days ago: 'Imagine that no educational technologies had yet been invented — no chalkboards, no clickers, no textbooks, no Learning Management Systems, no Coursera MOOCs. If we could start from scratch, what would we build?'" He then asks, "would it even be possible to surgically remove educational technology from the larger world around them?" Probably not, he thinks. I agree. I've often challenged the presumption, for example, that 'learning is remembering'. But if we don't change what we think learning is, and why it's important to have some, we lose the motivation to make many of the changes we might otherwise thing the education system needs.
Random Thoughts on Passive Learning and Lectures
Let's begin here: “Passivity isn’t wrong because it’s boring; it’s wrong because it doesn’t work.” The post is on lectures and it surveys the evidence. But in an inference like this I tend to ask whether we understand the premise. What does it mean to say "it doesn't work"? Karl Kapp cites this: "undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail." But as Allison Littlejohn writes, student motives - and motivations - vary. It's not all about passing the test. When I lecture - and I give talks a lot - I am never trying to give the audience a bunch of stuff to remember (and I give them slides and sometimes text in case they want the information later). I'm trying to get them to ask questions they haven't considered, to imagine previously unimagined possibilities, to see things from a different (sometimes warped) perspective, or to question their own assumptions. Sure, if you want people to remember stuff, give them active learning. But if you want to shake them up, ask them questions.
An Obstacle to the Ubiquitous Adoption of OER in US Higher Education
iterating toward openness,
I don't want to be the sort of person who always says "I said this first", but I would be remiss in not pointing out that the solution advocated here by David Wiley was the central recommendation, oft-repeated, of my paper on OERs written for OECD in Malmo. Of course, Wiley uses different (and better) terminology. "As a contrast to 'disposable' assignments, it seems appropriate to call these renewable assignments," he writes (my emphasis). "These renewable assignments result in meaningful, valuable artifacts that enable future meaningful, valuable work." And of course student work from one year should become the OERs of the next year. There's no other rational way to create a sustainable system for producing OERs.
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