by Stephen Downes
Dec 17, 2015
How the Koch Brothers Are Influencing U.S. Colleges
One of the dangers of relying on private donaations for education funding is that the educational institutions are pushed to adopt the funders' culture and values. We certainly see this with respect to government funding in Canada, where the funding agencies pursue specific policies at the behest of governments. In the American system, where there is less reliance on government, there is no corresponding frreedom from influence. Quite the opposite. This Time article, for example, investigates the influence of the far-right Koch Brothers foundation on education. "The Koch foundations have attempted, or succeeded, in attaching certain strings to their contributions, such as control over curriculum, and more recently, obtaining personal information about students."
BBC rated most accurate and reliable TV news, says Ofcom poll
When I talk about the use of social media and user-generated content in education one of the most frequent quests I am asked related to the reliability and quality fo the information. And, yes, social media and user-generated content are unreliable. But my rejoinder is that traditional media are also unreliable, and that this is even more pernicious because people take them to be trustworthy sources. This article is evidence supporting my contention. It is by no means the only evidence, and I would not rate it as particularly trustworthy, since it came from a traditional media survey. But it's at least as accurate as a journal article surveying 23 psychology studentss from a midwestern university.
New and old thoughts on the challenges of fycomp and/or “why students can’t write” through the lens of John Warner
I'll admit, I had to relearn a lot about writing when I entered university. It wasn't because I was a bad writer, and it wasn't because I was locked into the grade-school 'five paragraph style'. In fact, I was already pretty good, with a lot of practice and experience. But there's writing and then there's writing. As the author of this post points out, there are many genres of writing, and it's not possible to learn them all. Writing at the university level is something else. I learned the inverted-pyramid style writing for the newspaper, and that helped a lot (though it's the opposite of 'put your conclusion in the last paragraph', which I've always thought was ridiculous advice). It's also, as the author says, knowing what you want to say, both at the sentence level and at the article level. In thee end, I think I figured these out, and while I'm never opposed to a light edit, I am one of those who eschews drafts and rewrites. Image: Karen Lin.
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