by Stephen Downes
Jan 08, 2016
Newton’s New Law of Teaching: When Quality Instruction and Technology Intersect
According to this article, " we can borrow from Sir Isaac and posit that in terms of student outcomes, Achievement equals Quality Instruction times Innovation (A = QI x I)." The point the author is trying to make here is that "Both of these variables—good teachers and good technology—can transform a student’s learning experience. Each of them are also compromised by the absence of the other." Why is this important? They argue, "Providing just-in-time support while also assessing growth over time and providing appropriate supervision and evaluation are key to ensure that continual growth is underway."
Both this item and the next one is a result of a confusion and obfuscation between the language and logic of is and ought. I discuss this briefly here. But with that in mind, we ask, why does the author of this article take such pains to represent what is surely a statement of values and expectations about achievement in the form of a scientific formula? It's obviously to represent it as a fact. And why do this? Because that fact becomes the beginning point for an action plan (even though it is not a fact!). I hate stuff like this. It seems so transparent, and so deliberately misleading.
Review of Smart, Skilled, and Striving: Transforming and Elevating the Teaching Profession
Elizabeth J. Meyer,
Research, Great Lakes Center for Educationm Policy,
This review basically shreds the recent Center for American Progress (CAP) report outlining a vision for elevating and modernizing the teaching profession. According to the review, the CAP recommendations "include policy changes that would increase surveillance of teachers, reduce teachers’ job security, evaluate teachers by students’ test scores, and create merit pay systems that would likely have the opposite effect." Additionally, "the report relies too heavily on popular rhetoric, sound bites, opinion articles, and advocacy publications."
Three Vegas psychics predict the year in tech
This will be my first and last article featuring psychics in OLDaily. But I have to admit Joseph Volpe's article in Engadget held me spellbound. It's actually two psychics making predictions and one psychic trying to scam him, but it is Las Vegas, after all. But what was most interesting is that is I didn't know the predictions were coming from psychics, it would be hard to distinguish them from actual pundits (although actual pundits would be able to remember and pronounce 'Oculus'). So why would these readings be so convincing? Well, for one thing, we're reading this through the interpretation of a tech writer who prompted the psychics. And the psychics are good at understanding human nature and in reading and mirroring their clients. Put this all togetjher and yoiu get pretty reasonable tech predictions. No spirit world required.
You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition
We could probably substitutre the word 'education' for 'nutrition' in this headline and still have the same article. I read (and you probably do too) a lot of articles relating this or that think to educational outcomes. The more data we get, the more we are seeing these (along with the scatter plots educational economists love so much). But “Big data sets just confer spurious precision status to noise,” wrote John Ioannidis in his 2013 analysis. Sure, this article is about foods and nutrition. But it also 'cites' data to show potato chips are linked to higher scores on SAT math vs. verbal. As if. But how many educational studies are reporting noise as if it were fact? A preacher who advised parishioners to avoid trimming the fat from their meat, lest they lose their religion, might be ridiculed, yet nutrition epidemiologists often make recommendations based on similarly flimsy evidence."
The Triumph of Email
I had a long and interesting conversation with someone from a technology company on Thursday and he asked me for examples of connectivist-style learning networks in practice. The closest think I could think of was the cMOOC, but on reflection I was able to think of two really good examples: the telephone network, and email. Why? Well, consider how these differ from traditional learning management systems or social networks: each person has their own identify (a number, or email address) and manages their own client (phone, or email reader). They have connections (in a rolodex or contact list). It's mostly peer-to-peer. But a lot of other services have been built around these networks (phone-in shows, mailing lists). And that - if I may be so bold - is what explains the success (and persistence) of email.
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