by Stephen Downes
Jan 13, 2016
Supporting Open Textbook Adoption in British Columbia
Mary Burgess, David Porter,
Short article, supplemented with video clips from innovators such as Brian Lamb and Scott Leslie, on the progress and development of the Open Textbook project in British Columbia. "It hasn’t been a straight-line development process over the past 13 years," say the authors, "nor has it been completely planned and there have been many of twists and turns, all the while building a community from the successes and the missteps along the way."
Ed-Tech Patents: Prior Art and Learning Theories
Good overview of some recent history regarding the (now-abandoned) Blackboard patent, as well as some more recent patents held by the Khan Academy. What's interesting is what is essentially a two-step method of shifting discourse in the field: first, the data-driven approaches described by companies like Khan are held to be "theory-free"; then, second, the method described in the patent embodies what we would previously have called the theory. For example: the method of "method for providing computer programming instructions," which bears a striking resemblance to "languages like Logo and Scratch as well as a plethora of online tutorials." Or for example: "a patent for using A/B testing to determine the “effectiveness” of an educational video." Audrey Watters comments cynically, "One might say then that Khan Academy does have a theory of learning; but I’d suggest that it’s behaviorism." But "Regardless, all these practices – these 'systems and methods' – are now going to be patented if the pressures and culture of the tech sector hold sway."
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