by Stephen Downes
Jul 20, 2016
Meetings on work integrated learning (WIL) are "are beginning to resemble discussions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin," according to this article from HEQCO. "we need to refocus the WIL and EE conversation from counting to the far more fundamental question of why we are promoting these experiences in the first place," write the authors. This is perhaps in response to this article from the Business/Higher Education Roundtable (covered in these pages here) where they argue "We need a common set of definitions and metrics to assess our performance, to ensure that we’re on the right track, and to learn what makes the best work-integrated learning programs truly valuable." The HEQCO argues, "the dominant question should not be the number of students having these experiences but rather whether these experiences are actually resulting in the development of the desired skills." Via Academica Group.
I'm not sure what to make of this except to agree that "much remains uncertain". The suggestion is that "some test questions are likely harder to answer on tablets than on laptop and desktop computers." I expect that if they included pen and pencil answers in the survey they'd find more of the same sort of result (by the end of my career as a student the only time I was using a pen was on an examination). We are told "the key to avoiding potential problems is to ensure that students have plenty of prior experience with whatever device they will ultimately use to take state tests." Thinking more outside the box, I would be more inclined to reconsider whether tests are an accurate means of assessment at all.
The The Khanty-Mansiysk Declaration Media and Information Literacy for Building Culture of Open Government (3 page PDF) has been released in English and Russian. It is the outcome of a recent conference on the topic, held in June, and asserts the importance of related competencies such as "reliable information access and retrieval; information assessment and utilization; information and knowledge creation and preservation; and information sharing and exchange using various channels, formats and platforms." Obviously these are institutional competencies as well as individual. Media and Information Literacy was found to be important in contributing to open government, which includes "the transparency and accountability of state governance", "increasing opportunities for citizens' direct participation", and "effective and efficient monitoring of public authorities by civil society". All of this sounds reasonable - if ambitious - to me.
“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online." Quite right. This is not a question of free speech. Let's call this what it is: hate speech. It's designed to hurt. There's no place for this. It is violence disguised as words, and it causes real harm. It's long past time social networks began to take action on this sort of thing. More.
Ah, this post takes me back to the days of correcting student writing. Commentary requires clarity of thought, which is revealed only in clarity of expression. This piece displays neither, and serves as a good example of the standard to which pundits and academics alike ought to be held. For example, the sentence "In Paul Tough’s new book, he writes..." is badly constructed. Instead, write "In his new book, Paul Tough writes..." (thus making it clear who was writing). Also for example, the word "engendering" is misused. It means 'to cause' or 'give birth to'. But teachers don't "cause" grit to appear in students. They 'promote' it or 'support the development' of it. Also for example, the argument "But what has been left unsaid..." is a non-sequitur. If Tough is relevant at all, it's for what he said, not what he didn't say. Or for example, the phrase "instilling these skills in students" is misused the way "engender" was. Another example, "we could naturally embed..." suggests a very puzzling understanding of the role of the teacher. Or for example, "by moving to a competency-based learning system..." is again a bad phrasing, where the author means "by changing to..." or "by employing instead...". That's the first two paragraphs.
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