by Stephen Downes
Jul 22, 2016
This document (64 page PDF) is more of a framework than a final statement on the topic of recognizing individual achievement, but as such it's a great start and will likely become a document of reference in the field. The structure constitutes the areas most people can agree on (for example: the four stages of validation are identification, documentation, assessment and certification) while the questions it leaves open are precisely those that need to be solved at a national or even a domain-specific level (for example: how is the credibility of the authority/awarding body assured?) The section on the centrality of the individual goes a bit further than the rest, and correctly so: "Validation aims at empowering the individual and can serve as a tool for providing second chance opportunities to disadvantaged individuals... The individual should be able to take control of the process and decide at what stage to end it."
The idea of the social contract was introduced by Thomas Hobbes in the 1600s as a means of justifying the continued rule of the monarchy. Without the stern rule of the monarch, he wrote, we would return to the state of nature where the lives of men were "solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and short." The myth of the social contract persists to this day, and is used for the same purpose. This is important, because when authors of articles like this one reference the unequal access to educational technology, and education, in terms of the social contract, it has to be noted that the prevailing social contract in western democracies is that there will be two-tiers, indeed multi-tier, access to everything. And there is no appeal against the social contract - as Locke said, you have two choices: rebellion, or emigration.
As you can see, I wasn't willing to see Heather Ross's blog self-destruct. More to the point, I wanted to share her thoughts on digital citizenship, thoughts which go well beyond digital literacy. She cites Mike Ribble’s list of the Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship, a list which includes digital access, digital commerce, digital communication, and more. She ends with "video about the 'filter bubble' that explains why you see a lot of what you as an individual see online." I don't really experience the filter bubble - there are days when I wish I did. But this isn't one of the posts I'd filter.
George Siemens gets this right. "This is where adaptive learning fails today: the future of work is about process attributes whereas the focus of adaptive learning is on product skills and low-level memorizable knowledge. I’ll take it a step further: today’s adaptive software robs learners of the development of the key attributes needed for continual learning – metacognitive, goal setting, and self-regulation – because it makes those decisions on behalf of the learner." As I (and no doubt many other people) have been saying, learning is about becoming a certain sort of person, not acquiring a certain body of content. So learning management is not a content selection and delivery problem.
Stephen Heppell is Professor of New Media Environments at Bournemouth University and has a long and good reputation in the field. "Lots of people spend time talking about 21st century skills," he says. "I don’t think any of that has changed very much. In the last century we thought about 20th century skills. I think pace is the thing that has changed, the speed of change is so great... I think the role of the teacher is to be passionate about learning. If you look around the world, teachers have become more and more driven to just deliver the curriculum, mark the books, organise the children, to do governance, and some of that passion has been lost."
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