by Stephen Downes
Nov 16, 2016
There's debate about Pearson's approach to OER, especially through it's Equella service (acquired in 2009). Lisa Petrides posts on 'open source pillaging': "see how our non-commercial resources are used inappropriately here." Bill Fitzgerald responds that Pearson is doing the community a service. "Pearson is helping to expose more people to OER, and subsequenty increase the adoption of OER," he writes. "By selling access to communities around OERs, Pearson provides a gateway, exposing many people to OER who might never have used them otherwise." But if they're using them simply as yet another commercial resource, where's the benefit in that?
It's not the first 'end of the year' article (believe it or not) but it's early. Too early, in my view, but I digress. Anyhow, it makes four predictions, which I quote:
Well, *yawn*. All of these (very vague) things are happening now. If you're going to write an end-of-year article, try to be useful. How will video be enhanced in 2017? What impact will defining learning as a benefit have? What new features or types of gamification can we expect? How will be define employee development goals? Come on - if you're going to predict, try to actually engage with the topic.
It's telling that this defense of the most non-utilitarian of disciplines appeals to a utilitarian argument: "Properly applied, the humanities teach us how to formulate our views, articulate them and defend them." That's a side-benefit, but hardly the core of philosophy or any of the humanities. I studied philosophy motivated by a spirit of discovery and creativity, a desire to explore ideas and perspectives and points of view. I didn't care (and still don't care) whether welders make more money than me (I hope they do; welders offer a valuable service to us all). Philosophy doesn't need defending. The reduction of all things to monetary value needs defending.
As the story says, "IBM picks Blackboard and Pearson to bring the technology behind the Watson computer to colleges and universities." Watson is IBM's flagship analytics engine. Pearson is working on an “intelligent tutoring system” while Blackboard is working on "tools for advisers and faculty members."
How do we explain the high-profile silicon Valley failures in ed tech? Jennifer Carolan suggests we can learn some lessons from their failures in other domains. First, "Education expertise, which is critical to building great education startups, has been undervalued in edtech." Second, "top performing edtech companies almost always have at least one investor with deep experience operating and investing in the space." And third, "efficacy matters even if it is hard to demonstrate."
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