by Stephen Downes
Nov 22, 2016
I have said on numerous occasions that things like university rankings are a lobbying tool, not a measuring tool. Organizations take the values they want to see emulated and grade the universities according to them. This is the gist of this article from Yves Gingras, once you skip past the extended retelling of the time-worn tale of the emperor's new clothes. "We must go beyond the generalities of those who repeat ad nauseam that 'rankings are here to stay' – without ever explaining why this must be so – and open these 'black boxes' in order to question the nature and value of each and every indicator used to assess research at a given scale."
Good post explaining why simply providing access to an education isn't enough to address income inequality. First, let's look at the cost of education in the first place and the load it places on people. "One of saddest features of US higher education economics today: many of the kids saddled with higher education debt don’t even graduate!" But even if you graduate, you need more than an education. "Rich kids who drop out of high school do as well as poor kids who complete college? Opportunity hoarding makes it difficult to really move the needle in terms of addressing economic inequity." I've called this 'the Yale advantage' in the past and it represents one of the core inequalities online learning needs to address. Otherwise, it becomes just a means of entrenching the status quo.
Many people are linking the failure of education with the rise of the post-fact reality. They're also blaming social media, and especially Facebook. Clearly there are educational implications. " Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller of the think tank Demos wrote a report 5 years ago that highlighted a need to teach young people critical thinking and scepticsm online to ‘allow them to better identify outright lies, scams, hoaxes, selective half-truths, and mistakes.’" But let's not blame the less-educated. The most educated people in society have made this the environment we're living in.
Perhaps we're looking at the idea of computers replacing teachers in the wrong light, says Dan Butin. "Much of my job is repetitive," he writes. "I’ve used the same readings, the same examples, the same jokes, for years in my introductory class. Maybe, just maybe, it might not be so bad to be replaced by a computer." How is this OK? "I want to be anything but typical. I want to (and do) engage my students through in-class and out-of-class experiential activities, role plays and simulations, service-learning projects, mentorship opportunities and shadow-a-teacher experiences."
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