by Stephen Downes
Dec 12, 2016
The key question to emerge from Tony Bates's review of a survey on learning technology in universities: "What happens when we go to 85% or more of the teaching being blended? The current learning technology support model just won’t be able to handle this expansion, certainly not at the rate that it is being predicted." But if universities have no realy idea how to implement blended learning, why would we think this is the way forward?
A lot of what underpins communications theory as described here also underpins theories of transactional distance in education theory (see the work of Michael G. Moore for example). The idea is that "the process of communication involves the process by which a sender conveys a particular message to the audience" and "effective communication occurs when the receiver can acquire the exact meaning intended by the sender." Pretty standard stuff. About three quarters of the way through, the author looks inward and discusses the elements of dialogue with oneself. I like this a lot, but it makes me wonder, when we communicate with ourselves, is communication always effective? I don't think it is, for a variety of reasons. And I ask whether communication is really the sending of a specific message with any sort of meaning at all. Via Pierre Levy.
This is a great example of a personal professional development project, and Lisa Charlotte Rost is not only walking away from this exercise with knowledge and skills she can bank on, she provides the rest of us with an excellent understanding of the range of data visualization tools available today (and more importantly, what sets them apart from each other).
Experience of disadvantage: The influence of identity on engagement in working class students’ educational trajectories to an elite university
Tamara Thiele, Daniel Pope, Alexander Singleton, Darlene Snape, Debbi Stanistreet, British Educational Research Journal, 2016/12/12
A willingness to work hard, an ability to resist negative social pressure, and a desire to prove sceptical parents and peers wrong - these are traits that characterized those from disadvantaged social groups who did attend a top-tier university, as compared to those who didn't. These are the conclusions of a British Educational Research Journal study published today. It all rings true for me (despite the small size of the study, which should invite caution). People may read this and say "oh yeah, you need grit." Or some such thing. But to me it speaks to the wider social conditions we need to address to help people move beyond a disadvantaged background and achieve more in life.
This is the first of Audrey Watters's series on trends in education for 2016 and it's pretty good, even if I disagree with the main metaphor. She depicts 2016 as "a terrible, terrible year" because of the celebrity deaths, bad election results, war and killings. My own observation is that it's business as usual with a bit of a demographic kick as the post-war baby boom reaches its inevitable conclusion. But her observations about the danger of quackery in ed tech are spot on, and she lists a number of 'trends' as indicators: chatbots, blockchain, Pokemon Go, 3D printing and wearables. If your pundit gushed about one of more of these this year, there's a good chance they're a quack. Not because they're failures. But because they're fads, and quacks jump on fads (trying to be the 'first' and make a name for themselves, as Dean Groom pointed out earlier this week.
I commented to someone this week, "For all my talk about networking, I'm not a very good networker." Maybe when you don't have it you see what it is more clearly? So consequently, I don't have what Amy Burvall's daughter would call "an Ellie" - a close (and more organized) friend she calls instead of using antique technology like a website. This reminds me of a survey we did when researching for MuniMall in the 1990s - we asked municipal officials where they got the information they needed, and the number one answer was to "'call someone they know." Burvall suspects we prefer this method because it's more human. I suspect it's rather because it's more efficient.
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