by Stephen Downes
Dec 27, 2016
Singapore, noted for its top 10 finish in the recently released PISA test results, is shifting its focus away from rote and testing. "The system is now embracing skills, interests and a sense of curiosity. Above all, it hopes to bring out a love for lifelong learning in Singaporeans, from pupils to workers with decades of experience."
I think it would be surprising if these new technologies did not play a significant role, particularly in environments where teachers are too expensive or scarce to provide the necessary learning support. We are already looking at significant employment of tutors to support learning. This article looks at initiatives such as "the lessons, provided by a company called Third Space Learning, (that) are targeted at pupils struggling with maths – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds." Researchers at University College London (UCL), have "analysed around 100,000 hours of audio and written data from its tutorials, with the goal of identifying what makes a good teacher and a successful lesson."
This is quite a good paper from a couple years ago on the topic of assessing critical thinking. The authors look at a variety of critical thinking definitions and assessment methods, finding (not surprisingly) considerable variation in the quality of the research in the field. They recommend a new framework for assessment that is reasonably comprehensive.
The more interesting part of this article is in the opening sections as we learn about the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and in particular how it is positioned to meet government objectives of access and open education. Still, the survey provides some helpful information, suggesting that too few people in Nigeria are aware of the university (and hence recommending radio and TV advertisements), and the surprising result that people find the university website easier to access than the printed student handbook.
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