by Stephen Downes
Feb 23, 2017
What I like about the current age is that people have started thinking about different ways of representing (and different audiences) for all sorts of information. Today we have by way of example Nietzsche in Shapes and Colors, "a board book aimed at introducing Nietzschean themes to children by way of simple phrases and beautiful illustrations, including naturalism." And why don't we teach young children about the wonders of nature, the varieties of perspective, and personal empowerment? I had to wait until I was in university before I discovered these things had names and weren't the products of my imagination.
As this article suggests, it's probably no coincidence that Google, Microsoft and Apple each have a product named 'Classroom'. Though all are listed as 'free', each requires the purchase of an expensive application or software suite. The products are being targeted aggressively at schools (especially in the U.S.) and the companies have created associated 'classroom' communities. The tools are mostly used to help students collaborate on documents and to submit homework assignments. Related: are we innovating or just digitizing traditional teaching?
This article describes the deployment of MyOn in the Detroit public school system. MyOn provides access to a library of 13,000 titles for young readers. It works "by initially prompting students to take an interest inventory to decide what types of books they are interested in reading, and a placement test to determine reading ability." We are told that "since adopting the platform, the district has seen the number of books being accessed and read by our students increase dramatically." Interestingly, MyOn has no Wikipedia page. Previously a division of Capstone, it has just been sold to Francisco Partners, a private equity firm. More coverage of MyOn from various media.
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