by Stephen Downes
Mar 16, 2017
This to me reads like those articles from the 90s and 00s about how newspapers were making quality writing and reporting their top priority. I can see them now: "yes, even though we employ more lower-paid stringers than ever before and are walking all over each other to commercialize the offering, we will save our declining market share by doubling down on our core offering." OK, here's what they're really saying: "ACUE’s recommended teaching techniques are steeped in four decades of research. 'That was critical for faculty buy-in,' she said." Note: 40 years ago it was 1977.
On certain levels, I think this is a good article. It makes the point that "while 'personalized learning' might be a powerful slogan for the ed-tech industry and its funders, the sweeping claims about its benefits are largely unproven by educational research," and makes the case that "the public’s 'low tolerance for uncertainty and risk' surrounding student data is hardly irrational." But there's a false dichotomy in the idea that "the unreasonable effectiveness of data will supplant theory." For one thing, I think "theory" argues for its own replacement with something, anything. Maybe "data" isn't it (and certainly not the narrow data available to most systems extant today).
As this article notes, MOOC provider FutureLearn is putting the squeeze on students, cutting off access to MOOC contents unless they pay. It's what we're seeing in the market as a whole. "As Matt Walton — Chief Product Officer at FutureLearn — notes, charging for certificates hasn’t proven to be an effective business model for MOOC providers. For many learners, certificates are not a priority. So now MOOC providers have started charging for course content." Of course, at a certain point, all of these enterprises are going to have to relinquish the name MOOC and go back to using the original product category name: commercial courseware.
The purpose of this post is to advertise the founding of the Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy at Northeastern University. Based on the premise that there is "a mismatch between what employers say they want and what they believe colleges and universities are producing" the article looks at what are called 'talent strategies', a euphemism for the use of non-academic data to evaluate job applicants. "For one thing, bad grammar is a proven red flag.... (and) it turns out that which Web browser a candidate uses to apply correlates to later success for some coding jobs." What the article does not say (but should) is that a person's online presence and social media are rife with the data companies need to make these evaluations, and that this (and not college credentials, microdegrees or badges) will be the hiring data of the future.
Even if (like me) you don't have the time and space in your life to construct one of these, just reading the article is enough to give you inspiration. It also gives you a 20-20 glimpse into the future. The idea is to hook up a camera to a $40 minicomputer called Raspberry Pi, take pictures of visitors, and then send them to the cloud where you'll apply Amazon Web Services (AWS) face-recognition technology to them. The expensive bit is the $50 Echo Dot, a hands-free, voice-controlled device that you use to control your device.
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