by Stephen Downes
Mar 21, 2017
In memory of Bob Robertson, the Double Exposure audio collection. Canadian comedy from the best. I cut my teeth on these.
"Like its close cousin Disruption," says Martin Weller, "unbundling has been a favourite philosophy of the silicon valley start up. It has often been applied to education (even, erm, by me). This piece for example boldly states 'The bundle of knowledge and certification that have long-defined higher education is coming apart'." But in this short item he presses the question. We should be able to point to "solid research that says things like 'unbundling isn’t really happening on the scale they suggest' or 'unbundling works well for these learners, but has these impact on staff' or 'this model is viable, but has these costs', or even 'you can safely ignore it'." True, but the problem with such research is that it comes after the fact, well past the time you would have needed to act on it.
It's pretty hard to make that case when you're steeped in enterprise learning, but I think it's true: "CBE is indeed a niche market growing much more slowly that many had hoped or predicted." There are reasons for that. Alex Usher touches on the core issue: "we are having trouble figuring out skills and competencies outside narrow professional frameworks?" Even proponents are taking it slow. Here's Brightspace's John Baker: "we look at it as one component of the learning experience,” Baker said. “What we’re hoping is you’ll see more and more courses, programs, universities and colleges making a complete transition to that model of learning. But we recognize that that transformation takes time.” See also: Deconstructing CBE. Image: CompetencyWorks.
The idea of 'eliminativism' is that our common-sense psychological concepts such as 'beliefs', 'desires', etc., don't actually exist. This has important implications for education, since pretty much all of educational theory depends on these concepts. I am an eliminativst philosophically; I don't think you actually find thoughts, beliefs or desires (or signs, symbols, models or representations) in the brain. That doesn't mean we can't use the words, it's just that we need to be very careful about invoking them in explasnations. It's like using the language of 'windows' and 'folders' to talk about a computer. "Clicking on the folder will bring up a menu showing where your saved files are, etc. But it would be a mistake to think that this gave you any idea about how the computer was working. It is not storing little file folders away."
Would I pay money to see a movie in virtual reality (VR)? Oh my yes I would. According to this, "Upload VR reports that virtual reality is creating fans out of certain big-names like directors Guillermo Del Toro and Justin Lin. Lin, the director of The Fast and the Furious, also directed a Google 360-degree spotlight story called HELP."
Interesting summary of a publication (I can read it here but it might be blocked where you are) suggesting, as the title says, that peers motivate us more than teachers. It's just one study (of "four sections of an online, introductory-level educational psychology course at a large, public Midwestern university," because there are no other kinds of people on earth) so don't read too much into it. "These findings suggest that what instructors were good at was getting across cold facts, while the peers seemed to be tapping into an identification process,” says Cary Roseth. It would be interesting to see whether the same results would hold in Europe, India and China. It's the age of the internet - can't publications demand that projects like this be global in nature?
This is an overview article of the potential of the blockchain in higher education. We've covered the blockchain in OLDaily before. In a nutshell: a transaction (contract, credential, whatever) is encrypted in a block, and the block is added to a chain of encryptions. So the transaction is public and verifiable, but secret and secure. It's tempting to imagine a network of competencies, badges and blockchains, as Doug Belshaw did last year, but the Tapscitt version is a lot more conservative: "a student receives a custom learning experience from a dozen institutions, while the blockchain serves to track the student’s path and progress."
There are two interesting things in this post. The first is the description of the 'change sprint' that is the focus of the post as a whole. It's a method for getting input from other people when you can't just open up ideas to the whole internet. The second is the outcome from one of the change sprints, the 'learning ecosystem participant model', which ranges between open and directed action, and working along vs. working with others. P.S. he also notes that "calls to Twitter for participation weren’t quite doing the same thing they used to." I wonder whether people are following Twitter very much these days (other than those focused on politics).
I agree with this assessment. "Commercial databases such as ISI and Scopus have systematic errors as they do not include many journals in the social sciences and humanities, nor have good coverage of conferences proceedings, books or book chapters." They are, in a word, biased toward traditional scientific publications (which is also where they make their money). It makes a difference to me. According to Scopus my h-index id 5. According to Google Scholar my h-index is 26. That's a pretty large variance in the estimation of my academic impact. Via gsiemens.
A long time ago I offered my own version of 'School 2.0' in which placement in the community was a core concept (that's it, pictured in the image). The current article describes an instantiation of that sort of vision. "The entire senior class was placed in full-time tech internships throughout the city, acquiring job skills and building their professional networks instead of slogging through the traditional spring semester." Now the implementation was not without its issues: the staff had to scramble to find 74 placements, the high school students were sometimes unprofessional, and close supervision was required. “We’d rather students learn those lesson now rather than after investing 50K when the stakes are much higher.” Related: Every space is a learning space.
This is a bit of a puzzle. Over time, Coursera has focused on authenticating users and (thereby) offering 'validated' certificates. But the news now is that it is shutting this down. Class Central speculates that "It seems Coursera no longer feels the need to identify a learner every time they submit an assignment," thus ending the "constant nagging". But maybe it's because there's no point. Perhaps the authentication process doesn't actually work. That could explain why "the terms 'Signature Track' and 'Verified Certificate' are no longer used, and have been replaced by 'Certificate." But I don't know. Maybe it's Class Central making something out of nothing. A statement from Coursera on this would help, maybe.
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