Jim Groom and Brian Lamb are working on a position paper challenging traditional models of higher education. This is Lamb's contribution, also in the context of the white paper on NGDLE. "Describing the emerging needs as “interoperability; personalization; analytics, advising, and learning assessment; collaboration; and accessibility and universal design”, the white paper promotes “a “Lego” approach to realizing the NGDLE, where NGDLE-conforming components are built that allow individuals and institutions the opportunity to construct learning environments tailored to their requirements and goals.” There's a lot of substance in the discussion that follows, but it could be summarized as: that's just learning objects (with all their attendant problems) all over again. "It’s hard not to feel we are at a very dangerous inflection point," he writes.
Jim Groom and Brian Lamb are working on a position paper challenging traditional models of higher education. This is Groom's contribution, which he sets out in the context of the EDUCAUSE Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE), which he notes, was the subject of an entire issue of EDUCAUSE Review. He says it "could be one way to imagine the power of what Kin Lane defines as the Personal API." Beyond the LMS (which we're all tired of bashing) he finds some promise in Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). Maybe there's a way (and he cites numerous sources) for this to support personal data management, but more sceptically, "NGDLE offers a way for institutions to more easily extract and share their learning community’s personal data," which isn't really a desirable outcome.
Although this post touts a solution to the complexity of branching scenarios (specifically: Twine) the post illustrates the core problem with them, and with rule-based systems in general. The problem is called the combinatorial explosion and is essentially the exponential multiplication of outcomes. Tucker gives an example: "If each choice has 3 options, you end up with 9 slides after just 2 choices, and 27 after 3 choices. This is 40 pages total with only 3 decisions per path." Twine (and similar systems) allow paths to merge, reducing the number of possibilities, but at the cost of making the scenario more like a narration and less like a game.
Facebook's response to the eruption of trolls and worse in social media is to give them some privacy. "Facebook recently changed its mission to emphasize the role of private groups." Joining the group shifts the algorithm to favour posts from the group. Some, like beekeepers and self-help groups, are benign. Others are not. For example, "In a political group called Pinochet’s Anti-SJW Beach Resort (36,059 members), members cruelly evaluated the physical appearance of women and made racist and anti-Semitic jokes." Nice people.
At a entertain point, if current trends hold, salaries offered to temporary 'adjunct' or 'sessional' academic staff will fall below the willingness of PhD graduates to accept them. This may be such a case. At that point, the traditional university business model fails. Universities will no longer be able to afford to teach the thousands of students they attract every year. What then?
This post contains some good advice. While "policy makers in developing countries look for strategies to improve learning by engaging with private providers," the authors argue that education should continue to be publicly funded "and sensibly provided through a mix of providers, including local NGOs and “mom and pop” schools." There's no single model that works well everywhere. For example, while Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are widely touted, the evidence " does not allow us to draw strong and universal conclusions about the impact of PPPs on learning outcomes," according the Ark Report (135 page PDF). Partnerships can start out well but evolve in a negative direction over time, as for example in the case of Colegios en Concesión (CEC), a contracting out model in Colombia, where "there has been progressively more room for student selection in each tender for the selection of providers."
It's interesting to see the writers at edSurge motivated to respond to the criticisms leveled by Audrey Watters. In this case we have Jason Palmer responding to "worries that “education technology [merely] serves as a ’Trojan Horse’ of sorts, carrying... the ideology of Silicon Valley [into public schools].” This he translates into a question something like "is education technology healthy in the United States," and not surprisingly, the answer is yes, especially given recent pubic policy decisions that have allowed private ventures to earn significant revenue from government sources. Eventually the U.S. government will turn off the subsidy taps, though, and we'll see how robust the market is. It's pretty easy to "spot which education technologies have the wind of government policy or philanthropic support at their back," especially when you have your own people at the table where the decisions are made, but it's a lot harder to get education right.
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