Good article summarizing the major arguments against personalized education* today (* term yet to be defined). Here are the three top arguments: first, the research doesn't show significantly improved learning outcomes; second, personalization is a type of behaviourist reductionism on a screen; and third, personalized learning is (or could be) a thinly disguised push by the education technology industry toward a massive data collection effort. I think we need a bit more substance behind each of these three arguments; the first, for example, is based solely on a single RAND study, which is hardly a comprehensive reserach outcome. And even if "critics believe that personalized learning boils down to kids working alone on software," it doesn't follow that this is actually the case. Still, there may be merit to this broad spectrum of opposition, and it shouldn't be dismissed lightly.
I'm not really a fan of personas but they are widely used in software and product design so it's appropriate to see them deployed in the development of OERs. This article describes the process undertaken by Designers for Learning, "a nonprofit organization in the United States that coordinates service-learning opportunities for those who seek to gain experience in creating instruction to support important social causes." The journal article (13 page PDF) emphasizes that "When designers visualize the end user of a design, they can influence the design process... relying solely on traditional descriptive information (i.e., demographics) about the intended audience does not help designers develop empathy toward the audience." The design process is also a pdagogical process, as suggested by the 4-phase framework of empathy in design practice (illustrated).
This post and a previous one from Martin Weller, along with two sites from Katy Jordan, go to support the argument that people working in different domains of open education do not talk to each other, and that they especially do not learn from the lessons of the past. I am not even remotely convinced by the evidence. Only 170 articles were collected on the topic (including a grand total of three by me, including one duplicate listing). The articles are very unevenly distributed over time; it's not at all surprising to see so few references to the early years when there are so few articles listed from those years. Finally, most of the work in open education takes place outside the domain of scholarly publication (the grouping simply reflects the different waves of academics who come to graze on the primary material and take credit for 'discovering' the concepts and ideas wthin).
I am broadly supportive of the objectives of this report (40 page PDF) though I don't find all of the argumentation convincing. The old "Canada is falling behind" argument is meaningless; we are also "falling behind" in gun ownership and in clearcutting forests, but that doesn't mean we should reverse course. The main argument is the argument in the strategic objectives section: supporting international study opportunities will support long-term economic growth and innovation in Canada by reinforcing the values of openness and inclusion that are essential to Canada’s success as a diverse society, and fostering intercultural and international cooperation. But the program should not be for students only. It should make a diligent effort (far beyond the token support in the report) to include disadvantaged and working Canadians, including especially aboriginal youth. And it should enlarge the scope of Canadian travel beyond the u.S., the U.K., and Europe. We will learn more by studying diverse cultures in Africal, Latin America and Asia. Via both the Globe and Mail, and Academica, neither of which included a link to the actual report (why oh why?).
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