This article looks at issues related to the idea of ‘Evidence-based teaching’. There are several specific problems, but the primary issue (in my mind) is this: "It would be foolish for educators to reject evidence out of hand, as if tradition or instinct were enough, but what now stands proxy for the breadth of evidence is statistical averaging. This abstraction neglects practitioners’ accumulated experience, students’ needs and wishes, feedback, and an understanding of social context." It doesn't matter how people, on average, learn. It matters how I learn.
We're not that far from seeing this sort of technology applied in day-to-day interactions. It will be mainstream within 20 years, I'd say. Already the technology exists to do narrowly-bounded applications. Consider: "There are a variety of unexpected but routine events that get reported on every day in the news, such as fires, sports, and crimes where basic structured information about the event could be collected by such a system." I can imagine such a system performing routine tests, exams and screening interviews. And, eventually, a lot more.
At ISTE this year participants were given 'smart badges' - these tracked your movements and after the conference will provide participants with a report "listing of all the sessions you attended and links to any digital resources the session offered." More importantly, ISTE itself was provided "with information on session attendance and traffic flow in the expo hall and other open spaces, including playgrounds and poster sessions." Well, "ISTE calls this 'personalized learning,'" writes Audrey Watters. "I call it surveillance pedagogy and an act of violence against women just waiting to happen." Doug Levin took one apart and from the data inside found a user manual for the surveillance tags. In a follow-up post Levin serached for tag readers and found not only them but also surveillance cameras placed unobtrusively next to them. "I’ve made sure to keep my references to the ISTE ‘smart badge’ in quotes," writes Levin. "It is not smart. It is a Bluetooth location tracker – commonly used to locate lost cats, keys, and luggage – branded with words that connote innovation and trendiness and hence make it socially acceptable to track people."
This is a summary of a report by Andrew J. Magda and Carol B. Aslanian (there's a spamwall, but this direct download link might work - 62 page PDF) "on the survey of 1,500 past, present, and prospective fully online college students in the USA." The main message is that online degrees are worth the time and resources expended. Bates comments, "As online students move from being a small minority to a substantial proportion of post-secondary enrolments (at least one third of students in the USA take at least one online course and in Canada around 15% of all course enrolments are now online) institutions will need to pay more attention to the specific needs of students who study primarily off-campus."
This is a case of a writer wanting to have it both ways. On the one hand, "Jobs that were once done by 2 people are now done by 1." On the other hand, "Almost everything that happens at a university that is of any value is done by a person." I think that what we'll find is that as automation takes over the quality of a university education doesn't decline as much as you think it would. Sure, automation is not as good as it could be. But like self-driving cars, we might find that the robots do a lot of cognitive tasks better than the humans. Photo: New York Times in a story about the restaurant.
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