This is a preview for the Alt-C conference, which is on right now in Manchester. Sarah Knight surveys the major issues on the agenda this year, including the use of data and analytics in learning design, "the digital skills of students and staff," and "understanding of how staff are actually using technology in their practice." The Alt-C conference Twitter feed is currently filled with awards and food picks.
This is an aspect of 'reclaim' that doesn't get talked about a lot in technological circles. As this article notes, "Lesley Rameka noticed that a lot of New Zealand early childhood education centres were adopting international philosophies and practices that bore little cultural relevance to the attending children." Technology and commercialization have a tendency to homogenize, but education needs to attend to the individual in culture and society.
The good news is that businesses are taking work-integrated learning (WIL) seriously. Hence the Business Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) letter to the Finance Minister on the subject. But I find myself in unusual agreement with Alex Usher in questioning the merit of advocacy for a national strategy. It's not that I think a national strategy is "a substitute for action." Nor is it that I am worried about integrating WIL into the curriculum, though certainly don't think it's the place of a national strategy to do that. No, it's that a single central platform (with funding to other single central platforms) is a bad idea. If WIL is really so important to businesses, then as Usher suggests, they should do more than just write letters. They should put real money into it and make it happen.
The article delivers what it promises, a rubric for choosing educational technology. There's a link to a nice downloadable version - 7 page PDF. The rubric has some technical requirements, including mobile design, accessibility and functionality, and it has security and privacy requirements, and then along the educational dimension it invokes the Communities of Inquiry (CoI) model, adding rubrics related to social, teaching and cognitive presences. The rubric is course-based and includes 'playing well' with the institutional LMS, and it also has a condition that "requires that instructors be able to identify students." But will this rubric help you actually select e-learning technologies? It seems to me that most commercial products could satisfy all these criteria. My Nine Rules pose tougher criteria, my Network Design Principles tougher criteria still, especially principle 6, the 'Semantic Principle', looking for technology that promotes autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity. Maybe you don't like my approach, but you will need some more stringent principles than those captured in this rubric.
I think that when you post a headline like this, you need at the very least to be able to show that the system is indeed dismal. This is a tall order in this case. Ontario's public education system is the envy of the world. It ranks near the top of international testing. And it prepares citizens to participate in a modern information-age society. So why say that the system is dismal? It may have a lot to do with the first recommendation: "subsidizing independent school tuition." By "independent schools" the author means "private schools". But this creates inequality, which as we know causes school systems to decline. As Doug Peterson writes, "Every child in the province deserves access to a consistent, quality education. They can do that right now." There are also recommendations about curricula, testing textbooks and teacher training that are similarly regressive. If you want to see the outcome of these policies, don't look for them at the top of the international rankings. Look for them at the bottom.
There's a lot going on in this article, but here's how I read it: for people who distrust the media, the most cited reason is bias, but for people who trust the media, the most cited reason is accuracy, and transparency can improve trust in the media generally. This matters to me because, as readers know, this newsletter definitely comes with a point of view. The same is true of most teachers and professors. That's why it's really important to get the facts right and to be transparent. If you can't do this, then having a point of view will sink you, and people won't trust you. Here's the full report (37 page PDF) from the Knight Foundation.
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