This post looks at the introduction of learning analytics from the perspective of "cycles of interaction between people, technology and an education problem." Specifically, "there exists a tension between administrative/mainstream systems, processes and mindsets, and adaptive systems, process and mindsets. Innovation and problem solving (adaptive) in organisations always develops a tension with established, mainstream ways of doing things."
This is one of the more interesting of Amazon's announcements thisd week. 'Deep Racer' is a scale model racing car. Inside, it has a reinforcement learning engine. You train your car to race, and then submit your trained engine to Amazon to compete in actual road races with your self-driving car. "RL is an advanced machine learning (ML) technique which takes a very different approach to training models than other machine learning methods. Its super power is that it learns very complex behaviors without requiring any labeled training data, and can make short term decisions while optimizing for a longer term goal."
Bryan Alexander summarizes a report from the American Historical Association showing that the number of history majors in U.S. universities has dropped significantly over the last decade. The xplanations offered don't seem very plausible - the lack of jobs for history majors is one factor, but this has always been true. Also, "women, once restricted to the humanities, increasingly have other options for study," would be more plausible if the study started in the 1950s, not 2008. The explanation that "history is losing out to interdisciplinary and area studies" is a bit more plausible, and also " the collapse of law school enrollment, as history has long been a reliable prelaw major." More coverage by Inside Higher Ed.
Michael Geist continues his series on how the government is being misled about fair dealing (previously covered here; see also Part 6, Part 8). This post summarizes his findings in a statement before the committee. "Last week," he says, "I was dismayed to hear witnesses claim that Canada’s teachers, students and educational institutions are engaged in illegal activity. This claim is wrong and should be called out as such."
Given that Ontario students rank among the very top in international testing, I greet this attention-grabbing headline with a great deal of scepticism. To me it has all the makings of a manufactured crisis. The article makes it clear that the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario is working with a revised definition of literacy. "The test was not measuring whether students can read or do arithmetic, but whether they can take written or numerical information and use it to solve problems." Here's the report: 74 page PDF. Here's what the students would need to be able to do to achieve what the headline calls "basic literacy" (p.26):
Now let me be clear. I agree that students should be able to perform tasks at this level. Most people can't. Other jurisdictions score far worse than Ontario. And there is a big difference between this and what the headline describes as "basic literacy".
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