Lorna Campbell reflects on the controversies and changes at OpenEd this year, reflects on how different the U.S. experience of 'open' is from her British context, and wonders about the centrality of OpenEd as compared to other such conferences. In my experience there's no one 'open education community' (though each of a number of them sees themselves that way). There's the OpenEd community, the ALT community, the UNESCO community, the ICDE community, and many others. Mostly they don't talk to each other. Different communities are focused on different issues, ranging from cost to access to diversity to quality to pedagogy. This is a good thing. I wouldn't want there to be just one community. But it would be nice if the different communities would begin to recognize each others' existence.
I won't post many of these prediction posts for the end of the year, but this one is one of the first out of the gate and has the advantage of being reasonably detailed and insightful. The focus here is mostly on corporate learning, which is why we see trends such as workforce learning (hot) and performance support replacing learning (not). Some specific picks: machine learning for content curation, self-assessment for skills, and video auto-transcripts. The biggest trend, writes Weiss, will be the 'hub', where "every spoke is interconnected with the central component, the learning system." Things like virtual and augmented reality, however, will spend most of 2020 sitting on the shelf. All of this seems reasonable to me.
This is a detailed article delving deep into the language and presumptions shared by educational foundations and associated articles in EdWeek. I think it would have benefited from a wider range of media sources. The authors focus on what is called the 'dominant discourse' - a "focus on advantages; focus on what works and organizational efficiencies; limited attention of analysis of asymmetrical power dimensions; and an assumption that schools are broken." The authors write "Their voices in the landscape of K-12 education are particularly loud, amplified by their grant dollars and their networks of influence." They also note - briefly - an emerging 'alternative' point of view challenging the dominant discourse. "From the perspective of the alternative discourse, learning is all about content, and the teacher’s role is one of curating that content to provide students with access to materials that will support high quality learning opportunities." There is such a point of view in the literature, but I see it as contributing to, not countering, the dominant discourse. The real alternative view (which I lable under the heading of 'personal learning') is not considered at all.
The introduction to this interview with K. VijayRaghavan is longer than the actual interview, but in this case it's words well spent, as Richard Poynder discusses why India won't be joining Plan S (which aims to entrench open access scientific publication). "India is still moving towards a national open access policy, but wants to develop its own approach rather than join cOAlition S." Why? Well, this is suggestive: " most believe that the practical outcome of the initiative will be a near-universal pay-to-publish environment in which the main beneficiaries will be the publishing oligopoly, not the research community." Yes, that would be a bad outcome. And in this light, India's actions are unsurprising.
The gist of this article (and a wave of them that have appeared recently) is that reading comprehension problems are caused more by a lack of content knowledge than by a lack of reading ability. The example used to demonstrate this is an old canard from 1987 wherein a person who doesn't understand baseball terms will fail to understand text about baseball. Which while true on the face of it is more of a lesson in the need to define your terms than it is a lesson about why children can't read. Why? Well - the answer here is that we're going to have to teach them about baseball, right? But, how are we going to teach them about baseball? Content knowledge isn't this magic stuff that can be put into a child's head. It requires reading comprehension.
As an aside, the writers promulgating this kind of nonsense should know better. It is well known that language is generative - that is, we can use existing things to make new things (The Simpsons plays with this all the time - which is why 'embiggen' is a perfectly cromulent word). There is a range of grammatical structures, semantic and metaphotical methods, and context-sensitive factors that all go into this. It's why we can read words that are msspeled, and how we can use language to build a knowledge of things we don't already know. That - and not 'content knowledge' - is the skill we're developing when we learn to read. Otherwise, we'd have to memorize every single fact, which besides being an absurdity, is pretty much impossible. The content knowledge people, though, have something to sell. Buyer beware.
This is of course a political document, and so there's a little to like and a little to dislike on almost every page. There's the usual bits about evaluating teachers based on student progress (an ill-conceived idea in a provide where poverty is still a problem) and privatizing schools (another ill-conceived idea in a province where poverty is a problem). But buried in the middle of this document is something revolutionary: "The department will, in stages, eliminate grades. These will be replaced with flexible learn-ing environments beginning in the 2020-21 school year." (p.9) Now I don't know whether this is the government to do something like this - it does not jibe with the many more conservative threads in the document. But it's interesting that it's being considered, and certainly worth a wider discussion.
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