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Does it Work? The Most Meaningless Question to Ask about Online Education
Yong Zhao, National Education Policy Center, 2020/03/31


I agree with Yong Zhao on this point, and appreciate how completely he makes the argument. The question is meaningless because (quoted and/or paraphrased):

As we've said many times about MOOCs: you need to decide for yourself what counts as success, and whether your learning activity has met that standard.

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Education in Times of Crisis and Beyond: Maximizing Copyright Flexibilities
Brigitte V├ęzina, Cable Green, Creative Commons, 2020/03/31


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The authors argue that the current immediate demand for online learning "brings into focus the essential need for both broad access to Open Educational Resources (OER) and broad limitations and exceptions (L&E) for educators and learners to freely and legally use copyright works for educational purposes." I want to caution as I have in the past that limitations and exceptions (L&E) for educators create the risk that materials will be available only to educational institutions (which often charge tuition, even during a crisis) and not to individuals learning on their own at home (which these days is most of us). So be careful when asking for special rights for education - they might be just what you get!

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COVID-19 versus higher ed: the downhill slide becomes an avalanche
Bryan Alexander, 2020/03/31


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Bryan Alexander outlines what is essentially a doomsday scenario for the U.S. education system as huge declines in funding and revenue combine with steep enrollment declines. He invites us to "carry some findings over to other countries’ post-secondary systems, depending on local conditions," but it is important to keep in mind that government support for post-secondary education has been steadily withdrawn since the 1980s. So like their health care system, the U.S. post-secondary system is largely privatized, and similarly hindered in a crisis. To be sure, other countries will also have to adjust because of the crisis and the new reality, but they have more room to manoeuver, and a different mandate. If ever there was an argument for government support of essential services like health and education, we are seeing it play our in front of us.

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Being there
Steve Wheeler, Learning with e's, 2020/03/31


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It would have been nice to get more than this 6-paragraph minimalist treatment of the ideas in this post. Steve Wheeler argues that "Almost always, social presence is a deciding factor in whether students persist in their remote studies, or whether they give up." Can teaching or cognitive presence make up for this (see, for example, the CoI model from the late 90s). And if presence is grounded in the various affordances of techning technologies, shouldn't we be designing with affordances, rather than learning objectives, in mind (as I have suggested)?

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Reflections Week Two: pace yourself
Lawrie Phipps, lawrie : converged, 2020/03/31


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The reason I'm posting this particular post in this particular newsletter is for the summary of Phipps's contribution to a Dave Cormier webcast with a single quip: “Whatever you do digitally, it’s going to be more accessible to your students than not doing it.” It's easy to think of online learning as substandard, or of your own contributions as not enough, but it's false thinking. In my own work, I have always positioned my thinking from the perspective of the average person who cannot afford university tuitions, not the elite who can. The comparison isn't between $50K education and online learning, it's between online learning and nothing. Today, everybody is in that boat, but the basic logic doesn't change.

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Copyright 2020 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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