According to this article, " Ireland’s government has announced the creation of a new group, chaired by the Union of Students in Ireland, to examine how student wellbeing and engagement can be enhanced at the country’s higher education institutions." It's designed to address "the additional challenges faced by all students as a result of Covid-19." Ensuring well-being is definitely on the list of priorities, and I understand why the groups involved would limit their focus to students, but it seems to me that there is a significant role to be played by the education system in the well-being of people, whether or not they are students, and that if the organizations involved cat they gaze more widely, they'd find new ways to improve the outlook for students and non-students alike.
No, I don't think we were wrong to look at applications of blockchain in education. Premature, perhaps, but the opportunities for a decentralized set of permanent records of authorship, achievenement, and other data are too important to ignore. "Through the use of blockchain," writes Rory McGreal, "it could be possible to ensure the availability of more affordable, equitable and quality educational content internationally."
Two trends have been constant over the last decade or so. One is the constant production of articles asserting that machines will never be able to evaluate learning. The other is the continuous release of new and better programs that evaluate learning. This announcement falls into the latter category. " Ed tech company 42 Lines has introduced a new auto-grading feature for its Harmonize online discussion platform," according to Campus Technology. This one appears to be based on pretty simple metrics; "students can be graded by number of posts, comments and replies." But that's just the foot in the door; we know that the application will grow much more sophisticated through use. There's not much more information available, but here's a short blog post from 42 Line desxribing the feature.
Alex user takes on the oft-made claim by universities that "we care about community" by asking, essentially, "where is the evidence of this?" He looks at two example of measures, one of which (pictured, 48 page PDF) was produced by Nous Group from a series of Global University Engagement Summits, and the second (77 page PDF) an outcome of the a European Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement in Higher Education (TEFCE) initiative. "As a self-improvement tool, TEFCE’s toolbox seems useful – almost certainly more useful than what the Nous Group has developed," he writes. There's a lot of overlap between the two but the second offers a much more precise set of indicators. That said, they both feel very narrow, nibbling around the edges of what a university does, and being (it seems to me) not willing to consider a case in which the university's core mission (providing access to research and learning) is contributed to the community.
This article references a much longer report (67 page PDF) on the topic of self-assessment for digital education providers. The report "presents a review of 20 instruments from around the globe designed for self-assessment of digitally enhanced learning and teaching (DELT) at higher education institutions" (the report itself is only 26 pages, with appendices occupying the last 40 pages). There's a good overview in the NIDL Blog, and makes the points, first, that "the concept of maturity... is potentially problematic if narrowly interpreted as being static or linear in terms of progression," and second, "an overly narrow focus... may not take sufficient account of wider change forces and global developments." All of which is fair enough, but less problematic if we take these assessments to be more descriptive than they are evaluative.
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