The recent "Stanford Study" on Zoom fatigue is a useful case study illustrating what goes wrong in science reporting and news generally (and illustrates why you shouldn't just follow 'trusted sources'). The original article, which I covered yesterday, was a press release based on an unpublished preprint. As so often happens in such cases, it almost instantly appeared around the world as news, with the headlines reflecting more of the press release hype than what should have been reported (if at all) as tentative early research on videoconferencing. A quick search in Google News reveals dozens of articles in reputable publications touting the student as though it were established science. No, no, and no. Here's my response meme, for what it's worth.
As is so often the case, it was the diagram that attracted me to this article. Here it is full size. The bulk of the article is a list of the most important discoveries about digital collaboration. They apply equally to online learning. For example: "Whenever we have removed the barriers to connecting and collaborating between people, much more value has been created." The largest problem has always been the barriers to access (and in my opinion most talk in ed tech circles about design and pedagogy and the rest is just a way of avoiding this key issue). Also for example: "Asynchronous collaboration at scale is the richest and most powerful model for working together that we know." It's also an excellent way to support learning online. Via Mike Taylor.
"It is difficult to see these exercises as anything more than heavy-handed ideological attempts to redesign the fundamental mission of our universities," writes Marc Spooner. "Universities will be coerced away from their traditional aspirations of fostering critical, creative, and well-rounded citizens—while performing research in the public interest." But let's be clear - if governments said they want universities to be accountable for "fostering critical, creative, and well-rounded citizens," the response would be equally negative. The objection is to accountability to government itself, and not the specific metric. And a case could be made that universities work better when held to arm's-length accountability, such as scholarly peer review and professional accreditation bodies. But it's disingenuous to say that the specific metric (in this case, job creation) is at fault. It seems to me universities could - indeed, should - have broader social goals. But if their own arm's-length assessments do nothing in that regard, then it's hard to make the case defending it.
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