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Feature Article
Looking Forward
Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, 2021/12/30

Following Ben Werdmüller and Laura Ritchie, two members of a small eclectic Mastodon community, I am using the turn of the calendar to look forward and not backward.

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A Decade of MOOCs: A Review of Stats and Trends for Large-Scale Online Courses in 2021
Dhawal Shah, Class Central, 2021/12/30


So it has been more than a decade, of course, but by this point this has become a minor historical quibble. What's really important is this number: "MOOCs have reached 220 million learners." As Daniel Christian says, "I don’t know the total number of graduates from the Ivy League — throughout all of the relevant institutions’ histories — but I would bet you that MOOCs have reached far more learners. And MOOCs did so in less than a decade." Now of course that would be to compare courses and programs - but no matter. It is arguable that by the time they become tradition-encrusted relics of the past, MOOCs will have done far more than the ivies ever did.

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The Amazing Engineering of James Webb Telescope
Scott Neuman, Open Culture, 2021/12/30


I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge in these pages the launch and incredible journey of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) toward a stable orbit in a Lagrange Point a million miles from Earth. Its infrared sensors will be able to see light that passes though the dust that obscures so much of our galaxy and will open up (literally!) whole new worlds to our eyes. But “there are over 300 single points of failure in this unfolding sequence: 300 chances for a ten billion-dollar, 25-year project to end.” This - to me - is what learning looks like. Not just acquiring what is already known, but taking risks and making genuine discoveries.

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From Leading to Guiding, Facilitating, and Inspiring: A Needed Shift for the 21st Century
C. June Maker, Education Sciences, 2021/12/30


The author of this article (15 page PDF) writes, "those in positions often labeled as “leadership” need to make a valuable shift: to guiding, inspiring, and facilitating rather than directing." She describes two approaches to this: transformational, and transactional. The focus of the former is "on designing a positive future for the organization or entity in collaboration with the people whom they lead" while "transactional leaders use systems of rewards and punishments to exert 'control' over the goals and solutions." Leadership is supported with the skill or competency of "transformational giftedness", "focusing on the positive changes that result from their actions as their rewards," and the bulk of the article is dedicated toward describing the attributes and practices of "exceptionally talented leaders" using the Discovering Intellectual Strengths and Capabilities while Observing Varied Ethnic Responses (DISCOVER) framework.

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Copyright 2021 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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