The EDUCAUSE NGDLE and an API of One’s Own

Michael Feldstein, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Jun 24, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Michael Feldstein addresses "the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s (ELI’s) paper on a Next-Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) (OLDaily) and Tony Bates’ thoughtful response to it." He also mixes in copious reference to Jim Groom and the Domain of One's Own project, because it's consistent with the ELI paper. There are three major arguments from Bates that he weighs in on (the wording is Feldstein's, lightly edited by me):

  1. potentially heavy and bureaucratic standards-making process vulnerable to undue corporate influence.
  2. LEGO is a poor metaphor that suggests an industrialized model.
  3. NGDLE will push us further in the direction of computer-driven rather than human-driven classes.

His response to Bates is pretty much encapsulated in this slightly condescending overview: "Folks who are non-technical tend to think of software as a direct implementation of their functional needs, and their understanding of technical standards flows from that view of the world. As a result, it’s easy to overgeneralize the lesson of the learning object metadata standards failures. But the history of computing is one of building up successive layers of abstraction." The thing is, in most areas, increasing levels of abstraction made it simple do do difficult things, but in education, increasing abstraction made it difficult to do simple things. And that's the core of Bates's argument, and I think Feldstein misses it.


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