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I've talked a lot about different kinds of communication fuit into the base 'critical literacies'. I think this work on spatial reasoning would fall right into that category. This was presented in the SSHRC conference yesterday. "Over the past several years, 'spatial reasoning' has gained renewed prominence among mathematics educators, as spatial skills are proving to be not just essential to mathematical understanding but also strong predictors of future success beyond the classroom in fields such as science, technology, and engineering."[Link] [Comment]
This was presented at the SSHRC conference. From the website: "This Knowledge Synthesis project seeks to examine existing formal and informal literature around best practices for teaching data literacy at the post-secondary level: what data skills are required to be data literate? How are these skills best taught across programs? What are the best practices that we’ ve established after decades (and centuries) of teaching students to work with data in various forms." My question is: do you 'teach data literacy' by teaching some body of content? How old fashioned is that?[Link] [Comment]
Jane Hart and I are on the same wavelength. I said very much the same thing when I gave my talk in Ottawa yesterday (there's no way she could have heard my talk, and no way I could have seen her article until after, so it's a genuine case of synchronicity). On the one hand, there are the policy people - the OECD types and the management types - who depict education as something to be managed, outcomes driven, and standardized. On the other hand, there are the people who actually do research who understand that education (and most everything else) is complex, depends on random interactions in interactive systems, can't be 'programmed', but is something people do for themsalves in (hopefully) supportive environments. "The second group of L& D professionals," says Jane Hart, "that I refer to as Modern Workplace Learning (MWL) practitioners – understand the realities of the new world of work, and that their own activities need to change to reflect this."[Link] [Comment]
I mentioned being interviewed for this item a while back; it has not appeared. I gave several examples of how U.S. courses might equally be 'propaganda' but IHE didn't use them for some reason. One example I found particularly relevant was the economics student revolt last year where they demanded that economics professors embrace and teach more than standard laissez-faire free market economic theory. Even more to the point, there should be no need to recite 'the subject according to Rupert Murdoch' anytime you discuss something. Education isn't a liturgy. Diverse perspectives should be expected.[Link] [Comment]
I saw in Facebook today this graphic version of my so-called "Downes theory of education". Even more usefully, I browsed through the other images on Bryan Mathers's blog and found a veritable treasure trove of useful graphics which you can use (I don't agree with all of them, but with enough that the site is well worth recommending).[Link] [Comment]
The journal Constructivist Foundations has devoted a special issue to alternative conference formats. As authors Sweeting and Hohl explain in the introduction, "The passivity and predominantly one-way structure of the typical paper presentation format of academic conferences has a number of serious limitations from a constructivist perspective." I've explored the subject in the past, and as a frequent attendee of conferences the subject continues to interest me. Being constructivists, most of the authors focused on dialogue. Design-based activities were also popular. Note that although Constructivist Foundations is free, the publication requires that you create an ID and login to view the contents. I'm not sure why, but I'm suspicious of their motives.[Link] [Comment]
This is a loosely structured post with numerous quotes from thinkers about the nature and value of curiosity, including this one from Paulo Friere, "I believe in the pedagogy of curiosity. That’ s why I defend the pedagogy of the question and not of the answer. The pedagogy of the question is the one that is based on curiosity. Without that pedagogy there would not be a pedagogy that augments that curiosity." I definitely believe in the value of curiosity; I am forever peeking around corners, lifting objects, inquiring about capacities and mechanisms, and above all, asking "why?" Oh, and "why not?"[Link] [Comment]
One of the truisms always repeated by cognitivists and proponents of the physical symbol system hypothesis is that a natural system, like a neural network, cannot learn a language without prior encoding. This why people like Chomsky and Foder assert that we have innate linguistic structures encoded at birth, and that (therefore) learning is a matter of rule formation and the construction of models and representations. I have never believed this. Gradually, slowly, over time, the evidence has been piling up in the opposite direction. Specifically, we are learning that very simple neural networks can do very complex things, like learn languages. This journal article is a case in point. The research describes a system "made up of two million interconnected artificial neurons, able to learn to communicate using human language starting from a state of 'tabula rasa', only through communication with a human interlocutor."[Link] [Comment]
Presentation in English, with translation in Spanish. In this presentation I discuss the foundation of MOOCs in an approach based in experiential learning, as opposed to more traditional content-based learning. I outline the development of the technology to support the MOOC and from this describe the architecture of the Learning and Performance Support system, along with simulations and immersive technology being developed at the National Research Council.VI Jornadas pedagógicas en tecnología e innovación educativa, Guayaquil, Ecuador (Keynote) Nov 13, 2015 [Comment]
There's a nice challenge in the headline. Stephen Krashen responds to a post by John Baker in EdSurge describing and defending competency-based education. "Today’ s students," writes Baker, "get to move ahead based on what they know, which is better for the student, more efficient for the institution and provides real, positive social and economic change." But, says Krashen, "The 'personalization' offered by CBE is limited to what can be done on a computer." Also, "Not mentioned in the current discussions of CBE is the lack of research supporting it." You can see more of this line of reasoning at the UnitedOptOut blog. I get the sense that a lot of the opposition to competency-based learning is based on the fact that the opponents really don't like the proponents very much. I wish opponents would articulate their opposition on educational and scientific criteria, not social and political.[Link] [Comment]
It's funny, but I'm actually more productive on the road. As I type this, I'm sitting in a departure lounge in Toronto waiting for a flight to El Salvador. I've already ticked a half dozen things off my list of things to do, I'm on my second meeting, and I still have a good hour or more. I have more of a challenge actually working on the airplane, because you can't work with your knees up against your chest. But I can't fix that without free upgrades. (As an aside, I hate HBR's new navigation menu that eats the top third of readable space on the page).[Link] [Comment]
On the one hand, I am uneasy with the way this article addresses competencies through the language of behaviourism (for example, with repeated reference to 'dispositions', echoing Gilbert Ryle from the 1950s. On the other hand, I like the points being made to the effect that, if we are going to assess competencies, we should do so within a framework of complex behavior. Rosemary Hipkins writes, "I am often asked if key competencies should be assessed. My short answer is ‘ no’ but that doesn’ t mean they shouldn’ t be taken into account in the overall assessment mix. Assessment tasks that require a ‘ complex performance’ (one that brings together content, context and targeted competencies) provide opportunities for students to show how multiple dimensions of their competencies are building and getting stronger over time.[Link] [Comment]
Jay Cross passed away on Friday. Since then tributes have been pouring in from around the world. He was doing his own Internet Time newsletter when I started emailing OLDaily in 2001, and was active and well-known in the field when I met him for the first time in 2002 (pictured). I saw him many times after that, and his ubiquitous camera is part of what prompted me to make sure I always had a camera with me when I traveled. Jay identified many key trends in the field long before anyone else and would always enthusiastically share whatever he knew. He was a good man, a kind man and a giving man, and we will all miss him. Tributes: Jane Hart, Clark Quinn, Harold Jarche, Curt Bonk, Alan Levine, Inge de Waard, Ravi Singh, eLearning.nl, Gina Minks, Will Richardson, Twitter tributes.[Link] [Comment]
Clay Skirky's reasoning is positively weird: "The gap between the conversation about college and its reality exists because the people who drive that conversation — you and me and our friends — mostly talk about elite schools." Um, no. Still, he manages to stumble to something like the right story. "We already know what the college of the future will look like, because the non-traditional students are creating it now. It’ s a hybrid of online and in-person classes, centered on the student and not the institution, with credits accruing from multiple schools, and adding up to a degree in alternating periods of attendance and absence." Like the elites, this article is late to the party, looking at it from a skewed perspective, but still willing to take credit for having discovered it first.[Link] [Comment]
Criticism of the Mozilla Open Badges project. Kerri Lemoie argues that Mozilla doesn't even have any staff assigned to the project and disbanded the team more than a years ago. "Not only was the backpack abandoned — technically put on 'maintenance mode'— any real initiatives and plans for what the backpack was supposed to be were essentially put on hold since the spring of 2013." She outlines a list of the things that are needed: "true ownership of the mission, road map and funding of Open Badges... a truly independent alliance so that the initiative can be objectively supported and funded... a new, modern infrastructure for Open Badges." Image: Mozilla.[Link] [Comment]
Discussion of the recently published IMS Caliper specification. Caliper describes the method to encode and transfer clickstream data - that is, a recording of each action taken by a user (click of a mouse, press of a keyboard). This data iss especially useful for user interface design. Note that this is not the same as the IMS Caliper RAM (Real-time Analytics Messaging) specification “ to implement real-time, actionable messaging alerts” . which has changed its name to IMS HED Analytics group. The article also raises questions about the interoperability between IMS Caliper and ADL's xAPI (Experience API). "One of the first tweets with the #imscaliper hash tag after the publications read 'consider current disparity between #xapi & #imscaliper, interoperability standards that don’ t interoperate'."[Link] [Comment]
Karen Levy argues for "conceptualizing users as networks: as constellations of power relations and institutional entanglements, mediated through technologies." She argues that a model regarding people merely as users or non-users is too simplistic (I have to agree). As an example, she writes, "The market for Nexafed seems nonexistent in traditional use/non-use terms, but when we construe the user more broadly — as a network of interpersonal, legal, and institutional relationships, consisting of multiple modes of relation between people and technology — not only does the drug’ s market make sense, but we also understand how new motivations (social shame, mistrust, robbery, gossip) can act as salient drivers of technology use." It's not just the person who uses the drug that is implicated in the drug's use. "We have considered the user as a network of power relations that includes parents and children, pharmacies and pharmacists, neighbors and communities, regulators and legislators, police and thieves. Comparatively, conceptualizing the user or non-user in social and institutional isolation yields a thin and unnuanced understanding of Nexafed’ s use."[Link] [Comment]
I've heard this silly argument about tuition fees on numerous occasions before, and the practice - known as 'differential fees' or a 'differential fee structure' - is actually in place in some colleges and universities. The proposal is that "Fee caps that reflect the relative economic returns of different course choices would help students make more informed decisions." The intuition here is that students should pay a fee based on a percentage of the benefit they receive. But the argument is also place in a context of risk: the university should assume some of the risk inherent in teaching low-value programs, like philosophy and dramatic arts.
But of course this is ridiculous (and not only because of the 'institutional conservatism' that is the author's straw man objection). It presumes that future earnings are the only benefit the institution and society receive from offering a course, which is absurd. And why would 'risk' be segmented according to course and program. Many other factors effect earnings. Maybe women should be charged lower fees because they earn only two thirds of what men earn. Perhaps people from Nottingham should pay almost nothing. Perhaps left-wingers should receive lower fees because they're much more likely to join non-profits like Medecins Sans Frontiers. Let's represent this proposal for what it really is: yet another scheme to increase tuition fees (and incidentally, to favour the upper class white men who already dominate access to the higher-paying professions).[Link] [Comment]
I'm trying out a service called Apester. No reason; I'm just curious to see it work.
It's always nice to read of an executive officer at a Canadian educational institution calling for free and open access to learning. It's also far too rare. But here we have just such an instance. Cape Breton University president David Wheeler makes the case for establishing universities as a public good. "If Canada wishes to maintain national competitiveness and labour mobility even as we maximise the entrepreneurial spirit, civic engagement, and life chances of our youth, a new social contract will be required," he writes. That would be good. I didn't have any say in the last social contract, and it left me - and millions of others - thousands of dollars in debt.[Link] [Comment]
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