Eric Davis looks at the the role of young people in the Arab Spring of the past 18 months. He suggests that in order for young people to have a better understanding of their past they need an education – learning about the history and culture of their nations in a non-politicised way and the need for a different infrastructure.
As Iraq’s recent decision to connect the country to a major Internet hub demonstrates, the possibility of disseminating information is not the issue (as it was under Saddam’s Ba’thist regime when owning a typewriter without a government license was a capital offense). The problem is the lack of an educational infrastructure that will provide youth with a new way of understanding the past and, by extension, the present and future of the nation-states in which they live.
Nikiforos Philyppis questions whether assessment statistics are actually a realistic view of Brazilian education or whether schools are just passing students to improve their UNESCO statistics. Brazilian higher education is mostly private education. He explores the relationships between markets, students as consumers and education as a commodity.
Educational laws and rules are tough for educational organizations. A student does not pay in advance, he can stop paying his installments in a current year and the school cannot stop giving him the education for that year. After that, he has the legal right to ask for his report and transfer the credits to other institution, and so on. That creates a vicious circle, treating the student as customer and creating all the possible means to maintain him in your client portfolio. In that scenario, passing the student is a rather plausible (although unethical and, I should dare, illegal) strategy.
Mal Lee recently wrote an article for The Australian Teacher magazine reviewing the effectiveness and waste of technology spending in education with an incisive look at the realities teachers, principals and institutions encounter:
The ‘ICT expert’ approach has been characterised by its disregard for the individual client’s needs, their readiness, each school’s unique context, the ever changing market or the finite common life cycle of all the instructional technology. The ‘one size fits all’, top down approach that paid little or no regard to the needs of very different teaching areas coupled with the decision making being made by ‘expert’ technology committees and bureaucrats imagining they could anticipate the market combined to provide failure after failure.
Those failings and the waste continue today and are evidenced authority after authority, school after school in relation to the DER funding. You know your situation, the plusses but also the mistakes made. In 2012 with the notebook as a technology fast disappearing from the market education authorities are still insisting it is the solution.
I would like to introduce you to Jaap Bosman. Jaap lives in the North West of the Netherlands in a polder built in 1930.
It is 4 metres below sea level. At university Jaap studied Pedagogy and majored in the Philosophy of Science. He has been teacher, trainer and a book publisher.
Jaap is now the editor an educational site called Kennisnet at http://about.kennisnet.nl . Kennisnet is the public educational organisational that supports and inspires Dutch primary, secondary and vocational institutions in the effective use of ICT. Jaap’s speciality is soft skills: http://softskills.kennisnet.nl/
Jaap says that as an editor
I am always looking for inspiration and information and that is why I am in the MOOC
Jaap finds abundance of information is not a bad thing. He sees it as a blessing and chooses and selects the resources he needs for his job.
Jaap believes that building a network or PLE means that you must be trustworthy and send messages of value. Also he likes to ask questions. He sees it as being human and recognises the importance of answering questions, responding and adding personal messages.
He finds that most of his friends and people he connects to are using Twitter and Facebook so as an editor he uses these tools to communicate.
If you follow Jaap's blog you will see that he always uses pictures. His pictures are always intriguing and leave readers pondering their meaning and connection to the writing.
He believes that pictures are important. Words can tell a story, but pictures [http://jjbs.wordpress.com/] will tell so much more. Jaap’s minor at university was was “Images and words” a combination course of literature, arts and history of arts.
I would like to thank Jaap for agreeing to provide a profile for our Blog Calendar.
In a paper for The Heritage Foundation, Karen McKeown compares online education with traditional college education. She looks at different reasons why students choose higher education and which institution, noting that whilst a large percentage of college graduates think it was a worthwhile investment, a large percentage of the public think it is unaffordable.
She looks at the educational, social and extracurricular components of online education, noting that there is an increase in studies which are providing evidence of effectiveness:
There will always be students who are pursuing a higher degree solely or primarily to achieve specific career goals and who have comparatively little interest in achieving a full college experience. Many of these students are older or already working and have been early adopters of online education, which has offered them the flexibility they need in achieving their ultimate goals.
At the other end of the spectrum will always be students who, for various reasons, want only the traditional on-campus college experience. For some of these students, the campus appeal may consist in the opportunities to interact in person with professors and classmates. Others may be pursuing majors, such as science or performing arts, that are less easily adapted to the online environment. Still others may be seeking aspects of the traditional social or extracurricular experience that they do not believe can ever be replicated or replaced by online education.
Between these two ends of the spectrum are students who are increasingly willing to consider online education as it gains wider visibility, acceptance, and sophistication and as traditional institutions of higher learning become less accessible financially. For these students, a key factor in their choice will be the ability of online programs to provide a college experience that not only matches the academic content of a traditional college, but also includes an adequate level of the social and extracurricular components that the students desire.
Occupy High students share their thoughts on how education should be changed.
There is no explicit curriculum to help a teacher instruct for a year about public education. Perhaps because in doing so, the teacher wants to avoid engaging students in metacognitive strategies every class of every day. Perhaps because we don’t believe that students can engage in the discussion about transforming education. Perhaps because, if we opened this can of worms, we would be admitting defeat every lesson in which we question the direction of what we are doing.
I believe it is time to open this can of worms pedagogically. The only snag is that we have convoluted public education so much so that it is impossible to limit the scope of such a curriculum. Do we create experts with knowledge an inch deep and a mile wide or would we rather have these students have surface knowledge of everything without expertise? What are we doing?
The students present their thoughtful responses highlighting the need for student voices to be heard in any process that looks to transform education.
At DML Central Howard Rheingold shares his experiences with students collaborating using a range of social software, how groups interacted with each other and how they build a community of co-learners.
It’s not exactly a matter of making my own role of teacher obsolete. If we do this right, I’ll learn more about facilitating others to self-organize learning.
I teach in two places – e-learning with adults and children’s dance and gymnastics.
My name is Teresa. I am MSc. in Human Movement, and live in Brazil.
2. Why did you decide to participate Change11?
I thank my friend Daisy Grisolia who told me about the course. I immediately accepted and was very happy.
3.What were a couple of highlights so far in Mooc?
I learn a lot in the Mooc each week. The CCK11 was shorter than the Change 11 Mooc.
4. How do you deal with the abundance of information on Mooc?
I am not afraid of the flow of information. I take what immediately catches my attention. I am happy in this tangle of information. I like the chaos because it represents numerous possibilities and freedom.
5. How are you going to build and sustain your Personal Learning Network?
I love blogs, and I intend to build a blogroll to continue reading.
6. Do you see any disadvantages with any social networking tools?
I do not know any social networks that do not have friends! I like to experiment to see whether they are good or bad.
7. Did some presenters really resonated with you?
They all leave their share of knowledge. Some of the subjects were very new to me.
The following are roles teachers play in networked learning environments. And all of these roles are played by students too :
1. Amplifying, (drawing attention to signals (content elements) that are particularly important) (italics are mine) All participants in the MOOC facilitators, presenters and active students do a lot of Amplifying, in Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, participants draw attention to content and visual styles. Most of my teachers from the list do amplify.
2. Curating, ( The curator arranges elements in such a manner that learners will “bump into) All participants do curate, maybe not consciously, add new elements, views opinions. Some comments made me ‘bump into’ and most presenters.Serendipitous Discovery.
3. Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking (aid the wayfinding process) Technology is a great help in wayfinding, receiving automated messages from blogs etc. In a MOOC the leadership aspect of teaching seems to be diminishing.
4. Aggregating (reveal the content and conversation structure) Participants do aggregate and connect information. They make sense and combine information and add new meaning. All of my teachers from the list are aggregating.
5. Filtering (Filtering resources is an important educator role) Most filtering is done by the student, by choosing connections and messages. Other participants do influence this filtering.
6. Modelling (To teach is to model and to demonstrate) Participants define roles and rules and norms and demonstrate. All of my teachers demonstrate a model or a style of MOOC’ing, being human.
7. Persistent presence (“to make a home, a place to learn”) Participants do their part to connect and to build “the Place of Change11″. All of my teachers from the list do connect to build a network.
In my view these seven roles are roles both of the Change11 Organizers, George, Stephen, and Dave and of the other participants: students and the guest speakers. We could ask if the teacher in a MOOC is still a central node in the network or one of the nodes.
In the discussion around the Lurker in the MOOC these active ‘teacher’ roles of participants seem to be an argument in favour of a more active role of participants.
As reported in U Connecticut’s Daily Campus newspaper, N. Katherine Hayles, a professor at Duke University, recently gave a lecture on the impact of everyday digital media use on university students. The bottom line: the perpetually connected lifestyles of today’s students means they are coming to the classrooms with significantly shorter attention spans than previous cohorts. Professors can ignore that, stay calm and lecture on — or we can respond by adjusting our teaching styles.
“If the environment is highly technologically engineered, humans become technologically savvy but also dependent. Some cognitive scientists have realized that GPS technology has changed our sense of direction and left us more dependent on getting around, since no one will have to read a map anymore.”
Similarly, back on campus it follows that:
“Students nowadays are increasingly multitasking. No longer do students go to the library to write their papers; they’re watching T.V., surfing the internet, listening to music, and viewing webpages. All of these aspects influence their research and essays.”
In her research Hayles “toured many colleges and heard a lot of professors say that young people nowadays can’t read whole books, so they assign chapters, and students can’t read whole novels, so they assign short stories.”
All things considered, Hayles concluded:
“The challenge for educators is to build bridges between the rapidly changing generations of students with newly integrated learning through other forms of digital media, ending the traditional lecture which is becoming outdated.”
Another nail in the lecture coffin. Interesting.
For a very similar perspective on swapping lectures for more interactive techno-teaching, see Twilight of the Lecture — describing the groundbreaking work that Eric Mazur is doing in the classrooms at Harvard.
All of which leads me to wonder: in the age of TED talks, which we can’t seem to get enough of, why is the university lecture doomed?