Continuing through my lit review log (which I plan to follow later in the week with some attempt at synthesis) of the first week of Current/Future State of Higher Education cMOOC:
Three Reasons Why India Will Lead EdTech in the 21st Century – Dr. Joshua Kim flags India as the prime sector for educational technology growth in the 21st Century, due to demand, culture and mobility (of devices and use). Reading his thoughts, I wonder what his definition of educational technology is. Is it apps? Software? Data collection and learning analytics? I know nothing about Dr. Kim or his background (or work in ed tech), but his read on India seems pie-in-the-sky to me (and to be fair, my knowledge of modern India and learning comes from one 2003 course in developing nations and communication, and a two-hour ethics module last Spring on India, Hollywood/Bollywood and copyright). Indian families will pay for education…which ones? Dr. Kim says all of them…that’s not the India I know. India would be a great test market for technology due to its income disparity, geographical issues, governmental infrastructure and cultural laissez-faire attitude on copyright. But assuming India will make great tech because Indians value education is a large logic jump, one which Dr. Kim provides no research or reason for.
The Changing Landscape of Higher Education – Authors Stanley and Trinkle look at larger environmental factors affecting higher ed, not just what affects IT. This was written in 2011, before the xMOOC mayhem and subsequent MOOC media hype, but the vision of the early past is similar to that of today: a changing college landscape (more based in career building), a changing professor landscape (adjunct-based), a shift from America-centric to global-centric professors and students (the UNESCO report from 2009 referred to something similar and called it a brain share), a shift in student demographic (from young and unencumbered to older and working), privatized education (due to government budget restraints), and a curricular focus on something between general education and career skill (with the caveat of showing value, through big data or learning analytics). The read is a good primer for stressors on the education system, but one point that really stuck out for me was a discussion of the invisible college. Historically, the invisible college was a collection of individuals who wished to research, consider and posit on information and data. They coalesced around topics rather than structures. The similarity to Wenger’s communities of practice is evident, and I wonder if the cMOOC is a 21st Century invisible college. Of course, to become a community of practice, it has to happen organically; the creation of an LMS and registration of interested parties does not a CoP make. I still need to read up on connectivism, but I wonder how much of Wenger comes up in Siemens & Downes’ work.
How the American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps – According to Junct Rebellion (pen name for several writers associated with the blog), it’s a five-step process designed to wipe out public discourse and passionate debate. I have a lot of trouble with writing from such a polarized perspective; groups of individuals and communities hold beliefs and values from places of shared experience and belief, and while Argyris’ Ladder of Inference would see a reflexive loop based on our assumptions shaping the info we look for the next time, hippies and liberals are just as likely to engage in such action as evil businesses and conservative Christians. Junct Rebellion says that the defunding of education on the state level started the ball rolling, leading to the defunding (and deprofessionalization) of faculty, turning universities into managerial havens, adopting corporate culture, and in the end lessening the education for students by limiting dissenting opinion and focusing on testing and metrics. My political beliefs would fall democrat in the American system, and I don’t believe I have ever voted for the opposing party because my liberal beliefs (there is a role for government in helping to run and monitor a thriving society) would make it almost abhorrent to do so, but this piece makes too many assumptions and focuses on limited, cherry picked data. The loss of funding for public education is a travesty, but there are a number of variables involved: continued lowering of personal and corporate taxes, a stretching of existing tax revenue for a greater number of projects, a college and university system putting more money into non-academic aspects of the institutions, and a dependence on endowments as a means to attract private investment to offset public erosion. And if the other readings from Week 1 of #cfhe12 are any indication, this trend is not limited to American education. That being said, the erosion of the teaching profession is something that deserves great debate, both for higher education and k-12 systems. A friend of mine who works with Teach for America told me he believed teaching was not a profession; such a statement was shocking to me from someone dedicated to education, but should not have been. Why has the teaching profession turned into a craft or middle service, and why does everything we read in #chfe12 this week subtextually point to a continued erosion or even destruction of teaching? Is that the future?