Monthly Archives: December 2012

Khan and Papert: Transformational Computers vs. Transformational Computing

In doing some MOOC reading I again got into the comments section to find a difference of opinion, this time on Khan Academy, a content delivery system many xMOOCs herald as inspiration for their wares. I evoked Seymour Papert’s 1991 book The Children’s Machine, specifically his kitchen math discussion, in an attempt to look at why a lecture-based mathematics instruction often doesn’t translate into understanding math for application in life. Another commenter provided this Papert quote in saying that Khan and Papert would agree on the benefit of Khan Academy:

“There won’t be schools in the future…. I think the computer will blow up the school. That is, the school defined as something where there are classes, teachers running exams, people structured in groups by age, following a curriculum-all of that. The whole system is based on a set of structural concepts that are incompatible with the presence of the computer. …But this will happen only in communities of children who have access to computers on a sufficient scale.

My response: Continue reading

Advertisements

Scaffolding & MOOCs

I came across a great blog by Mark Sample, a literature and new media professor at George Mason University, looking at scaffolding, MOOCs, and MOOC pedagogy.  I thought Dr. Sample’s argument was spot-on about the problems of attaching training wheels to coursework, but had trouble with his association with that as scaffolding, which I look at from Vygotsky or Bandura as an integral part of the student-teacher relationship, and is one of if not the most important function of a teacher.  I might not be Laura Riding as far as definitions and ambiguity are concerned, but I feel like in order to have discussions about a topic we all need to define like terms before looking at points of contention.  I responded to Dr. Sample’s blog, but thought the write-up summarized the difference between classic and contemporary instruction fairly well, so am putting it here too. Continue reading

Will William Jennings Bryan Keynote TED 2013?*

*This isn’t about hologram technology, though that would be pretty sweet.

Seems that TED is a bit upset that some of its TEDx offshoots aren’t properly vetting speakers on the basis of academic rigor or sound research practice:

Critics take issue with TEDx talks that have featured such topics as touch-healing the brain, rebirthing, crystal therapy and nonsense math.

TED is an interesting phenomenon:  putting together prolific thinkers and speakers to provide insight on new and unique things happening around the world is a great tool in the Information Age.  I fell in love with Ken Robinson based on his TED talk in 2006, and have seen great examples of energy, knowledge and enthusiasm from the likes of Al Gore, Jane McGonigal and Keith Barry.  But the concept wore thin quickly, especially when most every video followed a standard format:  anecdote that seemingly has nothing to do with speaker, shock, sales pitch, back to the anecdote, synthesis.  The time limit caused great minds to forego their intellect and find an inner Billy Mays instead, and the adherence to format cheapened the experience for me. Continue reading

facebook.edu

Coursera announced this week the addition of a Career Services department for students in the organization.  According to the website, students who opt-in for the program will submit a resume and other information to the site, which will be viewable by selected partner companies.  From Andrew Ng, one of the founders of Coursera:

This is a relatively uncontroversial business model that most of our university partners are excited about.

Controversy is in the eye of the viewer, so Ng’s quote may or may not be accurate depending on the onlooker.  That said, many in the educational field (here, here and here, to name a few) have openly wondered how MOOCs will make money (in part to provide ROI for the venture capital backing them), so movements toward a revenue stream deserve more than lip service. Continue reading

MOOCs – the Public/Private Partnership of Higher Education

Ed tech author Audrey Watters wrote one heck of a MOOC synopsis for the movement’s 2012 history and future.  The look back at 2012 hits a lot of the points this blog has attempted (in more words and with less skill), so it was the look forward that piqued me the most:

But as we see some of the unbundling start to occur, it feels as though there is a re-bundling of sorts. That is because, as Foucault would tell you, it is not simply a matter of “revolutionizing” the university and dismantling its “monopoly” on knowledge transfer and credentialing and then BOOM educational access and liberty and justice for all. Power is far more complex than that. As we unbundle assessment from the university, for example, it gets re-bundled with Pearson. As we unbundle the content from the campus classroom, it gets re-bundled with textbook publishers. With MOOCs, power might shift to the learner; it’s just as likely that power shifts to the venture capitalists.

This is a really important consideration, and I am going to take a few steps back in order to go forward. Continue reading