Tag Archives: AERA

Udacity: Shifting Models Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Just over a year ago (a year and two days, to be exact), Clay Shirky wrote Napster, Udacity & the Academy, one of a few “must-read” articles regarding the MOOC phenomenon.  Shirky built an argument that MOOCs fit the monicker of Christensen’s theory of disruptive technology, doing so by noting the dominant higher education narrative (made up of Ivy League or Tier 1 Research schools) focuses on a small and misleading fraction of the sea of higher education (regional schools, community colleges, for-profit institutions), allowing him to posit that the theory behind the MOOC is proof that higher education can be disrupted:

The possibility MOOCs hold out isn’t replacement; anything that could replace the traditional college experience would have to work like one, and the institutions best at working like a college are already colleges. The possibility MOOCs hold out is that the educational parts of education can be unbundled.

Shirky then links this “unbundled education” (possible for those who cannot afford the “ransom note” of a higher education sticker price) to the potential of a MOOC, noting that, like the musical track unbundled from the CD, learning can be set free from the degree.

The argument Shirky presents is compelling, and was a watershed moment in the MOOC debate, a place where a well-respected Internet scholar seemingly sided with a movement that many practitioners viewed as antithetical to learning and the Open movement.  As an advocate for Open, Shriky’s argument of a collegiate experience grounded in reality and not lofty Ivy stature saw MOOCs as an opportunity to improve that reality, an opportunity for those whom payment was one of the primary hurdles:

MOOCs expand the audience for education to people ill-served or completely shut out from the current system.

One year and two days ago, this was the advertised potential of the MOOC movement.  The heavily advertised potential.

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Research in a World of Constant Connection – #AERA13

Research plays an integral part in the archetype of a college professor.  At state and select private universities (often known as Research I schools), a professor’s research record is as important as their teaching and service records, often more so.  At mid-major and liberal arts colleges, research may not be as integral but it is still important and relevant.  The ability for a professor to conduct topical and relevant research from implementation to publication is considered vital to the growth of the specific discipline as well as academia at large.

This is evident at a conference like the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting, happening right now in San Francisco, where thousands of educators are presenting their research findings to thousands of attendees.  The sheer volume of papers and presentations on topical issues across the various strata of education is overwhelming, and AERA has worked diligently to divide their membership mass into divisions and special interest groups so that individuals can find field-specific topics to utilize for their scholarship or to share their scholarship.

I want to ask the question but does it matter? and then cut to the page break, being all provocative and such.  That’s not the right question, because it does matter.  It matters a lot.  But how much of a difference is it truly making?  Continue reading

Paywalls, the Open Movement, and DMCA

Just last week I discussed potential problems with having an academic, rigorous reading list in an open access course such as a cMOOC.  My main contention was peer-review, empirical research (or the lack thereof) in the cMOOCs, as academic research is most often published in academic journals, journals that exist as a checkpoint to determine quality and sufficient rigor.  If cMOOCs cannot take from this lit, the discussion happens around news briefs and blogs, entities that are important but an incomplete part of the balanced breakfast.  

The other side of the equation reared its head this week, as Pearson moved to remove copywritten material from an edublogs site (last updated in 2007).  The content in question was from a 1974 textbook that was out of print.  The web host for edublogs, ServerBeach, responded by shutting down the server and removing access to the nearly 1.5 million edublogs.  The professor who put the copywritten material (a 20 question true/false quiz primer) out there intended to only affect a specific class, and the question of fair use is viable in such a situation.  However, fear of DMCA (likely spurred by SOPA and PIPA) seems to have resulted in a massive action for the interim.

So, it looks like the future of both open education (#oped12) and higher education (#cfhe12) is going to struggle with such a world, where this blog could show up on a reading list for a cMOOC, but if I were to publish research in the American Educational Research Association, it would not be available for such courses, and publishing it without permission (read:  $$$) would result in massive shutdowns affecting many more than my work was ever intended to see.

One tangental hope from this article — I received link to this article through the Twitter feed of Michael Peter Edson, who is in charge of Web & New Media strategy at the Smithsonian (and who I had the pleasure of meeting in March to discuss various educational and museum policy).  I often lament the lack of crossover in disciplines — a lot of cool open movement things are happening in museums (though not in museum ed departments, oddly enough), and it would be great to see the energy of such variant disciplines coalesce together.  Maybe it will.