Tag Archives: Personalized Learning

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

MOOCs – Sliced Bread, or the Ron Popeil Bread Slicer?

There’s a lot of hype about MOOCs (and when I put hype and MOOC together, I mean xMOOC), and with the hype comes a resistance from ed tech folks.  The arguments go something like this:  hype machine says MOOCs are the next big thing and the best thing to happen in ages, and resistance says MOOCs aren’t great, aren’t new, and aren’t making things better.  A prime example comes from some hype dished up by the MIT Technology Review entitled The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years, countered by D’Arcy Norman’s terse reply whose tag line involves fertilizer.  What we forget when we enter a point-counterpoint frame of mind is that both points of view come from ideologies and histories that result in the digital artifacts I have linked to.  Studying those artifacts to find the encampment inferences and foundations can help us see the positives and negatives of both sides rather than following one full throttle. Continue reading

Adult Ed/Lifelong Learning & MOOCs

Back to the theoretical grind, I was alerted to a research article on heutagogy as an alternative to andragogy.  If that sentence is full of ambiguous words, it was for me too — both are theories of learning relating to adult education, a field in edu which supposes that adults learn in a manner different from children (which is a lot to suppose, but makes sense at first glance).  While MOOC marketing departments have heralded the xMOOC’s ability to let an intrepid 12 year old take a Stanford course in computer programming (and, as a field, we need to see how Code Academy fits into the MOOC archetype), the history behind MOOCs comes either from traditional higher education (xMOOC) or distance education designed for higher education (cMOOC).  Because traditional higher ed is seeing an upward shift in median age of student (and distance ed has always seen an older student population than in traditional ed), the theory the MOOC movement built on (or will build upon) needs to account for an adult population.  Not surprisingly, little of the little MOOC research flows down this path.  That leaves it to us to research, code and crunch.  Getting into the work by Lisa Marie Blaschke… Continue reading

Sal Khan’s History of (the structure of) Education

In a video interview with Forbes magazine, Sal Khan worked through a history of education, starting with an industrial view of the classroom experience (which Khan calls the Prussian model) and ending with Internet-based personalized learning such as his Khan Academy.

From this perspective, education has the potential to evolve from an age-defined small cohort model to a capability-defined infinite system where the individual is not restrained by the relative progress of others.  Following that thread, such a system could not only change the dynamic of the classroom, but could reinvent the classroom, or even remove the bricks and mortar classroom altogether.  Such potential greatly benefits students, according to this perspective.

There is pushback on this general belief system, as well as this interpretation of history — Audrey Watters provides a detailed critique of what Khan leaves out of his history, summarizing the facts into a call for perspective: Continue reading

Making Sense of MOOC Research – Sir John Daniel & the MOOC Tempest

Very recent (read: September 25) research on the MOOC phenomenon by Sir John Daniel, one of the pioneers of open education (#oped12) and distance learning.  A piece that I will return to for my scholarship (as well as pick from for other cited authors), but on first second glance:

  • I appreciate the focus on the xMOOC (still don’t like that term by the way, as it and cMOOC say that these are just two different apples off the same tree, when it’s more like two distinctly different trees ended up in the same forest because two birds delivered seeds from distant lands).  Most published research comes from the cMOOC side of things, making a foray into the MOOC topic difficult, as the Man on the Street would associate MOOC with the sort of thing being done by Harvard, MIT and Stanford. Continue reading