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This article offers what could be an interesting explanation for the state of educational policy and while I can't say I necessarily agree with it I can't entirely dismiss it either. It tells the story of UCLA chancellor Raymond B Allen, who needed a reason to fire some Marxist professors during the McCarthy years. The argument he developed was that "members of the Communist Party have abandoned reason, the impartial search for truth." But what would 'reason' look like in this (capitalist) context? "Rational choice theory... was a plausible candidate. It holds that people make (or should make) choices rationally by ranking the alternatives presented to them."
The article doesn't extend the explanation to education policy, but I feel free to. It offers an explanation of the focus on STEM, as opposed to the non-rational theory-based disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. It explains the phenomenon of 'school choice' as an argument for privatizing schools. It explains the popularity of 'evidence-based' practice measuring concrete outcomes such as test scores. And it explains the rejection of 'social good' as an outcome in education. But as the article says, " there is much more to a good society than the affordance of maximum choice to its citizens." And indeed, offering choice (as compared to allowing people to create) is itself a mechanism of control.[Link] [Comment]
I'm not sure how "stunning" the data are, nor do I thing the prediction is particularly specific. Still. The trend is worth observing - "a year-to-year online enrollment increase of 226,375 distance education students– a 3.9 percent increase, up over rates recorded the previous two years" and "more than one in four students (29.7 percent) now take at least one distance education course (a total of 6,022,105 students)." So, yeah. Online learning has arrived. P.S. don't bother with the infographic, which is just an advertisement for a cloud e-learning company.[Link] [Comment]
What struck me in this post was this: "The amount of money that the Gates Foundation has awarded in education grants is simply staggering: some $15 billion across some 3000+ grants since the organization was founded in 1998." And so Audrey Watters comments, "the Gates Foundation remains one of the most influential (and anti-democratic) forces in education. As such, it gets to define what 'personalized learning' is – what it looks like." Maybe. Or maybe not. Some of us not funded by Gates still have a horse in this race.[Link] [Comment]
This is an update of Armenia's education strategy in the years after it joined "the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the Bologna Process by signing the Bergen Communiqué in 2005." Armenia - which I visited in 2014 - is a small country with few natural resources (though you can get pomogranates everywhere) and thus depends on developing its 3 million people and attracting students (and ideas) from neighbouring countries.[Link] [Comment]
They're back! Google has relaunched Google Glass with Glass Enterprise Edition. As a fashion statement Glass was a failure, but the technology proved useful in the workplace. "Workers in many fields, like manufacturing, logistics, field services, and healthcare find it useful to consult a wearable device for information and other resources while their hands are busy." This is a use case that really makes sense, and would make even more sense with voice commands (there's no mention of this in the article). It's also a natural for on-demand context-specific e-learning. (As an aside, I find it interesting that the team at X.Company, which is a branch of Google/Alphabet, is using Medium as a blogging engine instead of Google-owned Blogger.)[Link] [Comment]
Jul 19, 2017
As the EdSurge article says, "After more than a year of invitation-only private beta, Amazon just opened its free library of open-education resources, called Amazon Inspire." You can't post your own resources on the site yet - but a statement from Amazon says this feature is coming soon. While site calls these open education resources, they are locked behind a subscription wall - they may be free, but you have to login to Amazon in order to view them, providing your name and email, zip code, the name of your school and the grades you teach, thus giving them your browsing and download information. This will be especially useful to Amazon when they include the non-free for-pay resources to the site. The site currently includes public domain and Creative Commons resources, including Non-commercial licensed resources, like this one.[Link] [Comment]
I have to believe that Facebook will be a lot more diligent about policing 'pirated' news content in user posts and groups than it ever was abusive content and fake news. Because combating unauthorized file sharing is the real crisis we all face today. What I have noticed in general is that newspapers and magazine websites have begun to clamp down again with subscription paywalls, anti-ad-block barriers, and more. If I encounter one of those I just close the tab. And I do my very best to keep such links from appearing in OLDaily.[Link] [Comment]
A little over a week ago, I wrote a “recommended reading” post pointing to a piece from Inside Higher ed and The Times Higher Ed called “Fear of Looking Stupid” about research from Carnegie Mellon University anthropologist Lauren Herckis about faculty resistance to “innovative” approaches. (I use quotes here not to imply a value judgement but to indicate that “innovative” was the word used in the article.) The title of the article gives you a pretty good sense of the angle taken by the author. The comment thread on that article was fascinating, as was John Warner’s terrific column in response.
We are lucky to have a guest post from Dr. Herckis and her colleagues Richard Scheines and Joel Smith with some additional perspective and follow-up information. I took the liberty of adding a title to their post.
We were delighted that Times Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed reported on the anthropological research being conducted at Carnegie Mellon on the roadblocks to implementation of demonstratively effective pedagogical innovations. We’d like to take the opportunity to expand the conversation.
Our research exposes multiple factors behind faculty resistance to making changes to their teaching practice, including the institutional barriers encountered by faculty adopting evidence- or research-based practices and especially where technology is involved. There are, of course, many effective teaching practices in use, and current research helps to explain why they work when they do. But that research also points to many other tools and practices that increase teaching effectiveness.
Our aim is to develop a detailed and actionable understanding of what impedes and what helps faculty adopting research-based practices.
The idea that faculty are invested strongly in avoiding embarrassment, and are thus sometimes reluctant to adopt innovative tools or practices – as reported in the THE/IHE article – is true. But the story is richer.
Faculty do not want to waste students’ time; they want to teach well. Using methods that they have honed is therefore important. Faculty learn to teach over years of practice, as most of us have little or no training in teaching. Tried and true methods are appealing because faculty have reason to think that they work.
If students have seemed to enjoy the material and report learning from the course, why change? Methods that leave students feeling good about the course (and the professor) are appealing, both because they are validating (“yes, I AM a good professor!”) and because happy students provide good evaluations of teaching, which are vital for faculty job security.
Until we change the incentives and provide alternative sources of personal identity affirmation, faculty will not be motivated to invest time and energy in changing their teaching to adopt practices shown by research to be more effective.
Our research on implementation of research-based instruction shows that faculty care about their students, and want to ensure that students have a good experience. Yes, some faculty at Carnegie Mellon hesitate to use unfamiliar methods or technology because they don’t want to embarrass themselves in class. Few of us want that. But they also don’t want to waste students’ time if something goes awry, want the validation of satisfied students, take student satisfaction as a sign that things are going well, fear the professional consequences of poor teaching evaluations, don’t think alternatives are a good fit, are sceptical of literature that supports alternatives, and believe that institutional support for alternatives is lacking.
Innovation for the sake of innovation doesn’t serve faculty or students. But the use of research-based, effective teaching methods does serve students, and it is in our interest to learn how to support faculty in adopting and sustaining the use of such methods.
To do this, we need to step back, look at the big picture, and address the multiple contributing factors to success and failure in implementing evidence-based practice. Our research shows that systematically incorporating anthropological analysis is an important and rarely used tool for understanding roadblocks to, and enablers of, meaningful innovation in higher education. Without it, we are flying blind.
The research results that we had time to report in our brief presentation at the Global Learning Council meeting (and reported in THE/IHE) are only a small part of what we have learned about implementation of instructional innovation. A full report detailing our findings will be available in September 2017 at http://cmu.edu/simon. Academic articles regarding methodology and results will be submitted for peer review in the coming months; these articles will be shared at http://www.cmu.edu/simon/projects/flagship-projects/barriers-to-tel.html as they are published
Lauren Herckis is Simon Initiative research scientist and adjunct instructor, Richard Scheines is dean of Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Joel Smith is distinguished career teaching professor, all at Carnegie Mellon University.