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What's love got to do with it?

Learning with 'e's - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 21:05
The lecture my colleague Phil Selbie presented this week to my final year primary education students was quite unusual in a number of ways. To start off, he played Tina Turner's pop anthem, got everyone clapping along, and he even performed a bit of a dance too. His message was clear - what you are about to listen to is not an ordinary lecture. In fact Phil's lecture was about an unusual subject - at least, unusual in that we don't often hear about it in education - love. His theme was love of learning, love of education, and especially love for each other. He argued that the success of teaching and learning is dependent upon good teacher student relationships, and that love was paramount. Phil (his name, appropriately, is loosely derived from the Greek word Phileos, meaning brotherly love) made the remark that love is a word that is easily confused in our western culture, because in English at least, we only use the one word for what turns out to be a large spectrum of different kinds of emotion and attachment - a complex array of loves, from mild affection, through passion to absolute adoration.

Here's the problem: Teachers can get away with saying they love their subject. They can even say they love teaching at their school. But if a teacher to say they 'love' their students, what they mean might easily be misconstrued when in fact what they probably wish to express is that they are dedicated to their students and are fully committed to helping them achieve their potential. Teaching is seen as one of the 'caring professions' for good reason. The problem is that 'love' is a word that is too often misrepresented because it has many meanings, Phil argued, but teachers need to care deeply about their students if they are to help them to achieve their full potential. The Ancient Greeks, he showed, had many words for love (some accounts suggest about 30), each descriptive of different aspects of what it means to love, to care. This huge repertoire of words highlights the importance the Greeks bestowed on love. Love seems to have been eroded and undervalued in our technology driven and fragmented society - hence the lack of vocabulary to express it in all its forms.

The highest kind of love, said Phil, is Agape - unconditional love, devotion to others, possibly to the point of self sacrifice. Many teachers exhibit this kind of selfless love, he argued, staying behind after school, running after school study groups, sports training, exam revision groups, going the extra mile. This kind of selfless dedication to children's education largely goes unrewarded, but the school often relies on this kind of goodwill from its staff. For teachers who practice Agape love, the best kind of reward is to see students achieve and succeed where they would otherwise have failed. It is this kind of love for humanity that attracts people to the teaching profession, because they get the chance to make a real difference in young people's lives. As we all know, while doctors save lives, teachers make lives. Just the identification of being human together and feeling a connection to other thinking, feeling human beings - this is Agape love, and it should be central to the ethos of being an effective educator.

I intend to explore more of the ancient words for love and their implications for education in future posts.

Photo by Hu Totya on Wikimedia Commons

What's love got to do with it? by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

A future vision for OER and online learning

Tony Bates - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 19:35

For each chapter of my online open textbook, Teaching in a Digital Age, I am developing imaginary but hopefully realistic scenarios. In this scenario, developed as a closing to my chapter on ‘Modes of Delivery and Open Education’, I look at how modularization could lead both a wider range of access to credit courses and more open use of learning materials.

Figure 10.1.F The Hart River, Yukon.
Image: ©, CC BY-NC

Research faculty in the Faculties of Land Management and Forestry at the (mythical) University of Western Canada developed over a number of years a range of ‘learning artefacts’, digital graphics, computer models and simulations about watershed management, partly as a consequence of research conducted by faculty, and partly to generate support and funding for further research.

At a faculty meeting several years ago, after a somewhat heated discussion, faculty members voted, by a fairly small majority, to make these resources openly available for re-use for educational purposes under a Creative Commons license that requires attribution and prevents commercial use without specific written permission from the copyright holders, who in this case are the faculty responsible for developing the artefacts. What swayed the vote is that the majority of the faculty actively involved in the research wanted to make these resources more widely available. The agencies responsible for funding the work that lead to the development of the artefacts (mainly national research councils) welcomed the move to makes these artefacts more widely available as open educational resources.

Initially, the researchers just put the graphics and simulations up on the research group’s web site. It was left to individual faculty members to decide whether to use these resources in their teaching. Over time, faculty started to introduce these resources into a range of on-campus undergraduate and graduate courses.

After a while, though, word seemed to get out about these OER. The research faculty began to receive e-mails and phone calls from other researchers around the world. It became clear that there was a network or community of researchers in this field who were creating digital materials as a result of their research, and it made sense to share and re-use materials from other sites. This eventually led to an international web ‘portal’ of learning artefacts on watershed management.

The researchers also started to get calls from a range of different agencies, from government ministries or departments of environment, local environmental groups, First Nations/aboriginal bands, and, occasionally, major mining or resource extraction companies, leading to some major consultancy work for the faculty in the department. At the same time, the faculty were able to attract further research funding from non-governmental agencies such as the Nature Conservancy and some ecological groups, as well as from their traditional funding source, the national research councils, to develop more OER.

By this time, instructors had access to a fairly large amount of OER. There were already two fourth and fifth level fully online courses built around the OER that were being offered successfully to undergraduate and graduate students.

A proposal was therefore put forward to create initially a fully online post-graduate certificate program on watershed management, built around existing OER, in partnership with a university in the USA and another one in Sierra Leone. This certificate program was to be self-funding from tuition fees, with the tuition fees for the 25 Sierra Leone students to be initially covered by an international aid agency. The Dean, after a period of hard negotiation, persuaded the university administration that the tuition fees from the certificate program should go directly to the two Faculties whose staff were teaching the program.From these funds, the departments would hire additional tenured faculty to teach or backfill for the certificate, and the Faculties would pay 25 per cent of the tuition revenues to the university as overheads.

This decision was made somewhat easier by a fairly substantial grant from Foreign Affairs Canada to make the certificate program available in English and French to Canadian mining and resource extraction companies with contracts and partnerships in African countries.

Although the certificate program was very successful in attracting students from North America, Europe and New Zealand, it was not taken up very well in Africa beyond the partnership with the university in Sierra Leone, although there was a lot of interest in the OER and the issues raised in the certificate courses. After two years of running the certificate, then, the Faculties made two major decisions:

  • another three courses and a research project would be added to the certificate courses, and this would be offered as a fully cost recoverable online master in land and water systems. This would attract greater participation from managers and professionals in African countries in particular, and provide a recognised qualification that many of the certificate students were requesting
  • drawing on the large network of external experts now involved one way or another with the researchers, the university would offer a series of MOOCs on watershed management issues, with volunteer experts from outside the university being invited to participate and provide leadership in the MOOCs. The MOOCs would be able to draw on the existing OER.

Five years later, the following outcomes were recorded by the Dean of one of the faculties at an international conference on sustainability:

  • the online master’s program had doubled the total number of graduate students across the two faculties
  • the master’s program was fully cost-recoverable from tuition fees
  • there were 120 graduates a year from the master’s program
  • the degree completion rate was 64 per cent
  • six new tenured faculty has been hired, plus another six post-doctoral research faculty
  • several thousand students had registered and paid for at least one course in the certificate or master’s program, of which 45 per cent were from outside Canada
  • over 100,000 students had taken the MOOCs, almost half from developing countries
  • there were now over 1,000 hours of OER on watershed management available and downloaded many times across the world
  • the university was now internationally recognised as a world leader in watershed management.

Although this scenario is purely a figment of my imagination, it is influenced by real and exciting work being done by the following at the University of British Columbia:

Over to you

1. Does this strike you as a realistic scenario?

2. How useful are scenarios like this for thinking about the future? Could you use similar kinds of scenarios in your program planning or for faculty development, for instance?

3, If you have used scenarios for online learning in similar ways, would you be willing to share one?

4. Most of the elements of this scenario already exist at UBC. What I have done though is bring things together from different parts of the university into an integrated single scenario. What could be done within institutions to make this cross-disciplinary transfer of ideas and strategies easier to achieve? (It should be noted that UBC already has a Flexible Learning initiative, including a strategy team within the Provost’s office, which should help with this.)


Just one more post to wrap up the chapter on Modes of Delivery and Open Education: the key takeaways from this chapter.



Deadline extended to 9th March for the Call for papers for eLearning Papers issue 41: "Innovation, entrepreneurship and education"

Open Education Europa RSS - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 17:16

New deadline: 9th March 2015. Open Education Europa announces the extension of the deadline for the call for papers for the eLearning Papers issue nº 41 on "Innovation, entrepreneurship and education".

Interest Area:  Higher Education Training & Work Learning & Society

Deadline extended to 9th March for the Call for papers for eLearning Papers issue 41: "Innovation, entrepreneurship and education"

Open Education Europa RSS - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 17:16

New deadline: 9th March 2015. Open Education Europa announces the extension of the deadline for the call for papers for the eLearning Papers issue nº 41 on "Innovation, entrepreneurship and education".

Interest Area:  Higher Education Training & Work Learning & Society

FREE BOOK on Feb 22nd from Packt: Moodle 2.0 Elearning Course Development

Moodle News - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 16:00
Packt Publishing is running a free book download giveaway from February 16th through March 2nd and this Sunday it will be giving away Moodle 2.0 Elearning Course Development for free to Moodlers...

Quick Introduction to the Moodle Event Monitor in 2.8

Moodle News - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 14:43
March Cooch created a host of video tutorial examples for features in 2.8, including the new event monitoring system. Event monitoring helps teachers and administrators to setup rules so that they...

UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week 2015 puts the focus on leveraging technology to empower women and girls

Open Education Europa RSS - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 13:40

UNESCO’s flagship conference Mobile Learning Week 2015, taking place in Paris from 23-27 February, will focus around leveraging technology to empower women and girls around the world. The event is organised this year in partnership with UN Women.

Interest Area:  Learning & Society

UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week 2015 puts the focus on leveraging technology to empower women and girls

Open Education Europa RSS - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 13:40

UNESCO’s flagship conference Mobile Learning Week 2015, taking place in Paris from 23-27 February, will focus around leveraging technology to empower women and girls around the world. The event is organised this year in partnership with UN Women.

Interest Area:  Learning & Society

ACA. Un diseño para la enseñanza virtual

Antonio Bartolomé - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 11:00
Asimilar. Compartir. Aplicar.

Sobre estos tres ejes como tres momentos del aprendizaje, Reina Calderón, María Pineda y Antonio Bartolomé completamos ayer un proceso de trabajo en grupo, esbozando lo que será el diseño de una serie de cursos virtuales, en los que hemos conseguido como quien dice la cuadratura del círculo:

  • ¿Cómo conseguir un curso con bajo costo en acción tutorial pero que atienda a los alumnos con el asesoramiento externo de personas expertas, más allá de las máquinas?
  • ¿Cómo aprovechar las posibilidades de la gamificación sin infantilizar a los estudiantes?
  • ¿Cómo conseguir que el estudiante aplique lo aprendido cuando estamos en un curso virtual?
  • ¿Cómo evaluar la transferencia de la formación y no la capacidad del estudiante para repetir conceptos?
  • ¿Cómo atender las diferencias individuales, sin caer en costos inasumibles?
  • ¿Cómo mantener al mínimo los costos de actualización y revisión con un diseño flexible, pero a la vez manteniendo una coherencia en el proyecto docente como un todo?

En los próximos meses desarrollaremos dos propuestas pilotos en cursos para profesores y a partir de esa experiencia iremos mejorando el diseño. Abrimos un proceso de discusión y crítica para mejorar el proceso. Atrás quedan semanas de analizar OER y MOOC y otros cursos virtuales y sus actividades, revisando los 11 maravillosos principios de Kemp y Smellie (1989) y las novedades que aportó el eLearning.

Pero hoy sólo quería dejar constancia de este día. La colaboración entre la experiencia de 40 años de docencia y el entusiasmo de dos estudiantes ha permitido este diseño que me parece genial. Puede que mi entusiasmo no esté justificado. En un año lo sabremos.

Kemp, Jerrold E. y Smellie, Don C. (1989). Planning, Producing and Using Instructional Media. New York: Harper & Row.

Novadors presenta nova web!

Novadors - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 09:27
Hola a tothom! Des de l’equip de Novadors volem presentar-vos la nova web de la nostra associació. Encara estem treballant perquè acabe de prendre forma. Molt aviat anirem penjant tots els recursos que hem anat enmagatzemant al llarg de totes les jorandes que hem anat celebrant aquests darrers anys. Esperem que us agrade i que…
Categorías: General

The Computer Ate My Homework | DMLcentral

Educación flexible y abierta - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 08:54

The family computer recently stopped working. This wouldn’t be the end of the world normally, however, my oldest son’s second-grade classroom implemented a new homework policy. Instead of having homework on paper, all homework is done on the computer across three sites.

See it on, via Educación flexible y abierta

The History of the Future of Education

Hack Education - 20 Febrero, 2015 - 00:35

(This was delivered at Ryerson University's ChangSchoolTalks.)

It's a refrain throughout my work: we are suffering from an amnesia of sorts, whereby we seem to have forgotten much of the history of technology. As such, we now tell these stories about the past, present, and future whereby all innovations emerge from Silicon Valley, all innovations are recent innovations, and there is no force for change other than entrepreneurial genius and/or the inevitability of "disruptive innovation."

This amnesia seeps from technology into education and education technology. The rich and fascinating past of education is forgotten and erased in an attempt to tell a story about the future of education that emphasizes products not processes, the private not the public, "skills" not inquiry. The future of education technology therefore is the story of Silicon Valley and a handful of elite private universities because the history of education technology has always been the story of Silicon Valley and a handful of elite private universities. Or so the story goes.

I've been working on a book for a while now called Teaching Machines that explores the history of education technology in the twentieth century. And this year I've started a series on my blog, Hack Education, that also documents some of this lost or forgotten history. (I've looked at the origins of multiple choice tests and multiple choice testing machines, the parallels between the "Draw Me" ads and for-profit correspondence schools of the 1920s and today's MOOCs, and the development of one of my personal favorite pieces of ed-tech, the Speak & Spell.) See, I'm exhausted by the claims by the latest batch of Silicon Valley ed-tech entrepreneurs and their investors that ed-tech is "new" and that education -- I'm quoting from the New York Times here -- "is one of the last industries to be touched by Internet technology." Again, this is a powerful and purposeful re-telling and revising of history designed to shape the direction of the future.

Of course, these revisionist narratives shouldn't really surprise us. We always tell stories of our past in order to situate ourselves in the present and guide ourselves into the future. But that means these stories about education and education technology -- past, present, future -- really matter.

I'm particularly interested in "the history of the future of education," or as what Matt Novak calls his blog, the "paleofuture." How have we imagined the future of teaching and learning in the past? What can we learn by looking at the history of predictions about the future, in our case about the future of education? Whose imagination, what ideologies do these futures reflect? How do these fantasies shape the facts, the future?

This is perhaps one of the most cited examples of the "paleofuture" of education technology.

Image credits

This 1910 print is by the French artist Villemard and was part of a series "En l'an 2000" ("In the Year 2000") from around the World's Fair and the new century that was packaged in cigar and cigarette boxes. Here we see the teacher stuffing textbooks -- L'Histoire de France -- into a machine, where the knowledge is ostensibly ground up and delivered electronically into the heads of students. Arguably this image is so frequently cited because it confirms some of our beliefs and suspicions (our worst suspicions) about the future of education: that it's destined to become mechanized, automated and that it's designed based on a belief that knowledge -- educational content -- is something to be delivered. Students' heads are something to be filled.

The other prints in this series are pretty revealing as well.

I’m fond of the flying firefighters.

In these images, we see the future imagined as humans conquering the sky and the sea, as more and more labor is done by machine.

It's worth noting that quite often (but not always) the labor we imagine being replaced by machine is the labor that society does not value highly. It's menial labor. It's emotional labor. The barber. The housekeeper. The farm girl. So it's interesting, don't you think, when we see these pictures and predictions that suggest that more and more teaching will be done by machine. Do we value the labor of teaching? And also: do we value the labor of learning?

Thomas Edison famously predicted in 1913 that "Books will soon be obsolete in schools" - but not because books were to be ground up by a knowledge mill. Rather, Edison believed that one of the technological inventions he was involved with and invested in - the motion picture - would displace both textbooks and teachers alike.

"I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks," Edison asserted in 1922. "I should say that on the average we get about two percent efficiency out of schoolbooks as they are written today. The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of the motion picture… where it should be possible to obtain one hundred percent efficiency."

100% efficiency. Efficiency. What does that even mean? Because unexamined, this prediction, this goal for education has become an undercurrent of so many predictions about the future of teaching and learning as enhanced by technology. Efficiency.

It gets to the heart of that Villemard print too: this question of how we get the knowledge of the book or the instructor into all students' brains as quickly and cheaply as possible.

The future: cheaper and faster. More mechanized. More technological.

This is the history of education technology throughout the twentieth century. It is the history of the future of education.

Radio. Radio Books. Lectures via television (This image is from 1935). Professor as transmitter. Students as receivers.

Image credits

"The Push-Button School of Tomorrow"(from 1958):

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From Popular Science in 1961, a prediction that by 1965, half of all students will use teaching machines.

The Autotutor or “Automated Schoolmarm” (from the 1964 World’s Fair):

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Also from 1964, the Answer Machine:

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From a 1981 book School, Work and Play (World of Tomorrow):

“If we look further into the future, there could be no schools and no teachers. Schoolwork may not exist. Instead you will have to do homework, for you will learn everything at home using your home video computer. You’ll learn a wide range of subjects quickly and at a time of day to suit you. … The computer won’t seem like a machine. It will talk to you just like a human teacher, and also show you pictures to help you learn. You’ll talk back, and you’ll be able to draw your own pictures on the computer screen with a light pen. This kind of homework of the future will be more like playing an electronic game than studying with books. …Eventually, studying a particular subject will be like having the finest experts in the world teaching you. Far in the future, if computers develop beyond humans in intelligence, then the experts could in fact be computers, and not human beings at all!”

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1981. 2015. A very similar fantasy of the future.

I didn’t have this book growing up, but my brother had something similar: The Kids’ Whole Future Catalog, published in 1982. We spent hours pouring over its pages, imagining what our “whole future” would entail. Flying cars and moon colonies.

Education is, quite arguably, caught in a difficult position when it comes to these sorts of predictions about the future – and it’s a position that makes education seem intransigent. See, education is – almost necessarily as we have the system constructed today – trapped by being both backwards-facing and forwards-facing. That is, education institutions are tasks with introducing students to domains of knowledge – all of which have history, a past – all the while are tasked too with preparing students for the future – a future in which, according to some stories at least, knowledge is still unknown and undiscovered. As such, there is this inevitable panic and an inevitable tension about education, knowledge, conservation, and innovation.

Image credits

This image from 1982 was part of a series about the future of computers commissioned by Alan Kay when he went to work for Atari. Here we see some of the earliest visions from Silicon Valley of the personal computer in the classroom. The future of education here is technological. It is branded. It is game-based. There are still desks in rows and clusters. And students still rebel.

When we look back at all these predictions from the past about the future of education – the history of the future of ed-tech– the point (my point) isn’t that our education systems are reluctant to change. My point is not that schools have failed to fulfill the sci fi imagination. Indeed, I’d argue that schools have changed a lot over the last hundred years thanks to the law, not to technology: mandates for desegregation for example that would not have come from “code.” My point is that the imagination about the future is so very intertwined in our notions of the past and the present. And if we let Silicon Valley, for example, erase the history of education technology, if we allow Silicon Valley to dictate the present terms for education technology, then we are stuck with its future, its corporate, libertarian vision. The same could be said, of course, of the imaginations of other powerful institutions: Hollywood’s vision of the future, Hanna Barbera’s, Harvard's.

All the visions of the future of education, the future of teaching, the future of work, the future of learning are ideological. They are also political. As we hear the visions of politicians and entrepreneurs, as we listen to the visions of the rest of today’s speakers, we need to remember that. Predictions about the future are not neutral. They are not objective. They are invested. Invested in a past and a present and a future. Invested in a certain view of what learning looks like now, what it has looked like before and what – thanks to whatever happens in the future – what it might look like going forward.