I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


~ ~ Vision Statement ~ ~

Scholarly communications shouldn’t just be open, but non-profit too


The considerations in this post addressed to scholarly publishing could also be applied to open educational resources. "The profit motive is fundamentally misaligned with core values of academic life, potentially corroding ideals like unfettered inquiry, knowledge-sharing, and cooperative progress," argues Jefferson Pooley. It's a rich link-filled argument. "We have to convince our colleagues that a non-profit future for scholarly communication is within reach and worth fighting for. This means, among other things, encouraging boycotts, calling out the venture-funded startups, and promoting the alternatives. We need to make the case, in short, for a digital future that is not just open, but non-profit too."

Today: 130 Total: 130 Jefferson Pooley, LSE Impact Blog, London School of Economics, 2017/08/21 [Direct Link]

Let’s Retire #MTBoS


This story is amusing from a distance and in retrospect, but I'm sure it was less funny for those involved at the time. MTBos - which stands for "Math Twitter BlogoSphere" - was set up as a hashtag and web site in order to welcome math teachers to the online community. It was not well received. People didn't know what it meant. People thought it was elitist. Were people 'qualified' to be a member of MTBos? It probably didn't help that it was set up with a limited list of tweeters. Anyhow, in this post Dan Meyer suggests that the term be retired. I'm not sure #iteachmath is the best replacement - I would have chosen something simpler, like #teachmath or even #mathK12. But the story does illustrate just what is in a name. And it's funny how passive people are - why would you need permission to use a hashtag? Nobody can own a hashtag, not even if they set up a Twitter identity and lay claim to it.

Today: 135 Total: 135 Dan Meyer, dy/dan, 2017/08/21 [Direct Link]

Dunce’s App


I think it's important to distinguish between 'behaviourism' - the theory that mental states are essentially equivalent to behaviours or (Ryle) dispositions to behave - and 'behaviour management' - methods and tools to encourage correct behaviour. Hero K12, described by Audrey Watters in this post, focuses on the latter. It's a bit like an in-school policing system, automating things like tardy slips, warnings and the like. It also seeks to identify and reward good behaviour - the "heroes" of our story. Watters says "that has always been the underpinning of behaviorism—an emphasis on positive reinforcement techniques in order to more effectively encourage 'correct behavior.'" True, but that doesn't make them behaviourists. Like the police, they may focus on encouraging correct behaviour, but the moment they start talking about cognitive phenomena, such as motivations, socialization, mental models, expectations, and the like, they cease to be behavioursists, and are just run-of-the mill product vendors interested in behaviour.

Today: 130 Total: 232 Audrey Watters, The Baffler, 2017/08/21 [Direct Link]

How to Engage in Pseudoscience With Real Data: A Criticism of John Hattie's Arguments in Visible Learning from the Perspective of a Statistician


This post is everything a proper refutation of education pseudoscience should be.It is a mistake to use Hattie's analysis as the basis for educational policy or instructional design, as this paper makes clear. Some context: in 2008 John Hattie published Visible Learning, which is essentially a meta-analysis of some 800 studies related to student achievement. The result was the Hattie Ranking of effect sizes. The work has been subject to numerous criticisms over the years, including this post noting "the Common Language Effect (CLE) is meant to be a probability, yet Hattie has it at values between -49% and 219%" , yet Hattie has continued to maintain his work is valid. He shouldn't. As this current post makes clear, the underlying presumption of the book is misguided. "Basically, Hattie computes averages that do not make any sense. A classic example of this type of average is: if my head is in the oven and my feet are in the freezer, on average, I’m comfortably warm."

Today: 120 Total: 228 Pierre-Jérôme Bergeron,   McGill Journal of Education, 2017/08/21 [Direct Link]

Evaluation of Edtech: What Technology Means to Educators Across America


This report (21 page PDF) is based on interviews with "500 U.S. education professionals". What do teachers want? Presentation tools, textbooks an d classroom technologies. What don't they want? Social learning, gamification, and maker tech. Barriers to tech include the concern that it is a distraction to learning and costs too much. These tie into the decision-making process, where ease of use, cost and compatibility are the major factors. They are guided in their decisions by word of mouth, online reserach, and conferences. I'm not sure how much I trust this report (there is almost no information on methodology). Note that if you go to the website you have to register with them, but the direct link to the PDF works (for now) without registration.

Today: 79 Total: 508 Walker Sands Communications, 2017/08/18 [Direct Link]

Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Student Privacy, and the Failure of Policymaking


A new report from the National Education Policy Center (55 page PDF) argues that schools should be prohibited from collecting student data unless rigorous safeguards are put into place, that algorithms used in personalized learning should be openly available for examination, and that the use of such technology shoulds require thirs-party assessments for validity and utility, including examinations of the technology (including, presumably, data sets) for bias and error. It's hard to disagree with such requirements (and I don't), but there are some open questions: who does the assessing? And how do we prevent the cost of such assessments from effectively elimining free and open source technology from the options available to schools?

Today: 63 Total: 361 Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, Kevin Murray, National Education Policy Center, 2017/08/18 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.