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New and opinions from the world of instructional technology and new learning media

A feed by Stephen Downes


Making Alternative Assessments the New Norm

Permalink - Posted on 2022-09-29 19:10

The cornerstone of this post is a set of five short examples of instructors employing alternative approaches "to design assessment activities that would assess student learning in non-traditional ways." The examples take me back to my school days where my absolute favourite parts were the 'projects' I was encouraged to do (like the one on Ecuador, the one on the Danube River, the closed ecosystem experiment, 'diet for a small planet', and many others). In this respect, university was a step backward. The authors write, "Some recurring themes are alternative assessments provide students with more choice, minimize student stress, and make demonstrating learning more fun and engaging. Let's face it — don't we all learn better when we're having fun?" And also, as they note, "high-pressure/high-stakes exams can be a motivating factor for students to cheat."


Universities as "left-wing madrassas" are a myth

Permalink - Posted on 2022-09-29 17:01

"My findings demonstrate that the association of university study with liberal cultural attitudes is almost entirely spurious," writes Elizabeth Simon. "British graduates exhibit more liberal cultural attitudes than non-graduates predominantly because liberals disproportionately select into higher education." Here's the research report.


Metaphors of Ed Tech

Permalink - Posted on 2022-09-29 16:30

Martin Weller's latest book has been published in an open access online format (199 page PDF) by Athabasca University. "Metaphor provides a means... of considering ed tech that does not rely on a direct comparison with the existing model," he writes. "Metaphors, then, are key to how we think about, implement, practise, and evaluate education and thus the role that we see for technology within it." But also: "How ed tech is framed and presented is often manufactured to suit the needs of those with vested interests." If you want to play along while reading this book, you might want to visit his metaphor generator website. The book progresses through a wide range of metaphors, including some of my faves like 'MOOC as a newspaper', 'Edupunk' and 'open educator as DJ', giving each a good critical discussion. Audrey Watters is very well represented in the book, but missing is any mention of her role as "Ed Tech's Cassandra", though maybe the metaphors we give each other might be the subject of a different book.


Digital Transformation in Higher Education: 7 Areas for Enhancing Digital Learning

Permalink - Posted on 2022-09-29 15:42

The seven areas are: digital learning technologies, instructional modalities, support services and personnel, policies and planning, instructor skills development, student skills development, and partnerships. Each area has a number of specific areas for digital transformation; for example, instructor skills development would focus on pedagogical and technological skills, attitudes toward digital teaching and learning, accessibility, and IPR and copyright. It's not a bad taxonomy, keeping in mind that a taxonomy is usually a way or organizing things we already know. But again, I'd like to see these sort of exercises break out of the model of a traditional institution.


Ideas for Designing An Affordable New Educational Institution

Permalink - Posted on 2022-09-29 15:14

This white paper (32 page PDF) outlines a design exercise to "to imagine a new institution that delivers high quality, affordable bachelor's-level education in fields such as computer science and business, and, eventually, in engineering." It's interesting how the project has constrained itself to thinking of a traditional institution right from the outset. "This white paper is not intended as a rethinking of higher education." Their ideas? For one, "reproportion research and teaching... teaching should be the 80 percent focus." Another: "use, where appropriate, of online courses
licensed from other institutions." More: "rethinking the degree requirement as a series of modular 'concentrations.'" Still more: "teaching should be redefined to be the mentoring expert" and "a pedagogical focus on grit and resilience." More still: remove the current divide between tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty. Also: co-op programs. There's more, but you get the idea: it's a grab bag of ideas bereft of any sense of imagination or purpose.


Story Swap

Permalink - Posted on 2022-09-28 21:32

This is a fun post. I noticed first the sweeping redefinition of the word 'story' to include "allegories, analogies, anecdotes, images, memes, metaphors, and more", none of which (except anecdotes) I would consider an actual 'story'. No matter. I'm onboard with this redefinition, especially as I read through the contributions from various people that followed - literature review as a container ship, fact checkers reading laterally, accessing music as a process, the weight of information, etc. (Image created from the text of this OLDaily post by DALL-E).


DALL-E image generator is now open to everyone

Permalink - Posted on 2022-09-28 21:09

As the article says, "DALL-E launched frenzy of image synthesis development but was invitation-only until now." Now you can play too. Sign in here. See also: How-to Geek, TechCrunch. The image for this post was created by DALL-E using the prompt "Stephen Downes working on an article for OLDaily in the style of Picasso" (and maybe I should make it the new newsletter logo). Related: Getty Images bans AI-generated content over fears of legal challenges (which suggests to me that Getty Images would like to sue someone over all this, but isn't sure exactly how).



Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-17 17:08

OLDaily, HTML edition