Archive for the ‘online learning’ Category


The New York Times goes after online learning

February 19, 2013

This is written in the negative, but I’m hoping we who believe in the power of online learning have enough traction now to turn it around. What the attrition rate exposes is how desperate the need is for us to find a way to help undergrads learn how to learn.

The research has shown over and over again that community college students who enroll in online courses are significantly more likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes, which means that they spend hard-earned tuition dollars and get nothing in return. Worse still, low-performing students who may be just barely hanging on in traditional classes tend to fall even further behind in online courses.


Open access, for anyone who still doesn’t understand why the academic publishing industry needs reform.

October 26, 2012

Just, yes. I like that it’s colored blue, because I’ve been shouting this until I’m blue in the face.


Digital culture and cheating

September 8, 2012

The citation of the Harvard situation in the first paragraph of this NYT story tells you much of what you need to know. That wasn’t cheating, in fact, and what these studies really reflect is how the execrable design of school is finally coming back to bite us in the posterior.

Large-scale cheating has been uncovered over the last year at some of the nation’s most competitive schools, like Stuyvesant High Schoolin Manhattan, the Air Force Academy and, most recently, Harvard.

The Harvard situation is a particularly good example, where it would seem an instructor had stumbled upon a way of doing actual formative assessment with a collaborative element, and then decided he had to revoke it; when the students continued on to do the well-designed activity, they were accused of cheating.

What does this have to do with digital culture? For me, digital culture is all about the information flows, and it’s the information flows that are leaving school behind.


Online learning: an issue of design

February 24, 2012

My favorite bits of this manifesto, from online instructors at the University of Edinburgh, are the ones about design.

Every course design is philosophy and belief in action.

Note that that doesn’t say “Every online course design.” For me, it’s a very small step from there to recognizing that instructional design and game design can and should be isomorphic.


The Chronicle’s tech-happy rebooter

February 15, 2012

This one is getting shared a lot. The Chronicle titles it “A tech happy professor reboots,” but my favorite part of this lamentable Chroniclism is that if you actually read the article, you can see that Wesch is actually saying that it’s the design that matters, whether you’re talking about f2f or online.

It was not an isolated incident. As other professors he met described their plans to follow his example, he suspected their classes would also flop. “They would just be inspired to use blogs and Twitter and technology, but the No. 1 thing that was missing from it was a sense of purpose.”


The ‘Pickle Guys’ route

February 15, 2012

Daniel de Vise writes at the Washington Post: 

…education will go the ‘Amazon route’ or the ‘eBay route.’ Under the Amazon model of education, the focus will be on service delivery. One or two large providers will emerge from the rubble and provide courses much as Amazon does. Courses will be in the millions, with different providers, some celebrities (the Stephen King of lecturers) and some not. Pricing will thus be equally complex. Professors and courses will be rated, and you will be able to see the top 100 courses that help you learn to program, for instance…

How about the ‘Pickle Guys route’? (Specialty merchandise priced accordingly.) The only way to scale “courses” this way is direct instruction. Higher-order learning requires faculty/student contact. Online courses that work involve MORE faculty/student contact than traditional face-to-face ones.


Dare to Remediate

February 10, 2012

I cannot say it any better than Alison Byerly, Provost at Middlebury College, who has this to offer to those who still think in “old” and “new” media terms:

“Digital humanities needs to be understood not as a separate field, but as a standard form of scholarly communication. […] Acknowledging that even ‘finished’ works are part of an ongoing dialogue is the first step towards appreciating the value of digital scholarship that may create opportunities and affordances rather than producing products. This in turn may help defuse the fetishization of productivity that increases the expectation of scholarly output while simultaneously decreasing our capacity to engage in dialogue about the works of others, creating what Mark Bauerlein recently described as a ‘supersaturation’ of humanities research. In this way, the need to recognize and validate digital work differently provides a paradigm that is useful and
extendable to the profession as whole.”

“Perhaps more than the specific modes of analysis it offers, the kind of openness and collaboration that has always been a fundamental value of the digital humanities community may be its greatest gift to the humanities. The humanities are, after all, the
original open source learning platform. The humanities once spoke to wide audiences about fundamental and important questions. Our current state of crisis comes from our readiness to limit our roles as educators to educating ourselves.”