Tuesday, February 25, 2014

History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education - Week 5 - lecture notes

Week 5 is about pedagogy and assessment.

Pedagogy: "How you teach shapes what you teach."

  • To change the paradigms of pedagogy, make learners into leaders. Let students lead the way. 
  • Piaget, Vygotsky, and Dewey

  • Don't stop at critical thinking; continue on to creative contribution. (Translating ideas into practice constitutes real learning.)
    • Critical thinking should be the beginning of action, not an end in itself.
    • e.g., Anne Balsamo's Digital AIDS Quilt which everyone can contribute to/edit
    • Cyber Infrastructure for Billions of Electronic Records (CI-BER)
      • a virtual recreation of a poor community in Asheville NC, decimated by urban renewal
      • "Making Data Matter" teaches technology, ethics, community action and collaboration and tried to answer the question of how prosperity can help everyone, not penalize the poor.
  • Encourage students to lead.
    • e.g., Duke's Surprise Endings  (student-driven curriculum and discrete mini-courses) (C.N. Davidson and D. Ariely)
  • Make diversity our operating system (not an add-on). Without it, we cannot be accurate.
    • John Hope Franklin, 1915 - 2009: "My challenge was to weave into the fabric of American history enough of the presence of blacks so that the story of the United States could be told accurately."
Assessment: "What you count is what you value." (My wicked thought:  Often, we count what we count because it's easy to count it.)

  • So make sure what we value is what we count.
  • In the past, standardized testing, codified in 2002 with No Child Left Behind, was supposed to improve K-12 education nationally, but the result was that the method has taken over. Now, failing schools can be closed or privatized (despite lack of evidence that privatizing has a positive effect). This leads to teaching to the test in a big way; learning, inspiration, and knowledge go out the window while everyone focuses on trying to pass the stupid tests, which test only 20% of the content anyway (and don't forget how difficult it is to write a good test! Most people can't do it.)
  • Standardized tests = giving everyone the same test: this is inherently unfair. Is a penguin deficient because it can't climb a tree? Tests should help, not hinder, learners and learning. Tests should not tell learners that they are stupid, deficient or disabled.
  • A different way to demonstrate mastery is through performance. What if instead of drilling for the test, we challenged learners to apply what they have learned to do some good in the world?
  • Badges can recognize other skills.
In the end, content is a fiction because knowledge is constantly changing. We can, and should, teach the tools, the methods of learning, the self-confidence in one's own abilities to enable learners to keep learning (and unlearning) throughout their lives. That is Davidson's future of learning.


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