Thursday, February 13, 2014

The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education - Week 3

Lecture notes:
3.1 Teaching like it's 1992

(My daughter was born in 1992. I never put together the fact that she is about as old as the (public) Internet. Sometimes it seems as though the Internet has been around for much longer than that. I still remember when I first heard about email and it seemed like just another opportunity to receive stuff I didn't want to read! Then I got a computer on my desk at work, and a home computer too, and slowly my life changed to include these machines. However, it was not until 14 years later that I "became a Webhead" and started this blog. Before that, I had essentially no Internet presence. Now I have a multitude of (mostly defunct class) blogs and I coordinate the Electronic Village Online! I could never have predicted any of this in 1992.)

Davidson's main points:

  • History is not linear. Changes lead to other changes. 
  • Kant said that we filter the world through our own perception. Education helps us to filter the world; and we are educating kids to filter a world that no longer exists (in the developed world). The world we live in is "a multi-tasking, double-dipping world." Expertise is no longer as important as it once was, but our educational system continues to be hierarchical, top-down, uni-directional sage-on-the-stage.
  • Lifelong (un)learning means we need to realize that our institutions may be telling us the wrong thing about teaching, learning, and assessing.
  • Let's learn together for the world we are living in now!
3.2 How We Measure
  • I am re-reading Chapter 4, "How we Measure," in Now You See It. This is where I learned about how Frederick Kelly invented (and later came to dislike) the multiple-choice test ("as American as apple pie) (see post for Week 2).
  • In this section of the third lecture, Davidson focuses on the Finns, who abolished standardized testing 20 years ago but whose kids can compete (on standardized OECD exams) successfully (in the top 5%) despite not having experience with standardized summative tests. In the Finnish system,
    • All teachers must have at least a master's degree.
    • Once a week, all teachers work together to develop new and improved lesson plans.
    • Nobody fails. There is no bell curve. Teachers decide on the standard of knowledge they think should be attained and then everyone works together to help all the kids reach that standard. The quicker students get to help the slower ones reach it. No one is left behind. (unlike our No Child Left Behind which ends up failing many children and schools).
    • Even the summative testing giants in Asia (such as Singapore) are interested in how the Finnish system works because summative testing does not make happy learners (or teachers or parents), and people graduated from those systems are less productive as adults than the Finns are. Summative testing is "a disincentive to learning"; the stress makes everyone unhappy; and it doesn't prepare you well for living responsibly as an adult.
  • What we value should be what we count.
  • Peer teaching should be the way of the 21st century: See one, do one, teach one, share one.)
3.3 Neoliberalism (aka Neoconservatism??)
  • Davidson describes the defunding of public education in the United States, starting with the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s. 
    • In California, students have to be better than perfect to get into UC Berkeley, and there are almost half a million students on the waiting lists for community colleges.
    • [And in India, only the top 2% of the 1% allowed to take university entrance exams are admitted to universities.]
    • The US, formerly #1 in numbers of college graduates, has slipped to #11--the direct result of the decline in public support for higher education.
  • But despite the campaign of "College isn't worth it," a college education still pays off:
    • Federal, state and municipal governments profit $231K for each college graduate, not only from tax dividends but also because they are not spending money on unemployment, welfare, and prison for most of those people
    • And both men and women college graduates earn a profit ($365K for men and $185K for women) from their college degrees over their lifetime.
  • How to scale higher education for the masses? Are MOOCs the answer?
3.4 Crowdsourcing How We Learn
  • I rewatched Michael Wesch's seminal 2007 video "A Vision of Students Today" which I first encountered, probably, in Becoming a webhead in the 2006 EVO. This version seemed slightly different (edited, maybe, to add information on how the video came to be) but it still focuses attention on the antiquated education system 21st century students are learning (or not) in.
    • A kind of "see one, do one, teach one, share one"
    • Examples: Wikipedia, ReCaptcha, Duolingo, Foldit, Surprise Endings with Davidson & Ariely
  • Crowdsourcing works because humans enjoy experiencing things together, and we enjoy collaborating on a project for the public good.
    • Writing, contributing, using ideas and translating them into the world are more engaging than just listening to ideas, and we learn more and remember more from doing these things.
    • When learners control the topic and product and create something useful, they enjoy learning more.
  • MOOCs have inspired DOCCs (Distributed Online Collaborative Courses)
  • Learning the future together: HASTAC (check it out)
3.5 Who's Your Favorite Teacher?
       5-6 short interviews with people about their favorite teachers and whether they used any particular methods or strategies to teach. There was a film teacher who taught a person that art can "confront, can infiltrate"; a pastor who teaches that church is for everyday, not only Sunday; a dad who was also a physics educator who taught his son to reason out answers for himself; a teacher who taught the pleasures of caring for others; and more.

Wow, 10:16... no snow day tomorrow, I had better go to bed.


At 10:23 PM , Blogger Nina Liakos said...

Let me confess here that I have not dared even look at the discussion forums in the MOOC because I am afraid of how much there would be there, and not having the time or energy to read through it, let alone respond intelligently.

At 9:39 AM , Blogger Nina Liakos said...

Interview with Camila Alire (past president of the American Library Association) about the importance of libraries and critical thinking. Even in the internet age, libraries are still a vital resources for lifelong learners. And thinking sure beats memorizing as a life skill!

Interview with Albert Beveridge (constitutional lawyer and PhD student): on becoming a student again (learning keeps you young), the 3 stages of life (learning a job, doing the job, and finally having a new challenge and possibly a second career. Final thought: prepare for the 3rd stage of (un)learning before you start it. You can't just launch a new career at age 65 without some prior preparation.

Interview with Jim Leach (chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities) on the future of the humanities, higher education, the expansion of science (one person can never know all of it)and the cross-disciplinary approach to learning, and the many choices that face people now, which can paralyze us.
"Life is a combination of preparation and serendipity."

At 9:39 AM , Blogger Nina Liakos said...

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