Hmmm, juxtaposing these three posts is thought-provoking….what is education all about? Is the ‘coolness’ factor overpowering the ‘usefulness’ factor? Thoughts?
But inevitably, with a very few exceptions, these projects spend an enormous amount of time defining what is to be shared, figuring out how to share it, setting up the mechanisms to share it, and then…not really sharing much. Or sharing once but costing so much time, effort or money that they do not get sustained. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? I don’t feel like this phenomenon is isolated to me or somehow occurs because of my own personal ineptitude, but you never know.
It seems that neither Tony Hirst, the person who set this operation into motion, nor any of those who are blithely praising his work, bothered to think about the data itself or what it meant. That, indeed, as Hirst himself has repeatedly stated in response to my comments, “wasn’t the point.” But if someone can advocate, and others can gasp at, such mangling of data without even thinking about what happens to that data in the process, believing it to be somehow beside the point… well, that’s a textbook case of data illiteracy as far as I’m concerned.
In the early brainstorming discussions, I staked out something of a confrontational stance… that higher education is still conducting its business as if information is scarce when we now live in an era of unprecedented information abundance. That we in the institutions can endlessly discuss what content we deign to share via our clunky platforms, while Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, TED Talks, the blogs and other networked media just get on with it… That I might not be able to legally reproduce much of the copyrighted media on the web, but I can link to it, maybe embed it, or simply tell students to search for it. This is not to suggest that sharing more of the presumably high quality content that higher education produces would not enrich the store of available information… but that the world is not waiting for us to get our act together and become a relevant force on the web. The world is moving on without us.
One of the other participants asked a question that resonated with me: if we live in an era of information abundance, why is the primary drive around OERs the publication of more content? And what other activities around the open education movement might be an effective use of our energies? What other needs have to be met?
The report notes the similarities between community norms and what educators might call “learning goals” but it clearly denotes a new position for the adult who serves as an educator. Simply stated, schools are not known for allowing “plenty of unstructured time for kids to tinker and explore without being dominated by direct instruction.”
Instead of classroom teachers, there would be lab teachers or leaders who would have a different responsibility, one that does not focus on assessing kids’ for competence. Instead, these adults would be “co-conspirators” practicing a “pedagogy of collegiality.”