Truth and consistency – a meditation on meaning

By | April 16, 2015

“What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.” (Francis Bacon)

There’s been a LinkedIn discussion on the question of whether there are “multiple truths” to be acknowledged in the classroom. I participated in that discussion; what follows is adapted from my comments there.

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Parsing knowledge: Courses, competencies, or whatever? (Part 2)

By | April 6, 2015

(Part 1 of this discussion is found here.)

Having chaired a curriculum committee at one university and been a member of the same committee at a couple of others, I’ve seen curricula defined in many different ways.. Some schools require that courses be taken in a particular sequence; others allow courses to be taken more or less at random.

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“Politico-technical Systems”

By | April 6, 2015

I have put up another post on the LinkedIn Pulse blog with the above title, attempting to if not actually making organizational politics wholly legitimate and above board, at least letting it be allowed for and understood. Just because you don’t want to see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.

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Parsing knowledge: Courses, competencies, or whatever? (Part 1)

By | April 4, 2015

The term “curriculum” has been around since the Middle Ages as a term to describe the set of offerings made available by an educational institution, at any level. Precisely prescribed sequences of educational events are a relatively new phenomenon in education, and are by no means practiced everywhere. Universities in the UK, for example, tend to have somewhat looser organization and structure.

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“Your organization isn’t real!”

By | March 31, 2015

This isn’t an original entry. I just wanted to let you all know that I published a short post in the LinkedIn Pulse blog, with the above title ( In general, it compares organizations to an unsuccessful version of the Velveteen Rabbit. You might find it interesting. It’s attracted some attention and garnered a fair number of likes.

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Responsible data analysis as storytelling

By | March 12, 2015

Sometimes an online conversation can begin around one topic and segue into others, often considerably more profound than the original. Case in point: a recent LinkedIn discussion regarding how variables measured on different kinds of scales might be combined into overall indices most effectively. Backing up from this fairly specific issue raises some fundamental questions about how data analysis is conducted and presented.

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RIP: The US Office of Technology Assessment

By | March 1, 2015

Thinking about the adult literacy study that Lynne Marcus, I, and our crack team put together caused me to wax nostalgic about the federal agency that sponsored the whole event: an arm of the US Congress called the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Established in 1972 as a specialized arm of the legislative branch assigned to investigate scientific and technological issues that might come before Congress in the form of legislation,

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“Case Studies Of Technology Use In Adult Literacy Programs”

By | February 21, 2015

Context matters, and nowhere more than in information technology. IT is such a powerful force in all our lives that we are fixated on the current moment, and usually have a hard time recalling how things were massively different, only a few years ago. For those of us of a Certain Age, it’s now almost impossible to recall the time when telephones were the private property of The Phone Company (TPC) and hardwired into wall sockets;

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The new credentialing

By | February 14, 2015

Bernard Bull writes a consistently interesting blog on a variety of topics related to education. In his latest edition, he describes himself as “An academic who cheers for badges and the demonopolization of higher education”. Once I got past my initial reading of his topic as relating to the prevalence of demons in higher education (a point with which I would certainly have agreed),I find myself largely in agreement with his pleas for a wider evaluation of educational achievement.

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MOOC, we hardly knew ye

By | February 10, 2015

There’s an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week by Steve Kolowich, entitled “The MOOC Hype Fades, in 3 Charts”, reporting on a new survey of academic leaders about their attitudes toward the MOOC phenomenon. Essentially, the results indicated a high degree of disillusionment with this approach, reflecting its failure to deliver on promises related to cost-reduction and/or income generation.

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