Category Archives: education

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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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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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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Competency-based Education (Part 4)

By | February 1, 2015

A good many years ago, when we were first putting together the curriculum for the all-online university, TUI (that would later become Trident University), I suggested a version of competency-based education that would entail the assembly of a degree out of a series of specific sub- degrees. Although I never worked out all the details of this approach,

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Competency-based Education (Part 3)

By | January 30, 2015

In this part of the discussion, I’m going to present an example of how CBE thinking interacts with a real-world problem. As part of the recent LinkedIn dialogue, I tried to think about how CBE might approach one of my own experienced areas of competence – data analysis. Our personal case studies (N=1) are always good sources of data –

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Competency-Based Education (Part 2)

By | January 29, 2015

Coincidentally, Inside Higher Education today has an article on a new report from the Carnegie Foundation that basically concedes much of the critique I offered in Part 1 of this series, but then rather arrogantly goes on to describe their “unit” as a gold standard, and asserts that there’s no better way to maintain educational accounting.  When even this august foundation,

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Competency-Based Education (Part 1)

By | January 27, 2015

Higher education -indeed, virtually all education – is quantized in the form of the “credit hour” -the famous Carnegie Unit. I have been convinced for many years now that the Carnegie Unit is just about the dumbest possible way to package student learning. It exists almost entirely for the convenience of the instructor and even more importantly, the institution –

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Internal contradictions in the academic labor market

By | December 21, 2014

In the December 16, 2014, issue of the Inside Higher Education blog, there’s a story called “One Course Without Pay”, describing the plan of Arizona State University to require their full-time non-tenure-track faculty members to teach five sections per semester (of twenty-five students each) of first-year writing courses. As the article notes,

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