Category Archives: society

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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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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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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