Stephen Downes 史蒂芬·道恩斯

Knowledge, Learning, Community

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Stephen Downes,, Casselman Canada

Barriers and Facilitators to Racial Equity in K-12 Education: An Integrative Review


These are issues a bit beyond the ken of educational technology, but there are three resources here I think people should at least see. This first item is a paper (68 page docx) arguing that "a complex set of evolving barriers continues to impede access to the equitable delivery of education for racial minority K-12 students in the U.S." The gist of the argument is that treating everyone exactly the same entrenches existing socio-economic, racial and cultural disparities in society. Essentially the same point is raised in Paul Gorsky's article, Stop Punishing Poverty in Schools. "For many students experiencing poverty," he writes, "being priced out of inclusion is only the tip of the inequity iceberg." The third item is a warning, I think, about what happens when you don't emphasize a diverse and inclusive public school system: David Gilbert's look Inside a US Neo-Nazi Homeschool Network With Thousands of Members. Is this even real? I don't know, but it serves as a stark warning.

Today: 112 Total: 112 Jamaal Marshall, EdArXiv, 2023/01/30 [Direct Link]

Employers, hire more people without college degrees, says the New York Times


Bryan Alexander summarizes a New York Times editorial (paywalled, but archived here) arguing that governments and companies shouldn't require that new hires have a college degree. Such 'degree screening', it argues, penalizes poor and minority students, who are less able to attend college, and prevents U.S. employers from accessing the estimated 50 percent of applicants who earned knowledge through alternative means. "For a generation we thought that the more people get more college experience, the better," writes Alexander. "Since 2012 or so there have been signs of that national consensus breaking down." It's not so much that the consensus broke down, in my view. It's more like the ideal was never achieved, so people are giving up on it. But the thing in, in a modern information-age society, you can't simply give up on having a higher education system, you have to replace it with something. How the U.S. responds really is a sink-or-swim moment for the entire society.

Today: 89 Total: 89 Bryan Alexander, 2023/01/30 [Direct Link]

Learning styles don’t exist


This is quite a good article covering the full breadth of the argument against learning styles. It's interesting, though, that the title on the page - "Learning styles don't exist" - is different from the title in the metadata - "The evidence is clear: learning styles theory doesn't work". And the trouble is, most people can identify different preferences or even needs among people, and this simple fact (I think) explains why there is so much resistance to the argument presented here. And saying "learning styles theory doesn't work" is a very different proposition, depending to a great degree on how your define "works". If one child has trouble sleeping, providing extra reassurance "works". If another child hates the taste of brussels sprouts, does forcing them to eat them anyways "work"? If a student hates step-by-step instructions, does forcing them to sit through them "work"?

We read in this article that we should use "the robust findings from cognitive science... as a base to inform how we design and sequence learning." But cognitive science is a mish-mash of competing theories, including the "astonishing 71 different models or ways of classifying learning styles" we find in the literature in the first place. I'm not here to say "learning styles work". But I would be very surprised if some form of differentiated pedagogy were not the best way to promote learning - whether it be as simple as teaching students in their own language, as progressive as tailoring content to adapt to their culture, or as complex as attending in a very precise way to their individual needs and interests.

Today: 65 Total: 65 Carl Hendrick, Aeon, 2023/01/30 [Direct Link]

Education: the five concerns we should debate right now


The five concerns listed are: teacher working conditions, public funding of private schools, equity in admissions, chatGPT, and education funding. While I note that this is offered in an Australian context, I still wonder whether these are the five most important issues facing education today. But as I think about it, it seems to me that the issues that are important are also hard to articulate. How, for example, do we learn how to learn? What skills are needed for life in a dynamic, information-rich and constantly changing environment? How do we help people make good value judgements? How can we learn to structure global society to avoid sectarian violence? These are the sorts of issues that keep me up at night, and yet they can barely be articulated in the context of contemporary schooling.

Today: 45 Total: 45 Meghan Stacey, Deb Hayes, Phillip Dawson, Sarah O'Shea, Scott Eacott, EduResearch Matters, 2023/01/30 [Direct Link]

Learning analytics as data ecology: a tentative proposal


Learning analytics can be understood as a "data ecosystem with dynamic interdependencies and interrelationships," write the authors, but the question needs to be asked about "the extent to which learning analytics takes cognizance of the reality, the potential and the risks of being part of a broader data ecology." And, they conclude, it mostly doesn't. This conclusion is based on a definition of a data ecology, which the article offers, and a list of the roles or actors involved. These are compared against a set of 11 analytics frameworks drawn from the literature. "Most of the frameworks analysed here do acknowledge LA as part of institutional ecosystems, and to a lesser extent, as part of intra-institutional ecosystems. There is, however, a lack of understanding of LA as part of an increasingly commercial data ecology, directly impacting on students' privacy and their right to data sovereignty."

Today: 15 Total: 31 Paul Prinsloo, Mohammad Khalil, Sharon Slade, Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 2023/02/01 [Direct Link]

Ethics, Analytics and the Duty of Care

This MOOC covers all applications of analytics in learning, surveys criticisms, describes ethical approaches, and examines the ethics of analytics with a view to recent ethical theory.


This paper presents an overview of connectivism, offering a connectivist account of learning and a detailed analysis of how learning occurs in networks.
Coronavirus / Covid19 quick reference kit, to take your class or conference online cheaply and in a hurry:

Creating an Online Class or Conference - Quick Tech Guide

Stephen Downes works with the Digital Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada specializing in new instructional media and personal learning technology. His degrees are in Philosophy, specializing in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. He has taught for the University of Alberta, Athabasca University, Grand Prairie Regional College and Assiniboine Community College. His background includes expertise in journalism and media, both as a prominent blogger and as founder of the Moncton Free Press online news cooperative. He is one of the originators of the first Massive Open Online Course, has published frequently about online and networked learning, has authored learning management and content syndication software, and is the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily. Downes is a member of NRC's Research Ethics Board. He is a popular keynote speaker and has spoken in three dozen countries on six continents.

  • The Future of Online Learning 2020, April 28, 2020.

  • TSupporting Open Educational Resources, January 7, 2022.

  • The Agile Approach to Learning Design, Online Educa Berlin, December 7, 2015.

  • Your Instant Decentralized Learning Community, April 6, 2021.

  • The MOOC Ecosystem, Association of Medical Educators of Europe (AMEE) E-Learning Symposium, Glasgow, Scotland, September 6, 2015.

  • LMS vs PLE, July 10, 2012.

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Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

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Last Updated: Jan 30, 2023 4:30 p.m.