Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Two pieces on gratitude recently caught my eye.  

The first is a synopsis of Oliver Sacks' new book, published posthumously, on the subject.

The second was published in the Sunday Review section of the NY Times, by Arthur C. Brooks, entitled, Choose to be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.

Indeed.  And, what better time of the year to recognize that fact than Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Online Ed - Shirky, Cheating, etc.....

Clay Shirky posits that the digital revolution in higher ed has already happened.  Among the many key quotes, 'If you rank countries by rate of college enrollment, the U.S. is #1. If you rank countries by rate of college graduation, we’re not even in the top 10. This gap gives us the lowest graduation rate of any developed nation. We don’t have an admissions problem, we have a completion problem. Recognizing this means re-thinking who college is for.'

And, the Atlantic notes that Cheating in Online Classes is Big Business.  If you've got the money, there's no need to study.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In the interim

What's it like being an interim?  My brother died when he was 42.  My brother-in-law died when he was 60.   Surgeries, other health challenges, employment coming and going, teams readjusting, friends and family moving and growing and changing?  It's ALL interim.

Key quote, 'Life is what happens while we're busy making plans. The interim is forever, so perhaps it makes sense to make act in the interim as we expect to act in the long haul.'

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Post-Colonial MOOCs

A call for ideas and discussion:

I just returned from AAA and Maha's post prompted reflection about privilege, elitism and power in the academic world.   I attended two presentations about Massively Open Online Courses, and was struck by both the numbers of students enrolled (in the thousands) as well as the slickness of the courses.  Both benefited from instructional designers, professional-quality videos, but more so, from the market position of the well-established and well-known institutions who attached their brand name, their logos, and their prestige to the courses.  Neither of these two courses, or the people who taught them, really 'got' the notion of openness, sharing, broadly distributing content available to remix, reconfigure and redistribute.

When asked about the motivations to create and teach the courses, among the reasons the presenters cited was the notion that, if their institution didn't do this, someone else will, and it was a necessity to promote a comparative advantage that they had developed, a special expertise in a certain field, or to leverage their brand position, both expected reasons from a strategic business perspective.  But the decision to develop and distribute how they did also serves to reinforce and perpetuate a colonialist and even a paternalistic pattern of elite educators and institutions.     Maha's post is a welcome step in a different direction.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hire good teachers, not subject matter experts

Edward Wilson on the meaning of existence, how we got to here and now, and the shortcomings of specialization....

Lots more here.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rheingold on Digital Literacy in the Classroom

Essential literacies for today, per Howard Rheingold:

  • Attention to Information
  • Crap Detection
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Network Know-How

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

More than Shareholder Value

A couple of posts caught my eye the other day.  Mike Caulfield wrote about remixing, repurposing and adapting in digital media as a way to expand collaboration and distribute ideas, notions and observations, using the ‘fluidity of digital media to have the sort of “conversation through editing” that digital media makes possible.’

Mike’s post led me back to David Wiley’s excellent blog,, and his piece, The Remix Hypothesis, riffing on the benefits of faculty adapting OER and that impact on curriculum design, leading them to to ‘rethink their assignments and assessments so that they maximize the learning-related benefits of openness to their students.’

Maha Bali’s post on Unbearable Whiteness discusses the notions and nature of privilege, and the ‘elusive nature of inclusivity.

And, finally, Dave Winer takes a broader perspective, addressing the Purpose of the Internet, which he describes as saving our species from self-destruction.   Maybe, or more to the point, a use of the internet is to facilitate the sharing, remixing and redistribution of ideas, notions, and perspectives, giving voices to many, to all of our collective benefit.   

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The University of Everywhere? Not.

Audrey Watters' review of The End of College.   Suffice to say, she didn't like it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Data mining or spying?

on students' privacy, trust, spyware and cheating. Asks the right questions and nails it.

Why spy on students?  And, why the obsession about 'cheating?'  With the push to use services like Turnitin to play the 'gotcha' game with students learning to write, with the sweeping of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media services that this old dog will never learn to use, or to use well, what does all this do to students' ability to own their own identities, their conversations, where is their privacy, or is this all just hackable?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Digital Natives prefer books.   Go figure.


The worst ones are the internal trolls......

40 Books To Read About Teaching

From John Spencer's Blog Education Rethink....

Maybe it's just click bait, but I like this list.....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Truth About Admissions - Random vs. False Selection

Seth Godin, again....

Key quote 'What would happen if we spent more time on carefully assembling the pool of 'good enough' and then randomly picking the 5%? And of course, putting in the time to make sure that the assortment of people works well together...'

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nobody Grows Up Thinking, 'I Want to be an Adjunct.'

Alyson wrote this piece about life as an adjunct working in a community college in Washington State,  and she's spot on what students crave, Teacher Presence, and the struggles of faculty in trying to provide exactly that, whether online, in a classroom, on the phone, in a meeting or even just walking across campus.    And her observation that most faculty are good, and want to be better, in the face of high expectations, low compensation, and trying to get by, is also right on the money.

Lately, I've had a series of 'down to earth' talks with faculty and administrators, struggling with career direction and frustration, as anger seeps out, along with scarce resources, changing directions, and declining enrollments, all the while trying to manage expectations.  To the long time adjunct who didn't get the job he thought he wanted, there was some interview coaching and job-search counseling.   For those who unsuccessfully applied for a full-time position for their program, there was the speech about priorities, market conditions, timing, all the while recognizing that full-time permanent positions are as rare as hen's teeth.  

Yet, this business is a people business, a talent business, and organizations, even poorly-funded public education ones, need to attract and retain the talented people to provide the Teacher Presence, and if they are to do what both the public and the education community say it is that they do, there has to be an investment in the people who do that.   Like Alyson, I worry about it as well.  It's tough out there.  Yet, the good ones stick around and still do what they do in the classroom for the students, and still get the psychic juice they need from that.  Good for them, and it's my job to support, encourage and nurture that.   Hope I'm up to the task.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Honeypots and Brand Inversion

David Wiley rants about the supposed differences between MOOCs and 'traditional' online classes in this piece sub-titled, 'Small Deltas, Honeypots and Brand Inversion.'   David bemoans the commercialization of higher education and the compromising of a quality experience by a narrow-minded reliance on industrialized production of content and activities, either in the branded MOOC environment or via the LMS, where those activities and content are produced in a DIY lemonade stand 'home-professional' system.

If I learned anything from the Connected Courses experience, and if I picked up anything from getting closer to the Developmental Education instructors, what counts is the connection among learners.  The connections (plugging into a lively interactive network of people, firing on all the synapses) are what provides meaning and value to participants, labeled sometimes as students, teachers, what have you.

That connection can be strengthened by working with the Web technology and tools, but it's the connection that's important, not the tools.    And, as this new year opens, as we pass an arbitrary point in the planet's orbit around the sun, some ten days past the Winter Solstice, and about 5 days before the next full moon, maybe it's good to commit (for those interested in making resolutions!), to working to improve those connections among learners.