Recommended Reading: The Power of Explaining to Others

Mike Caulfield is one of a sadly dwindling number of truly interesting, deep-thinking bloggers about educational technology in higher ed. If you don’t follow his blog, you should.[1]

He can be an acquired taste. He has his obsessions that take him into weird little intellectual corners sometimes. But as he lays out in his fantastic post, The Power of Explaining to Others, it all ties together into something important and compelling if you just give Mike enough time and patience to let him lay out his case.

His basic argument is that we learn best when we are explaining things. That certainly rings true to me personally. I often don’t fully know what I think on a topic until I write a blog post about it or answer a panel discussion question on it at a conference. It sharpens my thinking, which was my original motivation for starting a blog and which also has animated all aspects and phases of my career, whether I was a teacher, a consultant, an analyst or blogger, a product designer, or some combination of the above. I love learning and I learn best when I have to explain what I am learning to somebody else.

Mike’s intellectual canvas is enormous, so his posts related to this topic in one way or another range from micro-interventions in the design of a distributed wiki enormous societal problems and trends like how to confront the rise of fake news and political tribalism. I never blow off his pieces even when he seems to be off on a weird jag that I dont’ understand at first blush. There’s always something interesting going on underneath. If I’m willing to work for it, Mike’s pieces generally reward my investment. And his latest post is something of a Rosetta Stone to his blog.

  1. Mike, you really need to add an email subscription option to your site. You’ll be shocked to hear that not everybody uses RSS. []
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Clarifications On UC Berkeley’s Accessibility Decision To Restrict Video Access

I had planned earlier to write a post or two on the UC Berkeley video kerfuffle but kept getting sidetracked with more articles in trade press and national media. And there have been quite a few articles, but many if not most seem to focus on the decision as a short-term transaction – DOJ ruling, UC Berkeley decision to remove videos from public – rather than understand the broader implications. Before commenting on these implications, I thought it would be useful to clarify some misconceptions that I have seen.

The BerkeleyX program (with edX) was a big part of the DOJ ruling

While most coverage has focused on the removal of YouTube videos created by lecture capture systems – automatically recorded and posted videos without post-production or packaging – the original DOJ ruling was based on two complaints, the first being usage of BerkeleyX MOOCs and second being usage of lecture capture videos. Continue reading

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Recommended Reading: CBE platforms represent a truly niche market

Triggered by the news that we broke here at e-Literate that “Ellucian Stops Support for Brainstorm, its CBE platform”, Carl Straumsheim at Inside Higher Ed has a valuable follow-up article today looking more broadly at the CBE platform market. In “Finding a Niche in a Niche Market”, Carl interviews chief product and strategy officer at Ellucian, and several ed tech CEOs active in the market. The lede:

Last year, Ellucian partnered with the consulting and research firm Eduventures and the American Council on Education to survey 251 colleges on their competency-based education strategies. The survey identified one major reason why the competency-based education market may be a tricky one for vendors to build a profitable business model in: most colleges aren’t ready to go all in yet. [snip]

Additionally, Ellucian’s own customers told the company that they were not prioritizing spending money on platforms specifically for competency-based education when they could use their existing learning management systems for those experiments, [chief product and strategy officer] Williams said.

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Posted in Bits & Bytes, Business & Economics, Ed Tech, LMS & Learning Platforms, Recommended Reading | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recommended Reading: Signs of Restraint in the Analytics Hype Machine

Mike Sharkey’s recent post on the Blackboard blog site, “Analytics isn’t a thing,” triggered by an epiphany he had while reading the latest NMC Horizon Report, suggests that we might finally be seeing a maturation in the much-hyped analytics space. Rather than viewing analytics as a product category in and of itself, Mike concludes that the market is finally embracing analytics as a tool that can help solve discrete problems in specific situations. He writes:

“My point is that we shouldn’t be “selling analytics” and customers shouldn’t be looking to “buy analytics.” Analytics isn’t a thing. Analytics help solve problems like retention, student success, operational efficiency, or engagement.”

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Why Ed Tech Will Fail to Transform Education (for Now)

A while back, I wrote a post arguing that algorithm-based ed tech like learning analytics and adaptive learning will not sell well as long as educators do not have the mathematical and scientific literacies necessary to understand the rationale and limitations of the ways in which the software makes evaluations. They won’t trust it because they can’t know when and how it works and when and how it fails. It is as if we are trying to invent the pharmaceutical industry in absence of a medical profession.

Today I will extend that analogy to argue that even revolutionary developments in educational technology will fail to have the dramatic impact (or “efficacy,” in the newly common parlance that was borrowed from medicine) without changes to the fundamental fabric of the institutions and culture of academe. By looking at the history of one particular medical innovation and imagining what might have happened if it had been discovered when the state of medical science and practice looked more like the state of today’s learning science and educational practice, we can learn a lot about how a technology needs to be embedded in a set of cultural and institutional supports in order to achieve widespread adoption, acceptance, and effective use. This has direct bearing on the situation with educational technology today.

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Posted in Academics & Academia, Big Picture, Ed Tech, Research, Strategy & Change Management | 6 Comments