Saturday, April 28, 2012

Curtis Bonk's open course

Curtis Bonk's open course (MOOC) Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success is up and it's orientation week. The course is running on CourseSites. I've been spending some time clicking around. It's taking me some time to get acclimated. We've got "discuss" and "blog" on the left-hand toolbar. There seems to be a distinction between Forums and Discussions, but I don't see anything on the toolbar for Forums. When I click "Week 1", I find "Forum: Week 1..." which is listed under the bread trail as "Discussion Board > Forum: Week 1..." Everything's the same color. The discussion posts don't seem to know that you've read them unless you click a check box and then mark the selected thread(s) as "read" under a [message actions] button. I'm finding that have to scroll up and down to see the name of the post and a list of any replies. Then it seems best to scroll back up and use the breadcrumb trail. There are a few things listed as "Blog". We each have our own blog and there are some additional blogs... and there are some things listed as wikis - and then there are some groups - and groups have blogs and wikis of their own. That might be too many layers of blogs and wikis for me!
Nevertheless I'm trying to make some contributions to this course. I've got some time to spend on this course over the next couple of weeks. Maybe I can even complete the Badge work for this course. I'm wondering if it'll turn out that some people wish I'd maintain my usual lurker status.

P.S. It's fun to run across from familiar names from earlier MOOCs.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I attended some of the TCC Online Conference April 17-19. One of the features of this year's conference was the introduction of badges. Jonathan Finkelstein gave a great presentation about badges and the potential for using badges as markers/rewards for progressing through a course. Great idea! The conference had a series of badges. I worked my way through the first step toward the first badge: Complete 15 tweets or a 300 word blog post about the conference. I did 15 tweets covering the first three sessions I attended and got my 25 out of 75 points toward the first badge. Check! Well, that was it for me. No way to spend the time to get all the badges or most of the badges or parts of badges... The list of activities seemed daunting, so I just didn't go for it. Then... I spent the three days of the conference feeling guilty that I was not fully participating. I should have worked on the badges. (Also disappointing: I'm having trouble with my graphics card/driver - or something - on my desktop which has resulted in trouble running Second Life and playing DVDs. I had to skip the Second Life sessions.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Education is a waste of time and money

I've been reading too many blogs, Twitter posts, etc. Here's the way things sound to me:

Public higher education is a waste of time and money. Faculty are lazy and self-serving and have no interest in promoting student learning. The curriculum is outmoded and does not prepare students for jobs in the 21st century. Study the humanities? Laughable idea. Social sciences? Perhaps of some utility - but anyone who's not interested in pursuing STEM shouldn't bother with higher education. The Ivy League schools? The only point in going to a prestigious institution is networking. One probably has to put up with the existence of the Ivys since much of their funding is generated by endowments. (On the other hand perhaps we should start taxing those elite institutions and make sure that the Ivys have to operate at a lower-level.)

K-12 education is boring and irrelevant and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Schools are dangerous places - actually physically dangerous and a place where students are exposed to dangerous ideas. The curriculum is outmoded. K-12 educators claim to have the goal of preparing students for college, but that goal should be changed. Many students are unsuited for higher learning. In any case many students can't afford higher education. K-12 is a waste of public funds.

Public school teachers do not have their students best interests at heart. Teachers are morally bankrupt and uncaring - and overpaid.

K-12 teachers don't need any credentials. Anyone with a modicum of training can learn to follow a set handbook of materials and exercises. Students will do well on standardized tests which obviously means the students are learning.

For some reason private, for-profit schools (K-12 and beyond) manage to overcome all of the odds and beat our public schools when it comes to student learning. For-profit schools have the curriculum that students need.

When it comes to higher education a few superstar professors can develop courses with sections run by adjuncts. That will make learning more economical - and provide profits for shareholders.

We should abandon the goal of public eduation for all in favor of the goal of fostering for-profit schools for some.

Even better? Skip school as a necessary institution supported by the nation altogether. Children should be homeschooled - or how about unschooled? Children will learn those things that interest them using their networked home computers - no, their iPads - and by developing their own personal learning networks. Everyone knows a nice, successful, talented homeschooled kid or two so obviously this will work for everyone.

Higher ed? Skip college and become an entrepreneur. Surely everyone has the capabilities to start a business.

Those children from unstable and impoverished families may amount to something if they are by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, but since it is unlikely that lower-income children will succeed, we should continue to build prisons which of course are privatized and run for a profit. We will have to stop any aid to dependent children because obviously it makes their parents lazy. This might mean that some children go hungry, but we're willing to risk it. Surely anyone who wants to work can find work.

People do not need degrees or other credentials to succeed. Degrees and credentials are an unnecessary barriers set up by the priviledged. The supposed needs for degrees, etc. goes along with other forms of regulation that simply hold us back from achieving economic prosperity. Truck drivers, pest control operators, lawyers, doctors, social workers... no one needs regulations/credentials/certificates/degrees.

I think it's time to find some a bunch of positive upbeat messages about education somewhere. Anyone know where I can find some?