Stephen Downes at #Change11

change11 home page, as it were

This week we have just received an assignment that is more like a challenge. We have to create a “learning artifact”. Still not sure what that is, but he also gave us a bunch of resource links to go along with the challenge.

We are supposed to use this learning artifact as a tool to illustrate many dimensions of the learning (and teaching) process, or even IF it IS a process. We take a step back and look at the a whole simplified picture from many angles.

OK, so I teach languages, or, as a Professor in the Department of English Language and Communication, that is what I am ostensibly doing. Problem is, I don’t think I really CAN teach anyone how to speak English. This is not personal. I don’t think a language is really teachable, at least not in the traditional academic sense. I now use most of my time with students trying to develop curiosity, and then ways to sate that curiosity. That first part is by far the hardest. But goes with the territory.

So, like languages, but a lot simpler, I’ve decided that my learning artifact will be “how to use chopsticks”. Like language learning, it is usually done as a child, and when accomplished, becomes completely automatic, but everyday. Some people don’t learn it as a kid, though, and therefore have to learn it a different way.  I’m looking forward to this.

Great timing too, as I just finished my grades for this semester, I may even be able to join the synchronous sessions, for only the third time this year (here in Tokyo, they start at 2 AM usually.)

Shameful day in American education

T is for Teacher

New York is going to publish (as in local newspapers) the ratings of public school teachers. So the bad ones, who don’t care, will simply do their supermarket shopping down the road. The ones who do will leave. Note that student, or administrators, are not subject to these same measures. Bill Gates has come out against them in an IHT (NYT) opinion piece. The illustration at left is from the article.

While I think having billionaires tinkering with education is a bit frightening, most notably with the promotion of people like Michelle Rhee, some do have a rational take on the situation. Mr. Gates shows that here. What we do know positively that now is the time for experimentation. If you aren’t trying anything new, you will be marginalized in the near future. More on this at Hack Education.