Here are some ideas and articles that have come across my mind this last week.
Audrey Watters posted her talk titled ‘Teaching Machines and Turing Machines: The History of the Future of Labor and Learning’. Any time someone tells you that ‘X’ technology (like motion pictures, teaching machines, computers, etc) will replace real live teachers in the classroom (digital or otherwise), send them to Audrey’s blog. It has been said before, with almost every technological advancement since the advent of papyrus, to pencils, to calculators, to MOOCs, the fate of education systems has been predicted with astonishing inaccuracy.
David Thompson wrote in ‘Faculty Focus’ about Linda Nilson’s book Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills in which she provides instructors with ideas for helping students grow in their self-regulation and metacognitive abilities (two key skills for distance learners). Thompson then describes how he gets students to set goals at the beginning of the semester and then continually work towards those goals throughout the term. A significant part of Thompson’s process is to have students reflect on their progress.
Finally, John Warner writes in Inside Higher Ed that ‘There is no such thing as an Educational Innovation’. Some might call that a bold statement, especially in light of all the talk about the need for innovation in education, and all the breathless hype about MOOCs, and technology, and exhortations to abandon lectures, and warnings of the education bubble and its expected collapse. But I think that Warner makes some strong points in his article. While he has begun changing the way that he assesses his students in a way that many might call innovative, his new model is actually based on decades of educational research and successful practice. On a side note, Warner also mentions a Linda Nilson book, Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time. Incidentally, Nilson was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Teaching Practices Colloquium at TRU.