On AI in Ed

I'm presenting a paper at next week's EDEN conference in Barcelona, on the topic of ethics for AI in education. In researching the paper, I took the time to get up to speed with some of the latest ideas. I read Frankish & Ramsey's Cambridge handbook of artificial intelligence and Boddington's Toward a code of ethics for artificial intelligence to ensure a good foundation on top of some article and internet research.

Let me begin by saying that there is a HUGE array of literature already developed on the subject of AI in education (AIED). A regular AIED Society international conference generates substantial proceedings and there is at least one dedicated journal (the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education), ensuring that momentum is ongoing.

In considering how AI might be applied in education it’s helpful to think about AI in terms of weak and strong forms. Weak AI is based on acting intelligently and the automation of specific tasks, while

"Skim reading is the new normal." [Sigh]. It needn't be so.

Elevator tale: a recent article in The Guardian suggests that reading on-screen encourages surface reading. Things are rather more nuanced, and there is a risk of overlooking studies that imply no significant difference across print and on-screen. Digital media certainly do encourage skim reading, but it is a mistake to assume that on-screen reading cannot be as effective as reading from print. 

A colleague linked me to a recent article in The Guardian, criticising the way in which reading from a screen threatens deep processing, as if there is an inevitability from screen-reading to skimming. The article cites various studies I considered in my 2016 article on the subject, and I've been careful to keep up to speed with subsequent developments (including the odd study I'd overlooked). Since that update I've also collected a few further studies, which will be the subject of a future post. For now, though, I'd like to consider the explicit and implicit claims in Wolf'…

Macro progress for micro-credentials under the mesoscope

So, a bridge is being built across informal learning and micro-credentialing, and formal education frameworks. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) recently held a consultation on recognising micro-credentials, based on a consultation paper. NZQA also reports on three pilot studies that completed in June 2018. Recognising micro-credentials is not without its challenges, so work in this space is very timely.

This is a remarkably forward-thinking move, with admirable motivation:
These pilots are a stepping stone to NZQA developing a full micro-credential system, so that employers and learners can access the skills they need throughout their lifetime. This is becoming even more important as the nature of work continues to change. The outcome is a new system for recognising micro-credentials, now in place. It's important to note that the new scheme does not seek to recognise all individual MOOCs or even collections of MOOC completions (perhaps these will come later), as mos…

The tree that Tweets: Real-time data, real-good TEL

I'm guilty of sometimes getting myopic about TEL as consisting of the effective use of VLE systems. Administering, maintaining and extending VLE infrastructure is a vital foundation for TEL practice. It provides the platform for learning activity design (in all its forms), tutoring, and analytics to assist with student success. In all of this it's easy to lose sight of the potential of TEL to, somewhat more adventurously, add to the authenticity of learning.

A colleague at the Open University is a keen advocate on supplying students with real data in their learning. It's a value all TEL practitioners will endorse; technology routinely extends into authentic environments, particularly where the gathering or analysis of data is technologically-mediated and so already digitised. A recent catch-up with a different OU colleague showed me something very interesting. A stone's throw away from my current OU desk (though safely protected by at least two walls and my naturally p…

Supply and demand-side digital education

I've just finished reading Bharat Anand's The Content Trap, which describes itself as a book "about digital change, and how to navigate it" (Kindle Location 123).

It's excellent.

Naturally it has much to say about the digital experiences and prospects of traditional media agents - newspapers, television networks, audio and video distributors. What I connected with most, though, was the coverage in the last few chapters considering strategy for digital education. Anand is a key member of the HBx initiative, which represents a further step in Harvard's move online (previous ones being in the form of edX). This new approach is one implemented by the Harvard Business school.

I think HBx cracked it.

Anand describes the strategy in these terms:
...we carved out an online learning strategy that departed from the established MOOC model in virtually every respect. We decided to pass on the increasingly standard “camera in the classroom” in favor of a more expensive “di…

So, what should we call... err... students?

I'm wrestling with a particularly slippery, err, customer. What do we call university, um, subscribers? "Those who pay for their tuition"? Technically they are 'students' ("a person who is studying at a university or other place of higher education") more than they are 'customers' ("A person who buys goods or services from a shop or business") or 'consumers' ("A person who purchases goods and services for personal use"). Anyone who's tried to debate this soon comes to the inevitable yet unhelpful conclusion that "[s]tudents are not customers nor are they not customers" (Trachtenberg, 2010). At least we can all agree that they are, at least, definitely 'students'!

But is the term 'student' sufficient? And, what might we risk if we seek to change it to 'customer'? Do we run the risk of overlooking valid, customer-style expectations if we glibly dismiss the term 'customer' as …

On pedagogy: I of II

I'm gradually working through Matt Bower's Design oftechnology-enhanced learning. I'd have read it by now but for the desire to take it reflectively and to blog my thoughts and impressions, which is actually a solid endorsement for Matt's work! It's given me the opportunity to consider my own perspectives of TEL based on the ideas of someone who's clearly given it a lot of thought, and who has a broad, coherent view as to its effective practice.
This is post 1 of 2; this first sets out my own perspective of pedagogy as a step toward consideration of Matt's chapter called "Pedagogy and Technology-Enhanced Learning".The next post will consider the -isms Matt discusses in his third chapter. 
So, in his third chapter, Bower confronts the spectre of pedagogy. I say spectre, because it's a word with mixed reviews in my experience; people either assume they know enough about what it is, or else have never heard of it. When it comes to pedagogy, you…