Thursday, October 6, 2016

Scavenger hunt!

Here's another edu-disrupto-preneur piece claiming that "increasing affordability, quality, and student success all at once" is not only possible, but can be done in a "financially sustainable" way.

Yes! The only things stopping us are "inertia, finger-pointing, and buck passing." If we can stop being so lazy and pessimistic, we can magically achieve what no institution in has ever done before, for the first time in millennia! We can defy gravity, create perpetual motion, and spin straw into gold!

Your assignment:
Find one single substantiated fact in this article.

Just one

Bonus points if you can resist the urge to insert [citation needed] after every sentence.


  1. When writing students complain, "I don't have to know any of this citiation stuff!" th y are correct. Of course, they'll never do the research to find this article that profes them right so it's ok.

  2. "Support personalized, modularized, gamified, variable-paced learning"

    "Deliver high-fidelity, transmedia learning content on the go, in class and in the field"

    What the heck is transmedia? And am I the only curmudgeon who thinks students should learn to sit still and read books, instead of having every study session be "gamified?"

    1. "Transmedia" is new to me, too. Presumably something about bridging/using multiple media at once? I'm willing, if someone will just consolidate all the communication-tools-of-the hour into a simple inbox/outbox format for me. Or maybe our students could just use email for communicating with us, and vice versa, because that actually works reasonably well?

      Actually, never mind, we're talking about "deliver[ing]" "learning content," not actually exchanges between students and the faculty member who created the course. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who's dreaming up new modes of content delivery even as they talk about personalization and interaction doesn't know what the @#$! they're talking about.

    2. And on further thought, I'd like to propose Cassandra's law of edupreneurship: whatever they initially promise, most "revolutionary" edupreneurial endeavors quickly devolve into fancy (and expensive) content-delivery devices, leaving students and/or under/unpaid instructors ("learning facilitators," "mentors," whatever) to figure out pesky details like creating productive interaction around/about the content and/or providing meaningful feedback on "deliverables" (cf. textbooks, including fancy multimedia/supposedly interactive course "packages," and the great majority of MOOCs).

  3. Too many students find today’s curricula insufficiently engaging (particularly at the foundational level), incoherent, and lacking in a clear value proposition.

    More likely: too many students are insufficiently engagable, incoherent, and lacking in a clear value proposition.

    Many students would benefit from a very different curricular model: A clearly delineated pathway consisting of synergistic courses with well-defined learning objectives. Such a curriculum would be developmental by design, with a careful sequencing of courses to build skills and competencies and many windows into future career options.

    We call things like that a major, Skippy.

    What the fuck is a "window into an option"?

    1. I think the window-related option in this guy's case should be defenestration.

  4. Summary:

    Paragraph 1
    Paragraph 2
    Rambling ramble that ramblingly rambles.
    Paragraph n-2
    Paragraph n-1
    Paragraph n

    Total Useful Content = 0.

  5. You got to paragraph n-2? You have more stamina than I.

  6. "Capabilities
    [not] sophisticated"? Please.
    Next time call them "tools."

  7. I'm not sure about "substantiated facts," but, based on my own several decades of experience in the classroom, I'd concur that students need instruction that is "personalized, immersive, skills-oriented, [and] well-supported." I might even agree about "data-driven," except I'm pretty sure that the author and I part company on how those data should be gathered for maximum effectiveness.

    I favor an approach in which a teacher with a manageable number of courses and students each semester creates a course (including schedule, assignments, and at least some of the content to be delivered via readings and/or lecture, however delivered); interacts directly and regularly with at least some of those students, including examining and providing feedback on the work they produce (and, if TAs or similar teaching assistants are involved, interacts regularly with the TAs); and, once the semester is over, reflects on information gathered through all of the above and updates the course accordingly.

    I'm pretty sure that the author envisions a system in which most of the data-gathering is done mechanically. He clearly favors a system in which the activities traditionally performed by individual faculty members are disaggregated, presumably in the name of "affordability" -- except that I have a very strong suspicion that his model would result not in overall cost savings, but in the shifting of yet more funds to the managerial/administrative class within the academy, and to edupreneurs peddling curricular/curriculum delivery systems from outside the academy.

    It also all sounds frightening 1984-ish, for both students and instructors (and then the resulting datasets will be hacked. . .). The good news is that edupreneurs will undoubtedly come up at with at least a dozen different, incompatible platforms, and we'll all be so completely drowning in data by that point that nobody will be able to find anything truly incriminating on anyone else amid the flood of selfies and pictures of meals long eaten, digested, and excreted, so it won't much matter.

    1. The bad news: my students this semester seem to share a fascination with "Big Data." Or maybe that just means that Big Data has already jumped the shark?

  8. Ever since the dawn of time people in our modern society today have asked the question, do you want it better, faster, or cheaper. I'll call that the Big Three. But in order to discuss the big 3, first we have to talk about some other things.

    There are three problems. The first problem is manufacturing, or "Building Stuff." Today's methods of building stuff aren't good. I could do a quick review of studies that have uncovered the shortcomings, but I offer my bare assertion instead. Now I'll list what I think a better system would include as if we weren't already doing everything on my list. A new "Assembly Synergy System" would do all this:

    * take in raw materials

    * shape the materials into individual pieces

    * put the pieces together

    * leverage strategies to optimize cross-platform synergies

    * optimize leverage to cross-synergize strategic platforms

    * cross leveraged platforms to strategize synergistic optimums.

    A bulleted list looks really organized but it also unfolds a paragraph into a group of individual double-spaced phrases or sentences, which is handy for increasing the length of a document. Here I should mention that my new system might cost some money, and I don't know where that comes from, but I just gave you this list, so you have to take it from there---do I have to do everything for you?

    The next problem is the products. Customers don't like the products because they don't think they have value on their own. So what we should do is put a bunch of them together and tell the customers "this is what you need" and they'll believe us and buy the whole batch. And the design team never works together and they offer too many products, so we should do that and not do that. Are we already doing any of this? Not where I come from, at least I haven't seen it, I don't know, you tell me, but whatever, everybody is doing it all wrong.

    The third thing is training. The workers need to be trained. We should have people to train them. How about they train each other? That way the actual trainers we already have can get back to doing other things, like designing more products. That might cost some money, which you can get at the same place you already figured out earlier.

    Next, there are a bunch of other problems, so there weren't really just three after all, but I'm listing them in this paragraph so you know I know about them, but I don't actually want to talk about them, so they get this just one paragraph as if they weren't really that important.

    So, can we fix the Big Three and not spend any money? Of course! But nobody's done it, so we'll have to look at everything everybody has ever done and do something different.

    The problem with that is explained in an article I read the other day, which says there are three things, except it only talks about two because the third is a buzzword that is thrown around when someone needs to be laid off so someone else can get a bonus. The two problems are, it is everybody's problem but nobody is working it, and nobody has time or energy to work on the problem because everybody is too tired from always working on it.

    So what everybody needs to do is invest all their surplus time and energy and work on the problem.