I enjoyed reading (July)

Image from MIT-Library’s Flickr stream.

In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice (Keith Brennan): An interesting critique of Connectivist thinking…

What we think about who we are, and where we are, tells us how much we are likely to learn. This is key to the gap in Connectivist thought. Central to that gap, at the core of what I think Connectivism might be missing is this idea: Motivation is the engine of effort, and the sense of self is the ticking heart of motivation. Our sense of self is formed by the experiences we have, the environments we have them in, and the people who design those environments. And that negotiated sense of self can engineer the success or failure of the educational experience.

…and the response from Stephen Downes (Connectivism and the Primal Scream).

The key is to stop thinking of these as content to be mastered, and to start thinking them as skills to be practiced. There isn’t some point of success or failure in any of these, you just do them – like talking to your friends, like walking from class to class – until it becomes second nature.

Indeed, so long as you think of knowledge and learning as something to be acquired and measured and tested – instead of practiced and lived and experienced – you will be dissatisfied with connectivist learning. And – for that matter – there’s probably a limit to how far you can advance in traditional education as well, because (to my experience) everybody who achieves a high degree of expertise in a field has advanced well beyond the idea that it’s just information and skills and things to learn.

edcan-v50-n3-dunleavy_g_2Flow: A measure of student engagement (Jackie Gerstein):

Students differ in their aspirations, interests, and aptitudes. But it is worth considering how distinct pathways, trajectories, or streams that too often limit opportunities for students could become permeable spaces for learning. What if the curriculum anchors their learning, but ceases to anchor the students themselves because its aim is the development of important competencies through diverse learning experiences that value and extend young peoples’ knowledge, interests, and capacities across all curriculum domains?

No excuse for giving boring presentations (Garr Reynolds):

They are not sophisticated, erudite scientists speaking above our intellectual capability; they are arrogant, thoughtless individuals who insult our very presence by the lack of concern for our desire to benefit from a meeting which we choose to attend.Failure to spend the

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time wisely and well, failure to educate, entertain, elucidate, enlighten, and most important of all, failure to maintain attention and interest should be punishable by stoning. There is no excuse for tedium.

The challenges and realities of Inquiry-based learning (Thom Markum):

As education continues the march toward a student-driven, project-oriented approach that values intelligent solutions to open-ended problems, it won’t be sufficient to focus on the wonderful discoveries and authentic work that result from an inquiry-based system. Instead, a far more difficult issue will come to the fore: How will we know if inquiry-based learning is successful, and what non-standardized measures of achievement, like better attitude, apply?

transhumanNanoethics and human enhancement (Patrick Lin & Fritz Allhof):

Human enhancement—our ability to use technology to enhance our bodies and minds, as opposed to its application for therapeutic purposes—is a critical issue facing nanotechnology. It will be involved in some of the near-term applications of nanotechnology, with such research labs as MIT’s Institute for Soldier Technologies working on exoskeletons and other innovations that increase human strength and capabilities. It is also a core issue related to far-term predictions in nanotechnology, such as longevity, nanomedicine, artificial intelligence and other issues.

The implications of nanotechnology as related to human enhancement are perhaps some of the most personal and therefore passionate issues in the emerging field of nanoethics, forcing us to rethink what it means to be human or, essentially, our own identity. For some, nanotechnology holds the promise of making us superhuman; for others, it offers a darker path toward becoming Frankenstein’s monster.