The release this week of a bill of rights for learning in the digital age was criticized by some who said the document had been put together by a group that didn’t include the very people it is meant to protect: students.
The problem is, there is no traditional learner anymore. What’s more, we no longer even have a common definition of “higher education.” The lack of consensus about what the higher-education system in the United States should be producing is largely to blame for the pressures facing colleges and universities today, from lagging financial support to proving their value to students and parents.
Last week this document created quite a storm of controversy. Comments trended toward two themes: a growing backlash to all the attention that MOOCs are getting at the expense of so many on-going distance learning initiatives already in place and the thought that it is old wine in new bottles.
Public universities across the nation are embracing a method of learning in online education known as Massive Open Online Courses. According to a The New York Times article published Jan. 23, Arizona State University, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Arkansas systems will begin offering selections from their normal online classes as MOOCs for credit. Students registering for these MOOCs will be able to get credit for them and even use the credit toward a college degree. The program, called MOOC2Degree, aims to attract online students by offering them a free first MOOC in the hope that they will continue to enroll in university-sponsored, for-credit classes.
Out of all the signatories, only Audrey Watters (to the best of my knowledge) posted any type of reflection about the process, and concerns with the document. Her post on what was left out and missed in the document is required reading for anyone looking to understand the larger issues around the idea of a Learner's Bill of Rights. Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, only Audrey disclosed that her travel expenses were paid by Udacity. Some of the other people who wrote about the event mentioned that the event was "convened" by Sebastian Thrun, but that doesn't get specific about who paid for them to get there. Given that some of the other signatories are local to Palo Alto, many probably didn't incur any expense, but there were enough people coming from places that require both air travel and lodging that it would be interesting to know who paid for what.
What is needed to truly serve the students of the future—and where state and federal leaders could really lend a hand—is to make the system more flexible for the next generation of learners and the institutions that serve them.
A group of educators brought together by Sebastian Thrun, founder of UdaCity, a site that seeks to connect students with hundreds of free, online university courses, has recently published a bill of rights for Learning in the Digital Age. The document seeks to outline a set of "inalienable rights" that the authors say students and their advocates should demand from institutions and companies that offer online courses and technology tools.
When I logged into Twitter this morning, there seemed to be an explosion of tweets referring to a “bill of rights for digital learners.” Evidently, the Chronicle just published an article entitled “Bill of Rights Seeks to Protect Students’ Interests as Online Learning Expands Rapidly.” This article discusses how 12 of the most well known educators and scholars of online education met last December (2012) to discuss the future of education in the digital age. What they left the meeting with, was a “Bill of Rights” for ALL students learners in the digital age. This document, they hope, will serve as a “philosophical framework” for students whose learning is now done mostly online. Now, some may read this and think it ONLY applies to an online program or an online world. I would have to argue that it applies to ALL learners in the digital age.
In January, San Jose State University announced a partnership with Udacity, a for-profit provider of online education. The first courses offered by “San Jose State University Plus” will be two entry-level math classes and an introductory statistics class, intended for “underserved” groups not enrolled at the university.
A group of academic scholars, and assorted education technology researchers and insiders are touting a digital "Bill of Rights" outlining what they see as the protections and privileges that should be afforded students in the online world.
This week I asked my students to read, analyze, and share their perspective on the Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age. I had this discussion across three classes of adva...
Hybrid Pedagogy's insight:
This week I asked my students to read, analyze, and share their perspective on the Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age. I had this discussion across three classes of advanced composition that emphasize rhetoric and argumentation. As a result of our class themes, my students’ analysis tended to zero in on the structure of argumentation in the document as well as its content. Three major trends emerged in my students’ discussion of this document and its potential. First, students were excited about what they felt was the idea of open access and more egalitarian access to education across socioeconomic lines. Second, they wanted to know what the Bill of Rights was for, who it would benefit, and whether or not they would ever see any concrete benefits from its implementation. And finally, perhaps most dishearteningly, there was a strain of criticism against the Bill of Rights that focused on how implementation of some of the principles in the document might require them to engage in courses and learning activities that were a “waste of time” and not related to their future careers or earning potential. I’ll expand and explore these threads below, in reverse order, pulling from my students’ discussions and trying to think through some of these issues.
The Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age was published on January 22, 2013. The document, a collaboration between twelve educators, proposes on its surface 9 rights and 10 principles that affect students and their work in any learning environment, with an eye toward those which are hybrid or online. The document has generated a great deal of discussion about its context, but little about its implication: namely, students are so integral to the process of education that how we conceive the institution and the practice must evolve. As educators, our work is not to better understand and defend our own positions, but to abdicate those positions in meaningful, thoughtful ways.
There are those who think you do. A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age was developed last month by a small group of people who “believe that online learning represents a powerful and potentially ...
Does anyone else remember the old Mad Magazine comic, Spy V. Spy? It's a very old comic but often comes back in tv or magazine commercials because it was a classic. It ran, I know from its Wikipedia entry, from 1961 to 1987, and had no words. Antonio Prohias drew one raven-faced spy entirely in white, the other entirely in black, and in each comic one would make diabolic traps for the other who was busily creating traps for the other trapper. It wasn’t clear anyone else in the world existed in their own psychic hemispheres. It was all about anticipating what the other would do in order to do something preemptive that, inevitably, prompted a response, then a counter response . . . and then it all began again.
This week there were two interesting developments in the education news —I’ve briefly summarized each, highlighted key need-to-know points, and included links that will take readers to sites that will provide multiple perspectives on the issues. The announcements are significant enough that at some level educators will likely encounter the topics in discussions, meetings or learning communities.
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