iterating toward openness pragmatism over zeal – aut inveniam viam aut faciam Stop Saying “High Quality” by DAVID on MARCH 27, 2015 The Open Business Models conversation at the Hewlett Foundation grantees meeting (#oer2015) was a lot of fun. The biggest surprises to me were the number of times the phrase “high quality” came up, and what a strong, negative reaction I had each time I heard the word.
After some reflection I think the reason the phrase gets my goat is that “high quality” sounds like it’s dealing with a core issue, while actually dodging the core issue. The phrase is sneaky and deceptive. (Now I don’t mean that the people who were using it were trying to be deceptive; they weren’t. But the phrase itself tends to blind people.) And by “core issue” I mean this – the core issue in determining the quality of any educational resource is the degree to which it supports learning. But confusingly, that’s not what people mean when they say that a textbook or other educational resource is “high quality.”
It’s very easy to demonstrate that “the degree to which it supports learning” is the only characteristic of an educational resource that matters. If an educational resource is written by experts, copyedited by professionals, reviewed by peers, laid out by graphic designers, contains beautiful imagery, and is provided in multiple formats, but fails to support learning, is it appropriate for us to call it “high quality”? No. No, no, no. A thousand times no. Despite this fact, which is intuitively obvious, when people say “high quality” they actually mean all these things (author credentials, review by faculty, copyediting, etc.) except effectiveness. In the world of textbooks and other educational materials, “high quality” describes the authoring and editorial process, and is literally unrelated to whether or not the educational resource supports learning.
In this way, saying “high quality” obscures the issue we should care about most. Instead of letting people and companies off the hook by checking boxes during the pre-publication process, we should care about whether or not a particular resource supports learning for each of our particular students. Seen this way, the true desideratum of educational materials is “effective.” I really don’t care what the pre-publication processes was like as long as my students are learning (unless the process was unethical in some way).
So please – let’s stop saying “high quality.” We don’t want “high quality” educational materials – we want “effective” educational materials. In the future, when you catch yourself saying “high quality,” stop and correct yourself. When you hear others say “high quality,” take that teachable moment to help them understand that the phrase is a ruse. If we can change this one element of the education conversation, we’ll have done something powerful.
(And don’t forget – when materials are so expensive that students can’t afford them, they are perfectly ineffective.)
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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have continued to attract considerable media coverage as governments and universities respond to the open and online education movement. Three years after the MOOCs began its rise, it is clear that the HE institutions in the EU are gaining speed in this movement. This report on MOOCs intends to contribute to literature on MOOCs in Europe. Its specific aim is to present data on the perception and objectives of European higher education institutions on MOOCs and the main drivers behind the MOOC movement. In addition, the report makes a comparison with similar studies conducted in the United States in 2013 and 2014 and to data produced by the European University Association (EUA) between October and December 2013. The report made clear that involvement is still increasing, but also that arguments to get involved differ from those in the US. The main source is a survey conducted by the project HOME - Higher education Online: MOOCs the European way, partly funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The survey was conducted in October - December 2014. In total 67 institutions responded out of 22 European countries representing in total about 2.8 millions of students.
The Ford Foundation announced today that it is adopting an open licensing policy for all grant-funded projects and research to promote greater transparency and accessibility of materials. Effective February 1, grantees and consultants will be required to make foundation-funded materials subject to a Creative Commons license allowing others, free of charge and without requesting permission, the ability to copy, redistribute, and adapt existing materials, provided they give appropriate credit to the original author.
courosa/Flickr As Chief Content Officer of a learning company, people frequently ask me: “Won’t all of your content eventually be free? After all, when technology enters the market, free is right behind it.” Then they’ll point to something like the music industry, where annual revenues have declined more than $20 billion from their peak over a…
The aim of the DOAJ is to increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals, thereby promoting their increased usage and impact. The DOAJ aims to be comprehensive and cover all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content.
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