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Michael Sean Gallagher
1,539 followers -
Learning (all of it), Research Environments, elearning, mlearning, InfoSci, ICT4D.
Learning (all of it), Research Environments, elearning, mlearning, InfoSci, ICT4D.

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Michael Sean Gallagher commented on a post on Blogger.
Hello there, Inge et al. I would agree with all the comments here as they have articulated the faults in the big data approach better than I might ever. I might also reiterate or state here that the problematic aspect of this as I see it is building on the quote that Vahid shared about the assessment mechanism we are working under. Under is the operative term here as big data will, by its very nature, fail to meet the needs of the ground floor practitioners (teachers, students, etc.) and their 'messy' socially-based learning methods of discussion, analysis, synthesis, critical thinking, etc. (all very elusive in the measurable sense) but rather reinforce existing assessment mechanisms. Data wants equivalency and assessment provides that. So I see this as possibly being informative in our educational practices, but more than likely being reinforcing of the older system of measurable output=learning assessment mechanism.

More importantly, though, is its further alignment with technological solutions (which are economically driven-these have to be purchased) rather than any sort of investment in human capacity-teachers, methods, social learning, responsible use of existing tech rather than tech purchases. We are seeking novelty in tools when solutions exists in people. Like I said, big data could possibly inform this process. It could conceivably identify trends in certain areas, perhaps more equitably diversity spending, etc. But it does feel like a bit of misdirection, another in a long line of tools that were supposed to herald a disruptive change, when it more likely produces, at best, a slight detour. Again, I am all for the tools and I am hopeful for Siemens' work to produce positive results (at the very least he works in the field of education, which is more than many edtech startups) so I encourage this exploration, just so long as we acknowledge that investment in human capacity-teachers and students and their capacity for problem solving-is ultimately what will produce the change we are looking for. I say this as a mobile tech person (like Inge); these are tools that exist to serve people; I see Big Data as inherently serving other entities, not always the student or teacher.

My university (Institute of Education, University of London) is merging with another (UCL) at the end of the year and we get updates about this merger from time to time. Then we get other messages like this, which sends a bit of a mixed message and makes me think there is no marketing quality control. Why is a university being shortlisted for university of the year when it will cease to exist at the end of the year?  Great accomplishment, for sure, but as a student it is a bit confusing. 

"I am delighted to inform you that the Institute has been shortlisted in the prestigious ‘University of the Year’ category of the 2014 Times Higher Education Awards. The Times Higher is announcing the shortlist today. This achievement follows our other recent successes – such as the number one position for education in the QS World University rankings and our ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED ratings for teacher training provision - and our entry focused on the Institute’s exceptional research-led teaching, leading-edge research and global leadership role shaping lives worldwide."

Just a reminder for #wdrrisk MOOC ( (Managing Risk for Development course from World Bank) participants and anyone else interested  that that live session starts at 10:00 am EST today (in about 45 minutes). youtube.com/watch?v=aEyfQf…

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Teaching vs. research and MOOC brouhahas. http://buff.ly/1tlN60k

Research ethics in education: My take. http://buff.ly/1myUt0Q #elearning #mlearning
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