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Stephen Gets His Wish… In California, Anyway ;)

Stephen shared this video today on OLDaily. It’s a sad spoof of the impending collapse of the public school system in California.

Hot for Teachers w/ Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green from Megan Fox

I reblogged this video with the title “Stephen Gets His Wish” (with mostly humorous intent) based on his recent post, We Learn. In the post, Stephen describes the manner in which educational institutions are severely damaging children’s learning:

The reason we have so many students who are utterly unable to learn for themselves is precisely *because* of corporations and institutions…. They [the institutions] are not providing help. They are actively hindering it. It is in their interests to keep students dependent and unable to learn for themselves. They actively act against attempts to provide this support. [Institutions] have expended a great deal of effort to ensure that… students remain passive and disempowered.

If these terrible claims against institutions are true, the complete collapse of a state’s public school system would be an utter boon for the education of the children of that state. So we should be happy about what’s happening in CA, right?

If, on the other hand, you feel any impulse to fight to save these institutions, that impulse must derive from a belief that formal educational institutions [aka schools] are actually helping children learn.

Cue discussion… =)

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Come, now…

In response to an article about the death of instructional design, Stephen says… “there is not a (practical) sub-discipline that is (strictly) the design of instructional materials.” There are many parenthetical caveats in this statement, but it is still wrong. Stephen’s evidence for the argument that there is no discipline of instructional design?

The success of sites like Common Craft, designed with an apparent indifference to instructional design principles (“The Lefevre’s have no instructional design background at all,” writes Schlenker) seems to me to be evidence of that.

It’s like saying, “The success of the bridge Bob built over the irrigation ditch in front of his yard, with an apparent indifference to engineering principles (“Bob has no engineering background at all”), is evidence of the fact that there is no practical sub-discipline of structural engineering.”

Which is most likely: (1) that Bob and the Common Craft folk have learned important principles through life experience without having ever taken courses on these topics and applied them successfully, or (2) the fields of instructional design and structural engineering don’t exist?

It’s difficult for me to believe that Stephen would argue that the only disciplines that really exist are those that require formal training to gain proficiency in…

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Downes / Wiley Conversation Reaction

Stephen links to some responses to the day-long pre-conference “event” we held in Vancouver. I was always befuddled that people wanted to come sit in on the conversation, but 50 or so did. Many more apparently watched the stream from a distance.

David Porter seems writes, with surprise and disappointment:

Watched the screencast this morning of the Wiley Downes Dialogue from OpenEd09. Couldn’t help thinking phase change when the discussion crisscrossed terrain that has been traveled many times before at various conferences, forums and meetings since about 2000. “It’s deja vu all over again,” as Yogi Berra said when describing repeated back-to-back home runs by Mantle and Maris in the early 60s. But it was more like veja du for me – I know I’ve been a party to these conversations countless times before. The discussions/arguments continue to hover around definitions, clarifications of terms, and wishful thinking about an education system that is what it is….

Feels like the theory, innovation and advocacy phase of the open educational resource (OER) movement is fast approaching its “best before date.”

I’m not sure what he was expecting. Stephen and I have been disagreeing – exclusively in writing – about things for almost a decade, and this conversation was billed as nothing more than “let’s get together in a room where we can actually talk to each other in real-time and see how much of this we really disagree about and how much of it is failure to communicate.” So of course we rehashed our old arguments. Rehashing old arguments face-to-face was the only plan for the day from the very outset. Why is anyone surprised we didn’t break lots of new ground in our conversation?

(And it turns out that yes, we apparently do communicate fairly effectively in writing and yes, we really do disagree about wide range of things.)