Productivity Decoupled from Employment

April 27, 2013

Erik Brynjolfsson’s TED talk “Race with the Machines” has a powerful idea. Due to technological advances, human work has become decoupled from wealth and our productivity decoupled from employment. In turn this leads to an ineffectiveness of traditional ways of measuring the economy — especially as a way of viewing innovation.

http://www.ted.com/talks/erik_brynjolfsson_the_key_to_growth_race_em_with_em_the_machines.html

Lots to think about here. Another “distribution problem”? His point related to the industrial revolution is especially fascinating…. it took about thirty years (e.g. all the managers had to retire) for factory procedures to change when electricity was introduced. While the managers were in place, the factories ran as they had done with steam power – not taking advantage of what the new power source had to offer. The same 30-year cycle appears to be necessary to make best use of computers.

Are MOOCs an example? I certainly understand the arguments that MOOCs are incomplete. But couldn’t MOOCs be a valuable part of a new model, that includes teachers in a somewhat “guide on the side” role with the MOOC content being the central organizer. A different post-secondary economy would be required but maybe the new managers will see it that way — looking more at learning and less at the notion of formal education. Those who really hate MOOCs, often pointing to high dropout rates, lack of support and variable quality, seem to me to be missing the potential of MOOCs (or similar environments) to assist learning. Should we get rid of books since, after all, a person might start to read one, not like it and decide to move on to something else?

Update on May 6 – Bonnie Stewart’s interesting blog post!
http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/university-venus/not-hand
“….MOOCs started, in a sense, as a recognition that the credentialing equation was hollow…


iTunes U and Me

July 27, 2012

A few days ago Apple/ iTunes U announced that it had opened its course development process in a way that is intended to encourage anyone to develop a small number of personal courses without any institutional verification. I’ve been working on a contract to rework some K-12 pro-D for delivery on iTunes U, so this has been of special interest to me.

It’s an important change that’s described in several places:

The iTunes announcement refers to private courses – ones that won’t appear in the catalogue. That’s the opposite to the work I’m doing, where it’s hoped that many people will find our content through searches of the iTunes collections (which are different than courses).

It appears that students will access the private courses via direct links — and iTunes courses can only be accessed via an iOS5 device. For those of you who have explored iTunes U via iTunes on your computer, it’s important to understand that when you access content in iTunes on your computer it is from a collection, not a course. There’s definitely room for confusion here!

I recommend that anyone considering developing iTunes U courses (or collections) should spend some time looking through existing courses and collections to get a sense of how the environments work and how they differ from the idea of an LMS (learning management system like Moodle). iTunes courses now offer searching, sharing and other features — but don’t expect discussion forums or student assessment tools. It’s really about content delivery.

I’d love to communicate (via this blog) with anybody who’s planning to try this.


Here are some links I’ve found recently, relating to iTunes U and some of the issues you might encounter if you’re developing content.

iTunes U General information:

Are universities reluctant to use iTunes U?
Summary: Is iTunes U a viable platform for school systems to implement?

Charlie Osborne for iGeneration, May 5, 2012
Five things that could make Apple’s new iTunes U a winner
iTunes U may seem like an afterthought, but it could be the glue that holds Apple’s educational concept together.

Scott Stein January 19, 2012
Driving the Classroom with iTunes U
FEBRUARY 19, 2012

Resources related to having educators to create their own iTunes U courses or collections

Focus on Search Engine Issues (obviously not applicable to the private courses):

The enigma of the iTunes app search algorithm
Andrew Cohen, 11/28/2011

What factors does the search algorithm for the iTunes App Store take into account? Does it place a higher priority on keywords, description, etc? Shane Kittelson, 2011

Alternatives to iTunes U
Massive online learning and the unbundling of undergraduate education

How curation tools can enhance academic practice

Ning’s new mobile version (for smartphones)