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Got a business plan for Open Educational Resources?

Startl has announced a $25,000 competition, soliciting business plans for best uses of Open Educational Resources. The prize is modest, but this could turn into a generator of alternative ideas for education. From their blog:

In partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Graduate School of Education at University of Pennsylvania, Startl will announce the winner this spring during the Milken PennGSE Education Business Plan Competition. The Startl Prize for Open Educational Resources awards the best business plan that leverages openly licensed content to change the paradigm around the production, delivery, sharing, and experience of learning. The intention is to catalyze models that increase access to and dramatically lower the cost of learning. Startl is seeking to inspire entrepreneurs to think creatively about how to incorporate open principles into their core business strategy.

Tapscott: Memorizing facts is a waste of time

Cristóbal Cobo forwarded an article from Brand Republic from earlier this year. It contains a few provocative lines from Don Tapscott, co-author of Wikinomics:

Tapscott said: “Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge — the internet is. Kids should learn about history but they don’t need to know all the dates.

“It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorise that it was in 1066. 

They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google. Memorising facts and figures is a waste of time.”

Absolutely! “Download”/banking style pedagogies are made obsolete by Google and Wikipedia.

In our Leapfrog series, we have argued that education should concentrate on “upload” pedagogies, based on knowledge production by students and collaborating faculty, together with augmentations provided by a new category of community-based volunteers. Using the most advanced forms of information search engines, networks, early artificial intelligence, and the aforementioned volunteers, there is an opportunity to leapfrog education beyond any of the competition. This will require fundamental changes in the mission, structure, and curricula of education at all levels.

Time to drop memorization and refocus education on the liberal skills?

Off to Destination ImagiNation Global Finals

Today, I will arrive in Knoxville, TN, to interact with organizers and competing youth at the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals! Destination ImagiNation (DI) is a creativity and problem solving program for children from elementary age to college age. Teams of up to seven members compete in various challenges that require complex thinking, problem solving, teamwork and creativity. The goal of the program is to teach creative and critical thinking, presentation skills, problem solving, and teamwork skills. This year, a record 1,032 youth teams from throughout the world converge on this southern American city to compete for honors in the world’s largest critical thinking and creative problem solving competition. Arthur Harkins and I will present at a couple sessions.

DI is another pathway for breaking away from mediocrity in education. I will report more from the road. It should be fun!

China hearts m-learning

You don’t need to understand Mandarin to know what’s going on in these commercials. The videos seem to stream slowly from these Chinese YouTube equivalents, so you may want to brew a pot of coffee as they load. Believe me, it’s worth the wait.

First, a collection of Ozing (好记星) commercials:

Then, the infomercial:

The Chinese are embracing mobile learning (m-learning) devices, and the manufacturer’s use of Dashan (AKA Mark Rowswell) as a pitchman conveys the impression that the West is using devices like this already. On the contrary –we confiscate these things at the school door! Is it too late for the West?

(Make sure to read my previous post on the Ozing V99.)

Digital Media and Learning Competition winners

17 projects will receive up to $238,000 in funding as part of the first ever Digital Media and Learning Competition funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and administered by HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory). While my proposal wasn’t among the less than 2% of submissions awarded funding, all of the winning projects look awesome:

  1. Always with You: Experiment in Hand-held Philanthropy: The Always With You network will connect young African social entrepreneurs with young North American professionals. Using mobile phone technology, which is now widespread, this network will facilitate both micro-funding and the exchange of professional advice to projects in Africa that promote public benefit.
  2. Black Cloud: Environmental Studies Gaming: Black Cloud is an environmental studies game that mixes the physical with the virtual to engage high school students in Los Angeles and Cairo, Egypt.
  3. Critical Commons: Critical Commons is a blogging, social networking and tagging platform specially designed to promote the “fair use” of copyrighted material in support of learning.
  4. FollowTheMoney.org: Networking Civic Engagement: FollowTheMoney.org: Networking Civic Engagement, a project of the Institute on Money in State Politics, is an online interactive site and users’ guide that supports civics research by young people and promotes their understanding of — and engagement with — electoral politics and legislative activities.
  5. Fractor: Act on Facts: Fractor is a web application that matches news stories with opportunities for social activism and community service.
  6. HyperCities: Based on digital models of real cities, “HyperCities” is a web-based learning platform that connects geographical locations with stories of the people who live there and those who have lived there in the past.
  7. Let the Games Begin: A 101 Workshop for Social Issue Game: The Let the Games Begin workshop is a soup-to-nuts tutorial on the fundamentals of social issue games.
  8. Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies (MILLEE): Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies, a project to be conducted in rural India, promotes literacy through language-learning games on mobile phones: the “PCs of the developing world.”
  9. Mobile Musical Networks: Mobile Musical Networks will build an expressive mobile musical laboratory for exploring new ways of making music with laptops and local-area-networks.
  10. Networking Grassroots Knowledge Globally: Networking Grassroots Knowledge Globally, a project of the Global Fund for Children, is a new community and “information commons” that will include blogs, video clips, sound slides, podcasts, and photographs to help share innovative practices for helping marginalized and vulnerable children.
  11. Ohmwork: Networking Homebrew Science: Ohmwork is a new social network and podcast site where young people can become inventive and passionate about science by sharing their do-it-yourself (DIY) science projects.
  12. Self-Advocacy Online: Self-Advocacy Online is an educational and networking website for teens and adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, targeted at those who participate in organized self-advocacy groups.
  13. Social Media Virtual Classroom: The Social Media Virtual Classroom will develop an online community for teachers and students to collaborate and contribute ideas for teaching and learning about the psychological, interpersonal, and social issues related to participatory media.
  14. Sustainable South Bronx Fab Lab: The Sustainable South Bronx Fab Lab project is a laboratory that allows people to turn digital models into real world constructions of plastic, metal, wood and more.
  15. Virtual Conflict Resolution: Turning Swords to Ploughshares: Virtual Conflict Resolution is a digital humanitarian assistance game that creates a learning environment for young people studying public policy and international relations.
  16. The Virtual World Educators Network: The Virtual World Educators Network will be developed to serve as an online hub to promote the use of virtual worlds as rich learning environments.
  17. YouthActionNet Marketplace: The YouthActionNet Marketplace is a dynamic digital networking platform for young leaders to engage in social entrepreneurship and address critical social problems.

How can we fund more of these projects?

World Competitiveness Ranking – Where is Japan?

World Competitiveness. For the first entry of my guest-blogging, this topic would not be too bad, I suppose.

Thus, World Competitiveness.

According to World Competitive Yearbook 2007 by IMD (International Institute for Management Development), Japan is now ranked in the 24th place, sliding out of the top twenty. Allowing China to pass (China rose from 18 to 15), Japan has moved down eight spots, from the 16th in 2006. In fact, Japan is now surpassed by many of it’s neighboring countries, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and even Malaysia (See the below ranking for details). Though there is a debate over if China truly deserves to be ranked so high, let’s put away that debate for the moment and I would like to think why Japan has fallen dramatically.

One IMD research fellow points out why Japan is slipping, noting some of the factors that I have also pondered many times in the past when thinking about my own country’s higher education system. As she puts it:

[…] Entrepreneurship is not widespread (ranking 57th out of 61 countries), business managers are not characterized as having much international experience (52nd) and there is a low participation of women in business (47th). […] Other obstacles to global integration include a national culture that is closed to foreign ideas (54th) and strict immigration laws (55th), despite the fact that Japan ranks higher for its “attitude towards globalization” (14th).

It has also been pointed out that this low ranking is caused by the serious descrepancies between the skills companies need and the skills Japanese university provides to students.

What does this mean?

To me, it means that the higher education system needs to focus on producing a new type of college graduate: someone who is ready for the globalized economy of the 21st century, someone who can think independently and able to function in the international market, and someone who has great creative mind as well as entrepreneurship.

Yes yes, these points have been discussed for many years by now, but nothing has changed so far, as Japan’s competitiveness ranking keeps dropping down.

I am unwilling to admit, but it looks as though it will take some time before Japan starts climbing back up the rankings… *sigh*

IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2007 (top 30)

1. U.S.A, 2. Singapore, 3. Hong Kong, 4.Luxembourg, 5. Denmark, 6. Switzeland, 7. Iceland, 8. Netherlands, 9. Sweden, 10. Canada, 11. Austria, 12. Australia, 13. Norway, 14. Ireland, 15. Mainland China, 16. Germany, 17. Finland, 18. Taiwan, 19. New Zealand, 20. United Kingdom, 21. Israel, 22. Estonia, 23. Malaysia, 24. Japan, 25. Belgium, 26. Chile, 27. India, 28. France, 29. Korea, 30. Spain.

(Source: http://www.imd.ch/research/publications/wcy/announcing.cfm)

China: The phantom menace?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a discussion paper, “British Universities in China: The Reality Beyond the Rhetoric,” published this month by Agora, a British organization focused on higher education. Paul Mooney writes in the Chronicle:

Ian Gow, an expert on Asia and former provost of the University of Nottingham at Ningbo, China, expresses similar skepticism toward dealing with that nation. British universities “must stop pussyfooting around this aggressively ambitious country,” he writes.

“Make no mistake: China wants to be the leading power in higher education, and it will extract what it can from the U.K.,” writes Mr. Gow, who now heads the business school at the University of the West of England.

Mr. Gow also describes the challenges of working in China, including finding high-quality staff members, the lack of “enabling regulatory frameworks” for joint ventures with foreign institutions, and partners that are constantly changing their terms.

I have no doubt that China wants to become the preeminent global power in education in 2050. They have the will and the investment capital to build fine institutions. I have doubts that they will achieve it, however. Their strategy to import technologies and ideas from abroad is somewhat flawed. Rather than piggybacking on ideas generated elsewhere, should they not instead leapfrog the competition to create knowledge spaces that are both indigenous and world-class in quality?

Perhaps non-Chinese universities need to assert themselves better and renegotiate their terms of cooperation with Chinese institutions. But, does this need to be a priority? If China is in a state of continuous catch-up with their foreign competition, what harm is there in collaboration?

DML competition: Learning 2.0 is hot

The application deadline for the Digital Media and Learning Competition closed this week with an unprecedented response — over 1000 applications. From the Spotlight on DML:

People think you are all a little nuts. Digital learning? What on earth can you be meaning? A lot of head-banging. Digital learning? You wade in together. Run a competition. People say, oh, that’s really obscure, maybe you’ll get a hundred applications. Maybe you’re ahead of your time. Or too late.

1010 applications too late. Or too early.

!!!

Approximately 20 winners will be announced in February. How can we find funding for the other 990 great ideas?

Two grant opportunities for innovators in education

keyhole2.gifTwo grant opportunities for innovators in education landed on my desk recently. The first is a little bit of old news: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently announced a public competition that will award $2 million in funding to emerging leaders, communicators, and innovators shaping the field of digital media and learning. The competition is part of MacArthur’s $50 million Digital Media and Learning initiative that aims to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. Awards will be given in two categories:

  • Innovation Awards will support learning entrepreneurs and builders of new digital environments for informal learning. Winners will receive $250,000 or $100,000.
  • Knowledge Networking Awards will support communicators in connecting, mobilizing, circulating or translating new ideas around digital media and learning. Winners will receive a $30,000 base award and up to $75,000.

h_logo.gifThe second is The Mind Trust’s Education Entrepreneur Fellowship. The Fellowship will provide promising education entrepreneurs with an opportunity to develop sustainable solutions to the most daunting public education challenges. The prize is intended to revitalize the educational competitiveness of Indianapolis. Corrie Heneghan, the Trust’s COO, writes:

In short, the Fellowship is for people who envision entirely new approaches to the challenges of public education, and possess the relentless drive necessary to exploit opportunities to fulfill their visions. Fellows will receive a full-time, competitive salary, benefits, office space, and customized training and support. Fellows will be based at The Mind Trust’s offices in Indianapolis. The term of the Fellowship is two years, with the first fellows beginning their work in late spring 2008. The Mind Trust is currently accepting applications. While all fellows must include Indianapolis in the areas served by the ventures they launch, they will by no means be limited to that geography. In fact, we hope and fully expect some fellows to start regional or national enterprises.

The perks look good. The two-year fellowship includes a $5,000 annual stipend for travel and a $5,000 annual stipend for professional development in addition to a $90,000 salary.

The question of ICT in development

Dr. Jayson Richardson, guest blogging elsewhere, reflects on a conversation we had recently regarding ICT adoption in developing nations and asks:

The question is how will advances in technology such the Nokia N800, a Wi-Fi Internet tablet which includes VoIP support and WiMax which enables long range wireless broadband access change society in less developed nations? Will these tools along with initiatives like the One Laptop per Child change education in less developed nations?

From his experiences in Cambodia, he believes that the rapid adoption of m-learning technologies should be much easier than implementing larger, infrastructure improvement projects, designed to “update” communications infrastructures to standards set long ago. But, what about indigenous technologies?

Using TVU Player, I’ve been watching a bit of Chinese television –and, accompanying advertisements. One advertisement spot featured a mobile learning device that was shown being used in the classroom to facilitate English instruction. The device itself, costing about $100, is specialized for English learning, but also includes functionalities that children would enjoy (i.e., it incorporates an mp3 player).

Now, here’s the kicker: The advertisement showed students using the device to pass tests.

Here’s the second kicker: The pitchman for the product is a white, American-looking guy (I’ve been told he’s actually Canadian). The message the Chinese are sending themselves is that Americans (and Canadians!) are using these technologies in the classrooms, and that they should be using them as well.

On Friday, I’ll depart for Shanghai and Anqing to investigate the use of these technologies in schools. More soon…