Providers of free online courses are officially in the headhunting business, bringing in revenue by selling to employers information about high-performing students who might be a good fit for open jobs.
To me, the next step is the integration and standardization of community contributions in serious online communities of practice. When they have a way to transfer and talk about reputation, about community value, they also will have access to this very promising revenue stream. The well-known Q&A community StackOverflow has had this business model for quite some time now with a very valuable online Q&A site on the one hand (for some the best and most up-to-date resource online in their field), and a careers site on the other in perfect symbiosis. Other IT-related communities are also taking the ‘online reputation’ more seriously and with the Open Badge Infrastructure, and similar initiatives, this might spread to other industries as well.
For more in-depth information about this topic, please have a look at a book chapter I’ve written on the topic on Research Gate.
I just read this interesting online article by Alfie Kohn, a convincing argument to really rethink grading and assessment, and how that often ruins the real learning. He describes 5 consequences of the over-emphasis on achievement:
Read the whole article here: The Costs of Overemphasizing Achievement - By Alfie Kohn.
My own experiences are very much the same: both on university level and highschool, I have been involved in projects in which we tried to remove grading and explicit rewards, and time and again we noticed that the majority of the students felt not at ease without grades and sometimes even resisted to it and asked for grades and explicit assessment (“We want normal education”). Some students however came to flourish, and really did focus on the content, on the process, and their personal development. My experience is that in order to overcome resistance when introducing a learning environment without grading (or less emphasis on achievement) that it really takes time, and that teachers need to make explicit why they choose this approach. A kind of ‘unschooling’.
Systems of accreditation do not assess merit; merit is a fiction created by systems of accreditation. Like the market for skin care products, the market for credentials is inexhaustible: as the bachelor’s degree becomes democratized, the master’s degree becomes mandatory for advancement. Our elaborate, expensive system of higher education is first and foremost a system of stratification, and only secondly — and very dimly — a system for imparting knowledge.
The O’ and A’ level system is only producing a generation of youth embroiled in a rat race to secure the maximum number of A’s. Their study then revolves around achieving this objective. Studying past papers, rote learning prepared answers or indulging in strenuous out-of-class tutoring all have become an indicator of what is now defined as ‘intelligent’.
I just stumbled upon Dave Cormier’s learner contract, a more personalized way that allows students to choose what kind of effort they want to put in the course for which grade. Maybe it’s not new, but I have never heard of it.
Student work in this course is evaluated by ‘contract’ – meaning that each of you decide how much work you would like to do for what grade. Individual assignments are given a ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ assessment upon completion, with the option for you to resubmit unsatisfactory assignments within a given timeframe.
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