calling bullshit

  • Asides,  calling bullshit,  metaphor

    Ed Tech Pitch generator

    I have a chapter in my Metaphors book on the “Uber for education” type metaphor – ie taking the latest hot technology and applying to education. The “Netflix for learning” one has been doing the rounds again recently. I’ll expand on why these are bad metaphors in another post, but for now: Are you a journalist who needs a quick ed tech story? Do you want to create an ed tech venture capitalist pitch to get money and headlines? Are you tired of having to come up with ideas all on your own? Then behold! The Ed tech pitch generator. Just hit the button and problem solved! Enjoy.

  • calling bullshit,  edtech

    Woolf University – whither the blockchain?

    via GIPHY Some of you may remember a few excited announcements back in 2018 about Woolf University, a startup that was, and I paraphrase, going to blockchain the shit out of higher ed. The founder described it as “Uber for students, AirBnB for Professors”, thereby combining two terrible business models in one unholy mess. David Gerard noted that by 2019 they had quietly dropped the whole blockchain tag, no longer describing themselves as The First Blockchain University. Founder Joshua Broggi had stated at the outset that “We literally could not do what we are doing without a blockchain,” so presumably it still figures in their system. Looking at their site…

  • calling bullshit,  edtech

    The Indisruptables

    I’ve often banged on about the way disruption is an obsession which has gone beyond silicon valley now, and Audrey Watters has written about its status as myth. But I wonder why it persists. This was prompted again today by this piece on MOOCs. The article says that, hey, it turns out MOOC learners are professionals and those at university. So much for the democratisation argument then. But this quote really caught my eye: “MOOCs may not have disrupted the education market, but they are disrupting the labor market.” You can almost see them running around the office in panic: “We haven’t disrupted higher education!” “Well we’ve got to disrupt…

  • calling bullshit,  politics

    Disruption & the unenlightenment

    Readers of this blog will know that I’ve often criticised the theory of disruption, and particularly its application in education. I won’t rehearse those arguments again, but it wasn’t until Trump and Brexit that I appreciated how much disruption had transcended its original form. Initially, when digital industry was new on the block, it provided a useful way of thinking about the potentially massive changes coming to many industries. And we can’t say that newspapers, music industry, photography etc haven’t been completely altered by the arrival of digital technology (although often Christensen’s disruption falls down under close inspection and better theories are available). But disruption it turns out is not…

  • calling bullshit,  edtech

    The alchemy of ed tech

    Image from Public Domain Review (replace this with an architecture and data flow diagram) I’m reading a few popular history of chemistry books at the moment (notably Mendeleyev’s Dream and Napoleon’s Buttons). One theme is how the history of chemistry was plagued by the completely bogus notion of alchemy. The idea that base metals could be transmuted into gold dominated any dabblings in chemistry for centuries, and kept reappearing in different cultures and at different times. “This has to be possible, right?” was the persistent motivation. The dogged pursuit of alchemy was characterised by the following: Greed – unlimited wealth awaits! Obfuscation – it persists through rumour, and secret formulas,…

  • calling bullshit,  higher ed,  Uncategorized

    What disruptors really want

    I had thought we’d seen the back of the whole disruption nonsense. Audrey Watters exposed it as a myth ages ago, I’ve written about how it influenced the whole MOOC narrative, and even Forbes don’t like it. So it was with a weary sigh that I noticed Richard Branson had organised an event called “Disruptors -The Future of Education: Does the Current Model Make the Grade?“. This featured the Khan Academy, Pearson and Teach For All. I didn’t watch any of the event, maybe there were some very interesting presentations. But by labelling it Disruptors, the intention is made clear. Disruption, as set out by Christensen, is in fact very…

  • calling bullshit,  Dad,  digital implications

    The pseudo digital-natives argument

    When I did my degree in Psychology I remember a lecturer dismissing lots of theories of cognition as a ‘pseudo-homunculus” explanation. The homunculus explanations of psychology posited a little person sitting inside, driving your actions (think Inside Out). Of course, this was debunked hundreds of years ago, but a pseudo-homunculus explanation was one that went so far and then almost implied a little person. For example, theories of perception that posited a projection of the external world as if it was a cinema screen inside the head. It didn’t explain how that then led to action. I was thinking about this with ed tech presentations. The digital natives myth has…

  • Asides,  calling bullshit

    Steve Jobs isn’t your role model

    Others have written about this, so I’m not saying anything new here, but it’s my blog, so I get to vent when I want, and I’m amazed at how much of this Steve Jobs as role model stuff still persists. It annoys me when I continually see articles along the lines of “Steve Jobs did X, so if you want to be successful, you should too.” The rather explicit assumption in all of these is that being like Jobs is a desirable thing to be. So recently there was a spate of “Steve Jobs did a lot of his thinking while taking a long walk, so you should do walks…

  • calling bullshit

    The industrial education system myth

    “Reading hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens” Audrey Watters does a fantastic job of debunking the myth around the concept of the factory school, or industrialised education model. I see this mentioned almost as often as ‘education is broken’, and it is a close ally of ‘education hasn’t changed in 100 years‘. The basic line is that we have an education system that was designed for an industrial age and we are now in a post-industrial age, ergo, that education system is faulty. I think the first thing to do is what Audrey has done so magnificently, which is to really dig into the historical perspective, and demonstrate why…