Stephen quotes Michael’s summary of the D2L rubrics, specifically:

“Every competency has at least one learning objective under it. In turn, every learning objective has at least one assessment which is the actual instrument for checking to see if students have met the learning objective.”

And asks:

“But can the objectives of learning be reduced (for that’s what this is, a reductive process) to competences?”

To which I would deign to answer… they certainly can, but they certainly shouldn’t be.

I speak from some experience having worked with and alongside teachers working on what surely must hold the world record for the most competencies ever stuffed into a single course, the otherwise admirable Adult Migrant English Program.

So rammed with point, sub-point, sub-sub-point and paperwork is the program that the (often extremely experienced) teachers would shake their heads, randomly tick a few boxes (isn’t ‘satisfactory’ a great option) and, if at all possible, try to work around the nonsense into something vaguely resembling a decent learning experience.

It’s deadening, but, as and decent educational marketer knows it’s most of the time what the administrators and bureaucrats running education are after

Measurables… mmmm.

Schema… oooooooo.

Methodologies so prescribed as to ensure 100% accountability and control over these pesky, individual, disorganised, independent teachers… ahhhhhhh.

And as the teachers aren’t going to be making decisions about their OLE, CMS, VLE, LMS or WETFYWTCI, it makes perfect sense for D2L to go straight to the top and give them exactly what they want.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have goals, or assessments, or that all curricula should be torn up and burnt in a pile as we dance round it whooping and drinking hard liquor (although that might be one sort of step forward ;) but for heavens sake, let’s not swamp teachers already weighed down by paperwork stuffed with this stuff with technology that is equally anti-learning.

5 replies on “Uncompetence”

  1. Wow. Anti-learning? That’s a bit over the top, particularly given that you cite not one single specific about D2L’s system other than the fact that it has learning objectives and assessments. Did you read my original post? The truth is that D2L’s design can be used for a variety of purposes, including giving students a way to track *for themselves* the skills they pick up in different courses across different departments that are relevant for their career paths. They can be used as a kind of metadata for teachers who are looking at a learning object or an assignment and trying to decide how it fits with their own course goals. It can even be used by teachers within a course to create non-linear curricula where students can choose their own paths through content and still make sure they hit all the experiences they need to learn all that the course has to offer.

    You may or may not think that some of these potential applications are valuable. But that’s not the point. One of the main thrusts of the original blog post was that one size does *not* fit all when it comes to thinking about outcomes, and that D2L’s system is designed to be useful when applied to a wide variety of aims. I’m not here to defend D2L’s design, and I’m certainly not here to defend state-mandated measures of education. My point is simply that you’re leveling some pretty harsh criticism based on some pretty thin tissue here. If you want to call this system “anti-learning”, then I think it’s only fair that you provide some specifics to back up your claim.

  2. FFS chill out Micheal!

    Just because I happen to think that masses of competencies are anti-learning doesn’t mean that I think D2L is per se or that you are advocating anything but.

    In fact I think it’s a good post that provides a much more in-depth and engaging overview of how these kind of elements might work in the context you describe than I able to do… if you read the above again you’ll see that I’m not having a go at you or even really D2L but making a broader swipe at over-administration of T&L.

    For which I need provide no specifics to back up my claim at all!

  3. Well, you did write “And as the teachers aren’t going to be making decisions about their OLE, CMS, VLE, LMS or WETFYWTCI, it makes perfect sense for D2L to go straight to the top and give them exactly what they want.” That’s a bit more focused than a general “swipe at over-administration of T&L.” And your last sentence, which refers to “technology that is anti-learning,” picks up that context. So let’s just say it would be easy to read this post as “having a go at D2L.”

    That said, thank you for your kind words about my post.

  4. You can say anything you want. I’m simply pointing out that the language of your original post conveys different connotations than the intent you described in your comment.

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