More on Pearson and Change

I am amazed at the number of comments we have gotten already on the other day’s Pearson post. Don’t you people have better things to do on a holiday than read and comment on 7,000-word blog posts about textbook publishers (asks the man who spent his holiday writing a 7,000-word blog post about a textbook publisher)? Seriously, I am humbled by your commitment. For those of you who subscribe to comments on this blog by email, I’m afraid that is no longer a reliable way to track the conversation. We have integrated Google+ into our blog posts which has the benefit of attracting more commenters and longer conversations at the cost of having two different commenting systems running simultaneously and no good way to track or integrate them. Unfortunately, we are back to the days where you have to go to the page periodically to see what is happening, at least for now.

Anyway, unsurprisingly, there is a lot of skepticism about Pearson and also the notion of “efficacy” among the commenters. There is also some discussion about the complexity of how we define (or fail to define) the goals education and how the lack of clearly articulated goals makes any attempt to measure efficacy problematic. (Efficacious at what?) This is a point I’ve been trying to make in different ways and for different audiences in several recent posts. Larry Cuban has a timely blog post up on the history of this problem in math education.

Meanwhile, Carrie Saarinen has a more positive take on the idea of efficacy. I met Carrie at the NERCOMP LMS unConference, when she was working at Brown University. She has since been hired by Instructure (to their great credit). I highly recommend reading Carrie’s post and following her blog.

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About Michael Feldstein

Michael Feldstein is co-Publisher of e-Literate, co-Producer of e-Literate TV, and Partner in MindWires Consulting. For more information, see his profile page.
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3 Responses to More on Pearson and Change

  1. > We have integrated Google+ into our blog posts.. we are back to the days where you have to go to the page periodically to see what is happening, at least for now.

    a.k.a. you broke your comments by integrating your blog posting with a siloed service like Google+. I warn people not to use Google+ because there is no good integration with anything that is not a Google product (including email).

  2. I am not a fan of Google+. At all. But there were conversations happening on it about the blog that we were not seeing and that our other readers were not seeing, so we decided to make them visible. We could have been purists and simply ignored or discouraged G+ comments, but we believe that bringing together the conversation is more important, and people are able to make their own technology decisions.

    For the most part, I think we are seeing the people who are coming to the G+ thread through blog responding to the conversations that previously started in G+ rather than them starting new conversations in G+. That said, I would prefer that the G+ comments field be below the native WordPress comments field so as to encourage people to comment in WordPress. If I had any hacking skills at all, I would make this fix myself. But I don’t, so it will have to wait until we do a make-over of the blog theme (which will likely be soon).

  3. Laraine says:

    I was grateful for the link to Larry Cuban’s description of the math wars between the traditionalists and the reformers. Cuban’s post gets to the heart of what bothers me about the whole discussion of Efficacy by Pearson (or as much as I have read of their mission statement, rubric and promotional materials on the subject.)

    What worried me most about Pearson’s efficacy definition and rubric, was not the idea of “efficacy.” How could any one quarrel with the idea that those of us working in education need to know what we want to achieve and be able to show, as best we can, that we have accomplished what we set out to do and that what we accomplish on an individual basis connects to some larger, more general goals?

    What worried me was the amount of attention Pearson is giving to measuring educational effectiveness before we actually know what we want to be successful at. Especially at this moment in educational history (I’d like a less ponderous term but can’t come up with one quickly enough), for all kinds of reasons, from the technology revolution to globalization, I don’t think we necessarily do (However, I think Pearson’s efficacy focus suggests that we do). And it’s really important for us to define those goals and the tools we might use to achieve them BEFORE we decide what metrics and time frames we can use to establish product (and I’d add instructional and institutional) efficacy.

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