I am hesitant about the role of “industry standard” technology credentials in education as they help strengthen the influence of profit driven corporations on education.

Large tech corporations seem to love the micro-credential model as they can offload the financial and time cost of training of their own employees to schools and individuals.  While also reinforcing proprietary software and format lock-in.

new blog post about quitting Duolingo 🦉 nova blogaĵo pri ekiri Duolingo

I’ve been having a lot of the same doubts about Duolingo as a platform lately. I was an early adopter in 2012, when it first went public, and while it’s never really been a good language learning platform, it at least didn’t feel like it was actively making your language learning experience worse.  I’d say in the past year, maybe around the time they introduced “Super Duolingo”, and started messing about with the learning trees.

I’ve noticed that some students are unable to read an analog clock because of how prevalent digital clocks are.  Every student I’ve encountered who can’t read an analog clock has trouble with time management.  My guess is that students who can’t read an analog clock can’t visualize time like those who can read an analog clock and by extension have a harder time managing their time.

Like the word gap, but for music. The more music you are exposed to during childhood, the easier you can develop musical skills.

I’ve noticed more and more that my younger students aren’t bringing the same amount of “built-in” musical knowledge and intuition with them to my music classes.  

It makes me wonder whether children are being exposed to less music at home. Or maybe children aren’t being exposed to as much different music as before, since most music listening takes places through streaming and algorithms reinforce what a listener already likes and listens to.

Recursive Remediation

I’d worked for a year as an instructional technology assistant for a college where everyone talked about the students this way. I’d suggest some creative, exploratory assignment structure, or an application of open-ended writing exercises, and I’d get back, “But our students can’t even spell! They don’t even know proper grammar!” My repeatedly ignored response was that students need to feel like they have a stake in academic discourse to want to participate in it on its own terms. 2/7

After I finished my PhD, I had a campus interview for a tenure-track job in a writing program that had a FOUR-SEMESTER series of required basic writing. The class I visited was the most depressing learning environment I’ve ever seen. The whole *semester* was devoted to writing comparisons. Students began the class session by sleeping or staring into their fists. I tried to do a whole thing about happiness vs. joy, philosophically speaking, and it got livelier. The curriculum was depressing. 3/7

Since I took myself out of the running for that job, I’ve kept the faces of those students in my mind whenever I’m in an assessment meeting and someone starts up with the “They can’t [X]; they can’t even [Y]” bullshit, because that how you end up with garbage programs that treat students like garbage and produce only garbage. This is what has happened to a lot of high school teaching in the US and is encroaching on our sub-elite colleges and universities, preying on minoritized students. 4/7

Recursive remediation means we can never ask an open-ended question, or relate what we are discussing to real-world problems, or challenge unjust systems, or envision better possible futures, because “they can’t even [Y].” Good teachers know anyone can [Y] if they have a meaningful, exciting, motivating reason to practice it. And without a high-level conceptual motivation, no one can [Y]. One can’t even get out of bed, much less [Y]. 5/7

What we’re seeing right now is the complete chaos created by recursive remediation when generative AI tools are plentiful and easy to use. Writing meaningless bullshit is actually much *harder* than writing something meaningful, personal, and interesting. It’s painful to be asked questions the professor already knows the answer to. It’s insulting. We should not be surprised when we ask for prefabricated garbage and we get prefabricated garbage to show they can [Y]. 6/7

The tragedy, of course, is that if your entire education has been recursive remediation, and no one has ever expected you to be able to do anything interesting, creative, funny, insightful, productive, challenging, or weird, and you’re 20, how do you begin to learn how to learn, for real? How do we help the students who fear (and despair) that it’s just too late for them? 7/7