Must Reads

‘Open Courses, Open Teaching, This Is Dangerous’

The Tyee runs an interesting piece from a British Columbia teacher with reflections on the open education resources movement.


  1. Teach concepts, not tools…
    While the article only touches on open source tools (ie, word processors, etc), it amazes me how some schools and colleges will “teach” Microsoft Office instead of teaching concepts. We should never teach a student how to use Microsoft Office, but rather, teach a student how to use a word processor. ie, teach them about how to use Header 1, Header 3, cite, emphasis, etc. I constantly have to keep reminding my kids to to NOT highlight and bold a header, but rather just apply the Header style to it. These are common, basic skills, and yet schools will ask for a printed report using a word processor and never teach the skills of how to use them 🙁

    Recently my wife started attending an online masters program at a university and the requirements were “Microsoft Word”. It’s not expensive (student edition), but it bothers me that a university would require a specific commercial product when all they really need is a word processor… and there several freely available and good alternatives for most people.

    When I learned how to drive a car, I didn’t learn how to drive just a Chevy Cavalier, but rather any car or truck. If I got into a different make or model, where the shift was on the steering column instead of the console, I could still drive it, because you are taught how to drive a car, not how to drive Chevy Cavalier.

    Teach concepts… not specific tools.

  2. RE: Sean
    @Sean +1

  3. Ditto: @Sean +1

  4. I knew a student of the UCFV…
    Whose grades had him heading for valedictorian… until the teacher found his theisis was done on OpenOffice – she failed him.

    I got the local press in to kick up fuss and the students ran from calls for interview like scared little bunnies.

    Some digging found that M$ supplied 40% of that school year’s funding for that class.

    The scholastic system is a corrupt boondoggle of corporate sponsorships.

  5. The only requirement I could support
    would be related to the format of the submitted work. For instance, to specify that a work must be submitted in, for instance, MS Word format is different from specifying that it must be written using Word. The object here being that the instructor has to be able to open and examine the work.

    This could go too far, however. For the Computer Science field, for instance, development on a Windows PC in a language such as C++ will normally entail the use of one of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Integrated Development Environments. A project file saved in 2010 or 2008 format is not readable by the 2005 version of the tool. Thus, a prof who specifies that the students must use the VS2005 product is doing his/her students a disservice, in particular since VS2005 has, if memory serves, been EOLed.