Syndicated

0 0

--Originally published at The Noble Leisure Project

Oxford’s Prof. Roger Crisp offers three senses in which to understand the term “business ethics” in his “A Defense of Philosophical Business Ethics” (in Shaw, Ethics at Work, 2003).  The first is the “ethical outlook” of the actor; the second, the set of principles that should govern business behavior; the third, an area of philosophical enquiry.  For business practitioners, the first and second of these should be of great importance, though Crisp argues forcefully that the third, in which the individual actually engages in moral philosophy before making business decisions, is essential (6).  Perhaps there is a fourth.  Business ethics also appears to be the system by which we make moral judgments in business settings and act upon them, assessing praiseworthiness and blame, justifying rewards and punishments.  Although this may seem to flow from various policies or institutional practices, we can, and should, question whether these policies and practices are themselves ethical in nature.  To the extent that the general concern of ethics is to provide the best reasons for doing what we ultimately do, parties in business situations should constantly evaluate whether their own moral judgments, and the way these take shape, contribute to reasons for behavior they neither intend nor desire.

In describing an ethical outlook, Crisp notes that sometimes this is “implied by behavior or explicitly stated” and that “behavior and statement can of course come apart” (2).  We should ask whether this “coming apart” itself a matter of ethical concern.  Perhaps the answer turns on whether the statement itself is intentional or aspiring.  For example, there may be many reasons for a company to make a value statement like “the interests of our customers must come first.”  This is likely to be an intentional statement, one designed to guide the behavior of its employees, but also to invite potential customers to chose this company over its rivals.  When, inevitably, an employee places his own or the company’s interests ahead of the customer’s, where should we situate our moral evaluation: on the company, or the individual?  If, making this statement, the company appears to have no real intention of standing by it, as we might observe from the way in which it habitually deals with its customers, the company would be morally blameworthy.  Alternatively, a statement may be purely aspiring, e.g., “we will at all times strive to serve the best interests of all our stakeholders, including our investors, our employees, our counterparties and our communities.”  When these interests conflict, as at times they surely must, we need to appeal to some defensible first principle in order to make an appropriate evaluation.  In other words, we need to engage in philosophy.

Crisp raises and answers several objections to philosophical business ethics, among them, the problem of skepticism (2), of the abstractness (4) and idleness (7) of philosophy itself, and the inevitability of moral disagreement (9).  Arguing against philosophical skepticism, Crisp notes, “a complete denial of the force of moral principles is implausible” (3).  He posits rational self-interest as against such moral principles (3, 11) and offers up egoism as a form of skepticism.  Yet this appears to deny the very philosophical questioning for which he advocates.  Ethical egoism is itself a moral principle, one that states an action is right if and only if it is in our self-interest.  Although this theory may be “hard to believe” (3) when applied to individuals, it is hard to deny when applied to businesses, or by extension, to individuals acting on behalf of businesses.  The very purpose of a business appears to be its self-interest, and a wide range of moral philosophy is grounded in the idea that what is right is what is aligned with something’s purpose (teleology).  We should no more expect a business to place outside interests ahead of its own than we should expect a player in a poker tournament to place the enjoyment of fellow contestants ahead of his interest in winning.  It would be nice if he were to pursue that interest with a second eye to their enjoyment, but we would not condemn him if he did not.  The poker analogy is a common one; whether it is morally relevant is the kind of question philosophical business ethics appears to require.

In his discussion of disagreement, Crisp rightly observes that “disagreement is consistent with there being a truth” (9), so the fact that its practitioners disagree should not be an argument against business ethics.  But to point out that there is less disagreement than we might think, while likely the case, serves to lessen Crisp’s argument, rather than strengthen it.  Crisp argues that we can have more than one reason for doing the right thing, and that seems quite right, when these happen to coincide.  But the goal of philosophy is to uncover the truth, and what would be more “absurd” than not to accept more than one reason, would be to accept one reason we believe to be true along with another we believe to be false.  While it may be that several theories will conclude that we should pay our debts and should not kill our competitors (10), the usefulness of understanding “the because” as Aristotle urges us to do (10) is that we can apply the principle to less obvious cases where multiple theories are likely to produce different results.  Given the complexity of business situations and venues, this is where the importance of philosophical business ethics is most apparent.

0 0

--Originally published at The Noble Leisure Project

Oxford’s Prof. Roger Crisp offers three senses in which to understand the term “business ethics” in his “A Defense of Philosophical Business Ethics” (in Shaw, Ethics at Work, 2003).  The first is the “ethical outlook” of the actor; the second, the set of principles that should govern business behavior; the third, an area of philosophical enquiry.  For business practitioners, the first and second of these should be of great importance, though Crisp argues forcefully that the third, in which the individual actually engages in moral philosophy before making business decisions, is essential (6).  Perhaps there is a fourth.  Business ethics also appears to be the system by which we make moral judgments in business settings and act upon them, assessing praiseworthiness and blame, justifying rewards and punishments.  Although this may seem to flow from various policies or institutional practices, we can, and should, question whether these policies and practices are themselves ethical in nature.  To the extent that the general concern of ethics is to provide the best reasons for doing what we ultimately do, parties in business situations should constantly evaluate whether their own moral judgments, and the way these take shape, contribute to reasons for behavior they neither intend nor desire.

In describing an ethical outlook, Crisp notes that sometimes this is “implied by behavior or explicitly stated” and that “behavior and statement can of course come apart” (2).  We should ask whether this “coming apart” itself a matter of ethical concern.  Perhaps the answer turns on whether the statement itself is intentional or aspiring.  For example, there may be many reasons for a company to make a value statement like “the interests of our customers must come first.”  This is likely to be an intentional statement, one designed to guide the behavior of its employees, but also to invite potential customers to chose this company over its rivals.  When, inevitably, an employee places his own or the company’s interests ahead of the customer’s, where should we situate our moral evaluation: on the company, or the individual?  If, making this statement, the company appears to have no real intention of standing by it, as we might observe from the way in which it habitually deals with its customers, the company would be morally blameworthy.  Alternatively, a statement may be purely aspiring, e.g., “we will at all times strive to serve the best interests of all our stakeholders, including our investors, our employees, our counterparties and our communities.”  When these interests conflict, as at times they surely must, we need to appeal to some defensible first principle in order to make an appropriate evaluation.  In other words, we need to engage in philosophy.

Crisp raises and answers several objections to philosophical business ethics, among them, the problem of skepticism (2), of the abstractness (4) and idleness (7) of philosophy itself, and the inevitability of moral disagreement (9).  Arguing against philosophical skepticism, Crisp notes, “a complete denial of the force of moral principles is implausible” (3).  He posits rational self-interest as against such moral principles (3, 11) and offers up egoism as a form of skepticism.  Yet this appears to deny the very philosophical questioning for which he advocates.  Ethical egoism is itself a moral principle, one that states an action is right if and only if it is in our self-interest.  Although this theory may be “hard to believe” (3) when applied to individuals, it is hard to deny when applied to businesses, or by extension, to individuals acting on behalf of businesses.  The very purpose of a business appears to be its self-interest, and a wide range of moral philosophy is grounded in the idea that what is right is what is aligned with something’s purpose (teleology).  We should no more expect a business to place outside interests ahead of its own than we should expect a player in a poker tournament to place the enjoyment of fellow contestants ahead of his interest in winning.  It would be nice if he were to pursue that interest with a second eye to their enjoyment, but we would not condemn him if he did not.  The poker analogy is a common one; whether it is morally relevant is the kind of question philosophical business ethics appears to require.

In his discussion of disagreement, Crisp rightly observes that “disagreement is consistent with there being a truth” (9), so the fact that its practitioners disagree should not be an argument against business ethics.  But to point out that there is less disagreement than we might think, while likely the case, serves to lessen Crisp’s argument, rather than strengthen it.  Crisp argues that we can have more than one reason for doing the right thing, and that seems quite right, when these happen to coincide.  But the goal of philosophy is to uncover the truth, and what would be more “absurd” than not to accept more than one reason, would be to accept one reason we believe to be true along with another we believe to be false.  While it may be that several theories will conclude that we should pay our debts and should not kill our competitors (10), the usefulness of understanding “the because” as Aristotle urges us to do (10) is that we can apply the principle to less obvious cases where multiple theories are likely to produce different results.  Given the complexity of business situations and venues, this is where the importance of philosophical business ethics is most apparent.

0 0

--Originally published at The Noble Leisure Project

It is difficult to determine just how high the bar is set in the GoodWork Project’s argument for both “good work” and the “compromised work” that deviates from it.  In Good Work (ix) and in Making Good (12), “good work” is simply described as “work that is both excellent in quality and benefits [or, is responsible to] the broader society.”  On this account, it seems that any professional (say, a lawyer) with superior knowledge and skills, applying these exclusively for the benefit of his client, upholding his confidences and honoring his commitments, taking care not to violate any professional code or ethical standard and succeeding in all this, is performing good work.  Deviating from this description is the compromised worker, who fails in any of these respects and is a discredit to his profession (and himself).

 

In Prof. Howard Gardner’s Daedalus article, “Compromised Work” (2005), the bar appears much higher.  The lawyer must do all the things described as good work above and something more: he must also be willing to work for free.  He will be publicly honored.  He will be not merely a lawyer but a statesman.  He will reflect not merely the norms of his profession but its loftiest aspirations.  On this account, the good worker in Good Work appears to be the compromised worker in Daedalus.

 

Perhaps the argument has evolved from “good” work to “noble” work.  In that case, we might ask whether noble work describes good work in a noble profession, or noble work in a profession that is merely necessary and useful.

 

0 0

--Originally published at The Noble Leisure Project

It is difficult to determine just how high the bar is set in the GoodWork Project’s argument for both “good work” and the “compromised work” that deviates from it.  In Good Work (ix) and in Making Good (12), “good work” is simply described as “work that is both excellent in quality and benefits [or, is responsible to] the broader society.”  On this account, it seems that any professional (say, a lawyer) with superior knowledge and skills, applying these exclusively for the benefit of his client, upholding his confidences and honoring his commitments, taking care not to violate any professional code or ethical standard and succeeding in all this, is performing good work.  Deviating from this description is the compromised worker, who fails in any of these respects and is a discredit to his profession (and himself).

 

In Prof. Howard Gardner’s Daedalus article, “Compromised Work” (2005), the bar appears much higher.  The lawyer must do all the things described as good work above and something more: he must also be willing to work for free.  He will be publicly honored.  He will be not merely a lawyer but a statesman.  He will reflect not merely the norms of his profession but its loftiest aspirations.  On this account, the good worker in Good Work appears to be the compromised worker in Daedalus.

 

Perhaps the argument has evolved from “good” work to “noble” work.  In that case, we might ask whether noble work describes good work in a noble profession, or noble work in a profession that is merely necessary and useful.

 

0 0

--Originally published at Language, Literature, & Inspiration

Definition of Connectivism

In a connectivist class, “there is no central content to the course.”  Rather the guiding principles are “that each person creates their own perspective on the material by selecting what seems important to them, and that it is these different perspectives that form the basis for the interesting conversations and activities that follow” (Downes, 2011).

  • As an English teacher, I have two opposing reactions to this description of connectivism:
    • This approach is ridiculous: How would students learn without a central content?
    • This approach is interesting: How can I use connectivism to help students “create their own perspectives”?

Of course, a balance of content-driven and connectivist approaches is needed in a high school class, but learning about connectivism has given me new ideas about how to ask students to respond to literature.

Old Method for Responding to Literature

  • Last year, I asked students to respond to a Turnitin.com discussion forum with a brief description of the themes, symbols, plot development, and/or character development they found interesting in each chapter of Lord of the Flies.  They were also required to comment on posts from other students.
  • While in some ways productive, this led to a lot of repeated ideas and mostly surface-level contents.

New (Connectivist) Method for Responding to Literature

  • Giving learners options to direct their learning is an important part of connectivism, so if I were to revise this activity, I would do something like this:
    • After reading each chapter of Lord of the Flies, use any medium you choose to create an original response to the text that highlights what you believe is important about the chapter.
  • High school students would probably need a little more structure than this, but imagine what I might get from them: artwork, blog posts, videos, Twitter conversations, related news articles, recorded songs, etc.
  • I would need to figure out an effective way for students to share their responses and comment on others’ responses, but on a basic level, most learning management systems I have worked with include a discussion forum where students could at least post their links to share their work.

 

Source: Downes, S. (2011). Connectivism and connective knowledge. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html


0 0

--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

I find myself being exposed to so many different learning theories and am trying so hard to make sense of how they all fit together.

I recently read Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society, which I found to be intriguing. Illich points out the problems with traditional, institutionalized education – it’s ineffectual, inequitable, and socially polarizing. He argues that we should do away with schools entirely, instead creating a society where children can engage in self-directed and informal learning based on their interests, and connect with mentors who can guide them through the process. He also argues that technology can be used to create a good educational system, which he defines below:

A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Part of this would be creating learning networks that are open and accessible to all, such as directories of professional educators and databases to match learners with peers and others who would like to exchange skills. Another of his learning networks idea was an open directory of educational resources for learners.

I think this is a great definition of what a good educational system should have, and overlaps with connectivism, the theory that learning is the process of creating connections and expanding one’s network. The way I interpret it is that we are all connected and learn by interacting with others and exchanging information, and it’s this structure of interaction that is more important than the content being shared.

I think in a lot of ways, the internet has allowed us to do this. Granted, there are still some issues with access, especially in low socioeconomic areas or undeveloped parts of the world. That being said,for the most part, there are more people who now have the ability to retrieve information on virtually any topic and connect with others via the web. There are so many methods of informal learning, whether it’s following online tutorials or watching videos on YouTube. You can even join a MOOC! People are engaging in learning networks in a myriad of ways, and I would argue that you could learn just about anything now thanks to the internet and other users.

I think this is amazing. Sure, there are some potential drawbacks, such as the possibility of false information being spread. This makes me think back to the debates we had in my journalism classes, where many professional journalists were worried about this new era of citizen journalism – now anyone could videotape an event, post it online, and call it news. How could you verify it? What about the quality? Does that really make them journalists?

When it comes down to it, though, I like to think that these digital platforms have democratized society, and that this is overall a good thing. Everyone has a voice and can partake in the process, rather than an elite few.

However, I feel there are still elitist practices in place. While there is a massive amount of information that is open and accessible, and just about anyone can learn a topic or skill through informal means, the rest of society tends to question the validity of those who have not learned through “traditional” methods. While many colleges and universities open up their resources and courses to the public, degrees are granted to those who actually attend those colleges/universities, and jobs are most likely given to people with degrees listed on their resumes.

I myself am paying thousands of dollars to go to Harvard where much of the material I’m learning is easily accessible through other online courses, and many of my professors advocate self-directed and informal learning. Most of the activities I’m partaking in are activities I could still partake in without actually coming here. But, in the end, that university name and degree on my resume is probably what sticks out and carries more weight.

I find myself greatly at odds with this. I don’t think this system is fair to non-traditional learners. There are so many skilled individuals that are overlooked because there’s no degree on their resume.

What do we do about that – how do we deschool the system?


0 0

--Originally published at Allison Goldsberry

George Siemens said “The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.”

While I don’t agree with this 100%, it makes me stop and think about my practice as a teacher. I need to make sure I’m not just focusing on content. I need to help facilitate a real learning community in my classroom where students learn from each other, and where I learn from my students.

So how do teachers build good pipes? How can we focus on both the content that flows through the pipe as well as the pipe itself?

The last thing I want to do as a teacher is have my students see me as the center of the learning in our classroom. It’s very important to me to create an environment that pushes them to be creative, think critically, and rely on themselves and others to learn and get things done. I think paying attention to creating a solid “pipe” is very important to ensuring that students and teachers are co-learners so students can be empowered to take charge of their own learning.

0 0

--Originally published at Ed Tech Wannabe

I feel a bit as if T509: Massive is caught in inception.  In taking a Connectivist based course on the topic of Connectivism, any act of participation on our learning network is actually a form of experiential learning.  As someone with an incentive to learn Connectivism, this type of engagement is both beneficial and essential to understanding these types of environments.  However, while I have enjoyed this Connectivist environment for learning Connectivism, I’m curious if it is as beneficial for other topics.  What about those with little incentive to partake in the network?  Traditionally, it seems like those in Connectivist learning environments have incentive to join and learn the material (ex. MOOCs), but what about translating this to regular K-12 classrooms?

I know there are many approaches to answering these questions and this feeling of inception has encouraged me to delve into and experience other Connectivist learning environments (on different topics!)


0 0

--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

T509- Massive: Online Network Participation Rubric

(Draft: Sept 17; Revision: October 8)

Personal Compass: I would like to learn how to evaluate MOOCs and other large-scale learning environments, and identify the characteristics that make those spaces successful. I would like to build my skills in constructing content/design for these spaces.

Participation Commitments:

  • I will explore and share 1 interesting massive space a week via Twitter.
  • I will write 2 blog posts a month sharing my exploration of one of the course themes

Participation Rubric

Describe a few criteria that you’d like to evaluate yourself on, and be evaluated on by the instructional team. Define what it would look like if you met your personal expectations, if you fell short, and if you did totally awesome. While some of these metrics may be quantitative (I will do X at least Y times), most should qualitatively describe your desired learning and impact. (While there are 5 rows and 3 columns below, feel free to modify this general outline to suit your purposes.)

Criteria Exceeds Expectation Meets Expectation Underperforms Expectation
1 weekly tweet about a massive space Tweet link to space + short explanation of what it is/why it’s neat Tweet the link to space with no explanation about it No tweets
2 monthly blog posts about course themes (e.g. blended learning, connectivism, MOOCs) 2+ very detailed posts with multimedia that explain my experience with the theme/space 2 personal posts that explain my process/exploration of each theme/space No blogging

0 0

--Originally published at MedEdOnline

I have had many thoughts over the week.  After spending my life learning as a scientist it is hard to imagine that a departure back to humanities and reflection can be so refreshing.  I have had more time to think about the attainment of knowledge over the last couple weeks more than I ever have in my life.  I had the benefit of attending the Harvard Initiative on Learning and Teaching (HILT) and it brought many new concepts to me that are fascinating.  The greatest thinkers across the university reflecting on learning and teaching with a focus on student engagement and distance.

Specific to medical education and innovation there are a lot of things to think about.

The penultimate question is what is it that we NEED to learn in medical education.

With the immense amount of hidden curriculum in medicine, how much impact does formal education have on medical education.  Formal education no longer encompasses the majority of learning.

We should be producing intuitive physicians instead of regurgitative.

With the half -life of knowledge diminishing and content knowledge is available at the touch of a button, how do we train tomorrow’s physicians to learn to access knowledge content efficiently, have the “meta-skill to determine worthiness of content,” and give them the skills to rapidly synthesize and connect the content in a meaningful way.

Time is a commodity and time in class should be spent examining content in an applicable way.  No longer is content acquisition important, it is now content application.  To apply principles and form cognitive connections, the content still needs to be learned, but can this content be moved out of the classroom.  Where does technology fit in this model?  Will moving pre-clinical content to the online space, will this change the type of physicians we train.

 

Some other thoughts about innovation that came up from HILT:

-Are we innovating [in education] or are we just adapting from other disciplines

-The idea of libertarian paternalism and its role in creating a structured environment for learning

-The idea of what educational environment is technology creating? Is it inhibitory or excitatory?  (i.e. wifi distracting in the classroom)

Thank you T509 Massive and HILT for spurring these thoughts and giving me the opportunity to grow in a way I never thought I could.