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"Looking at student work completed as part of course sounds much better than trying to create standardized assessments," writes John Warner. But "the massification and standardization of this kind of assessment seems likely to hold many potentially bad unintended, but entirely foreseeable consequences." This sort of focus would shape teaching into certain types of 'best practice', which is the opposite of what classes should be like. "We should be keeping it as diverse and exploratory as possible," he says. For example, students must find meaning in assignments, and this depends on their individual preferences and needs.[Link] [Comment]
What happens when the chatbot we think is there to help us is actually a skilled sales agent? This adds a different flavour to the use of such applications to, say, support students or provide advice. We might think that's what they're doing, but in fact they may be more interested in persuading us to buy some software or to sign up for the advanced tutorial. Or they may be programmed by some company to recommend their staff and affiliates as experts within a domian. If there's no truth in advertising, what will we then say about adbots? This article discusses Sara, an unreasonably persuasive chatbot was developed by Justine Cassell at Carnegie Mellon University.[Link] [Comment]
Most readers will be familiar with responsive design - web pages and services that adapt to different device sizes and capabilities. But vertical video? These are the videos shot in vertical mode (like 'portrait mode', they're taller than they are wide), like the screen of a mobile phone. They are typically seen as "as amateurish and was resoundingly ridiculed." But "that's changing," according to Pamela Hogle. "Pairing responsive design with innovative use of vertical video, eLearning designers can create content that is appealing, usable, and attractive on phones, tablets, and laptops." Quite so - but it typically also means shooting two videos, one in each mode.[Link] [Comment]
Good article about hacking. It relevant as there has been a spike in recent activity, probably timed to coincide with the election (I'm hoping so; my own website is being caught in the crossfire). It's important to note, though, as this article makes clear, the majority of hacks are really very simply technologically. Hackers often go after the must vulnerable component: the user. Whether trying commonly used passwords, or tricking people into giving up personal information, these attacks rely not on technology but on social engineering. The article also looks at other attack types, such as the 'man in the middle', SQL injection, and endpoint attacks using USBs or mobile devices. If you're not familiar with these terms, read this article. I would have includes 'denial of service' (DOS, or DDOS) attacks, not because they're hacks (technically they're not) but because they're behind so much recent disruption.[Link] [Comment]
I'm looking forward more to the latter two parts of this three-part series in which Terry Anderson "explores the learning management system (LMS), social media, and personal learning environments – and how they might best be used for enhanced teaching and learning" but as only the first part is available today we'll have to settle for that. Anderson offers a brisk overview of the LMS and then examines the challenges: "as the number of features increases, so does the complexity and challenges of easy adoption," he writes, while " perhaps the greatest challenge is the inherent 'school focus' of the LMS." We don't really get to the promise of this article - how to get the most out of an LMS - but perhaps what that means is using social media or personal learning environments instead.
I spent the summer of 1981 in a basement programming every bit of a TI-99 computer in order to build a Star Trek game. It wasn't much (but for the time it was great, with a strategy view and a viewscreen view and enemies that avoided being shot). You couldn't do a lot with a computer in those days, but this was always my objective: a fully immersive Enterprise bridge crew simulation. So, some 35 years later, for me, the future has arrived. Or will arrive, when I get to play this puppy.[Link] [Comment]
You can just imagine the sceptics, says this article: "You can’ t build a tech site that doesn’ t publish 20 times a day. You can’ t build a content site that isn’ t covered with advertising. You can’ t build an entire business on Amazon affiliate revenue. You can’ t take on Consumer Reports and expect to get any traction. You can’ t pay for this level of in-depth reporting. Ok, great, you built this, but why would anyone ever come back?" If I wanted to monetize OLDaily, this would probably be the route I would take.[Link] [Comment]
This is an unfinished work, but it illustrates nicely the use of academic papers as open educational resources by sequencing useful and important resources in such a way as to guide the reader through the essentials of a discipline. "The roadmap is constructed in accordance with the following four guidelines: from outline to detail; from old to state-of-the-art; from generic to specific areas (and) focus on state-of-the-art." It's best to think of this as a proto-MOOC. People can (and should) add resources (not just papers and books), and these can create branches and sub-branches. The resources themselves are all openly accessible. GitHub does provide limited social interaction, but you would expect a social network or community to grow around this collection. Actual MOOC classes would involve a self-managing cohort moving through the material together. Yes, it takes commitment and effort to learn a subject this way, and a lot of people don't have the skills. That's where educational institutions and student support should come in.[Link] [Comment]
This report (89 page PDF) provides an overview of competency-based education (CBE) and then drills down to look at some lessons learned in New England. CBE is motivated by three major strands of thought, according to the report: first, the current system is focused on delivery, not results, with the result that students have gaps in their learning; second, CBE ensures that students move on to the next grade level only after they have acquired the required competencies; and third, a system defined by CBE is rooted in equity and transparent process. "Rather than expecting compliance from students, competency-based schools seek to ensure students feel safe, respected, valued and empowered." You have to more than just provide opportunity; steps need to be taken to support and engage students. The report discusses the challenges of implementing a paradigm-changing program, and stresses providing support and a focus on results. The assessment of the New England experience is generally rosy.[Link] [Comment]
Th unbundling of the university is more story than fact, writes Michael Feldstein, but the unbundling of publishing is imminent. This tipping point may be open educational resources (OER), which are making textbook publishing unprofitable. He writes, "The real money will be in a few areas:
Will these separate services be offered under a single brand, or are we seeing the beginning of a marketplace with multiple players? As usual, the answer is "yes".[Link] [Comment]
This article opens as an account of the nature and history of open educational resources. But then it turns sceptical. Michael Q. McShane writes, "open resources are offered free to users, but they are not necessarily free to produce... the people who create them want to be paid for doing so." Fair enough, and for the most part creators are paid by their school, company, university or government department. The article then turns to a criticism of a (U.S.) federal government program. "It is important to examine what productive role, if any, the federal government can play in the evolution of OER... the federal government is putting its thumb on the scale for one particular type of content-creation mechanism, and that could disrupt the marketplace." This presumption that there is some 'natural' state of the marketplace that is 'distorted' by government intervention is of course a fallacy, as is the presumption that the government has no business being involved in the education of its citizens.[Link] [Comment]
I think we all knew this, but in this review of Yves Gingras's Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: Uses and Abuses we read of a detailed examination of the topic. "While study of publication and citation patterns, “on the proper scale, provides a unique tool for analyzing global dynamics of science over time,” the book says, the 'entrenchment' of increasingly (and often ill-defined) quantitative indicators in the formal evaluation of institutions and researchers gives way to their abuses."[Link] [Comment]
I haven't seen this topic covered elsewhere, which is by itself something to recommend it. "Paying to promote posts— either to the organic audience or to a target audience.... is becoming the norm in higher ed. Of the 1,100 respondents to the 2016 CASE Social Media in Advancement Survey, 59% said they paid to promote posts on Facebook, and 18% paid for Twitter promotion." In addition to paying social media companies, institutions will also need to budget for staff. "Engagement assistants are given 'the keys' to social media accounts to publish content and respond to inquiries." And of course there are software costs for tracking and monitoring response. "Don’ t start by contacting vendors. First, know what data you need. Then, find a tool (paid or free) that provides you with that data."[Link] [Comment]
As is always the case, technology as planned works very differently from technology when mixed with humans. Witness the Internet of Things (IoT), the nascent linking of phones, printers, cameras, and a host of other dumb smart devices. They have now become the prime vector internet attacks. As Michael Caulfield says, " I worry that it’ s not just an internet of things, but a proprietary mess of interdependent services built on the shifting sands of unstable business models. Unless we develop standards and protocols that reduce that proprietary interdependency we’ re eventually going to have a lot bigger problem on our hands than Twitter outages." True. But what are the odds that the corporate community will get this right?[Link] [Comment]
In Canada we have a tradition of dressing in costume on or around Halloween (October 31). Traditionally these costumes were of scary things (such as skeletons, ghosts or monsters) but it has since branched out to include most anything (I once went out as the Empire State Building). We are now beginning to see the limits of 'most anything', and in one noted case, Brock University's student union has prohibited "any form of headdress, costumes that mock suicide or rape, those depicting transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner, or outfits featuring a culture’ s traditional attire" at its pubs and events." So of course some people are crying "censorship", as though mocking someone's culture or personal life is somehow a form of free speech. I think the student union's message is clear and reasonable: if you're going to be racist or offensive, don't do it here.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger offers a useful overview of contemporary artificial intelligence (AI) from a non-technical perspective referencing Stanford University's One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100, 52 page PDF) including the list of 'hot' areas of current study (quoted, p.9):
The report notes, "Contrary to the more fantastic predictions for AI in the popular press, the Study Panel found no cause for concern that AI is an imminent threat to humankind. No machines with self-sustaining long-term goals and intent have been developed, nor are they likely to be developed in the near future."
You have until December 1 to provide comments to the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) on this draft set of guidelines for quality in competency-based education. The ideas is that "Competency-based education uses an intentional and transparent approach to curricular design that provides a learner with a clear pathway to completion based on an academic model that builds a unified body of knowledge leveraging frameworks, disciplines, standards, workforce needs, and national norms... Each competency is explicitly stated and unambiguously provides descriptions of what a learner must master before program completion... The assessment strategy provides multiple modalities of assessment intentionally aligned to learning outcomes and uses a range of assessment types to measure learning and the transfer of learning into novel contexts."
The eight elements, with expanded principles and related standards, include (quoted from the press release):
I couldn't find the actual quality standards anywhere on the C-BEN website (you have to sign up for the survey to view them), but can access this copy (11 page PDF) at Inside Higher Ed.[Link] [Comment]
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