Miscellaneous

Balancing the use of social media and privacy protection in online learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 10 min ago
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Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Jan 28, 2015

The United States, Russia, China and the U.K. are all classified as "Endemic surveillance societies." India and France follow close behind as "Systemic failure to uphold safeguards." So it's clear there's a problem. We probably can't fix it within educational technology, but we need to address it. Tony Bates does address it, but he does so largely from an institutional perspective. "Institutions want to protect students from personal data collection for commercial purposes by private companies, tracking of their online learning activities by government agencies, or marketing and other unrequested commercial or political interruption to their studies." The thing is, I don't think we can trust the institutions any more than I trust the governments or the companies.

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Lecture Capture Fail

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 10 min ago
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Bex Ferriday, Bex Ferriday's Edutechy Wonderland, Jan 28, 2015

Linking to an article by Mark Smithers called "Is lecture capture the  single worst educational technology use in higher education?" Bex Ferriday argues that the technology simply preserves what was bad in traditional education. "The thought of filming a 3 hour lecture then slapping it onto a virtual learning system and expecting students to watch this in their own time seems more like a punishment than a good idea.... By filming your 3 hour diatribe on connecting muscles in the lower leg once, you never have to repeat the lecture again! Just point students towards the film and bingo!"

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iOS 8.1.3 Arrives

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 10 min ago
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Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch, Jan 28, 2015

So obviously some sort of work has been happening behind the scenes as Apple's operating system iOS 8.1.3 includes the following in today's update: "Adds new configuration options for Education standardized testing." It's not clear exactly what that means. None of the dozen or so sites I visited had any information over and above this exact phrase, and it's not mentioned at all in the 8.1.3 security update. I'd I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with tamper-proof content that can be used for testing. If you want to pursue the full list, here's everything.

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The Internet of Things

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FTC Staff, Federal Trade Commission, Jan 28, 2015

Released today by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, this report (71 page PDF)  looks at the provacy and security implications of the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea behind the IoT is that devices and appliances can have their own internet connections and exchange information with online services. A good example is the FitBit, which a person wears on their wrist, and which exchanges information about movement and exercise with the online service. The IoT is incredibly useful, but security issues abound. The FTC report recommends building security into the devices from the outset. It also recommends full disclosure on any personal information being tracked. Companies should train their employees in security, and respond to security threats appropriately. Additionally, companies should limit the data they collect (this is a concept known as 'data minimization'). They're not recommending legislation at this point (it would be "premature") but as  Ars Technica points out, the FTC has the option of civil suits to encourage compliance.

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Private Eye: See who’s tracking you online

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 10 min ago
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Various authors, Mozilla, Jan 28, 2015

Today is Data Privacy Day, says Firefox, and to celebrate the moment they've launched Lightbeam: "Create a 'Wizard of Oz' moment by pulling back the curtain to see who’ s watching you on the Web. Turn on Mozilla’ s Lightbeam tool, visit a handful of websites to see who’ s tracking you, and then learn how to fight back. You’ ll never look at the Web the same way again!" I tried it out and it works quite well (you may need to reload the tool to get the graph to refresh). The circles are visited sites and the triangles are applications that are tracking you as you visit the sites.

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John Hattie interview

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Brent Simpson, Pedagogy of the Compressed, Jan 28, 2015

I thought you might enjoy this interview with John Hattie, who promotes a concept called "visible learning". From the  Visible Learning website we read, "Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. According to John Hattie Visible Learning and Teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers."

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“Users”

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 10 min ago


Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Jan 28, 2015

Mike Caulfield writes a challenging paper on some of the debate that has swirled around recently on the relative values of 'making' and 'using'. As I read I found myself agreeing here, disagreeing there, seeing myself in one sentence, seeing someone else in another. "What would happen if we got over our love affair with creators? What would happen if we collapsed the distinction between maker and taker, consumer and producer, not by 'moving people from consumption to production', but by eliminating the distinction? What if we saw careful curation of material as better than unconsidered personal expression?" I don't know. If nobody creates, nothing gets built, and that's a bad thing. But if nobody criticizes, the wrong things get built, and that's also bad. And if nobody uses, then there was no point to building in the first lace, which is also bad. But you know, the more I think about it, the more I think the whole language of value is wrong here. The whole debate got started by some people saying some things, and some types of people, are valued more than others. And I think that's the wrong place to be.

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Competency Based Education is quietly headed for the mainstream

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 10 min ago


Unattributed, Saylor, Jan 28, 2015

Actually, from where I sit, it isn't "quietly" headed for the mainstream, but is rather a great lumbering beast thrashing through the forest toward the mainstream. Competencies are this magic link between employment prospects and educational services and resources, and pave the way for the creation of a learning marketplace. This allows the ostensive creation of a privatized education system, at worst, but on a more positive note could allow people to create their own custom learning programs, private or public, to support their eventual ambition in life. In this way, competency-based education is a lot like educational technology. There are risks, but in the end its value really depends on what you're prepared to do with it. This Saylor blog post links to an Anya Kamanetz article for NPR on competency-based addressing a report from the American Enterprise Institute called The Landscape of Competency-Based Education

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The Ethics, Hurdles, and Payoff of Advising an Online Student Newspaper

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David Cutler, Edutopia, Jan 28, 2015

Student newspapers are close to my heart, of course, after my having spent five years working at one, and in that time learning every facet of the operation from writing, editing, photography to the print trade. And of course I've been producing newsletters ever since - like this one! Now this article focuses on high school journalism, which isn't quite as free-wheeling as the university newspaper I worked at, but this feels to me like it's too tightly controlled. The author speaks with pride about the fact that the administration has never sought to censor an article - what this tells me is that the students aren't taking enough risks.

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Why Github is Important for Book Publishing

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Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jan 28, 2015

Something like Github could be important for book publishing. But the documentation is needlessly opaque and the applications take you back to the days of typing commands in terminal windows. In addition to a diagram without lables we get explanations like the following: "Someone working on a project will first create a 'feature branch', a copy of the repository that adds a feature or fixes a bug. When the new feature has been tested and is working, the changes will be 'committed'. Each set of changes with be given an identifier and a message explaining what has been changed." Now if you don't already understand these concepts, these sentences will not help you. And this is the simple explanation (I read the official documentation and it's a long explanation of how it's different from Subversion). I've never found a clear and non-technical description of Git or GitHub (I believe they're separate things, but who knows?) nor an easy-to-use application. Just me? Maybe. But the difficulty of understanding Git makes me really sympathetic with people who have difficulty adapting to tech.

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The Power of Detentions

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Sam LeDeaux, Connected Principals, Jan 28, 2015

It is worth noting that detention is essentially prison for students. However, note:
- there is no trial
- there is no defence or representation
- there is no appeal
- (probably) rich kids still get off (The Breakfast Club notwithstanding)
It is worth pondering what the real lessons are being learned when detentions are given out.

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Autonomy and Value in Social and Workplace Learning

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Charles Jennings, Learning Performance, Jan 28, 2015

"The ‘ Jennings & Reid-Dodick C-Curve’ ," writes Charles Jennings, "was developed in the early stages of an L& D transformation for a Global FTSE100 company more than a decade ago." It describes a curve that travels backwards from more autonomy to less autonomy, creation of standards and controls, and gradual re-autonomy. I think it's pleasing to many managers and trainers, who appreciate the move toward steps 2 and 3 (and imagine the progression to autonomy in step 4 can happen after they retire). But despite this weakness, it reinforces the idea that value is tied to autonomy. You can only go so far with control (and not as far as depicted in the model). For real value, people need to interact and make decisions on their own at the point where problems, issues or opportunities are directly confronted.

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At Davos, Technology CEOs Discuss The Digital Economy

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Amie Colquhoun, Don Tapscott, Jan 28, 2015

Don Tapscott reports from Davos, where they're learned that we need alternative energy sources, that we have to deal with global warming, and that education matters. Of course, they say lots of things (publicly) at Davos. "For the first time in history, economic growth is not generating a meaningful number of new jobs. Factor in the hangover from the financial collapse of 2008 and we’ re witnessing youth unemployment levels across the western world from 15 to 60 percent. But panelists said that this was a temporary problem and not a structural problem." I disagree.  Half the world's wealth is in the hands of a tiny minority. That's a structural problem, and  it explains today's youth are unemployed instead of solving energy problems, addressing global warming, and benefiting from a free and global education system. See also this  earlier Tapscott article on Davos 2015.

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Asian education points to the power of partnership

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Dominic Collard, Pearson, Jan 28, 2015

Half the world lives in Asia and yet some writers can't resit talking about it as though it were a single entity. Of course, the real purpose of this post is to promote something else: "It will be by seizing the opportunities that technology is offering; by partnering with organisations outside the school gates, that education will be transformed." When I look at the partnerships schools have undertaken in the past - with publishers, for example, the phrase "mutual benefit" doesn't spring to mind." The words "exploitation" and "predatory" do. And the writing in this post makes Asia seem more like a place to be colonized than partnered. But hey, maybe I'm wrong this time. Maybe they will leave as much value as they take from these new Asian markets. We'll see.

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'We All Felt Trapped'

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Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 28, 2015

"In all of drama and comedy there is no figure more laughable as a rich man who does not know what he is doing," writes Paul Mason. He's writing about the elites in Europe who have no understanding of why austerity failed in Greece (hint: rich people there still pay no tax). But he may as well been talking about the moguls at MIT, who can't comprehend what went wrong in the case of Walter Lewin. A couple quotes, at least, had me thinking this way. "I would call it an unprecedented area," said Erin Buzuvis, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England University. "There isn’ t even a lot of precedent for online harassment in general." Um, what? “ We have never in the academic profession -- never, never -- in a collective way looked at the threat posed by professors,” (Billie Wright) Dziech (a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati) said. Because, you know, those in power would never behave badly.

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Using Gamification to create a Blogging Culture

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 21:00
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Sumeet Moghe, The Learning Generalist, Jan 26, 2015

I like the way this experiment begins: "How about we used the same money that we’ d use to hire a journalist, to instead engage ThoughtWorkers in writing about their work lives? Not only would the communication be far more authentic, we also stood a good chance of shaping a culture where people could write freely without the fear of being judged or considering their experiences to be 'not much to write home about'."

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Teaching and learning through dialogue

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 21:00


Steve Wheeler, Learning With Es, Jan 26, 2015

I think that dialogue is really important in learning, but then, I construe 'dialogue' much more broadly than most - I think of a walk through the woods as a dialogue with the park, or a walk through a city as a dialogue with its inhabitants. I consider scientific experimentation as dialogue, archaeological digs as dialogue, and space exploration as dialogue. I wish teachers would do all of those things more, and bring their students with them. Steve Wheeler is far more interested in the traditional role of dialogre in teaching - "The teachers who have inspired me most are those who have been accessible rather than remote, personable instead of stand-offish" - and while I agree with this, I think it's only a small part, and if you don't understand why it's important, as we see with the larger examples, it's easy to dismiss as irrelevant. P.S. I love the diagram in this post, but I think the 'Knowledge', 'Experience' and 'Creativity' lables are just wrong.

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Why Finland is finished as role model in education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 21:00


Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Jan 26, 2015

This is generally a good article but it has the old saw about how mono-cultural mono-lingual countries are the ones who do really well on the PISA tests. One commentator noted that Finland education supports several languages, and of course Finns typically speak English as well as their native language. And Canada, which also sits near the top of these rankings, is almost as multi-cultural as it gets, and supports numerous languages in addition to its two official languages. But more importantly, I think, the article makes the case that the Finns never really believed in the rankings in the first place. The article also shows Finland "near the bottom of the league table when they measured how happy students were at school" (of course, school is less of a privilege of the elite in Finland than it is in these other countries), comments on Finland's weak economy, and asks why it scores poorly in TIMMS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) (which I don't think it does, really). I think the article makes some good points, but I think it also has an agenda that is not supported by those points.

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A Photo A Day Keeps the Dullness Away

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 18:00


Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Jan 26, 2015

One comment I saw several times in my recent survey was that people missed seeing my photos in OLDaily. I do enjoy sharing my photos, and I'll look to finding a good way to reincorporate them. But in the meantime, just like Alan Levine here, I've been participating in a photo-a-day project off and on for years. These days it's mostly on - I have the complete set from 2014 and have been at it regularly in 2015. Now I don't know whether I'll follow the guidelines in Levine's  You Show’ s The Daily – a site that will generate a small creative challenge every day at 8:00am PT - but it's a good source of ideas and I'll watch it for inspiration. Meanwhile, you can follow my photos ever day on my art blog. Note that I don't embed tweets the way he does because I want longer captions on my photos, so I can tell a little story each day too. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about these stories, and creating them is a source of enjoyment for me.

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Making Sense of Words That Don't

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 12:00
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Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Edutopia, Jan 26, 2015

This is an article that combines two separate concepts, does so in a confusing way, and will confuse rather than enlighten if used to teach language. The concepts are, on the one hand, prefixes and suffixes, and on the other hand, word roots and etymology (or what might be thought of as families of words). The former are pretty familiar, including the use of suffixes like '-ion' to create nouns and '-ly' to create adverbs, or '-es' to indicate person and tense in verbs. The latter is not activated through the use of suffixes, but rather the migration of a word through history, though the use of prefixes and suffixes is sometimes used here as well. Combining the two - especially with grammatically inaccurate matrices, simply confuses the two distinct concepts.

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