Miscellaneous

Student Led Conferences: Sick and Tired of Blogs & Reflection?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:56
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Silvia Tolisano, Langwitches, April 23, 2014

I really like the idea of student-led conferences, though I think they should be used more imaginatively than to "present to their parents about the state of their learning." Why can't they be real conferences about real things, presenting original work and research they devised on their own? This would allow them to appeal to all students (one wonders how many lives would have been changed were the industrial arts students' work valued and presented as just as important as academic work (or for that matter were academic and industrial arts work valued and presented as just as important as athletics)). But more to the point, we have to get away from this: "I am writing what my teachers want to hear, but not really what I think." Why not create student-led conferences that are genuine examples of students' interests? (p.s. the name of the blog is finally explained here).

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The plot to kill the password

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:31
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Russell Brandom, The Verge, April 23, 2014

Interesting look at the use of fingerprints for identification. The concept depends on two things: first, something called zero-knowledge proof, wherein the system knows that the fingerprint-based login was successful, but never has a copy of the fingerprint itself, and second (and related) the use of local devices to log you into remote services ("You’ ve always got a finger and a phone, so logging in isn’ t a problem, but the combination makes the security much, much harder to break"). The specification is being promoted by the FIDO Alliance, which includes  most major vendors (except, of course, Apple, which never plays well with others). As for me, I would not mourn the passing of the password.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

How much should we be willing to pay for a use?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:13
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Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog, April 23, 2014

Doug Johnson asks, "How do you determine if you are getting your bitcoin's worth of use from a paid resource - whether it is a reference source, full-text database, e-book subscription, or set of teaching products?" That's a tough question. It's harder because value changes with format - and with use. I remember the World Book fondly because I read the multiple volumes cover-to-cover while I was in high school. Infinitely valuable! But if it's just a reference library, costing 70 cents a search, it's not nearly the same. $5K for an annual subscription seems like a lot (it's way more than the paper copies on the shelf in the library could have cost). Why not just use Wikipedia (or better - have the students create their own encyclopedia using Wikipedia and other sources)?

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Categories: Miscellaneous

AHELO: The Ontario Experience

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 10:03
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Mary Catharine Lennon, Linda Jonker, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), April 23, 2014

The purpose of this study was to determine whether standardized international learning outcomes assessment were possible. The study concludes it is possible: "Experts and faculty agreed on shared learning outcomes and assessment questions, and the project management and execution followed a common protocol across the globe." But there's a lot of slack around the margins. "The data are not representative of the jurisdictions or the institutions," reports the study, and "The tests themselves were not found to be accurate." Moreover, "student recruitment for low stakes testing is extremely challenging." And many of the institutions did not obtain the ethics clearance to study their own data. 49 page PDF.

As an aside, I found this interesting, as I've commented on it many times in my talks but rarely see it instantiated in practice: "Rather than assessing content knowledge, both discipline-specific assessments focused on the application of knowledge (i.e., can a student 'think like an engineer')." This is a departure from what a lot of people think about when they think about standardized tests. But it's an approach that recognizes that knowledge isn't an accumulation of facts in the brain, but rather, is a reflection of an overall brain-state: to 'know' is to see the world in a certain way, to recognize things in a characteristic way, to 'think like an engineer'.

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Blinded by scientific gobbledygook

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 09:40
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Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen, April 23, 2014

This really should spell the end of the 'gold' model of 'pay-for-publication' open access scientific publishing. It may be the end for the journal system generally, beyond a few well-known journals. In this case a badly-written mostly-plagiarized paper was accepted for publication by numerous journals (the acceptances came, of course, with a request for a publication fee). Of course, it's not just the publications. “ The other problem is that scholarly writing is just dreadful and has become more and more dreadful over the past 10 years or so."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Competencies Come to Campus

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 09:29
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Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, April 23, 2014

The problem I have with competency-based prior assessment is that they're essentially loss leaders. It is very rare to see a university accept more than a small percentage of credits by assessment. They are even typically stingy on credit transfers from other institutions. In the boxed inset accompanying this article, for example, the student is able to apply 21 credits toward a 107 credit degree. In exchange for some lower-cost assessments up front, the university now has him on the hook for $20K in tuition for additional courses (it would be even more without the additional transfers from other institutions). Nice recruitment strategy. A proper competency assessment program would put everything on the table. But universities will resist this until the end.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Learning Activity 6-A-1

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 14:14


Various authors, Building Online Collaborative Environments Course, April 23, 2014

I had some fun this morning reviewing the response of some students defending the thesis that "Connectivism has a direct impact on education and teaching as it works as a learning theory." To be most fair, these students probably had an impossible task, not because connectivism isn't a learning theory, but because of the way the problem was framed. I offer a bit of a response here, expanding on the way connectivism is a learning theory. Via jnanassy. (p.s. people shouldn't use the blue 'Theories of Learning' infographic; in my view, it is a very poor representation of learning theories.)

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Wiley Acquires CrossKnowledge: New Player in Corporate Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/20/2014 - 13:44


Josh Bersin, Bersin by Deloitte, April 23, 2014

Take note: "Wiley has repositioned itself significantly and is making major investments in the markets for corporate and individual professional development. Over the last several years Wiley acquired Inscape (DISC assessment products), Profiles International (prehire and team assessments), Deltak (learning management system and student relationship platform for the education industry), and now CrossKnowledge, a fast-growing provider of corporate e-learning, LMS, and content management solutions."

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How to Get a Job at Google: Rsp to NYTimes Tom Friedman #FutureEd

Usually when my blogs are a "response to the New York Times,"  it is to disagree, push back, emend, quibble, or rant.   Today, I am reading Thomas Friedman's "How To Get a Job at Google, Part II," with enormous pleasure and satisfaction and a sense of confirmation.   Friedman's interview with Laszlo Bock, the man in charge of all hiring at Google, confirms what I have learned from many workshops and interviews with both job recruiters and CEOs

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Categories: Miscellaneous

2014 Future of Open Source Survey Results

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 11:44
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Black Duck Software, Slideshare, April 22, 2014

Slideshare slide deck. From the summary: "The eighth annual Future of Open Source Survey results, presented by Black Duck and North Bridge, point toward the increased strategic role that open source plays in today’ s enterprises, its crucial function within new technology development, and the growth of both first-time developers within the OSS community and the impact open source has in daily life." The overall message: "Open source continues to eat the software world."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

“Blogs are the Vinyl Records of the Internet”

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 22:07
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Clarence Fisher, Remote Access, April 21, 2014

I don't think this metaphor works. I accept that "personal blogging is retreating in favour of corporate social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, and tumblr." But it isn't clear to me that "Just as vinyl records are still listened to, and considered better than the digital format, they exist without having a real impact on the music industry." I think that the internet would be very different without blogs. There has to be more to life than Upworthy and Huffington Post.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

I am the New Flickr. I am an Ass.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 18:54


Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, April 21, 2014

Alan Levine is not too pleased with the new Flickr interface. Neither, for that matter, am I. It's getting increasingly difficult to do the things with photos that give them meaning, like adding notes and comments. The 'sets' have been renamed 'albums' and are basically invisible now. I'm not sure how people can view my photos, if at all, other than through the photostream.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

British Pathé releases 85,000 films on YouTube

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:29
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Press Release, British Pathé, April 21, 2014

Another huge resource for open learning. "Newsreel archive British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel. This unprecedented release of vintage news reports and cinemagazines is part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world." Among the favourtes are Wright Brothers First Flight (1903), Hindenburg Disaster Real Footage (1937) [HD] and Arnold Schwarzenegger Wins Mr Universe (1969)

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Categories: Miscellaneous

When Evidence Backfires

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 14:36


Neurobonkers, Big Think, April 21, 2014

People like me sometimes are inclined to think that if people had more and better education, they would not believe anti-scientific myths. For example, they they were told that the Sun is in a cooling cycle, they would not be inclined to blame Sun cycles for global warming. Actual evidence, however, suggests that people continue to believe myths despite the scientific evidence. Myths provide explanations, and merely debunking a myth leaves a gap in that explanation. In some cases, the provision of evidence contrary to the myth can actually strengthen their belief in the myth. Why do I raise this? Education is not a magic remedy for misinformation. See also the Debunking Handbook (PDF) by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Ethics and soft boundaries between Facebook groups and other web services

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 19:08


Frances Bell, Francesbell's Blog, April 20, 2014

Fances Bell explores some of the murky issues surrounding access to 'closed' sites and services such as Facebook groups. These are not accessible to people without a Facebook login, and as such may be inaccessible to people who for one reason or another don't want Facebook. But also as such, these may carry a presumption of privacy on the part of members, some of whom may think posting to the course group isn't 'public' in the way posting a blog port or web page is. Meanwhile, can you post what was said on one Facebook group (or mailing list, or whatever) on another Facebook group? What if it's a 'closed' (members only) group? Tough questions.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Educating Modern Learners Is Live!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 19:01


Audrey Watters, Hack Education, April 20, 2014

Audrey Watters announces the arrival of her online publishing venture with Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon, Educating Modern Learners, "a site dedicated to news and analysis about the future of teaching and learning through a progressive education (and progressive ed-tech) lens." It will, sadly,  cost you $35 a month to read. Not open content, obviously.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:49


Stephen Marche, Los Angeles Review of Books, April 20, 2014

I don't think there's anything wrong with the  digital humanities per se but I accept the criticism that it would represent a misapplication of big data. As Stephen Marche writes, "Literature cannot meaningfully be treated as data. The problem is essential rather than superficial: literature is not data. Literature is the opposite of data." In particular, "algorithms, exactly like fascism, work perfectly, with a sense of seemingly unstoppable inevitability, right up until the point they don’ t.`Well fine. But why is this the case? I would say that it's because data (as we know it) is about mass, while meaning is based on context and connection.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

5 Key Barriers to Educational Technology Adoption in the Developing World

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:40


Clayton R. Wright, Educational Technology Debate, April 20, 2014

I think this is the real challenge to talking about educational technology in the developing world: before you can get to educational technology you have to consider, if not overcome, these barriers. What are they?

  • electrical power
  • internet connectivity
  • training and professional development
  • value of teachers
  • sustainability

Most of these could be solved with money - and in a nation like Canada, they would be - but some, like electricity or internet connectivity, would require a great deal of money, because of the need to build social infrastructure before you can build a learning infrastructure. And most of the discussion around them talks about short-cuts or work-arounds: solar power, for example, or mobile internet. But you can't short-cut the last three, and that's why these problems are ongoing.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Phasing out certificates of free courseware completion

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 18:12


Sebastian Thrun, Udacity Blog, April 19, 2014

The commercialization of MOOCs continues: "effective May 16, we will stop offering free non-identity-verified certificates." The funny part is that they say students are demanding this.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Small Private Colleges Are in Deep Trouble (as They Should Be)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:30


Jordan Weissmann, Slate, April 19, 2014

While this is termed as "a small brush fire, clearing out some of the unhealthier institutions in higher ed" the credit default warnings being issued against small colleges may be the harbinger of something more widespread. The article suggests, "because they don’ t have much in the way of endowments, they tend to charge high tuition, and leave undergraduates saddled with debts that simply might not be worthwhile." These problems aren't unique to small private colleges, though.

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Categories: Miscellaneous
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