Miscellaneous

The Omidyar Network and the (Neoliberal) Future of Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Apr 23, 2017

I want to say at the outset that this is excellent work and that I encourage Audrey Watters to keep digging into this subject. Having said that, I want to suggest a realignment of focus. Her focus is on the origin and purpose of funding for "companies and organizations that work in and around education technology." But  everyone is investing in technology. What characterizes these companies is not their investment in technology, it's their investment in entrepreneurship and privatization. There is a lot of good work happening in educational technology being done by people working to achieve social and economic equity. Let's not lump those people in with the red-in-tooth-and-claw neoliberals.

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Heresy?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


zudensachen, Apr 23, 2017

This post raises the question of whether "what works" really reduces to "what can be measured", and whether the maximization of "cleverness" is replacing other (and possibly more significant) aspects of education. For example, "setting by ability means setting by socio-economic group, and there isn’ t very much mobility between these groups." So maybe the question of  social mobility should be regarded as equally important, even if more difficult to assess. "To ask the question about what our educational aims really are is to raise the possibility that there might be good reasons for preferring and applying mixed ability teaching even if, in terms of the maximisation of cleverness, we had established that it did not ‘ work’ as well as setting." Via Doug Belshaw.

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How We Know

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


noreply@blogger.com (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Apr 23, 2017

It's like recognizing a person. Your mother walks through the train station and you pick her out of the crowd. This recognition is not based on any particular rule or principle, not based on any essential features, not based on any inferential process.

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Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Frida Alim, Nate Cardozo, Gennie Gebhart, Karen Gullo, Amul Kalia, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Apr 23, 2017

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)  has released a longish (49 page PDF) on student privacy. The report (like the EFF) is mostly focused in the United States. After noting that students and schools "are using technology in the classroom at an unprecedented rate" the EFF reports that "educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely." Additionally., "We investigated the 152 ed tech services that survey respondents reported were in use in classrooms in their community, and found that their privacy policies were lacking in encryption, data retention, and data sharing policies."

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Net Neutrality Alive and Well in Canada: CRTC Crafts Full Code With Zero Rating Decision

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Michael Geist, Apr 23, 2017

Last week we saw an important ruling  in Canada on net neutrality, and as the headline suggests, it was a good ruling. In essence, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) "has crafted a reasonable, pro-net neutrality framework that provides carriers with guidance and users – whether innovative businesses or consumers – with assurances that net neutrality is the law of the land." 

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Marching for Science Internationally

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, Apr 23, 2017

Let's do this thing. "We want to speak out against the muzzling of government scientists, we want to advocate for evidence-based policy making, we want to see better and more inclusive STEM education. We also want to send a message that science is not and must not be mischaracterized as partisan.” My science is not based on my political views. My political views are based on my science.

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Novel initiative Teach Out: Fake news detecting

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, Apr 23, 2017

A 'teach out' is a lot like a MOOC except that it is a lot shorter and more concentrated. It is (quoted):

  • an event – it takes place over a fixed, short period of time
  • an opportunity – it is open for free participation to everyone around the world
  • a community – it will be joined by a large number of diverse individuals
  • a conversation – an opportunity to give and take ideas and information from people

"What is really interesting is the philosophy behind the teach out, and the history behind the teach out events." It reminds me of the 'teach ins' from my activist days. With any luck, Pepsi won;t turn it into a commercial, and learning companies won't turn it into a product.

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xAPI Profiles

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Data Interoperability Standards Consortium, Apr 23, 2017

Background information and updates on the xAPI profiles project. Follow the  orientation link to the background document on Google Docs. "The Experience API (xAPI) Profiles Specification is a technical document that aims to improve practices for creating Profiles as defined in the xAPI Specification. The xAPI Profiles Specification lays out a structure that describes profiles uniformly, describes how profiles can be discovered and reused, and how profiles can be published and managed."

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The metamorphosis of the OLPC programme

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Gitura Mwaura, The New Times, Apr 23, 2017

This is an account of how the One Laptop Per Child evolved over time in Rwanda. "Rwandan government’ s partnership with Microsoft to roll out digital education has re-energised the debate by local and international observers on the progress of technology-enabled learning in the country."

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MOOCs Started Out Completely Free. Where Are They Now?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 2 hours 23 min ago


Dhawal Shah, EdSurge, Apr 23, 2017

It really is a sad story. "The fact that MOOCs were free sparked widespread interest in them... But once the hype died down and MOOC providers tried to monetize, they found it difficult to do so without charging for content... Every MOOC provider has expanded their product lines to target multiple price points from tens of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars." That's why I become unhappy when the venture capitalists get involved and when a provider of 'free' learning starts to hive off bits and pieces of 'premium' services.

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Maplesoft Releases Online Courseware Environment for STEM

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 12 hours 23 min ago


Rhea Kelly, Campus Technology, Apr 23, 2017

Acxcording to this report, "Maplesoft today released Mö bius, a hands-on learning tool focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education." Yes, it's Canadian, sort of (subsidiary of a Japanese company). Instructors using Mö bius can create lessons that incorporate "interactive explorations, illuminating visualizations, meaningful assessment questions, and guided active slideshows, which incorporate narration, exploration and self-assessment elements," according to a press release. 

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What are social groups? Their metaphysics and how to classify them

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 12 hours 23 min ago


Brian Epstein, Synthese, Apr 23, 2017

At a  webinar yesterday we had some fun with different terms for groups of people (herds, swarms, flocks...) and this let to a but of a discussion of the considerations behind the naming of different types of groups (and objects). Here's a longish paper (49 page PDF) that thoroughly explores this sort of question. Worth noting: "Ritchie proposes... organized groups must have collective intentionality.... But according to most prevailing theories, many organized groups do not have them." Indeed, in my own 'groups versus networks' work the former has collective intentionality while the latter does not. The result of the paper is a four-element typology based on construction, anchor, extra essentials, and accidentals profile (see p. 41).

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An Open Textbook for Introduction to Philosophy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 15 hours 23 min ago


Christina Hendricks, Daily Nous, Apr 23, 2017

Though I'm not sure open philosophy needs a 'textbook' per se I still think this is a useful initiative that may grow. Christina Hendricks notes that "We are working with an organization called The Rebus Foundation, a Canadian non-profit that is made up of wonderful people who are doing great things with digital publishing and open textbooks." I've signed up to the  Rebus Community and have looked into the philosophy textbook. Note this: "it is free of cost to students. There is no price tag." That is what I call open content. Here's  more information on the Rebus textbooks project.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 18 hours 23 min ago


Kurt Gessler, Medium, Apr 23, 2017

I left Facebook at the end of last August for several reasons. The final straw was advertising designed to defeat ad blocking tools in my browser. But this was on top of increasingly irrelevant content. And it was because my own posts - both personal, and also those from OLDaily - simply weren't being delivered to followers. Remember, followers were people who specifically wanted my posts, but Facebook decided to sent them garbage from content mills instead. I was not alone, obviously, and the Chicago Tribune has been tracking similar results. Imagine a telephone system designed this way. You hear Alex Jones shouting in your ear instead of the person who actually called you.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Analyze your videos in a few lines of code

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 18 hours 23 min ago


Sara Robinson, HackerNoon, Apr 23, 2017

More analytics for the masses. This application takes video that you upload and extracts content, then presents the content for different segments in a plain-text JSON file. So, for example, if there is a dog in your video, there will be an entry 'dog' in the JSON file with start and end times from the video. This makes video libraries searchable for some very specific content. The main point here isn't simply that software can do this, it's rather that this functionality is offered as a service by google so now anyone can do this inside their own software.

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The Can-Do’s of CodePen Projects

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 21:00


Chris Coyier, CSS Tricks, Apr 22, 2017

Why doesn't educational technology have something like CodePen? Our field seems to be obsessed with the consumption of content. What we need is a great  open application like this that lets people find and work with learning content. "Here's an incomplete list of things I didn't get a chance to tell you about: searching for external assets, tidying your code, analyzing your code, exporting, sharing  (gasps for air), global assets, keyboard shortcuts, or all the different views!" Gasps for air indeed!

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Are ‘machine values’ replacing our principles?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 19:00


Angie Hunt, Futurity, Apr 22, 2017

This is an interesting way of phrasing the dilemma we seem to be in today: “ We are losing empathy, compassion, truth-telling, fairness, and responsibility and replacing them with all these machine values,” Bugeja says. “ If we embed ourselves in technology, what happens to those universal principles that have stopped wars and elevated human consciousness and conscience above more primitive times in history?” Now, for the record, I can't recall any time we managed to stop wars, but there is nonetheless a shift to what I guess can be called "machine values". But it's not just 'machine': it's an ethos that favours counting over context, that favours competitive edge over compassion. Despite what the author asserts, 'machine values' are not created by machines. They are created by humans behaving like machines.

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High Quality Education for All

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 19:00


Christian M. Stracke, SlideShare, Apr 22, 2017

This is a set of slides  delivered by Christian M. Stracke (newly appointed ICDE Chair in Open Educational Resources (OER)) at the International Lensky Education Forum in Yakutsk. It offers a look at open learning that extends beyond a narrow definition based on the licensing of resources, and considers such things as open pedagogy, open schools and open environments. It also links openness directly with quality. It's a longish presentation and you might just want to download the slides (SlideShare has become really quirky and slow ever since being acquired by LinkedIn).

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Lumen and Follett: Canary in the Curricular Materials Coal Mine?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 13:00


Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Apr 22, 2017

Michael Feldstein offers a slanted perspective on the discussion around Lumen Learning. "If the goal is to increase student access through lower and more transparent pricing, then this deal could help," he writes, "If, on the other hand, the goal is to drive all large  commercial interests out of education, then this deal will not be helpful." This is a misrepresentation. It's just red-baiting. The objective is to provide students with free access to education. If a government contracted a corporation to do that, I'd be pretty happy. But I'd be a lot less happy if the corporation then turned around and started charging students mandatory fees for access to this 'free' education. And that's what's happening here.

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For-Profit Involvement in OER - Part 6

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 13:00


Dan McGuire, Apr 22, 2017

More on Lumen Learning. "The $10-$25 per course that Lumen-Follett is collecting to provide the 'packaging' for free OER courses is a steep price," writes Dan McGuire. "The 'packaging' is essential to good open educational practice and not really 'packaging' or 'added value;' it's essential value."

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Categories: Miscellaneous
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