Miscellaneous

Developing a framework for teaching open courses

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 11 hours 6 min ago
Display


Alec Couros, Open Thinking, Aug 03, 2015

Long and enormously useful post from Alec Couros describing 'semi-structured' open courses. The concept is drawn from Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown: "The new culture of learning actually comprises two elements. The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited and resources to learn about anything. The second is a bounded and structured environment that allows unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries."

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

How big data is unfair

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 13 hours 7 min ago
Display


Moritz Hardt, Medium, Aug 03, 2015

Is justice 'fairness'? Is there a requirement that big data be fair? That is the underlying presumption behind this paper that argues that the needs and interests of minorities are subsumed under the unflinching generalizations of big data. Empirically, I think there's no doubt that Moritz Hardt is right. This is the sort of observation that has spurred philosophers since John Stuart Mill to warn of the "tyranny of the majority". How much does it matter, though? Will it even slow down the adoption of big data? It should - but will it? In medicine, we have the "do no harm" principle to prevent doctors from unthinkingly prescribing stock solutions to special cases. But we have no equivalent in education. We don't really get an answer - and at the very end I see the purpose of the article is not to actually address the issue, but to promote a conference. How disappointing.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Employability and quality of life

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 13 hours 7 min ago
Display


George Siemens, elearnspace, Aug 03, 2015

This is a set of slides on the employability narrative for higher education, which as George Siemens says, is becoming overpowering. "While I certainly agree that work is important," he writes, "I think the framework of 'getting a job' is too limiting for the role that higher education (can and should) play in society." I agree.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Negotiating a New Social Contract for Digital Data

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 13 hours 7 min ago


Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 03, 2015

I know my article from yesterday on  what I learned from philosophy can be tough sledding, but seriously, it's a Rosetta Stone for understanding pretty much everything in our field. Consider the present post. The focus is on big data, and yes, that is the topic. But how is it that a new 'social contract' would work with respect to big data? Would we (and by 'we' I mean you and me) ever actually negotiate such a thing? I agree, and probably so does everyone else, that "there is a lot of good stuff that can come from using large data sets, but we need to figure out who gets to decide which uses are beneficial." But how do we get from there to here? It will take more than government transparency, regulations, and self-education.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

One Thing

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/02/2015 - 18:00


Andrew Nachison, We Media, Aug 02, 2015

Are newsletters making a comeback? As social media becomes less and less useful, maybe people are turning to (as this We Media updates suggests) that 'one thing' that they can rely on to be relevant. I've long since given up making any guarantees :) so I'm quite happy to pass along this notification. Because I do like media. "You can’ t keep up with everything. But you can manage One Thing, the newsletter from Andrew Nachison. No promises on format or frequency. Get it by email." And Doug Belshaw, your survey kept timing out on me, but I think a daily newsletter from you would be welcome too.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 03:00
Display


George Anders, Forbes, Jul 31, 2015

I like this of course because my own degrees are in philosophy. “ Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says (Slack CEO Stewart) Butterfield. “ I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true– like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces– until they realized that it wasn’ t true.” This caused me to reflect on  what I've learned from philosophy as well.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

I am not sure what Kevin Carey is imagining here….

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 03:00


Steve Krause, stevendkrause.com, Jul 31, 2015

I mentioned Kevin Cartey's post in another item a few days ago; this post is a good antidote to the specious reasoning Carey offers his New York Times readership. Based on the example of college athleete cheating scandals, Carey argues, "colleges/universities are 'not coherent' when it comes to consistency, standards, classroom excellence." This is in itself a terrible argument, but then Carey goes on to argue that there isn't much difference between what you learn in the elite colleges and the other colleges. True enough. But as Steve Krause rejoinds, "then that means that there actually is a lot of consistency and coherence in higher education." The article is classic Carey, running a contradiction to prove whatever he wants. And as Krause observes, "I guess what bothers me the most about Carey’ s views here and in other places, notably in  The End of College,  is the amount of airtime it gets in places in the mainstream media like  The New York Times." Too true. 

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

The UdG Agora Project (part 1 of ∞)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 03:00
Display


Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Jul 31, 2015

I'm posting this partially because I will also be at the University of Guadalajara; for me it's the last week of August. I doubt that I will be able to manage a program as detailed and comprehensive as the one described by Alan Levine in this post, but through a talk and a couple of workshops I will be working with participants there to develop ideas around what we think personal learning should look like. So I will be seeking to build on the work done here, described in part as "the approach specified in the design and described by Tannis as focused around 'Studios'. It’ s a metaphor that has long spoken to be as ideal for creativity and learning technology in a hands on design but also in proximity to others." Hence: Agora. To my Stoa, I guess. Guadalajara is a  lovely city; I look forward to returning.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Five Ways Online Learning is Enabling Change in Post-Secondary Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 03:00


Contact North, Jul 31, 2015

Short report from Contact North emphasizing the affordances enabled by online learning. Here they are:

  • Access to knowledge, ideas and information
  • Community of learners
  • Mobile mentoring
  • Adaptive curriculum
  • Differentiated teaching

It's interesting, because some of these have to do with the enhanced communications capacity, while others have to do with the inherent capability of computers to process data.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Tablets in education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 22:00
Display


Michael Trucano, EduTech, Jul 31, 2015

This post contains links to 14 tablet initiatives in countries around the world (and another three in which the governments are taking them back). The article is generally sceptical in tone: "the evidence base when it comes to tablet use in schools and to support student learning is rather weak, and can be used in support of or against pretty much whatever scheme is being considered." Well, true. Because it's hard to have an evidence base for national tablet initiatives in developing nations based on "research to date (which) comes from schools in 'highly developed' (OECD) countries, relies on projects with small sample sizes, are of short duration and/or rely heavily on self-reported and/or qualitative data." The only way to know is to try, and to their credit, these nations are trying. Goodness knows, the developed world isn't stepping forth to meet the need. And it wasn't very long ago that the World Bank's answer was  high-end videoconferencing facilities for business and small  mobile phones for everyone else.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

On Labor, Learning Conditions, and Affordable Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 22:00
Display


Tiffany Kraft, Hybrid Pedagogy, Jul 31, 2015

"Here are three takeaways," writes Tiffany Kraft. "1) Students cannot afford the price we pay for higher education. 2) The debt-for-diploma exchange is gutting our Millennials. 3) The antidote for corporate academe is student activism." These have been true since I was a student in the 1980s (and hence, a student activist). Student activism was probably necessary, but certainly not sufficient. I'm not sure, after these 35 years, what would be sufficient.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

PNBHS Haka for Mr. Dawson Tamatea's Funeral Service

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 19:00
Display


PNBHS, YouTube, Jul 31, 2015

A brilliant tribute to a fallen teacher. I especially liked Megan Brown's comment: "I think what it is, at least from my perspective, is that haka requires the performer to cast aside any societal bonds that prevent men from expressing emotion, especially grief, as these boys would have been experiencing. Haka therefore permits and actively encourages men to be emotional. Whether that's angry, proud, respectful, or affected by sadness, it doesn't really matter. It allows men (and women, there are haka for women and women often back up men performing haka as well) to reach right down into their guts and voice what's in there with no fear of being shamed by others. There's something primal about it, it's visceral, and it's incredibly powerful. Very seldom do any of us, especially those of us living in predominantly Western societies, allow ourselves the chance to express emotion in this way. That is why it connects. Because it is raw and we don't let ourselves be raw."

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Rethinking 'What Counts'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 13:00
Display


Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Jul 31, 2015

This is a reprint of an Audrey Watters article that appeared in a paywall site back in April. She writes: "Learning is not a counting noun," says Dave Cormier, "so what should we count?" I first want to say that 'learning' is a verb :) but that the question is nonetheless valid: with walking we count steps or distance, with writing we count words or arguments, but what of learning? What is counted? What counts? Even if we do away with the language that leads us toward quantification, writes Watters, "how do we identify what matters?" My own answer to this question is at once simple and complex. What counts? Stillness. Balance. Harmony. Resilience. To me, the answer is a lot more about what we become, rather than what we acquire, which is why measurement is a challenge, if not impossible. It is, nonetheless, something  we can recognize when we see it.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Here's How 20,000 Reddit Volunteers Fight Trolls, Spammers, And Played-Out Memes

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 13:00
Display


Steven Melendez, Fast Company, Jul 31, 2015

Interesting article not only because it describes how Reddit's community of volunteers manages to filter the discussion forums, but also because it makes it clear the impact of unmoderated speech. "There are Chicago newspaper websites that have comment sections that are full of hate speech, and we wanted the Reddit community to be something different. We banned them. We silenced them. We removed their comments. We told them to go away... They can wreak havoc on our threads and really mess with people's heads. I don't think most people realize what little it takes to seriously damage someone" (I've combined a couple of quotes here). If you do not have 20,000 volunteers in a massive course, you have limited options: do without forums (the xMOOC approach), pay a lot of money for moderators, allow nasty and vile comments, or break into a network of multiple communities (the cMOOC approach).

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

H1 2015 International Learning Technology Investment Patterns

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 11:00
Display


Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight, Jul 31, 2015

Ambient Insight has released a report describing a huge increase in investments in ed tech. "In the six month period between January and June 2015, $2.51 billion was invested in learning technology companies across the globe. This is astonishing considering that the total global investments made to learning technology companies for the entire year of 2014 was $2.42 billion, which set a record in the industry." 19 page PDF. See also Inside Higher Ed.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

The Trouble with Pinker's Argument about 'The Trouble With Harvard'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 12:00


Cathy Davidson, HASTAC, Jul 30, 2015

What does elite education provide, and why do  the rich do whatever it takes to gain entrance into top tier institutions? If we don't understand this, we don't understand what we need to provide for everyone else. Here's the full study.

Here's a key point: it's not content knowledge. It's not even academic skills nor critical thinking. If we focus only on these, the elite institutions offer no advantage. Why then are they elite? Kevin Carey suggests that the elites "select the best and the brightest", but this isn't true either. They select the richest. They then turn these very average intelligences into social and economic successes.

The focus on quality, as I argue, is a distraction. We need to provide people not only with learning, but with the social network, tools and empowerment that a proper education produces. As Cathy Davidson says, "What if the issue isn't what Harvard can and does do brilliantly but what, for the students who do not go to elite schools, they must do for themselves: ensure their own success.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

The #blimage challenge spreads

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 09:00


Steve Wheeler, Learning With Es, Jul 30, 2015

It has been quite a while (years, really) since we've seen such an outburst of fresh writing in the edublogosphere. The current deluge is courtesy of the #blimage (blog image) challenge issued by  Amy Burvall, which she explains in a video: one person sends the other an image, the other writes a blog post about education related to the image. HJ.DeWaard explains more. Here's the list of just some of the items posted by Steve Wheeler in this item:

Space to make ideas your own  by Jeff Merrell
Organic Growth by Andrew Jacobs
The #blimage challenge by Jane Bozarth
Fortunate Learning and Learning Fortunes by Sue Beckingham
Desks of Doom by David Hopkins
Taking up the #blimage challenge by Ignatia de Waard
Not just a waiting room by Rachel Challen
Human Writes by Simon Finch
It's only a jigsaw puzzle by Sandra Sinfield
Playing chess with the enemy by Steve Wheeler
Learning while wandering by Tracy Parish
The #blimage challenge by Charles Jennings
Learning in limbo by Wayne Barry
Time for a fresh perspective by Sukh Pabial
The colours of active learning by Anna Wood
Breaking bread with Steve Wheeler by Amy Burvall
The joy of learning #blimage by Jane Hart
The Web: Network, dreamcatcher, patterns by Whitney Kilgore
The #blimage challenge by Sheila MacNeill

There are many more. To see the full list, visit  FlipBoard or browse over to the  #blimage tag on Twitter and enjoy watching your morning disappear.

 

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Memory is more than Ebbinghaus

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 21:00
Display


Donald H Taylor, Jul 29, 2015

Good post which to me shows why we can't simply rely on mechanical generalizations to understand learning. Donald Taylor writes on Herman Ebbinghaus's 'forgetting curve', which basically shows how memories decline over time (and can be extended by being refreshed at increasingly long intervals). But as Taylor points out, "in memory experiments, the content you learn is meaningless." Indeed, they deliberately use nonsense syllables in order to control for the effect of meaning and context. All very fine, but learning is all about meaning and context. It's how what we are remembering fits into a pattern. Taylor points to another well-known investigation, in which  Chase and Simon (1973) shows that expert chess players remember the positions of players much better than novices, simply because they recognize patterns. If you're not testing for pattern recognition, you're not testing for knowledge and learning.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Open teaching and learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 21:00
Display


Jenny Mackness, Learning, Open teaching, Jul 29, 2015

It can be more difficult to teach in an open environment. Janny Mackness observes, "being ‘ in the open’ raises security alarm bells for some tutors. What if their students post the less than perfect (in their eyes) videos they have made on Facebook? What if synchronous sessions with students, which are not intended to be viewed by anyone other than the student group involved, suddenly find their way onto the open web?"

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Higher Education: Access Denied

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 12:00
Display


Graham Brown-Martin, Medium, Jul 29, 2015

This is a small thing, but illustrative: the correct expression is "struck a chord", not "struck a cord". Why does that even matter? The former shows that you understand what the words mean, while the latter shows that you are parroting by rote. And this - not "a vested interest in maintaining an intellectual hegemony" - is what the three or four years of an undergraduate education is intended to produce. These minor differences in expression and presentation (citing people by their first name, use of generalizations like, "no interest in transformation", out-of-place employment of cliché s like "wax lyrical") are very obvious to a person with a formal education and invisible to a person without one. The result is the difference between learning on one's own, and learning through immersion in a knowing community, the difference between remembering what words mean and being able to speak a language. I have nothing but sympathy for Graham Brown-Martin, but it's hard, especially if it wasn't part of your early life, and you can't learn to speak a language by reading books. This - and not just a bunch of stuff to remember - is what needs to be produced by online learning.

[Link] [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous
Syndicate content