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This looks like an interesting and useful tool. Teammates is "a free online system that facilitates anonymous peer feedback between students working in groups." The one real weakness is that you need a Google account to use it.[Link] [Comment]
I've heard this argument a lot, and here it is again: "All the evidence I know suggests that MOOC learners are typically well-educated, more affluent from the developed world, and male." OK, let's suppose that's true (it might not be). So what? First, MOOCs nonetheless provide more access than previously to people without access to education (mostly for people outside the United States, which is why they don't show up in the US-only statistics cited here). And second, it is true of pretty much all really useful things (like, say, the internet itself) that the first users are well-educated white males. That fact does not make the thing less useful. Consider another example: money. Most of it is in the hands of well-educated white males. But it doesn't follow that it would not be useful (even more useful, actually) in the hands of non-educated, non-white non-males. Image: E-learning Consortium.[Link] [Comment]
The medical profession is taken as the standard-bearer for evidence-based learning theory, and the model here is large-scale trials with control groups and carefully measured interventions. The presumption in medicine (and so to for the corresponding education theorists) is that people are physiologically the same. Sure, there are variations in height, weight, and gender, etc. But where it really matters, at the biological and chemical level, there is no significant difference between people. Except... there is. "Do you reach for Tylenol or Advil? Most people have a preference because they have learned over time that one works better than the other at relieving their pain. This type of variability from person to person is true for nearly every medication." That's why we have doctors who work individually with patients when considering prescriptions and treatments.[Link] [Comment]
This University of Manchester 'academic phrasebank' was sent to me almost a week ago now, and I've been reading through it, mulling it, and trying to pin down why I find it so unsatisfactory. And it's not simply that it's a 'how-to' guide instructing students in the arcane are of obfuscation. It's because it substitutes the rote use of formulae and phrases for actual knowledge of linguistic structure and clarity of expression. It's like old-school mathematics, which is based on memorizing rather than comprehension. For example, there's a section on quantification. The phrasebank throws a list of phrases at readers. It is grammatically incorrect ("Over half..."). It is imprecise ("The average of 12 observations..."). It is passive ("... has experienced an 89% increase ..."). It doesn't indicate anywhere what a quantification is, and what it is of. It's a guide for people who don't understand what they're trying to say and how to say it, and it substitutes formula for clarity. Such is so much of learning today. Image: Mobogenie.[Link] [Comment]
Following from yesterday's discussion of science in Canada, we have today this post from Lee Smolin in Maclean's. Essentially, the advice is to focus on emerging leaders in promising domains overlooked by other institutions, to invest heavily in them, and to give them free reign, rewarding discoveries rather than citations or publications. I'm sure many scientists would nod in agreement. But it's the 'big man' theory of science, focused on rewarding a few stars (mostly just for being stars) and in my view it places at risk the overall scientific infrastructure in the country. The purpose of science isn't only to focus in this way. And you can't simply buy this focus from abroad, as Smolin suggests, you have to grow it at home, creating the field where emerging leaders can arise and promising international candidates can land. Science depends not on its stars (there's always a 'star') but on broad-based community support for science.[Link] [Comment]
Tony Bates reports on the British Columbia open textbook project. Here's the bottom line: "BCcampus estimates that as of 24 November, 2015, the project has resulted in estimated savings for students of between $927,200 and $1,204,762. The calculation is based on 9,275 students across the 19 participating institutions who have adopted open textbooks." When we look at the total number of students in the system across Canada, the potential for savings from open textbooks becomes staggering. And this does not include the number of people outside the system who could benefit from free access to textbooks. You can find the open textbooks on the BCcampus OpenEd website.
This is a nice set of short videos posted on YouTube explaining common concepts in science and physics. I was directed to this series by following the link to Why it isn't Faster to Fly West from a post on Kottke. It's a pretty smooth marketing channel. I also watched the next video in the series, How to Get into Space, featuring drawings from XKCD's Randall Munroe. I liked the completeness; not only does it explain rockets (in the ten-hundred words most frequently used), it also talks about what you have to do to become an astronaut and have other people allow you to go to space. If we could actually get ourselves organized (and there's no reason to believe that we won't, eventually) videos like these could and will form an important part of learning (not, learning will not consist of sitting in front of a computer watching eight hours of these).[Link] [Comment]
Mostly I think that the 'maker movement' is about publicity for Make magazine, but let's go with this. Jay Silver writes "The maker movement is not about the stuff we can make, it’ s about the meaning we can make." I'm in agreement with the idea that new technologies enable "a direct superdemocracy of creation without permission." I'll even accept that "the strength of multiple representations of truth is celebrated as being even more true." But I don't think that you "make" meaning, no more than you "make" truth or "make" relevance. To say we "make meaning" is to confuse an act of creation with an act of perception. The former is expressive, directed outward, while the latter is receptive, directed inward. Related: Seymour Papert and Idit Harel in Situating Constructionism.
Let's take it as a given that "Canada... lags its international peers in training graduates in areas geared for boosting innovation. Those fields include science, engineering and mathematics" and that "Canada has likely missed out on billions of dollars because its innovation economy has shown zero growth for three decades." How do you fix this? Not simply by educating people in science, engineering and mathematics, because basic research does not by itself drive innovation. And these graduates will mostly get jobs with US-based multinationals, and if they do any real development, it will be through their US or European offices. And you can't drive innovation by directing funds toward 'Canadian' companies for 'research', because as we saw over the last ten years, they'll take the money and still not invest in research.
The best made-in-Canada (and stay-in-Canada) innovation is based on spinoffs from funded academic research that is supplemented with business innovation support and services. Instead of simply taking the R& D and giving it to a well-connected company, it is better to help the people who developed it bring it to market. The problem is, the people who really benefit from that are the people who created the innovation, and the people who are employed by them, and not the well-connected incumbent business and political interests. So it's an uphill battle getting the funding and support in place.[Link] [Comment]
Some useful and so far as I can tell accurate advice to help people find clients as freelance instructional designers. One element you need is a portfolio - "Prospective clients need to see what kind of work you can do." Networking is another essential, but you have to do it right. Christy Ticker writes, "I’ ve found it helpful to approach networking with a focus on how I can give to other people, rather than what I can get." Social networks are good places to connect with clients. Tucker writes, "You can demonstrate your expertise. I once got a major project as a result of a question I answered in a LinkedIn group. "[Link] [Comment]
This is a terrific paper that describes and explains connectivism as a learning theory. What I really like is that it demonstrates a deep understanding of connectivism, and recognizes that connectivism thinks of knowledge differently from previous theories. It spends a lot of time on this. "In Connectivism, the structure of the knowledge is described as a network. The network is a set of nodes connected to each other. These relationships/connections may not be seen as a singular link between two nodes. Instead, they are more like patterns: groups of relationships that come together as a single whole. The network is not static; it is dynamic and those patterns may change over time. Learning, according to Connectivism, is a continuous process of network exploration and patterns finding; it is a process of patterns’ recognition." So good. So well stated and correct at a deep level. The whole paper is like this. Don't miss it. (p.s. Page 17, should be "fuzzy logic" not "fussy logic" though I love the new terminology!)[Link] [Comment]
This is an event announcement asking a very good question (which is why I am running it). My papers are also listed on Academia.edu (and also on ResearchGate, which is the same sort of model) but I find it very difficult to access other people's papers even when they're uploaded - the site demands that I be logged in before allowing me to download. That's not how open access works. So I don't actively contribute (they harvest my papers from other sources, including NRC's NPARC repository). I don't mind that it depends on free contributions from academics - most of the internet depends on that, why should this site be any different? I do mind that it restricts access to these contributions, and acts like it owns the papers. (Please not that I do not run event announcements in OLDaily; this is an exception.)[Link] [Comment]
It has taken a couple of weeks to get to this item, for which I apologize, but UNESCO has released the 'Incheon Declaration' and framework for action toward inclusive and equitable education and lifelong learning for all (yes, all of that is in the title). 52 page PDF. "We reaffirm," write the authors, "that education is a public good, a fundamental human right and a basis for guaranteeing the realization of other rights. It is essential for peace, tolerance, human fulfilment and sustainable development." It's a comprehensive plan, includes language for inclusion, quality, contributions from civil society, open learning resources, the role of government, funding, and more. I'm basically in agreement with its recommendations (though not so sanguine as the authors about the role of the private sector). See also the Open Education Consortium's blog post which also supports the declaration. Image: Kenya Delegation.[Link] [Comment]
I participated in a couple of the conferences where this document was discussed and thoroughly harangued the drafting committee through several online versions, and while they've blended seamlessly with the rest of the document I can see the evidence that the perspectives I advanced were listened to and respected. This makes me happy. Not just because I like to be listened to and respected (though I do, who doesn't?) but because it resulted in a stronger and much more inclusive document. And because it is so inclusive, and respectful of diverse perspectives and approaches to open educational resources, while at the same time underlining the value the community as a whole sees in OERs, I think it's a particularly strong work, and one I have no difficulty endorsing. Image: Pierre-Yves Cavellat via Wordnik.[Link] [Comment]
OK, this is one of those pointless Facebook applications, and it overstates IQ by a good 40 points or so, at least in my case. So don't take it seriously. Having said that, this is an illustration of a principle that I've often described in theory, the idea that our skills and abilities can be assessed by our presence on social media. Imagine the same sort of concept as this game, but much more sophisticated, doing more than just an analysis of the semantic density of Facebook posts, but looking at appropriateness of word use, evenness of temper, following and reflection of ideas by peers and (better) experts, and more, and for all social media, not just Facebook. Now we begin to approach something that may provide assessment of qualifications more easily - and more accurately - than traditional tests or evaluations.[Link] [Comment]
Just in case you thought technology was slowing down for a bit, along comes LiFi - it's like WiFi, except it uses visible light instead of radio waves. It has two advantages. First, it provides network speeds many times faster than WiFi - up to a gigabit per second. And second, it can be installed in lights, meaning that everywhere we have a light bulb, we could have internet access. Oh sure, there are many things that could go wrong - remember WiMax? - but the existence of the possibility should suggests that the speed of connectivity will continue to increase. "Li-Fi was invented by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland back in 2011, when he demonstrated for the first time that by flickering the light from a single LED, he could transmit far more data than a cellular tower." See also this TED talk and more in Wikipedia.[Link] [Comment]
As Ben Werdmuller says, setting up self-hosted web applications is hard. This is one of the major reasons why, say, personal web servers have never become mainstream. The new redesign of WordPress sounds like a step in the right direction. As Werdmuller writes, "we'll start to see more examples of this data-interface separation, where the logic and data will sit wherever you want, and the beautiful apps and interfaces will be powered by centralized services." It's the opposite of the classical content management service model, where the data is managed by a central server, and the interfaces sit wherever you want. It takes a bit to wrap your mind around.[Link] [Comment]
So this seems exactly right: "The unfortunate equation of open education w/ free text books has made the movement seem more and more myopic and less and less compelling." It's Jim Groom, and cited within this Cliont Lalonde wrap-up of the recent OpenEd conference in British Columbia. And as Lalonde responds,. "textbooks are so deeply ingrained in our education systems that trying to find others ways of doing education for many is very difficult, especially in an education world where we continually remove capacity for those faculty who DO want to change and experiment and try different things." Image: The Peak.[Link] [Comment]
The observations in this article will be familiar to most OLDaily readers, but they're put together in a nice way and I like the diagram. And I like the idea that people should be able to create their own path. "More and more third-places (coworking, fab and open labs, hacker and maker spaces) are gathering communities of people who work and learn together/ where the frontier between professional and personal life is fading away. In a way, it enables more authenticity at work." The website as a whole looks pretty interesting too.[Link] [Comment]
In 2004 I was recommending that students take up blogging. But it's 2015 now - should they take up video blogging (aka vlogging?). It's not an automatic - vlogging at its simplest can be a person talking into a camera, and at its most extreme can involve a GoPro and outrageous acts. And everything in between. "Offering tutorials on makeup application, riffing about something seen on the subway, or repeatedly failing at video games: these are all legitimate varieties of content that teens are watching, viewing, and learning about and from. And that’ s pretty neat. But it also warrants vigilant viewing and engagement on our parts."[Link] [Comment]
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