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This course explores the topic of learning in three ways: first, through an examination of research and development issues related to the topic; second, through interaction with a personal learning environment (specifically: LPSS) to take the course; and third, through activities supporting the development of a personal learning environment at a conceptual level.[Link] [Comment]
The think that made Twitter the most democratic of the social media platforms was that it didn't pick winners. You read what you were subscribed to, in the order it was sent. No more. Now (as an opt-in feature, at least) users can choose an algorithm to show their 'best' results. As one commentator says, "This would be fine I was able to trust the algorithm, which as Facebook has shown, one cannot. We are not as good at this software stuff as we think we are." Not just that. Once there's an algorithm, there's somebody willing to pay money to skew the algorithm. This is how services like Twitter generate income. Not surprisingly the magazines and newspapers are in favour. They will be the ones to benefit most from the algorithm. Image: Larry Kim.[Link] [Comment]
This is an interesting milestone and is a good example of the sort of shape a lot of e-learning will take in the future. The OpenSAP MOOC "platform was launched in 2013 in conjunction with the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) and has been constantly evolving over the last three years." It's a good example of a corporation working with an educational institution to use e-learning to provide product support (and SAP users definitely need product support).[Link] [Comment]
One of the comments to this article suggests that it isn't news that a college system is having trouble converting from a home-grown to a PeopleSoft administrative software system. Maybe it isn't. I remember when I was at Assibinoine Community College in the 1990s we made the switch to (as I recall) Banner (now merged with its competitor Colleague to become Ellucian). But the commentary around the move is always interesting. "The transition was not only motivated by the age of the software, the system's desire to support initiatives such as analytics and competency-based education, and the need to boost information security, but also by a need to “ speak with one voice” as a system." And, again in the comments, "The real value of enterprise software is that it forces a total re-engineering of those arcane and archaic process that we so dearly love... No one wants to abandon their customized data, "stovepiped" and personal, for a data dictionary that means the same thing to all users." Image: PeopleSoft.[Link] [Comment]
Coupling Pre-Prints and Post-Publication Peer Review for Fast, Cheap, Fair, and Effective Science Publishing
The title says it all. This is, in my view, the future of academic publishing, and of educational publishing in general, if we can break the publishers' hold on the marketplace and especially the distribution system. "It would be relatively simple to give reviewers of published pre-prints a set of tools to specify the most appropriate audience for the paper, to anticipate their expected level of interest in the work, and to gauge the impact of the work." I might add that newsletters like OLDaily could and would be an essential part of the post-publication peer review system. Image: Future of Scientific Publishing.[Link] [Comment]
Throughout most of my educational career, the early morning subject was mathematics. Then, later, formal logic. It is as though someone figured our abstract brains work best in the morning. Well, mine most certainly did not. So I would have appreciated this teacher's method to encourage attendance first thing in the morning: Minecraft. Why does this work? "Are you more likely to put in extra time and effort on tasks you find engaging? For most of us the answer is, yes— our achievement is driven by our interest. This is true even for children."[Link] [Comment]
This is the story of "Sci-Hub, a website that bypasses journal paywalls, illegally providing access to nearly every scientific paper ever published immediately to anyone who wants it." It's the internet's solution to a problem that has existed for many years. "Before Sci-Hub, this problem was solved manually for years! For example, students would go to an online forum where other researchers communicate, and request papers there; other people would respond to the request." The American courts, of course, are more than willing to grant judgements against the service. "Elsevier alleges 'irreparable harm,' based on statutory damages of $750-$150,000 for each pirated work." There are about 48 million papers in SciHub. They'll never collect the money. Meanwhile, "The bird is out of its cage, and if Elsevier still thinks it can put it back, they may well be sorely mistaken." See also this article on SciHub in the Atlantic. SciHub is here.[Link] [Comment]
I'm not going to wait for Part 2, because this story is interesting enough already. 'Making fetch happen' (meaning to successfully start a cultural/linguistic trend) is the objective of entertainers, politicians, and yes, educators. But ultimately, it is media that makes it happen. "Mass media institutions, from the press to social media, follow them around, broadcasting, sharing, and reinterpreting their every word, on repeat, even if they actively disagree with their agenda and ideology." And this mechanism is manipulated; the article has several examples, while in Canada we have the way 'tar sands' became 'oil sands' almost overnight. And the message is deeply personal; "the subtle rhetoric in these terms seems to almost force a stance on identity and the values you hold." If you think education is free of the phenomenon, think again: think of terms like 'diploma mills', 'grade inflation', 'lifelong learning'.[Link] [Comment]
Alec Couros is hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit on the subject of catfishing. Couros, well known in social media and educational technology circles, has had his image used by dating and romance site scams (also known as 'catfishing') for the last decade. The social media companies do little to help. "With Facebook," writes Couros, "I've never been able to get in contact with a real person. All I can do is use their crappy reporting system that doesn't even acknowledge this kind of scam. I've gotten a few of my blog posts taken up by the media (Canadian media - CBC, Global, CTV, etc.) and Boing Boing wrote a post on my dilemma. However, I can't crack the FB wall. I spoke to a Google employee but I didn't have much luck their. Their reporting system is worse."[Link] [Comment]
Following "a federal government crackdown on the scandal-plagued vocational education sector," thousands of Australian students have been left with large debts and unable to complete their studies. It's a fairly typical story: "The group's collapse comes despite Global Intellectual Holdings making a profit of $17.95 million in 2015. During the year it paid $14 million in dividends to its directors Roger Williams and Aloi Burgess. The accounts show the company held $19 million in debt." This underscores the danger of placing a public trust like education into private hands, especially if there's government funding involved. Those concerned about the future of the TAFE system in Australia will no doubt have taken note.[Link] [Comment]
Quantum computing notwithstanding, Moore's law - the idea that computing power doubles every 18 months - has been in force most of my lifetime. But according to this article, there are signs it is coming to an end. Computer chip clock speeds haven't budged since 2004; instead, computers have more than one processor. But this is reaching a limit as well, the victim of heat death and mobile computing. This doesn't mean innovation will stop, but instead the direction of innovation will change - instead of thinking of things we can do with ever faster chips, we'll begin designing applications and custom-designing chips to fit them. Good article, lots of detail, and interesting insights into the thinking of the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) near the end.[Link] [Comment]
How long before we're required to wear personal health tracking devices like Fitbit? If we're getting discounts for wearing them, does this mean others are being penalized for not wearing them? And at what point does trhis become intrusive: ""Manulife is moving away from being a traditional insurance company to one that actively partners with customers to help them achieve overall well-being, including physical and financial health?"[Link] [Comment]
Your new word for the day is 'copyfraud'. Here's the definition from Wikipedia: "Copyfraud refers to false copyright claims by individuals or institutions with respect to content that is in the public domain. Such claims are wrongful because material that is not copyrighted is free for all to use, modify and reproduce." In the current case, copyfraud also applies to materials that are license CC-by. As Peter Murray-Rust writes in the GOAL mailing list, "Springer took all the images published in its journals and stamped COPYRIGHT SPRINGER over all of them and offered them for sale at 60 USD. This included all my publications in BioMedCentral, a CC-BY Open Access journal..." In another post he notes that Oxford University Press is "charging large prices for re-use of CC-BY articles (e.g. 400 USD for use in an academic course pack for 100 students."
Let's be clear, though. Far from being 'fraud', these actions on the part of Springer and OUP are not illegal. Even if you pay OUP publishing fees to license your paper as CC-by, OUP can turn around and charge $400 for it because this is allowed by the license. Currently publishers are saying these practices are "mistakes" (and Springer, for example, has removed the images). But how long before these 'mistakes' are 'policy'? And of course, "there is the additional ongoing problem when articles which authors have paid to have Open, are hidden behind a paywall." If only somebody could have predicted that CC-by licenses would be used this way![Link] [Comment]
Interesting look at the history of edutainment, a phenomenon that peaked in the 1980s and was dead by the turn of the century. There are lessons to be drawn for today's learning app market. For both, the problem begins in the marketplace - quality game-makers such as The Learning Company found themselves competing for shelf space at places like Toys R Us and unable to make an impact against knock-offs and flip cards. "'Edutainment' became a toxic word' ... A euphemism emerged referring to the era's games that promised learning badly disguised by a thin layer of fun: chocolate-covered broccoli." After a series of badly executed mergers, the market collapsed. Today's app store is crowded with 80,000 apps labled 'educational'. " The fact remains, though, that you can crank out a hundred flashcard apps for the same price and in the same timeframe as it takes to make one media-rich game."[Link] [Comment]
D'Arcy Norman is looking for links to digital whiteboard software. I'm posting this here because I don't want to lose his Linky Linky summary.[Link] [Comment]
I think kits like this, properly done, are among the best learning tools out there. When I was a child you could buy crystal radio kits, but at $25 they were out of reach. Later I bought electronic components from Radio Shack (you actually had to provide your personal information to be allowed to do this) and messed around with LEDs and such, but I never knew what I was doing and mostly just burned out resistors. Having the parts you need, and some sense of what to do with them, is the ideal combination. And it is so useful to have a basic understanding of circuits and such, not because you'll ever build circuits in your future, but because it's a different way of thinking that doesn't really come up in other core subjects (engineering is like that too). Kids of the next generation will probably be tinkering with 'build-your-own-lifeform' kits. I envy them.[Link] [Comment]
Some interesting developments on the tech side. A couple of weeks ago, "the non-profit Ed-Fi Alliance, announced the public release of the Ed-Fi Implementation Suite 2.0, a set of pre-built technology components that allow education agencies to develop and maintain integrated education data systems in their local or district-controlled IT environments." Today, that same organization announced an agreement with IMS Global to "take a unified approach to rostering so that school districts across the U.S. have the ability to allow class lists/rosters and basic student and teacher information to flow easily and securely among data systems and learning technology." This supports IMS's oneRoster specification, "One set of file formats and RESTful web services to exchange roster information." Obviously the combined impact of these announcements is that student information will be spread over the four winds to thousands of vendors, so it's not surprising to see Ed-Fi visit the subject of privacy on numerous occasions in its previous announcements.[Link] [Comment]
Is this true? Sean Michael Morris writes "Any effort on my part to scaffold (and effort to scaffold learning at all) would be colonial, patriarchal, and disempowering." It's a challenge that flies in the face of the educational enterprise as a whole (and especially the learner-empowering constructivists who employ scaffolding as a proxy for didacticism). Yet at the same time, it feels wrong to say that the act of providing support is inherently disempowering. Clearly there are different versions of what is meant by 'scaffolding': Giulia Forsythe writes "I thought of the many times I’ ve used scaffolding as a metaphor for good teaching in many of my visual notes. None of the examples in the twitter debate used it the way I’ ve imagined it. There are hanging gallows and references to stages." My rule is this: forget the definitions, and if the people who have the least privilege argue that my support is disempowering, then I listen, but if the people making the case are the most privileged, then I wonder why they want me to cease my support.[Link] [Comment]
Dana boyd has a short but effective 'Fear and Loathing in Davos' moment in this article laamenting the passing of John Perry Barlow's 'A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace' into a regime where "not only was everyone attached to their iPhones and Androids, but companies like Salesforce and Palantir and Facebook took over storefronts." Sure. It was Davos. What did she expect? "We all imagined that the Internet would be the great equalizer," writes boyd, "but it hasn’ t panned out that way. Only days before the Annual Meeting began, news media reported that the World Bank found that the Internet has had a role in rising inequality." Twenty years ago when Perry Barlow wrote his declaration, we didn't trust the traditional media. We still shouldn't. "Digital dividends — growth, jobs and services — have lagged behind,” writes the New York Times. Is that the fault of the internet? Or is it the fault of the club at Davos? But here's the thing: there never was a 'cyberspace' as imagined by John Perry Barlow. I said so at the time. Some of is - a lot of us - understood that to build a better future you have to spend a lifetime building that future, not a weekend waging revolution. And you can't do that at Davos.[Link] [Comment]
The Mozilla Foundation's Mark Surman writes a longish post describing access to the internet as a basic right, akin to access to food, water or shelter. On the eve of India's decision to prevent Facebook from creating its own proprietary version of he internet, his thoughts carry additional weight. "When in comes to the health of the Internet," writes Surman, "it’ s like we’ re back in the 1950s. A number of us have been talking about the Internet’ s fragile state for decades— Mozilla, the EFF, Snowden, Access, the ACLU, and many more. All of us can tell a clear story of why the open Internet matters and what the threats are." It's hard to see the internet as being as important as water. But I'd rank it up there with freedom of the press or freedom of the speech.[Link] [Comment]
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