Miscellaneous

Connecting industry professionals to every classroom!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 31 min ago


Nepris, Aug 31, 2015

Interesting concept for a website. According to the promo blurb, "We make it easy for teachers to virtually invite industry professionals into the classroom to bring real world relevance to curriculum topics, to help evaluate student projects and to engage and inspire students in STEAM!" By 'STEAM" they mean Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (poor old Humanities just can't catch a break). The site is called Nepris.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

IT unions: The wrong approach to achieving a noble goal

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 31 min ago


Patrick Gray, TechRepublic, Aug 31, 2015

There have been numerous reports in recent weeks about sweatshop conditions in technology companies, for example, Amazon.com, and while some people just don't care, others have advocated remedies such as  unionization to address these conditions, as for example is happening at Gawker. This post is a poorly informed argument against unionization. Here are its major arguments and my responses:

  • "It's impossible to take individual performance into account when attempting to set collective compensation practice" - nonsense.  I work in a unionized environment where people have very specialized skills and pay and promotions are based on performance, not time served
  • People opposed to the working conditions "would quickly be displaced by another person willing to make those sacrifices" - not true. In a unionized environment  individuals are protected by the possibility of collective action by everybody. You aren't on your own in a union.

I am in favour of unionization. Historically, non-union workplaces feature lower pay, harsher working conditions, fewer benefits, and weaker job security. People arguing against unionization are either uninformed, like this person, or they are advocating on behalf of company owners and management. They stabilize the economy, create wider social benefits, and increase productivity.

 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

OpenShot: Open Source Video Editor

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 31 min ago


Christopher Whittum, Energize Education Through Open Source, Aug 31, 2015

This is a review of an open source alternative to Premiere or Microsoft Movie Maker. It's called  OpenShot and the only real drawback is that it is only available for Fedora and Ubuntu Linux - though if you're using an open source video editor you probably already use Linux.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Educational Innovation as a Verb, Not a Noun

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 31 min ago


Thomas Carey, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 31, 2015

To me this is old news because the model has been repeated frequently inside NRC to describe the organizational changes we've undertaken over the last few years. But it's worth posting this link because it's a lucid account from someone close to the source and because it describes a trend coming to an institution near you. It's based on a "‘ triple play’ framework of exploration-experimentation-exploitation seems to me to give us a working criterion for innovation as an overall process:

  • Discovering new knowledge or ideas (including both invention and discovering what others may have begun to do) 
  • Translating and testing the new idea or knowledge as a working artifact (product, service or practice) 
  • Adapting and extending the artifact for wider use to generate organizational/social value."

The big change at our institution was move down the criteria, to shift from "discovering new knowledge" to "translating and testing" and even "adapting and extending". The view has been that there is no shortage of discovery (especially in Canada) but that there is a greater need to adapt knowledge to create social and commercial value. But I fear this will become a wider trend absorbing all  our institutions.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The traffic LinkedIn drives to publishers has dropped 44 percent this year

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 1 hour 31 min ago


Lucia Moses, Digiday, Aug 31, 2015

LinkedIn is the latest social network platform to shift its emphasis on keeping people in its sandbox. "LinkedIn used to be a steady referral source for many publishers. But that’ s changed  as the social network for professionals has prioritized its own media and its contributor network. For the first eight months of the year, referral traffic to SimpleReach’ s 1,000 publisher base declined 44 percent." This despite the fact that users are still referring as many links as in the past. LinkedIn recently began building a  publishing platform for professionals and now offers more than  130,000 posts a week, many written by managers and professionals.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Required Reading

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 16 hours 31 min ago


Theodore Kinni, Strategy+Business, Aug 30, 2015

I don't see how reading a few pop philosophy business books gives you "a clear-eyed understanding of the world and how it works." So what would I recommend instead of these parochial choices? How about these:

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu - take the time to understand this and distinguish between the trappings we add to our understandding of the world as compared to the very simple reality underlying it

The Art of War, Sun Tzu - this classic is the textbook for competitive environments and makes it clear that being successful is as much a result of discipline and strategy as it is pure power

Discourse on Method, Rene Descartes - there are more modern books on scientific reasoning, but this work is a grounding on the mental approach needed to create aa systematic understanding of the world

On Liberty, John Stuart Mill - Mill writes from the perspective of having thoroughly understood Aristotlean and Kantian ethics, and drafts a model for society based on the happiness of the people actually living in it

The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker - this book faces life's ultimate problem head on and talks about how we find a reason to live in a world that is ultimately meaningless

I could add a dozen of so other essential books that will round out your life (including, yes, Machiavelli). But from the perspective of actually leading life and being successful at it, these are probably key.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

How an App Helps Low-Income Students by Turning College Life Into a Game

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 19 hours 31 min ago


Sarah Brown, Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug 30, 2015

My long-term outlook for this app is not positive, but I think it's interesting in that it shows the importance of activities outside the classroom for success in college. These activities were certainly importance for me - everything from editing the student newspaper to being a referee in Campus Rec football games. The ideaa of using the game to ultimately pay poor people to participate in these activities by gamifying them probably won't work in the long run, first because the game creates extra overhead, distracting from the activities themselves, secondly, because of the cost of managing the funding, and third, because of disagreements over which activities qualify (I cannot imagine that my participation in campus socialist party politics would have been supported financially). But even though this particulaar app may fail, it will lead designers to think of how to include these extracurricular activities into the online college experience, and that is definitely good.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Research: Technology Is Only Making Social Skills More Important

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 19 hours 31 min ago


Nicole Torres, Harvard Business Review, Aug 30, 2015

This might not be intuitively true, but when you think about it for a bit it becomes more evidence. Technology, far from isolating us, is making us more social. "The days of being able to plug away in isolation on a quantitative problem and be paid well for it are increasingly over." The article suggests at the end that the push from business for social skills is not new. True. But it was not that long ago when the advice coming from the business sector was that schools should drop the 'soft' skills and focus on science, technology, engineering and math - the STEM focus that still holds sway in many quarters. The corporate sector thinks short term, and forgets very easily. That is why they should not design education policy.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Data, Technology, and the Great Unbundling of Higher Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 23:00


Ryan Craig, Allison Williams, EDUCAUSE Review, Aug 29, 2015

Unlike the  dull-as-dishwater set of priorities listed by Kenneth Green, this post has some more exciting projections about the future of technology in higher education. But it should be noted that this comes at a cost - a crisis in traditional institutions, a crisis that has been slow to develop but is now approach a crest: "In a survey of 368 small private colleges and midsize state universities, 38 percent failed to meet their 2014– 15 budget for both freshman enrollment and net tuition revenue.... Like the retailer and restaurant markets, the middle of the higher education market is being hollowed out from both the top and the bottom."

Let's look at what we can do if we get it right:

  • Accessibility - "Yet before digital delivery transformed distance learning to online degrees, accessibility was not universal."
  • Affordability - "the real higher education story of the decade is the crisis of affordability. Current and recent students amass unprecedented debt loads by the time they graduate....  online delivery should be a solution to the crisis of affordability." - "Solving for Affordability: Competency-Based Learning"
  • Efficacy - "If any product or service should be designed so that a stoned freshman can figure it out, it should be higher education." - "Solving for Efficacy: Adaptive Learning and Gamification"

This is a good article. I don't necessarily agree that competency and cradle-to-job design is the way of the future, but there is no question the 'unbundling' described by the authors is. 

"In an era of unbundling, when colleges and universities need to move from selling degrees to selling EaaS subscriptions, the winners will be those that can turn their students into "students for life"— providing the right educational programs and experiences at the right time. This becomes possible when individuals own their competencies and allow institutions to manage their profiles, suggesting educational programs and even employment." Oh - but are universities ready for that?

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Beginning the Fourth Decade of the "IT Revolution" in Higher Education: Plus Ça Change

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 23:00


Kenneth C. Green, EDUCAUSE Review, Aug 29, 2015

For many reasons which are off topic to this newsletter, I don't think productivity is the measure we should use to assess the impact of computer technology. Productivity is the measure of the old economy. And I'm not sure I agree with these priorities as reported in EDUCAUSE Review, but I feel duty-bound to report them (quoted):

  • User Support. Colleges and universities across all sectors must commit to major improvements in user training and support.
  • Assessment. Opinion and epiphany cannot be allowed to dominate the conversations about institutional IT policy and planning.
  • Productivity. It is now time for academic leaders, including higher education's IT leadership, to have frank, candid, and public conversations about productivity
  • Online Education. Institutions must commit to significant and sustained efforts to evaluate their online efforts.
  • Recognition and Reward. We must move to an expansive definition of scholarship in order to value the efforts of faculty.
  • Data as a Resource. Higher education institutions must stop using data as a weapon against students, faculty, and programs.
  • The Value of Information Technology. Institutional leaders must do a better job of conveying the value and impact of higher education's investments in information technology.

Honestly, none of this excites me. None of this has anything to do with making people's li8ves better or  making society better. It's a list of priorities for accountants. Maybe if the author weren't so ambivalent about education and technology (and maybe if the presidents, provosts and CIOs surveyed had more of an investment in it) we'd see something more exciting. But this just leaves me empty.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Designing Personal Learning Environments

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 18:00


Stephen Downes, Google Docs, Aug 29, 2015

This is the outline I used for the 'Designing Personal Learning Environments' workshop we held at the University of Guadalajara today. We fit the exercises into a four hour period which made it very fast-paced and intensive. I think it went pretty well. So I have two requests: first, if you have comments or suggestions on how to improve this process, please add them to the document (it's in Google Docs). And second, if you use this model (or something like it) for an activity of your own, please share with me the persona sheets created by participants. If you can (it's not required, but would be nice).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Far from bust: five ways MOOCs are helping people get on in life

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 12:00


Lisa Harris, Manuel León Urrutia, World.edu, Aug 29, 2015

According to the article, "Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – free, short courses made available to everybody online – were expected to herald the end of higher education as we knew it when they began. But the hype soon died away and critics bemoaned the fact that learners quickly lost enthusiasm and dropped out in large numbers." But with MOOCs receiving so much criticism recently, it is worth pointing to the very substantial ways they have improved education over the last half-dozen years or so (quoted):

  • Many institutions, are using MOOCs to develop high quality online learning materials
  • learners are using MOOCs to enhance their attractiveness to employers
  • in-campus programmes that have a MOOC versions running alongside
  • MOOCs are making learning more engaging
  • MOOCs are opening up educational access

If someone had said to me that these could be achieved in the six years following CCK08, I would have been enthusiastic and pleased. I still am.

 

 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Responding to Free

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 12:00


Ashley A. Smith, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 29, 2015

Who is surprised that a free college education would be popular? This article is about the Tennessee Promise program, suddenly flush with students, that is one of the standard-bearers for the new free college program in the U.S. "Tennessee has been hailed for its statewide initiative and is the basis for President Obama's America's College Promise ... Oregon will become the second state to offer a similar statewide program." Free education and affordable health care? Blame Obama.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Online and Open Learning for Social Change

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 12:00


Contact North, Aug 29, 2015

This post is subtitled "What We Can Learn From The Gűlen Movement" and I confess, I have not heard of the Gűlen Movement before. The Gűlen Movement "is a worldwide civic initiative rooted in the spiritual and humanistic traditions of Islam and inspired by the ideas and activism of Mr. Fethullah Gűlen – named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world in 2013." And it's another one of those movements founded around character: "Education is not just about learning a concept. It’ s about learning values, to be a person… and betterment of the individual toward a positive change in society." Sorry, no. No matter how ideal the values, a movement based in making everybody somehow the same is to me a non-starter. I personally believe in the value of things like social action - but it should be a choice, not a requirement; a mechanism, not an outcome.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Can Pearson, Flush With $2 Billion in Cash, Buy Trust?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 12:00


Anya Kamenetz, Education : NPR, Aug 29, 2015

Pearson is flush with cash after having sold off the Economist group and Financial Times. In a well-written and informative article Anya Kamanetz suggests that Pearson may be looking to rebuild trust. As Audrey Watters says, it's not exactly a beloved brand. And how to rebuild trust? "What might really improve perceptions of the company and conditions for learners is more good old-fashioned market competition," writes Kamanetz. Maybe. But if Pearson sent a few million of its newly found billions my way I would give them another alternative: neutral broker. Instead of trying to succeed in the marketplace, be the marketplace.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Head back to school with new features in Google Classroom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 12:00


Google for Education, Aug 29, 2015

Google has upgraded its Classroom tool, squeezing LMS vendors just a little bit more. It includes question-driven discussions, reuse of posts, calendar integration, and more. Best of the comments: "Teachers cannot open this site on campus; blogs are blocked by filter." Motivation, maybe, for Google to keep developing its classroom platform.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Open education the sustainable way in the knowledge age

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 01:00


Karen MacGregor, University World News, Aug 28, 2015

Interview article with Wayne Mackintosh on open educational resources and the history of OER University (OERu). The section on MOOCs is interesting: "Open education advocates do not believe that commercial MOOCs provide a sustainable way to widening tertiary access. 'There are significant points of difference between the commercial MOOC provider model and the OERu model,' Mackintosh said. 'First, we provide real academic credit towards real credentials, whereas commercial MOOC providers do not provide formal academic credit. Second, commercial MOOC providers will not be able to compete with the cost efficiencies of the OERu model, where courses are based entirely on open access resources.'"

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Categories: Miscellaneous

6 concerns students have about MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 01:00


Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, Aug 28, 2015

So here we have yet another instance of the classic survey study featuring "84 undergraduate students recruited from a variety of courses at a large, urban Midwestern university" being  published in an academic journal and (even worse) being treated as real news. More, this survey is about MOOCs - and I have to ask, why would you ask people who are  already in university what concern they have about MOOCs? For example, consider this result: " Many students feel the information available through MOOCs, in particular c-MOOCs (peer-based MOOCs), is not of the same quality as the information they receive in a formally structured, traditional college course." I wonder how many of them have even taken a cMOOC (which is  not a 'peer-based MOOC') and how they are in a position to judge. More, I wonder whether the fact that they have already paid tens of thousands for a traditional education may influence their perception of what others are getting for free. This could be (and probably is) an example of the sunk costs fallacy.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why millennials are ditching university, and what it means for the workplace

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 01:00


Mandy Gilbert, Financial Post, Aug 28, 2015

OK, this is an opinion piece in the Financial Post, which is not exactly noted for well-researched opinion pieces. But the  summary in Academica captures not just the article but the trend itself really well: "Many employers are finding that the CVs of millennials are beginning to lack traditional university and college credentials with increasing frequency, writes a Financial Post contributor. For this reason, the contributor adds that employers should be 'open-minded when [they] review millennial resumé s.'"

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Game Element: Balance

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 21:00


Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, Aug 24, 2015

Brief post outlining the importance of balance in game design. Balance refers to the fairness of a game (especially among multiple players) and the fine line between being too easy and too difficult. "Balancing a game is not an algorithmic calculation," writes Kapp. "As a fascinating article on Gamasutra states: A game being 'balanced' is also always, at best, a rough approximation."

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