Miscellaneous

The Secret Weapon to Learning CSS

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 03:37
Robin Rendle, CSS-Tricks, Feb 07, 2019

I've been thinking recently about what it takes to learn web technologies today. We've come a long was from copying the source on a web page. Even the sort of instructions we give computers have changed - we don't tell them to "let variable x be 12" any more - it's more like "imagine an infinite plane filled with objects" or some such thing. We need new mental patterns - "ways to frame the problem in our heads, so we can break problems into their constituent parts and notice recurring patterns." That's why our services are called things like Docker or Digital Ocean. But we also need a path into the technology. See also Where do you learn CSS and HTML in 2019. And HTML, CSS and our Vanishing Entry Points.

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Could You Volunteer As A Student Blogging Challenge Commenter?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 03:37
Kathleen Morris, The Edublogger, Feb 06, 2019

If your answer to the question is "yes" then you may want to visit this post on Edublogger, read the overview, and if you're inspired, fill out the form. The occasion is the service's Student Blogging Challenge held every March and October - read more here.

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A Recipe for a Successful Institutional Open Education Initiative

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 03:37
Rajiv Jhangiani, WCET Frontiers, Feb 06, 2019

Nice article by Rajiv Jhangiani describing some of the essentially elements for a successful open education initiative. The article is based on his experience as the institutional lead for open educational practices at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in British Columbia which launched Canada's first two Zed Cred programs (known as Z Degrees in the U.S.) - that is, programs based completely on open educational resources. He points to the need for existing grassroots support for such an initiative, the need for care and feeding of that support, and the need for the institution to contribute "whether in the form of time releases or secondments, role re-designations or the creation of a designated position, or even necessary funding."

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A review of the research literature on adult learning and employability

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 03:37
Tove Midtsundstad, European Journal of Education, Feb 06, 2019

Based on this survey, we don't really have the data "to conclude that adult learning (formal or informal) has a causal effect on older workers’ employability." This is partially a problem with the number of the studies, partially a problem with methodology, and partially a proiblem with the mixed results produced by the existing studies. We see this especially in cases where adult learning seems to decrease the chance of getting a job. "There has to be easy access to education and skill upgrading and it must not be too expensive to enrol in courses or classes. Furthermore, there must be ways to finance one's lives while studying."

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Is Microsoft or Google your next LMS? The view from BETT

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 03:37
Jason Cole, e-Literate, Feb 06, 2019

The article barely mentions Google, so I imagine it's mentioned just for completeness. But there are two major strands of interest. First is the stand of no-shows at the large English technology conference: "the absence of the major LMS vendors besides Instructure Canvas... D2L, Moodle, the UK Moodle partners, and Blackboard had no discernible presence." Second, "When Microsoft makes their push, the learning system won’t look like an LMS, but it will look like Teams... Microsoft is rapidly integrating service platforms for email, calendar, business logic, business intelligence, AI, device management, and cloud services into the Teams platform." Which totally makes sense to me.

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Looking for the Right Name for the MOOC-based Degrees

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 03:37
Mikel Amigot, IBL News, Feb 06, 2019

This short article makes the point in a single quote: "Our degrees are not exactly massive and not open. But they have the same pedagogy as MOOCs –they are broken into small pieces with quizzes to make sure students understand concepts before moving on." Right, they're not MOOC-based degrees. They're (in my view) programmed degrees, based on the design model called 'programmed instruction'. A proper MOOC-based degree, meanwhile, based on real open online education, is of course an open degree.

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Hacker Tools

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 03:37
Anish Athalye, Jon Gjengset, Jose Javier Gonzalez Ortiz, GitHub, Feb 05, 2019

This badly-named short course offers some insights into the use of the command line for programmers and developers. It's pretty basic, pretty useful, and does address the need for documentation of the shared and mostly unwritten methodology used in these fields (read the self-help stuff out there and they all take this background for granted, scarce realizing that it creates an inpenetrable wall between the writers and their intended audience).

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Past the Point of No Return: The Not-So-Shadow Education Sector

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 03:37
Sasha Thackaberry, WCET Frontiers, Feb 05, 2019

This came up on Bryan Alexander's podcast, it came up in a post I wrote yesterday, and it keeps coming up as people talk about the "future of education" and "the future of colleges" as though they're one and the same thing. They're not. That's why Sasha Thackaberry writes, "The point-of-no-return has been reached in higher education; most institutions just don’t know it." What we're seeing is a constant increase in the range and volume of alternatives. "Into this landscape comes the 'Shadow Education Sector,' which is increasingly less shadowy," writes Thackaberry. "This category encompasses Boot Camps and a variety of micro-credentials from the providers formerly known as MOOCs." The question isn't whether universities will disappear; it really doesn't matter. The question is, what will the rest of the world do?

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Has Social Learning Been Forgotten?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 03:37
Mark Britz, The Simple Shift, Feb 05, 2019

This article is pretty light and at times awkwardly written, but it does raise the interesting question, "has social learning been forgotten?" It's a good question. "Social learning isn’t seen first as learning but rather the emphasis is on the 'social' which to many still means chit-chat, Facebook friends and cats on a Roomba GIFs." And "Social learning, unlike its counterpart, formal learning, is a messy many-to-many rather than the neat one-to-many model of training." So it's hard to measure, and so it doesn't show up in a lot of management plans.

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Using Artificial Intelligence to Generate Alt Text on Images

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 03:37
Nino Ross Rodriguez, CSS Tricks, Feb 05, 2019

The title of this post makes it irresistable, but the content doesn't really match the title. The idea is that we can use Microsoft's AI service to automatically generate captions for images. I've tested it and it's actually pretty good, but it's not especially easy to see how easy this is. Yes, there's Take Sarah Drasner’s generator, which show you in a CodePen, but it's pretty complex. And yes, the sample in the article works, if you know what you're doing. And the Microsoft page is really heavy. So what I did is create a really simple version of it. Here it is. You will have to get a subscription key from Microsoft (there's a link on the page), but it's free and easy. You can save my sample page and it will work right off your desktop.

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“The Linux of social media”—How LiveJournal pioneered (then lost) blogging

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 03:37
Steven T. Wright, Ars Technica, Feb 05, 2019

I was never really a LiveJournal person but I might have been. It was a coin toss when I opted for Blogger instead. LiveJournal competed well with blogs but weren't able to match social media. It wasn't lack of features; it was usability. "We had basically all the major features you see today, like a friends page. But we didn’t quite figure out how to tell the story or keep people interested. We had every option, but nobody could get it to work." Eventually the site was sold to Russian investors. My LiveJournal page has long since been deleted, but I sorta miss it.

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Digital exchange loses $137 million as founder takes passwords to the grave

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 03:37
Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, Feb 04, 2019

We've all made mistakes in the past. But this digital exchange founder made one of the most expensive mistakes in history when he failed to plan for his own death, leaving $137 million in cryptocurrency forever locked in an apparently unbreakable digital safe. This - to remind everybody - is why we regulate things like financial institutions.

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Massive for-profit online courses

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 03:37
Alastair Creelman, The corridor of uncertainty, Feb 04, 2019

How can it be that open online learning "doesn't work" when there's so much of it going on? Alastair Creelman offers this line of argument uncritically: "The main reason why non-traditional learners are not attracted to MOOCs is that they are unfamiliar with the concept of online learning and need support and encouragement." Sorry, no, that's just not true. Millions of people have taught themselves everything from basic mathematics to new languages to computer programming and more, all online, and all for free. What failed was the idea of recreating a university course online using the same business model that is barely sustainable even when you charge tuition fees.. What worked? Things like Khan Academy, Codecademy, Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, Microsoft Virtual Academy, Jamie Oliver, Meetup, Ravelry, and thousands more.

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Senior citizens hold more student debt: a Wall Street Journal report

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 03:37
Bryan Alexander, Feb 04, 2019

You won't be able to access this Wall Street Journal report unless you've paid for a subscription, but this post from Bryan Alexander will do the job just fine. Here's the gist: " American senior citizens are holding a growing amount of student loan debt." There are numbers and statistics showing the student debt held by people in their golden years remains in the billions of dollars. To put the issue in local context here in Ontario, about 40% of students qualified for free-tuition grants to low-income students under a program recently cancelled by the provincial government. Now these students will carry this cost as student debt after they graduate. Many others - especially older and lower income students - will not be able to afford tuition at all.

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Open Education in Chile: small steps in an adverse context

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 03:37
Werner Westermann, Carlos Ruz, Open Education Working Group, Feb 04, 2019

Several things are happening at once in this article as the new Open University of Recoleta is at once embarking on an institutional policy based on Open Educational Resources, and at the same time, as an "informal institution", pioneering the concept of the  “Pluriversity”, which they say "is similar to the concept of Volkshochschule in Germany, where the idea of popular universities is widely adopted and well regarded." The bulk of the article highlights the barriers against adopting open education in Chile, and lists a few initiatives already undertaken, such as the Open Textbook project developed by Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso.

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Is Blockchain Ready for Prime Time in Education?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 03:37
Wayne Skipper, EDUCAUSE Review, Feb 04, 2019

The lede is buried near the end of this post: "In early 2018, Concentric Sky and partners BrightHive and the DXtera Institute proposed such a blockchain ecosystem, called EdRec. EdRec is a learner-centric, open standards approach to learning record storage 'on the blockchain,' with self-sovereignty of learner data as its key design principle." What I've l.earned over the last year is that while it's relatively easy to store information in a blockchain, maintaining it as a network is generates wider social and technical issues. See other winners of the US Department of Education's Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem Challenge from last eyar.

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Finding Open Content Tutorial

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/02/2019 - 02:37
OER Africa, Feb 01, 2019

As the website says, "The tutorial is designed to offer a simple, quick way to acquire skills necessary to search for open content, decipher Creative Commons rights and permissions and evaluate the usefulness of open content." It provides search strategies for finding open materials on Google, YouTube and Creative Commons, as well as a section on evaluating open resources.

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Matching Instruction with Modality-Specific Learning Style: Effects on Immediate Recall and Working Memory Performance

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/02/2019 - 02:37
Karoline Aslaksen, Håvard Lorås, Education Sciences, Feb 01, 2019

This is one for the learning styles sceptics. According to this small (22 students) study, the aim of which was "to examine the association between modality-specific learning style, immediate recall, and working memory performance," "the results failed to support the matching hypothesis or any association between modality-specific learning style and working memory." In other words, "tailoring instruction towards modality-specific learning styles does not enhance learning outcomes." Best to read the 'limitations' section in this article pretty carefully.

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Browse state-of-the-art Papers with Code

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/02/2019 - 02:37
Papers With Code, Feb 01, 2019

This website is daunting, to say the least. It's a branch of Papers With Code, a challenge in its own right. The idea here is to collect papers that are accompanied with computer code (which is freely accessible on GitHub). But more, the papers are grouped into categories, and each category is subgrouped into tasks, and then the papers are sorted by their approach to that task, and 'state-of-the-art' is defined as the most successful approach currently. So basically, what you have are problems, proposed solutions, and benchmarks, all out in the open. This is what open science looks like, and I'd love to see what an application of the same idea in the domains of learning, inference and discovery would look like. Via Reddit.

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DFINITY is the Cloud 3.0 that Marries Crypto Valley with Silicon Valley

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/02/2019 - 02:37
Michael K. Spencer, Medium, Feb 01, 2019

First there was blockchain, characterized by digital coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Then there were smart contracts and distributed applications (dApps) that could represent and manipulate more than just money. What this article portends is a third wave of distributed computing. DFINITY "is building an open, decentralized blockchain that runs smart contract software systems with vastly improved performance, capacity, and algorithmic governance." How much stock do I put into this concept? Some. This article probably won't convince you; it's a bit of a puff piece. But the thinking behind DFINITY is pretty solid.

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