Miscellaneous

OER18 Open to all

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 9 hours 56 min ago

Phil Barker, Sharing and learning, Apr 20, 2018

Phil Barker argues that we should not be recommending Eric Raymond's work. Raymond authored, if you may recall, the enormously influential The Cathedral and the Bazaar paper recommending distributed open source organization. Barker argues that Raymond is a libertarian, a gun nut, and has regressive views regarding women and gays. " I do not think we should be recommending this person’s work to the OER community," says Barker. Now I personally find Raymond's politics reprehensible (assuming the Wikipedia account is correct). And yes, I'll delete content that's racist or hateful. But if I were to require a purity test for everyone I quoted or recommended, this would be a very short newsletter. I think it's a far more progressive strategy to pay attention to one's own failings and to leave social condemnation to those more qualified to render judgement.

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Open Invitation to Contribute to the Draft OER Recommendation Text

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 10 hours 10 min ago

UNESCO, Apr 20, 2018

According to this website, "A draft UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) text is currently being prepared. This open invitation is to call for inputs on the above-mentioned draft text." You can read the draft on the website (7 page PDF). Note the 'no cost' in the definition: "Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions."

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Knowble – a review

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 14 hours 34 min ago

Philip J. Kerr, Adaptive Learning in ELT, Apr 20, 2018

Nice review of a language learning app providing a needed dose of scepticism. The app is called Knowble and is a browser extension that purports to improve English-language vocabulary. The problem is, it relies on Google Translate, so it often offers incorrect vocabulary advice. Google translates pretty well when the word is found in context, but " Knowble, however, have set their software to ask Google for translations of each word as individual items," which results in inevitable errors. "The claim that Knowble’s ‘learning effect is proven scientifically’ seems to me to be without any foundation," writes Philip Kerr. "If there has been any proper research, it’s not signposted anywhere."

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Assessing the Potential Toward Open Educational Practices in Kyrgyzstan

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 15 hours 47 min ago

Anita R Walz, Jyldyz Bekbalaeva, Open Praxis, Apr 20, 2018

This is the first reference to Kyrgyzstan in the almost 30,000 posts in OLDaily over the last 20 years, and proof that open education has become a completely worldwide phenomenon. According to the abstract, "Analysis of the results revealed a higher than expected gravitation toward student-centered pedagogy than previously assumed. The study also identified broad use of digital downloads as learning materials, conflation of open educational resources with free online resources." This actually doesn't surprise me, because OERs and student-centered pedagogy go hand-in-hand. The paper discusses 'non-disposable' learning activities such as editing Wikipedia articles, though noting "the practice of using non-disposable assignments for learning is likely still a new idea for most instructors." 19 page PDF. Image: logo from a 2014 UNESCO OER conference in Kyrgyzstan.

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Facebook moves 1.5bn users out of reach of new European privacy law

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 16 hours 11 min ago

Alex Hern, The Guardian, Apr 20, 2018

Facebook has spent a lot of time apologizing in recent weeks but it should not be believed. In an appearance before a Parliamentary committee in Canada it would not commit to honouring European GDPR privacy protections. And in an even more telling move, it moved 1.5 billion user accounts out of Europe and into the United States. I think that countries, including Canada, should endorse and ratify GDPR. Because it is obvious that these companies will not police themselves with any sort of restraint.

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The ‘Terms and Conditions’ Reckoning Is Coming

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 16 hours 17 min ago

Nate Lanxon, Bloomberg, Apr 20, 2018

One of the impacts of GDPR is that website terms and conditions will be required to be clearer. But this may just be the beginning of the end for book-length legal agreements. "If a typical user wouldn't understand the documents, the consent that companies rely on for their business activities would be legally invalid." The main beneficiaries here won't be users - who typically ignore the terms - but companies (including schools and colleges) who have to hire layers to parse the terms before using the site in their business.

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Open Educators Factory

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 19:55

Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education, Apr 20, 2018

In my email today: "Open Educators Factory is a methodology produced by the Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) aiming to allow self-evaluation of professors capacity in the use of open approaches and to recommend tailored actions to increase the open education “fluency" of educators. The platform will be used by Brazil's Open Education Initiative, a major Brazilian project focused on Open Education and teacher professional development, that is being launched with the support of the Brazilian Ministry of Education." Nice.

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Why collaboration is a bad idea for developing personalized learning teachers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 14:18

Thomas Arnett, Christensen Institute, Apr 20, 2018

According to Thomas Arnett, "the 'collective action' approach will likely flounder at creating the pipeline of excellent personalized learning teachers that the field needs." This is because "when new innovations are still stretching to meet our expectations, the best strategy for pushing a product’s performance forward is for a single entity to control all the interdependent pieces of the solution." He draws a parallel between the development of teachers and the development of touchscreens. It's hard to imagine a more tone-deaf analogy, save perhaps the reference to training for a particular charter school network in New York City. Teachers are not "a product" and personalization may yet be something that resembles art more than it does manufacturing.

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What the edtech?! Episode one: transforming your student engagement with social media

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 13:57

Laura Kidd, JISC, Apr 20, 2018

Britain's Jisc has launched a new podcast called "What the EdTech?" hosted by Laura Kidd. The first episode features guests "Eric Stoller, education consultant and thought leader, Sarah Knight, head of change - student experience at Jisc, and Kardi Somerfield, senior lecturer in digital marketing and advertising at The University of Northampton."

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Uncited Research

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 13:50

Simon Baker, Times Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Apr 20, 2018

The argument documented here is familiar, but it's still a point of frustration for researchers working in the humanities and social sciences when they are compared with peers in technology, engineering and mathematics. Simply, the former receive much fewer citations because citations, and papers themselves, play a different role in those disciplines. So it's silly to compare researchers based on citation counts or H-indices. This, for example, is a big difference between me and other researchers in the same building: "Scholars position their approach not through a comprehensive literature review but by way of strategic citations." The 'literature review' approach to science has always seemed odd to me. Don't you actually know the important papers in your field after having worked in it for 15 years? Also, literature reviews actually miss some of the most important work in a field. But - I recognize - it's a perspective thing.

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Pearson Embedded a 'Social-Psychological' Experiment in Students' Educational Software

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 13:27

Sidney Fussell, Gizmodo, Apr 20, 2018

According to this article, "Pearson is drawing criticism after using its software to experiment on over 9,000 math and computer science students across the country." The experiment was disclosed in a paper presented on Tuesday (not Wednesday, as was incorrectly reported by Gizmodo). "Some students received 'growth-mindset messages,' while others received 'anchoring of effect' messages. (A third control group received no messaging at all.)" According to the paper's abstract, " Results indicate increased persistence in the growth mindset condition, and a decrease in persistence for the anchoring condition, relative to control." The suggestion here is that the students did not know they were the subjects of an experiment, which would be a violation of research ethics. (This was first reported in EdWeek, but thei link currently is failing due of an invalid SSL certificate. It was presented at an AERA conference, but you really have to dig to view the listing for the paper delivered by Daniel M. Belenky, Yun Jin Rho, Mikolaj Bogucki and Malgorzata Schmidt).

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This Tsinghua University-backed company wants to revolutionize the classroom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 13:16

Linda Lew, TechNode, Apr 20, 2018

This article is about a Chinese e-learning application called Rain Classroom. "Services (rain) made possible by big data analytics (the cloud) are utilized in classrooms or for self-learning (rain irrigating the soil). More data on teaching and learning is generated and collected then uploaded to the cloud again (evaporation), completing the cycle." It's used in more than 2,300 universities in China "and there are plans to expand this to colleges overseas and also more high school classrooms at home." The same company. The same company operates the MOOC platform XuetangX.

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Open Educational Practices and Micro-Credentialing: A pilot project

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 17:32

Justin Mason, Open Pedagogy Notebook, Apr 20, 2018

What caught my eye was this description of "a competency-based micro-credentialing program called the University Learning Store (ULS).... conceived of as an online store for learning, where students can purchase mini-courses both to acquire and to be assessed on discreet competencies." Offered by the University of Wisconsin Extension's Continuing Education, Outreach and E-learning (CEOEL) it's (to me) a natural locus for experimentation. And that is the main subject of this course, a wiki-based offering with content contributed by students that could be (might be? may never be?) recognized by the university.

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After-school Code Club – Lifelong Kindergarten?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 14:11

Angela Brown, AACE Review, Apr 20, 2018

It's funny how the after-school activities seem more educationally relevant than classes, when when they're not relevant at all. That's why this description of an after-school coding club appeals to me. Drawing on Mitch Resnick's book Lifelong Kindergarten as a guide, Angela Brown describes how her coding sessions sometimes stay on topic and sometimes stray far from the original idea. And I really like this: "How do we know if our Code Club is successful? I hope we never know. Resnick suggests instead of trying to measure learning, to document it. This made me think of approaches like floor-books in kindergartens." Yeah.

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New Education Marketplace Development Funded by Crypto Coins

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:58

Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, Apr 20, 2018

The script for the On-Demand Education Marketplace (ODEM) reads like it came straight from the Christensen playbook: "The platform reduces costs and improves access to premium education by directly connecting educators with students and eliminating inefficient and costly intermediaries." The idea is that you have to buy cryptocurrency to do this (I don't see why online payments wouldn't have worked as well). Mostly, it's a recommender system. "ODEM uses artificial intelligence to seamlessly manage complex requests, organizing complete educational programs around the world." It then uses Ethereum to manage smart contracts between educator and learner.

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Open the Gateless Gate: OER and Open Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:49

Geoff Cain, Brainstorm in Progress, Apr 20, 2018

I love how Geoff Cain mixes a new spirit of optimism and positivity with a couple of 'get off my lawn' moments. The positivity he finds in the Open Pedagogy Notebook created by Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani to “support community sharing of learning materials and ideas around access to knowledge and knowledge creation.” I've added the feed to my reader.

Ah, but the cranky moments in Cain's post are to be savoured, even if they have nothing to do with the site just cited. The first: "I can get really annoyed when I come across a pay-wall when trying to access materials that are openly licensed... What part of open don’t you understand?" Totally. And the second: "Is the project 'sustainable'? If by 'sustainable' you mean provide a means for a corporation to make money off of the hard work of other educators, then no, maybe not." Nor would we want it to be. We need to reclaim the concept of 'sustainable' for human systems, not factory farms.

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The Future of College Looks Like the Future of Retail

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:36

The Atlantic, Jeffrey Selingo, Apr 20, 2018

The suggestion here is that "similar to e-commerce firms, online-degree programs are beginning to incorporate elements of an older-school, brick-and-mortar model." I would comment that the e-commerce physical storefront is a novelty, not a trend, but let's continue. "Richard DeMillo, the executive director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology...  wouldn’t be surprised if universities start fusing the best of the online experience with the best of the physical experience, possibly like 2U is trying to do with WeWork. 'Think of it as the storefront for the university,' DeMillo said." This may mean transforming their existing physical presence, but the trend in education is not toward converting online to in-person. And as you rad through the article it becomes that this is more of a hope being expressed rather than an actual thing.

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The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 19:00

Janna Anderson, Lee Rainie, Pew, Apr 20, 2018

According to this survey (92 page PDF) of internet experts, "Some 47% of these respondents predict that individuals’ well-being will be more helped than harmed by digital life in the next decade, while 32% say people’s well-being will be more harmed than helped. The remaining 21% predict there will not be much change." Count me as being among the 47%. Yes, the internet helps people do bad things. And these get all the headlines. But the internet also helps people do good and noble things, and in the end, these outweigh the bad.

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Open Science Training Handbook

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 13:37

Sonja Bezjak, et.al., GitBooks, Apr 20, 2018

The Open Science Handbook has launched version 1.0 on Gitbooks. "The Handbook is available under Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0 1.0 Universal) and is oriented to practical teaching of Open Science principles. It was written by 14 experts during a book sprint organized by FOSTER and the TIB Hannover in February 2018. After including suggestions from the community the handbook was moved to Github and we can announce the release of version 1.0 now." It is intended to be a living text and will be revised through contributions in the future. The 'science' aspect of it (as in, for example, the description  of the scientific method) is pretty rudimentary, but it will do for now.

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How Debate Structures Allow English Learners' Brilliance to Shine

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 11:45

Katrina Schwartz, Mind/Shift, Apr 20, 2018

This is being posted to an NPR website as an example of good teaching, but my concern here is that this approach is not grounded in a proper understanding of critical thinking (which is why I recently wrote Critical Thinking for Educators). The non-standard approach is something called 'claim-evidence-reason' where the reason 'explains why' the evidence supports the claim. This misunderstanding of argument form makes it impossible for students to learn how arguments work. Moreover, the examples used are often poor, in some cases literally begging the question, and grammatically incoherent throughout. That these are being used for English language learning (ELL) only compounds the problem, because students are led to misunderstand the roles of different words in day-to-day use. If you're going to teach language and logic, you need to be somewhat proficient in it yourself.

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