Miscellaneous

H1 2015 International Learning Technology Investment Patterns

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 11:00
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Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight, Jul 31, 2015

Ambient Insight has released a report describing a huge increase in investments in ed tech. "In the six month period between January and June 2015, $2.51 billion was invested in learning technology companies across the globe. This is astonishing considering that the total global investments made to learning technology companies for the entire year of 2014 was $2.42 billion, which set a record in the industry." 19 page PDF. See also Inside Higher Ed.

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The Trouble with Pinker's Argument about 'The Trouble With Harvard'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 12:00


Cathy Davidson, HASTAC, Jul 30, 2015

What does elite education provide, and why do  the rich do whatever it takes to gain entrance into top tier institutions? If we don't understand this, we don't understand what we need to provide for everyone else. Here's the full study.

Here's a key point: it's not content knowledge. It's not even academic skills nor critical thinking. If we focus only on these, the elite institutions offer no advantage. Why then are they elite? Kevin Carey suggests that the elites "select the best and the brightest", but this isn't true either. They select the richest. They then turn these very average intelligences into social and economic successes.

The focus on quality, as I argue, is a distraction. We need to provide people not only with learning, but with the social network, tools and empowerment that a proper education produces. As Cathy Davidson says, "What if the issue isn't what Harvard can and does do brilliantly but what, for the students who do not go to elite schools, they must do for themselves: ensure their own success.

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The #blimage challenge spreads

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 09:00


Steve Wheeler, Learning With Es, Jul 30, 2015

It has been quite a while (years, really) since we've seen such an outburst of fresh writing in the edublogosphere. The current deluge is courtesy of the #blimage (blog image) challenge issued by  Amy Burvall, which she explains in a video: one person sends the other an image, the other writes a blog post about education related to the image. HJ.DeWaard explains more. Here's the list of just some of the items posted by Steve Wheeler in this item:

Space to make ideas your own  by Jeff Merrell
Organic Growth by Andrew Jacobs
The #blimage challenge by Jane Bozarth
Fortunate Learning and Learning Fortunes by Sue Beckingham
Desks of Doom by David Hopkins
Taking up the #blimage challenge by Ignatia de Waard
Not just a waiting room by Rachel Challen
Human Writes by Simon Finch
It's only a jigsaw puzzle by Sandra Sinfield
Playing chess with the enemy by Steve Wheeler
Learning while wandering by Tracy Parish
The #blimage challenge by Charles Jennings
Learning in limbo by Wayne Barry
Time for a fresh perspective by Sukh Pabial
The colours of active learning by Anna Wood
Breaking bread with Steve Wheeler by Amy Burvall
The joy of learning #blimage by Jane Hart
The Web: Network, dreamcatcher, patterns by Whitney Kilgore
The #blimage challenge by Sheila MacNeill

There are many more. To see the full list, visit  FlipBoard or browse over to the  #blimage tag on Twitter and enjoy watching your morning disappear.

 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Memory is more than Ebbinghaus

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 21:00
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Donald H Taylor, Jul 29, 2015

Good post which to me shows why we can't simply rely on mechanical generalizations to understand learning. Donald Taylor writes on Herman Ebbinghaus's 'forgetting curve', which basically shows how memories decline over time (and can be extended by being refreshed at increasingly long intervals). But as Taylor points out, "in memory experiments, the content you learn is meaningless." Indeed, they deliberately use nonsense syllables in order to control for the effect of meaning and context. All very fine, but learning is all about meaning and context. It's how what we are remembering fits into a pattern. Taylor points to another well-known investigation, in which  Chase and Simon (1973) shows that expert chess players remember the positions of players much better than novices, simply because they recognize patterns. If you're not testing for pattern recognition, you're not testing for knowledge and learning.

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Open teaching and learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 21:00
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Jenny Mackness, Learning, Open teaching, Jul 29, 2015

It can be more difficult to teach in an open environment. Janny Mackness observes, "being ‘ in the open’ raises security alarm bells for some tutors. What if their students post the less than perfect (in their eyes) videos they have made on Facebook? What if synchronous sessions with students, which are not intended to be viewed by anyone other than the student group involved, suddenly find their way onto the open web?"

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Higher Education: Access Denied

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 12:00
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Graham Brown-Martin, Medium, Jul 29, 2015

This is a small thing, but illustrative: the correct expression is "struck a chord", not "struck a cord". Why does that even matter? The former shows that you understand what the words mean, while the latter shows that you are parroting by rote. And this - not "a vested interest in maintaining an intellectual hegemony" - is what the three or four years of an undergraduate education is intended to produce. These minor differences in expression and presentation (citing people by their first name, use of generalizations like, "no interest in transformation", out-of-place employment of cliché s like "wax lyrical") are very obvious to a person with a formal education and invisible to a person without one. The result is the difference between learning on one's own, and learning through immersion in a knowing community, the difference between remembering what words mean and being able to speak a language. I have nothing but sympathy for Graham Brown-Martin, but it's hard, especially if it wasn't part of your early life, and you can't learn to speak a language by reading books. This - and not just a bunch of stuff to remember - is what needs to be produced by online learning.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Well I wouldn't start from here anyway!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 19:00


Brian Mulligan, Jul 27, 2015

One of the  arguments against the longterm success of MOOCs, and of of online learning generally, is that it does not provide the two major things college students are looking for when they enrol in college: first, a mechanism for finding a husband or wife of the same demographics and social standing as them; and second, a method of signalling to future employers that you can get into a 'good' college, which demonstrates not simply academic ability but also background and pedigree, wealth and social standing. My first reaction is that if this is the real value of post secondary education, then we should reconsider funding it at all. But second, I'm not so sure a MOOC can't serve those functions. Certainly if eharmony and match.com can become viable dating sites, then mooc.ca could do even better! I doubt that MOOCs can fix the second point, though - and I think you'd need a major overhaul of society to prevent the ultra-rich from self-identifying and forming mutual support networks. Not saying it shouldn't be done - just that MOOCs might not be sufficient to do it. See also Jason Potts of RMIT on "Why MOOCs will fail".

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Categories: Miscellaneous

LinkedIn quietly removes tool to export contacts

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 19:00
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Bobby Owsinski, VentureBeat, Jul 27, 2015

You may think you own your own identity, but LinkedIn has very quietly underlined the fact that no, you don't. "LinkedIn has removed the option to export your contacts. Instead, the company is asking users to request an archive of their data, but that process can take up to 72 hours to complete." This is again a warning to be sure not to depend on LinkedIn - or any of the social network platforms - for anything critical. This includes customers of lynda.com, which was  recently acquired by LinkedIn.

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Georgia sues Carl Malamud, calls publishing state laws "terrorism"

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 19:00
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Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, Jul 27, 2015

Each paragraph gets more outrageous. "The State of Georgia claims that its statutes are a copyrighted work, and that rogue archivist Carl Malamud.. committed an act of piracy by making the laws of Georgia free for all to see and copy." Why? "The state makes a lot of money vending the 'Official Code of Georgia Annotated.'" But it gets worse: "Georgia claims that if Malamud is allowed to make copies of the law available, they will no longer have any incentive to make good laws, because they won't be able to profit from them." Please let this be a parody or an Onion article. See also TechDirt.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Ed Tech's Funding Frenzy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 07:00
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Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 27, 2015

It used to be the case that there was no investment money in Ed Tech. This has changed. If you build something worthwhile, the money is there to take it to the next level. "Between January and June, investors poured $2,512,803,700 into ed-tech companies, eclipsing the record high $2.42 billion invested in all of 2014 -- the first year investments broke the $2 billion barrier." This is based on a white paper from market research firm Ambient Insight.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Join the Nano Open Online Courses (NOOCs) Adventure!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 07:00


Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn, Jul 27, 2015

The idea of a nano-MOOC is that it is a very short MOOC. Zaid Ali Alsagoff writes, "Instead of having to do the whole course, I can now focus on the juice (I want), get assessed, and be certified (or Badged) on it. Yes, a NOOC is more granular, chunked, digestible, meaningful (evidence) and juicy!" My question is, can we build a meaningful network around a course that is an hour or two long? Or does it just become another way to present content?

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ds106: Open Pedagogy or Personality Cult?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 17:00


Geoff Cain, Brainstorm in Progress, Jul 26, 2015

Is ds106 a personality cult? Maybe. But as Geoff Cain notes, "It is not the personality that creates the success; it is the engagement of the instructor.... instructors who make regular videos, podcasts, send weekly emails, and comment frequently on student blogs are experienced by the students as an instructor who is present in the course." Jim Groom,  meanwhile, says "ds106 is not a cult. It's a club." But that might be only because the top-level domain .cult is not available.

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Pearson and the Financial Times

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 17:00
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John Fallon, Pearson Blog, Jul 26, 2015

The key impact of Pearson's sale of the Financial Times may be in education: "We plan to reinvest the proceeds from today’ s sale to accelerate our push into digital learning, educational services and emerging markets. We will focus our investment on products and businesses with a bigger, bolder impact on learning outcomes, underpinned by a stronger brand and high-performing culture."

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Reddit and Weep

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 12:00
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Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 26, 2015

Kudos to the headline writer for the best pun from the spate of articles surrounding the current controversy at Reddit. The website  Reddit calls itself the 'front page of the internet'. Its  stories are contributed by thousands of members, and readers can 'vote up' or 'vote down' the story. It's very popular, and recently attracted $50 million in VC funding, which is when things started to go south. The best  short summary comes from Dave Winer, who suspects the first firing was due to the new board's desire to monetize the 'Ask Me Anything' feature (probably with paid placements). And former CEO Ellen Pao, once dubbed "Silicon Valley’ s #1 Feminist Hero,"  seems to have left over the  new crackdown on offensive content. Or  maybe it was just that  the trolls finally got the best of her. I would never defend Reddit's more offensive side. But sometimes Reddit was good. And corporate control tends to throw out the good with the bad - thus we see today Facebook throttling non-profits and activists. Bit by bit, the editorial freedom of the internet from commercial interests is being eroded. Image: New Scientist.

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Are crows the ultimate problem solvers?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 09:00


Alex Taylor, BBC / Youtube, Jul 26, 2015

We were having a conversation yesterday about whether we need language in order to know things and to learn. We certainly need language of some sort in order to create models and representations. But to my mind, that's not how we learn. Consider this case from the BBC demonstrating a crow undertaking a complex eight-stage task. Crows caw, but they don't have a language. This is the sort of behaviour that any learning theory needs to explain. It's not enough to theorize how humans learn. We need to know how learning happens, no matter where it occurs.

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Listen to 188 Dramatized Science Fiction Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard & More

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 19:00


Dan Colman, Open Culture, Jul 25, 2015

Off-topic, but I don't care. I grew up on science fiction. I've read all these authors and more. All of their works, or at least, all I could find. And the recordings of X-minus-One and Dimension-X are repeats to me. So I'm ga ga over this.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Big Data, Learning Analytics and Distance Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 19:00


Terry Anderson, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Jul 25, 2015

Terry Anderson remains optimistic about learning analytics, but the two concerns he cites in this short post are more interesting (quoted):

  • The first challenge stems from the ownership of this data... This is especially egregious when the data collected and analyzed is not made available to those who created it. 
  • Secondly, as researchers at Microsoft Research danah boyd and Kate Crawford noted, learning analytics currently suffers from the delusion 'that large data sets offer a higher form of intelligence and knowledge...  with the aura of truth, objectivity, and accuracy.' (but the) belief in 'truth, objectivity and accuracy' is far from proven.

The thing with big data, to my mind, is that it is shallow data. It captures details about many users, but only their use of one or a few applications. Getting deeper knowledge would require more and more egregious breaches of privacy. But so long as the data remain shallow, it remains prone to confirmation bias, as researchers find in the data what they data were designed to show.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Study of colleges shows ‘encouraging’ texts dramatically cut dropout rates

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 17:00
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Paul Offord, FE Week, Jul 25, 2015

I think I want to see a few more studies before jumping to conclusions here, but wouldn't it be funny if the retention problem could be solved (or substantially impacted) simply by sending encouraging text messages? The tests so far show a 7 percent increase in class attendance, and that those who were not sent the encouraging texts were 36 percent more likely to drop out. Of course, any good plan can be undermined, as for example by David Corke (pictured), director of education and skills policy for the Association of Colleges, who hastens to tell us "in some cases a GCSE is not appropriate and a more applied qualification would most benefit the student and their future career." I wonder what the impact of receiving a text message saying that would be. Nice guy.

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A Master List of 1,150 Free Courses From Top Universities: 35,000 Hours of Audio/Video Lectures

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/25/2015 - 17:00
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Dan Colman, Open Culture, Jul 25, 2015

At a certain point, pundits will stop saying there's a shortage of open learning resources out there, and will begin thinking about how to use what already exists in courses (hint: cMOOCs). "Generally, the courses can be accessed via YouTube, iTunes or university web sites, and you can listen to the lectures  anytime, anywhere, on your computer or smart phone."

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MOOCS and Social Learning Networks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 11:00
[Slides][Audio]

In this presentation I look at the intersection of MOOCs and social learning networks by looking at the various aspects of openness in MOOCs - open admissions, open content, open instruction, open assessment - and considering how they change when applied to networks and to social networks.

MOOCs Y Aprendiazaje en Redes Sociales, Santiago de Compostela, Spain (Keynote) Jul 21, 2015 [Comment]
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