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This is such a terrible model I fear that it will actually be implemented. Not that it doesn't have its attractive features. But imagine this: "At the start of their degree, students would get the compute stick...The compute stick would have enough computational power to run the applications, which could be accessed over wifi via a browser on a 'real' computer, or a netbook (which has a keyboard), or a tablet computer, or even a mobile device. The compute stick would essentially be a completely OU managed environment, bootable, and with it’ s own compute power." Why bad? This, ultimately, is the imagined future of the book - completely self-contained little computers. You could access them and use them, but they're little tiny silos, resisting use by or integration with anything else you use. And forget about sharing them.[Link] [Comment]
Living in another world, here Pearson executive John Fallon: "What I think is completely overblown, frankly, is the comparison between education and the music industry. What happened there was people started downloading individual songs and unbundling albums. That can’ t happen with university courses and testing." Sure it can. What do you think YouTube is doing to education? Though of course Pearson is trying very hard to keep learning materials expensive and hard to obtain.[Link] [Comment]
It's funny. Mike Caulfield wonders "why more OER sites don’ t grab material from one another and populate their own sites with it, instead of linking out" while I wonder why they want to combine materials together instead of just linking to them. Clearly we're both grasping at something, but is it the same thing? Here's Caulfield today: "the current model of the web, which is based on the places where things live instead of the names of things, creates natural choke points and power inequities... A newer model would look like email, torrenting, or git, where multiple copies of things were stored across the web, but connected and authenticated by protocols, data models, or other conventions." Image: Aphyr.[Link] [Comment]
Amber is a nifty solution to the problem of dead links in blogs and websites. "It automatically preserves a snapshot of every page linked to on a website, giving visitors a fallback option if links become inaccessible." By default you store the snapshop locally, but you can also store it in the cloud, for example, using the Wayback Machine, Perma.cc or Amazon web services. It's available as a plug-in for WordPress and a module for Drupal. There are also modules for Apache and Nginx (with local storage only). No word on the copyright implications but I can't imagine the commercial media will be pleased.[Link] [Comment]
Michel Bauwens responds to Jaron Lanier's post in Edge warning us of "digital Maoism" and the dangers of online collectivism. Bauwens finds, I think, the same middle ground between the individual and the collective. I think we all agree, with Lanier, that "Collectives can be just as stupid as any individual, and in important cases, stupider." But what are the conditions in which they're not? This middle ground (the 'network', as opposed to the group; or the 'connective', as opposed to the collective) is created not by all of us somehow becoming the same, but rather, by virtue of the relationships we enter into with one another ('cooperation', as opposed to collaboration).
Where I disagree with Bauwens is with some of the architecture he builds around this. For example, he writes, "Indeed, human agents never just ‘ relate’ in the abstract, agents always relate around an object, in a concrete fashion." I disagree. Humans do not require a "view of the whole" to interact (that's exactly what gets us into trouble in collectivism). Bauwens also writes, "This individual operates not in a dead space of objects, but in a network of flows. Space is dynamical, perpetually co-created by the actions of the individuals and in peer to peer processes, where the digital noosphere is an extraordinary medium for generating signals emanating from this dynamical space." Again, Bauwens is trying to incorporate some sort of view of the whole into the picture, something that is 'co-created'. It's not connectivism if you introduce collectivism in through the back door. The 'whole', if there is any, is perceived individually, differently, autonomously, by each individual, and hence has no inherent unifying or collective force.[Link] [Comment]
That's the author's headline, of course, not mine, and it opens a column which is a virtual clone of the one that I referenced from the National Post the other day. Coincidence, that? This one makes the same point: that reductions in tuition fees would benefit rich students more than poor students. Of course we haven't seen any such reduction yet, which would produce evidence. What we have seen is that increases have harmed poorer students, and that this harm continues after graduation. In this article the distraction is provided by the story at the secondary school level, and we are presented with a zero-sum option: "pour the cash into secondary schools instead." Well, yes, if those were the only two choices, sure. But the £ 10bn in question here is a fraction of the British government's overall £ 744 billion budget, suggesting there are other choices in the equation.[Link] [Comment]
This strategy outlined in this article is much like the use of the word 'pellucidity' - it may have seemed like a good time to all concerned, but nobody really knew what the objective is, and there was a much simpler way to go about it. If you want open access monographs, the answer is actually fairly straightforward: give people a place to publish them openly, and if necessary (though why it should be necessary I don't know) provide incentives for academics to upload academic publications there. The gyrations and contortions of the publishing empire are not required, and if we eliminate sector most likely to obfuscate the discussion, we remove the critical need to ensure pellucidity.[Link] [Comment]
The corporatization of universities, writes Jamie Brownlee, is a direct consequence of austerity. And the purpose of austerity was to introduce corporatization. "Austerity programs over the past four decades may have reflected resource scarcity on the part of governments, it is important to understand that they were also part of a deliberate plan to link universities more closely to the needs of the market and lay the foundation for corporatization." This resulted in governors and boards willing to raise fees, cut back on services, and turn more and more to the private sector for management and funding. This process, he argues, was replicated in the national funding bodies. "The NSERC currently has no natural scientists on its governing council, but it does include a number of corporate representatives." This reality is one I see on a daily basis. The question is what can be done and what we should do about it, if anything.[Link] [Comment]
This is a lovely application that kept me playing for most of the morning. I had to force myself to stop, to write this post, and get on with real-world adult responsibilities. In a nutshell, it's an application that draws graphs with mathematics. Oh, but not just graphs - you can draw pictures, play with animations, and more. It's a fantastic way of showing how mathematics reflect, and describe, things in everyday life. There are numerous classroom activities to help teachers make the most of the tool to show students what they can do with it. I'm sure there's a business model in there somewhere (along the lins of fees for classroom use) but there's enough available for free that it's definitely worth a mention.[Link] [Comment]
Report (28 page PDF) addressing open access policies in general and the relation between policies and services. It draws on consultations from five countries and identifies the key services needed to implement open access policies. Open Access polciies will differ in emphasis from place to place, but will share common components requiring support and dissemination services as well as repository services, to assist distribution. Governance and sustainability are key requirements, followed by the creation of an integrated infrastructure and strategic investments.[Link] [Comment]
This is an excellent presentation, the premise of which is irresistible, but the consequences of which draw us all into a difficult discussion. The premise is, essentially, that curriculum is a contested space. "The 'what' of the curriculum is determined by those who lay claim to own the future... and they will protect their claim at any cost." Who, then, are those 'owners'? This discussion, which takes place in a South African context, immediately turns to colonial history and race, but these or similar issues arise in any context, including my own. Can we fix the curricular process? Or is the game rigged and unwinnable?[Link] [Comment]
This is all you need to read from this story: "Backpropagation, a brain-inspired learning algorithm that he co-invented, is taking the world by storm. Rebranded as 'deep learning', it's used by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Baidu for, among other things, understanding images and speech as well as choosing search results and ads to show you." What's interesting is the method dates to the 1980s. See this paper and this chapter for example. This work got me very excited at the time. When I talk of networks of interconnected personal learning environments, this is what I am trying to build, with people. And, btw, the rest of the Wired article can be discarded. There aren't "five major camps" - that's a writer's invention.[Link] [Comment]
The subhead of this report (40 page PDF) describes it as follows: "The findings in this report provide a snapshot of the B.C. post-secondary system as a whole, we also explore similarities and differences in OER use among faculty across the three institution types in British Columbia: research-intensive universities, teaching-intensive universities, and colleges/institutes." It shows there's still a significant need to promote awareness of the benefits of OERs in the system, even one with as advanced an OER program as British Columbia. P.S. It contains this gem for the anti-learning-styles set: "Faculty who score higher on the personality trait of openness (to experience) were more likely to both adapt and create OER."[Link] [Comment]
This is the report (23 page PDF) summarizing the results of this conference held in October. It reflects some of the tensions inherent in developing an education strategy in a multi-stakeholder environment. I'm not just referring to nations and nationalities. Consider the tension between this: "promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination" and this: "we must ensure that the right skills are developed and delivered to match the needs of the current labour market." Are students fully functional and autonomous citizens, or are they products to be delivered? The report also addresses the increase in non-formal education and the need to develop policy more collaboratively and inclusively. And there is an undercurrent of thought relating the role of education with respect to both radicalism and the recent refugee crisis. There are good summaries of each of the talks, some of which would have been well worth attending, such as the presentation by C. Mitja Jermol of Slovenia.[Link] [Comment]
This is an old (old old old) argument, yet it gets trotted out every once in a while by some economist. The perpetrator in this case is Stephen Gordon from Laval. Here's the gist: higher-income students form the majority at universities, so higher-income students would benefit disproportionately from tuition fee reductions, therefore, fees should not be reduced. If we apply the same logic to caviar, we can see the flaw: yes, the higher-income caviar-eaters would benefit, but with a lower price, more people would eat caviar, especially from among the lower-income strata. Gordon's argument is based on pretending that price is not a deterrent to lower-income students (he distracts us by pointing to the greater impact of lost wages), but of course, while no single price reduction is sufficient, all forms of price reduction are necessary. Of course, as a university professor, Gordon already knows all this, so the real question here is, why is he writing, and the Post publishing, such tripe?[Link] [Comment]
If you ask me, this is what I think the problem is with PhD programs: “ Part of the problem, I think, is that a large part of the academy still believes they are creating Mini-Me’ s or clones,” says Dr. Doering. “ The only way I see it changing is to get a buy-in from the vast majority of the academy that this is a problem.” I think back on my own experience, and while continued funding might have helped, support for pursuing something interesting and original would have helped even more. Limiting the number of admissions wouldn't have done a thing, because I was always going to easily qualify, and shortening the time-frame would have required changes on the part of the institution, not myself.
Video from the recent Instructure conference. Here's the outline: "Looking to gamify Canvas courses? Want to award badges to students who complete learning objectives? This interactive session will help you climb the ladder from simple window-washer to big-time Canvas Badges expert. You will learn about incentives for learning to enhance student outcomes and ideas to engage students." (I love this line: "The student needs to learn the skill, not the skill by Friday'." More resources are available here.[Link] [Comment]
Nathan Jurgenson responds to Sherry Turkle's recent book, Reclaiming Conversation, with the question, "Why would anyone want to believe that people who are communicating with phones have forgotten what friendship is?" I think it's a good question, because the depiction of an online life as empty and soulless is not an accurate reflection of the reality. Jurgenson suggests, "Turkle’ s claims may feel commonsensical in part because they are self-flattering: They let us suspect that we are the last humans standing in a world of dehumanized phone-toting drones... Turkle makes the unqualified and unsupported assumption that real conversation, connection, and personhood must happen without the screen." In essence, I would say, Turkle is inferring from an 'is to an 'ought', where her critique of digital media is based on some 'natural' way of having relationships.[Link] [Comment]
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