Miscellaneous

Chapter 2. The nature of knowledge and the implications for teaching

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 13:00


Tony Bates, B.C. Open Textbooks, Jul 27, 2014

This is chapter two of an open textbook being developed by Tony Bates, but I confess that i would have approached the subject matter - the nature of knowledge - very differently. The debates over the yeaars concern less the classification of knowledge and are concerned more about the nature, creation and justification of knowledge. And I'm especially concerned about this conclusion: "What is changing then is not necessarily the nature of academic knowledge, but the nature of everyday knowledge, which is very much influenced by the explosion in communications and networking through the Internet." One of my criticisms of the academic world is that if the nature of academic knowledge is not changing, then it should be changing, and I feel, is changing. And it is changing, not as a direct result of technology, but because of what technology enables (just as astronomical knowledge changed not because we invesnted the telescope but because of what we could see through it).

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Submitting a doctoral thesis on online learning? Some things to keep in mind

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 10:00


Tony Bates, online learning and distance edcuation resources, Jul 27, 2014

I can't imagine doing a project in the manner described by Tony Bates, and was well into full-blown scepticism after reading the section on sampling and statistics when I encountered this question: is the PhD process broken? Bates writes, "it is probably the most costly and inefficient academic process in the whole university, riddled with bureaucracy, lack of clarity for students, and certainly in the non-quantitative areas, open to all kinds of challenges regarding the process and standards." For my own part, I take the fact that I could not obtain a PhD at this point without a lengthy 4- or 5-year process to be prima facie evidence that the system is broken.

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By the numbers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 22:00


Melonie Fullick, University Affairs, Jul 26, 2014

Melonie Fullick writes, "I’ m more interested in the answer to a second, unasked question that’ s implicit in “ does it count?” : count for what? In most cases, it’ s an academic job, one with some security and stability; so whether something counts towards tenure is the point, with all the implications this brings." I think this is a good point. While on the one hand we're facing this irresistable desire to reduce everything to economics (which is the essence of the meaning of 'count') on the other hand we're witnessing tensions in the area of goals and objectives.

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Bill Gates Talks Performance Funding and MOOCs in Conference Keynote

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 22:00


Don Troop, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jul 26, 2014

Bill Gates talks about education and everyone listens (one of these days I'd like to go to Redmond to talk to MS face-to-face about these topics). Still, some good bits: like this: "My key message today is that that model will be under challenge. And so, instead of tuning it to find 3 percent here or 4 percent there, which has been the story in the past, there will be dramatic changes." See also IHE coverage. : "He described as 'oversimplistic' the view that higher education is just about getting a job with a certain salary' - 'Citizenship, developing deeper understanding, other things, are all important,' he said."

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What’s the media got to do with education? The freedom to listen, speak and learn

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 18:00


Annika Burgess, eLearning Africa News Portal, Jul 25, 2014

The headline in the title of this post I think neatly ties together the link between media and education (and to a large degree why they are both interesting to me). "Dr Auma Obama, speaking on the following day about the work of the Sauti Kuu Foundation. Working in rural and slum areas in Kenya, the foundation teaches children about their 'light, voice and fire' or, in other words, their right to be seen, to speak, to participate and to challenge." These aren't luxuries; they're basic and core to both learning and society.

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The Bitcoins of Learning?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 18:00


Unknown, Wikispaces, Jul 25, 2014

There isn't time (nor bandwidth in what has become terrible airport lounge wifi over the years) but I think that the concept of a bitcoin for learning is a really bad idea. I get the concept - students are looking for more than just grades; they want a learning 'currency' they can take with them to the workplace. And "currency, ideally, must travel, quickly and simply, and as widely as possible. It's a reductionist, simplistic mode of social interaction." But a substantial proportion of the economic and social woes in today's society stem from the unfettered flow of currency - especially shady currency - into cash hordes in small island nations and banking havens. I am quick to criticize the aristocracies and monarchies currently governing degrees and credentials, but the replacement of monarchy is not libertarian anarchy - that way lies madness - but proper civil and social government. (I have no idea who wrote this; his/her name appears nowhere on it, but it appeared in my twitter stream).

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Blackboard’s Big News that Nobody Noticed

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 10:00


Michael Feldstein, e-Loterate, Jul 25, 2014

Reporting from the Blackboard conference, Michael Feldstein writes, "the big corporate keynote had to be one of the strangest I’ ve ever seen." High praise! After a long intro, it became (says Feldstein) "a carpet bombing run of announcements— a series of explosions that were over by the time you realized that they had started, leaving you to wonder what the heck had just happened." (What would education be in the United States without endless military analogies?) So what are the changes? A major user interface revision, a cloud version of the platform, bundles products, and other stuff. These actually make a lot of sense, and respond to (in order) longstanding criticisms, the challenge from MOOC platforms, and D2L's positioning. But you can't say any of that if you're Blackboard, so you mumble generalities and then make the announcements, kiss me quick, it's my birthday.

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Desire2Wha?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 10:00


Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Jul 25, 2014

This will be (I hope) the last of the posts on D2L's name change. This post from Michael Feldstein essentially expresses incredulity at the verbiage and scepticism about the business plan (to the point of questioning one of D2L's recent acquisitions). It also includes two substantial references: to THE Journal for summarizing the announcements and D’ Arcy Norman’ s post "for an on-the-ground account of the conference and broader observations about shifts in the company’ s culture."

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Rethinking the nature of inequality and labor: An essay review of Affective Equality

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 10:00


Eleni Schirmer, Michael W. Apple, education review, Jul 25, 2014

Good review of the book Affective Equality posing the central question, "Have the implemented educational reform policies mis-appraised the requirements of equality itself?" There are multiple "social systems that structure both equality and inequality: economic, political, cultural, and, affective." And example of this (not mentioned in the review) are parental expectations of their children. But this can't be addressed simply by hiring more staff; "it is a dangerous category error to try to squeeze all such labor into the domain of the economic market." You can't simply compensate 'care work' more generously; at the same time, for example, by offloading hands-on care-type work such as tutoring to low-paid instructors, academia overly rewards higher-paid non-care work such as administration and research. Care, according to the authors, must be recognized as a public good.

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Kindle Unlimited

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 10:00
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Maria Bustillos, The Awl, Jul 25, 2014

Normally I use the article title for my own titles, but in this case I've edited it due to the language. So consider this a language warning. That said, I agree with the tome of the article, which asserts in summary that Kindle will now be charging $10 per month for access to six hundred thousand books in its library. As the author responds as a counterpoint, "it is possible to read six million e-texts at the Open Library, right now." And "But it shouldn't cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of civilization." That is, after all, the basis on which the public library was founded (as in, say, New Brunswick). But the publishers and vendors are pushing back against ruling like the recent HathiTrust case, which reasserted the rights of libraries to digitize and lend books from their collections.

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Unbundling Versus Designing Faculty Roles

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 10:00


Adrianna Kezar, Sean Gehrke, Daniel Maxey, American Council on Education, Jul 25, 2014

Those who follow OLDaily will recall that I've written before on what may be called the 'unbundling' of faculty roles (article, presentation). In my presentations I offer some 27 roles that could be mixed and matched in different configurations. This paper focuses mostly on the distinction between the roles of tutor, presenter and mentor. It's one of those papers that appears to be discussing change, but which I think is fundamentally conservative in its outlook. This becomes most apparent near the end as the author executes a"a pivot in terminology" and begins talking about 'redesigning', rather than unbundling, faculty roles. Via Inside Higher Ed, which points to a related paper on  reimagining business models in higher education.

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Beyond institutions: Stephen Downes at NetworkEDGE

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 16:00
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Sonja Grussendorf, CLT @ LSE, Jul 24, 2014

This is a response to my talk at the London School of Economics. "Here’ s a dedicated anti-establishment guy, who despairs at the capitalist ideology at the core of education; who dislikes that learning is now an industry... of course Downes is no Nietzsche, but there is a certain Nietzschean sentiment in his ideas." Yes there is - what Nietzsche and I share is the Taoist idea that many of the structures and principles we think of as eternal and unchanging are in fact human creations and can be transcended and/or replaced. Of course, I'm no Lao Tzu either. :)

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Stephen Downes on the Personal Learning Environment at the LSE

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 16:00


Mark Johnson, Improvisation Blog, Jul 24, 2014

There's enough in this post to catch my eye for its different perspective (and yes, a perspective I don't agree with):

  • first, the proposition that it is "ironic" that I would speak at the London School of Economics about shifting the locus of control from institutions "at one of the great institutions of the social sciences (from whom control might be wrested)," to which I respond in a comment
  • the suggestion that PLEs failed because PLEX failed, even though ti was similar to things like the app stores
  • paper framing the questions he would ask me about the personal learning environment, since he and I are both still working on it
  • the "technological reifications" of "idealised learning" are becoming "quite common, and becoming increasingly common in education: we should be worried about this"
  • the assertion that "Downes is stuck because he's obsessed with learning. Yet, all around him he's confronted by evidence that his learning theories cannot be right (MOOCs)."

All good stuff. Well worth reading.

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What "open learning" looks like when it's for kids who need it most

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 08:00
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Mimi Ito, Boing Boing, Jul 24, 2014

The advertorial content in this post promoting MIT Media Lab notwithstanding, what Mimi Ito says at the end is exactly right: "True 'disruption' and access beyond the echo chamber of the digital elites requires more than creating sophisticated educational content and building high-end online learning platforms. We need to spend less effort escalating the tech and bandwidth intensiveness of these platforms and more on meeting diverse kids where they are in their local communities with the resources they have on hand."

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The Ultimate Directory Of Free Image Sources

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 08:00


Dan Leeman, The Edublogger, Jul 24, 2014

This is exactly what the title says it is. Except, maybe it's not the ultimate list - maybe the penultimate? - but it's the best I've seen. Need free images? Try this site. And if you need to edit images online (maybe you're stuck with a Mac or iPhone) then  this post reviews three top image editing sites. As usual (and as always) cloud applications like this suffer from  upload speed limitations on typical internet service providers (this is something that will have to improve for a fully interactive web).

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My Very Own Voyant Workshop

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 08:00
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Geoffrey Rockwell, Theoreti.ca, Jul 24, 2014

What's interesting about this item - aside from the fact that you can play with it - is that it signifies how people will be able to run their own analytics tools themselves on their own servers. Here's the item text: "a workshop on My Very Own Voyant. The workshop focused on how to run VoyantServer on your local machine. This allows you to run Voyant locally... You can download VoyantServer and read instructions here." Voyant basically takes text or URLs and analyzews word frequency, producing a word cloud. It does more as well, but you'll have to play with it.

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Youth Voice and Positive Identity-Building Practices: The Case of ScienceGirls

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:00
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Jrène Rahm, Audrey Lachaîne, Ahlia Mathura, Canadian Journal of Education, Jul 23, 2014

The  current issue of the Canadian Journal of Education is focused on  youth voices inside and outside of education. I especially appreciate the latter focus; as I commented on Friday during my talk, learning takes place every conscious moment and the social environment is at least as important as the classroom in determining educational outcomes. This  this essay (in situ) on the Science Girls: "in ScienceGirls, we have a choice; we choose the themes and subthemes, whether it is for the newsletter or the science fair project, so we have more choices. We make decisions by ourselves; it helps us develop our personal curiosity, autonomy and independence." How important is that, not just to science learning, but learning in general? See also the article  Science isn’ t just what we learn in school by Allison J. Gonsalves.

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Five Steps to Making Your Content Mobile Ready

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00
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Dawn Piulos, Xyleme, Jul 23, 2014

Some good stuff in this article on adapting your learning content to mobile delivery, including a nice table listing the impacts of different media on mobile devices. Performance support was the leading application, followed by videos and assessments. Virtual classrooms and course modules were at the bottom. Also, there's the observation that "the mobile delivery of learning content does not need to be a monolithic event. It can come in phases, just like adoption," which I think is a good point. There's more; if you're interested in mobile learning this is a good post.

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A Critique of Connectivism as a Learning Theory

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00
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Cybergogue, M.C. Wade, Jul 23, 2014

Here are a couple of things I hadn't seen before, courtesy of this post scooped by Susan Bainbridge
into the Connectivism resource base. It's essentially an extended argument against the idea that connectivism is a learning theory, and is notable because of a long background on just what counts as a theory. There's also this  slide show from Vilimaka Foliaki from Tonga comparing connectivism and constructivism.

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Fusion 2014 – Unconference and Day One Recap

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 22:00


Jon Kruithof, All The Young (edu)Punks, Jul 22, 2014

I want to include this post because it's such a clear example of marketing fail. Jon Kruithof  attended the D2L Fusion conference and so was there for the John Baker keynote announcing the name change. First, he gets the name wrong - Brightside, Brightspace, what's the difference (I confess, I had to look it up to write this post, else I would have written Brightstream). But second, he settles into the natural abbreviation for it. You know, like how Desire2Learn becomes D2L. And Brightspace? BS. Oh my.

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