Miscellaneous

In Search of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Secluded Hut in Norway: A Short Travel Film

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 17:00


Dan Coleman, Open Culture, Apr 30, 2016

I've spent a lot of time with Ludwig Wittgenstein in my head, not the least when I went searching for his hut  at the end of the Sognefjord  in Norway. Well, OK, I didn't exactly search for his hut, but I did once sail up the Sognefjord looking for huts generally, as depicted in this photo set. And I certainly understand the benefits of getting away from it all and living in the wilderness for a bit. So, as Dan Colman says,  put  Wittgenstein in Norway  into your YouTube queue.

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Love Letter to Online Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 14:00


Michelle Pacansky-Brock, Apr 30, 2016

Discussion around the MIT Report  on higher education reforms contines to echo around the blogosphere. It was referenced here in OLDaily  three weeks ago.    Inside Higher Ed calls it a love letter to blended learning  and says "Online education can offer personalized pathways through course content with short lecture videos and well-timed quizzes that help students retain knowledge, the report reads, but it is most effective in a blended setting where students regularly interact with faculty members face-to-face.” But in this post Michelle Pacansky-Brock  calls this "a general misunderstanding" of online learning. "The nature of online classes varies dramatically, much like  face-to-face classes," she writes. "But, in both scenarios, the  teacher  matters and the  teaching  matters." But "a warm body teaching an online class is not necessarily going to result in an effective learning experience for  students." You have to have more than a pulse. Via Phil Hill.

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Digital Durability? My Money is on the Individual

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 14:00


Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Apr 30, 2016

Alan Levine makes probably the most compelling argument of all in support of open content: "institutions pretty much just clearcut their web history." Unless the websites are saved by  individuals (for example, the individuals who created them) these sites will simply disappear. Governments, museums, newspapers - all of these simply remove outdated  content. "Why?" he asks. "Individuals have a deep stake in their work. Repositories, institutions? The stake varies with politics, staff turnover, leadership fetishes." Nothing is safe unless  people can keep their own libraries of their own content online. 

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Simbot, Give Me Five

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 14:00


Yian Shang, Elena Zheleva, Source, Apr 30, 2016

This is the sort of thing I want to see enabled for a personal learning environment. It is, of course, a lot easier to do on a multti-user hosted platform such as Slack (using specialty applications called slackbots). Here's how it works: "The basis of our algorithm for finding similar articles is a neural network, which takes the words of each article and projects them into vectors of numbers. We then aggregate the word vectors for each of the words in an article to come up with an article vector. The vectors of numbers allow you to easily uncover the relationships between words and articles by applying different similarity measures, such as cosine similarity. Specifically, the neural network algorithm is  word2vec, which was implemented through the Python topic-modeling library  gensim." This is all off-the-shelf stuff for platforms these days. I can't wait to see it implemented in a personal graph.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Web Conferencing - Key Market Trends for Higher Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 14:00


TeachOnline.ca, Apr 30, 2016

Good comprehensive article on web conferencing in education. Unlike other software sectors, there's never been a runaway leader in web conferencing. The most effective solutions tend to be too expensive for casual use, and those that are free or affordable don't have the fidelity required for professional use. Most conference systems are hosted (or as we say today, provided as cloud services) though on-premises solutions have been growing. And the key improvement in recent years has been "convergence of synchronous and asynchronous communications due to greater user demand for better knowledge/content management." GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect and WebEx remain the market leaders. A couple dozen systems also compete.

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Amazon, Google and Apple

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 14:00


TeachOnline.ca, Apr 30, 2016

Each of the three companies is taking a slightly different approach - Google with its applications, Apple with iTunes, and Amazon with digital books - but all are making inroads into the education market. And "they are seeking alliances and partnerships rather than replacing the existing infrastructure or institutions." What they are doing is staying away from the expensive parts of education involving buildings and labour, and focusing on the low-overhead high-return part of education. This is good for them, but it will leave education systems without places to lower costs and increase access.

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Baby’s first semantic blog citation metrics

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 11:00


David Kernohan, Followers of the Apocalypse, Apr 30, 2016

What is the state of the literature in open learning? Is it true that "the good stuff is in the blogs?"  David Kernohan undertakes to find out. "If open education blogs do have academic merit," he suggests, "I would expect them to be cited in the more traditional literature" (I don't agree, but I digress). To study this, he looks at blogs from George Siemens, David Wiley, Audrey Watters and Martin Weller (pretty good selection; all are cited frequently here). Using  “ Harzing’ s Publish or Perish” he calculates the h-index  for each of the four, getting values of 38, 23, 20, and 12 (for comparison, Google Scholar calculates my own h-index  at 23). The conclusion? "There is clearly a lot of good stuff in blogs, which is frequently cited by literature that itself is highly cited."

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Four essential priorities for making sense of student data

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 11:00


Laura Devaney, eSchool News, Apr 30, 2016

The four priorities from  a new report  from the  Data Quality Campaign  (DQC) are on the one hand common sense, but on the other hand hardly enough. Here they are (quoted):

  • Be clear about what students must achieve and have the data to ensure all students are on track to succeed.
  • Provide teachers and leaders the flexibility, training, and support they need to effectively and quickly use data.
  • Ensure every community understands how its schools and students are doing and how data is valuable, protected and used.
  • Provide teachers and parents timely information on their students and make sure it’ s kept safe.

I guess what bothers me about this list is that it's terribly top-down and prescriptive. For example, the second point continues, "State leaders should push for policies that support districts and schools to prioritize data use." Sure, if all you care about is whether students are 'on track'. But if there's no track? What if there should be no track? See also this report  from Campus Technology.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

What “Student Agency” is Not

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 11:00


Will Richardson, Apr 30, 2016

The dictionary definition of 'agency' is  “ the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power," says Will Richardson. This makes the typical ed tech use of the word a little odd. Consider: "you always know yourself where you are on a topic, that you have the sense of what the tasks are, how much there’ s left to do to achieve certain levels." Not really the same at all. 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Case Against Reality

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 02:00


Chris Ashley, The Atlantic, Apr 29, 2016

I've always felt the case against realism is pretty definitive, so this article doesn't surprise me. And I love this analogy: "You could not form a true description of the innards of the computer if your entire view of reality was confined to the desktop. And yet the desktop is useful. That blue rectangular icon guides my behavior, and it hides a complex reality that I don’ t need to know." It's not that our perceptions are not useful; of course they are. But it is an error to take them literally. Some people may then ask, well what happens to science. This is the thing: this is what science tells us. As Donald Hoffman says, "I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world."

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Sebastian Thrun, Modi and the Forgotten Promise of MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 12:00


Anuj Srivas, The Wire, Apr 29, 2016

I think this is exactly the wrong lesson, but it's the one being drawn nonetheless: "The fatal flaw in the “ classic MOOC,” as Thrun noted in an interview with  PandoDaily, is that it is free. “ We learned we can drastically boost learning outcomes by adding a service layer around MOOCs… It’ s not a MOOC [anymore] because we ended up charging for it." I think a better lesson is this: "putting up a lecture online without the rest of the traditional education infrastructure resulted in very low completion rates." The key is to do it without charging admission. Oh, and fwiw, Sebastian Thrun has stepped down  as Udacity CEO.

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ASUGSV 2016 Highlights

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 12:00


Mitchell Weisburgh, PILOTed, Apr 29, 2016

Good quick overview of the ASUGSV Summit  held last week in San Diego (ASU-GSV stands for Arizona State University / Global Silicon Valley). Some interesting bits (quoted): 

  • There is a parallel design structure to designing great games and designing great learning. When looking at brain images, there is virtually no difference between play and learning. In fact, well-designed games inspire self-regulated learning.
  • The large media companies are taking a close look at education (e.g. the $230M Bertlesmann plunked down on HotChalk). As the media companies look for better returns, they see that education is becoming more like what you watch on TV, except that people are willing to pay perhaps $5 for an hour of entertainment, but $100 for an hour of education, and the market for education is expanding as more people need to learn more over their entire lifetimes.

This is good stuff. There are videos  available of many of the talks, for example, 'The Future of Education: John Fallon, CEO, Pearson and Rick Levin, CEO, Coursera.'

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Strategies for Personal Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 16:00
[Slides][Audio]

In this presentation I draw the distinction between personal and personalized learning and the outline the major strategies supporting personal learning: sharing, contributing and co-creation.

VI e-Learning International Conference 2016, Madrid, Spain, online via Zoom (Lecture) Apr 25, 2016 [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

What next? How the news media can respond to losing

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 13:00


Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog, Apr 28, 2016

It is again worth noting that what happens in news and media usually happens in education a few years later. Both have had their online platform moment, their Napster moment, their open content moment and their syndication moment.  Traditional news media are now entering what might be the end-game. "From 2016, publishers will increasingly need to  justify  why they need a website at all  (and not just code it for Google AMP). To do that, they will need to move beyond content and towards products and services, just as they already do when considering an app, an email newsletter or, now, a  bot." This has  always been the play. And it has always been resisted by the 'content' industries.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

All Rights Reserved

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 13:00


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Apr 28, 2016

Aaron Swartz was one of the most visible proponents of open access. Always putspoken and always an activist, he tried in 2011 to use an MIT account to download the JSTOR archive. After being "indicted on felony fraud charges carrying a prison sentence of up to 35 years, Swartz hanged himself." His writings were prolific and influential, so they would obviously be available as open access content, right? They were certainly posted under an open license. But on his death, publishers enter the picture, and there's nothing free than a publisher won't corrupt. Critics have protested, saying "say it is “ in horribly bad taste” that Verso Books and the New Press, two other publishers, are making it difficult to download and share a curated collection of Swartz’ s writings."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why Hiring for Cultural Fit Can Thwart Your Diversity Efforts

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 13:00


Celia de Anca, Harvard Business Review, Apr 28, 2016

Diversity, as I have observed frequently in these pages, is one of the four elements of the 'semantic condition', which are the criteria for successful networks. For a lot of people 'diversity' means language and heritage. But it's a lot more than that, as this post demonstrates. Consider:  “ In the company we are all are from a certain prototype: super kind, generous, enthusiastic, extroverted, and proactive. The company uses the services of a big data company to help find the right people from all over the world.” The result, though, is "creating a situation in which companies will be very diverse in appearance, but intrinsically homogenous... Thus the company will  appear  diverse — but we know that appearances can be deceiving." The idea of diversity is based on people having  different perspectives. Creating a 'cultural fit' works against that.

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UN to urge media to take more 'constructive' approach to news

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 13:00


Jasper Jackson, The Guardian, Apr 28, 2016

According to this article, "the  United Nations  is to call for the world’ s media to take a more 'constructive' and 'solutions-focused' approach to news to combat 'apathy and indifference'." I can't see that happening in the news media. But surely this is the role of education, isn't it? "We need responsible media that educate, engage and empower people and serve as a counterpoint to power. We need them to offer constructive alternatives in the current stream of news and we need to see solutions that inspire us to action."

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To Make Content Findable, Put It Everywhere

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 16:00


Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Apr 27, 2016

Mike Caulfield takes on a persistent truism in the OER world: that we need one central location where everyone can find open resources. This has never been true, and when tried it has never worked. So what does? Publishing them everywhere. "This graphic of the Buzzfeed network reminds me of that fact. Buzzfeed is one of the most recognizable destination sites on the web. If anyone could survive making people come to them, it would be Buzzfeed. And what does Buzzfeed do?  They put it *everywhere*. They publish in something like 30 platforms, an 80% of their views come from places other than Buzzfeed." That's what I do with OLDaily (to a lesser extent, but I should step it up).

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Online degrees could make universities redundant, historian warns

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:00


Richard Adams, The Guardian, Apr 27, 2016

This is an odd article that one the one hand says that Oxford should embrace online learning to increase access and remain relevant, and that it should go private (but raising its own endowment) so it doesn't have to respond to government demands that it, um, increase access.  "We’ ve moved a long way, but it’ s very difficult recruiting from within the UK properly qualified undergraduates from the social and educational backgrounds that the state would like us to take people from," says  Laurence Brockliss, author of Oxford’ s official history. It's an odd sort of logic. By becoming a 'global university' Oxford could remain exclusive, yet still attract a culturally diverse mix off students. As for actually being accessible to poor people without a privileged educational background, well, let's just not go there.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Facebook now gets a million users from “dark web” service Tor

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:00


Nick Waddell, CanTech Letter, Apr 27, 2016

For those who don't think privacy is an issue with people (and there are many) consider this: you have to go out of your way to use a service like Tor, which is designed to help you browse the web anonymously. So when we consider that a million people are using Tor to access Facebook, that's a significant number. "Tor, an acronym for The Onion Routing Project, blocks access to any individual user’ s location by directing traffic through a free, worldwide volunteer network consisting of thousands of relays that encrypt and re-encrypt data multiple times."

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