Miscellaneous

The Teenager's Sense of Social Self

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 03:00


Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Edge, Nov 20, 2014

Hardly the final word on the subject, but nonetheless interesting reading. Things like this put things in context:

There's nothing like teenage diaries for putting momentous, historical occasions into perspective. This is my entry for the 20th July, 1969.

'I went to arts center in yellow cords and blouse. Ian was there but he didn't speak to me. Got rhyme put in my handbag by someone who's apparently got a crush on me. It's Nicholas I think. Ugh.

Man landed on moon.'

Peers and social life have a disproportionate influence on adolescents. Why is that? If I had to judge by my own reflections on personal opinion, I would say it is because we learn by imitating. We watch, then we practice. And at that age we are actively seeking out things to imitate. But I'm sure that's not the whole story. (By the way, I was 10 at the time of the Moon landing and I was much more interested in it that this writer).

 

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Critical Digital Pedagogy: a Definition

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 03:00


Jesse Stommel, Hybrid Pedagogy, Nov 20, 2014

In this article Jess Stommel offers a crisp overview of digital pedagogy (with references to Friere and Giroux) and suggests that critical pedagogy:

  • centers its practice on community and collaboration;
  • must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
  • will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
  • must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.

To my mind critical pedagogy is the dedication of network methods (aggregate, remix, repurpose, feed forward) and network values (autonomy, diversity, openness, interactivity) toward the personal recognition and employment of the critical literacies (patterns, meaning, use, context, inference and change) in one's own environment.

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Beyond the MOOC Model: Changing Educational Paradigms

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 03:00


James G. Mazoue, EDUCAUSE Review, Nov 20, 2014

Though I disagree with a number of the details, this is on the whole a good article that effectively argues that the changes brought about by MOOCs are just beginning, and not in decline at all. James G. Mazoue identifies four major drivers of change that have become evident in the wake of MOOCs:

  • MOOC-based degrees - "a quality online degree offered at scale for a nominal or greatly reduced cost is a more attractive alternative for many students"
  • Competency-Based Education - "effectively enables individualized learning but shifts the overall power differential in education from institutions to students"
  • Formalization - "adopting effective learning strategies and instructional methods should not be a happenstance occurrence, but rather reflectively adopted and systematically implemented"
  • Regulatory reform - ""Higher education," Andrew Kelly and Frederick Hess point out, "functions more like a cartel than a dynamic marketplace."

Now just throwing all of this into the private sector is not an appropriate recipe for reform; we will just end up with the sort of shambles that characterizes financial services or the insurance industry. But neither can we merely continue with the existing system which is at once too expensive and too ineffective. Effective educational policy has tgo see the system of learning as a type of infrastructure, worthy of and needing public-level support to ensure equity of access and a focus on quality of service.

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Colleges Saw a Flood of Students at Recession’s Peak—and Discouraging Results

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 03:00


Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 20, 2014

In 2008 the recession hit and colleges and universities saw a flood of new students looking to improve their knowledge and skills between jobs while the economy recovered. Six years and tens of thousands of dollars later, how did they fare? Not so well. In a nutshell, the system failed them. "Only 55 percent of the students who entered college in the fall of 2008, at the peak of the Great Recession, had earned college degrees or certificates by May 2014, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center." In view of those numbers, open online learning looks like an attractive alternative indeed. See also  Inside Higher Ed on the same story.

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Is Democracy in Deep Trouble?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 03:00


Don Tapscott, LinkedIn, Nov 20, 2014

I generally disagree with Don Tapscott but In want to chime in with him on this one. He argues that our political institutions are failing and the future of democracy itself is in question. Voters are increasingly unable to sway the political agenda, and our political leaders are behaving increasingly badly. "The ongoing abuse of trust by office holders is the product of widespread rot," he writes. "The result is a full-blown crisis in legitimacy." Consequently, he writes, we need to replace the existing system with "participatory" built around five principles:

  1. Integrity - "elected officials need to embrace integrity – which is honesty and consideration."
  2. Accountability - "we need to divorce politicians from relying on big money"
  3. Interdependence - "the public, private sector and civil society all have a role to play in sustaining a healthy society."
  4. Engagement - "mechanisms for government to benefit from the wisdom and insight that a nation can collectively offer."
  5. Transparency - "almost everything should be done in the full light of day"

These are nice-sounding principles but I fear they are unworkable. Two of them - integrity and transparency - depend on the character of our elected officials, which we already agree is lacking. What stands for 'engagement' today is mostly a series of public relations exercises. 'Interdependence' usually means granting special access to business and industry to the decision-making process, access they have purchased and will not let go.

We need to recognize that governance is complex and cannot be managed. We will not obtain good government by telling people how they ought to behave because, even if the recommendations are very good, a certain number of people will not follow them, and will ruin it for everyone else. We must structure democracy in such a way as to prevent these people from becoming so powerful in the first place. There have to be limits to wealth, limits to power, and limits to influence. There's no easy way to do this. But without them, democracy will fail at a time in history when we need it most.

 

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Technology Readiness Level (TRL) math for innovative SMEs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:00
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Serkan Bolat, Serkan Bolat, Nov 20, 2014

This overview of the concept of the 'technology readiness level' (TRL) is useful in the areas of innovation and technology development (we use it in-house at NRC). The idea is to distinguish between innovations that are still at the conceptual stage and those that are ready for production. Our MOOC technology reach 5 or 6, and did not receive project support to go further. Our personal learning environment software has reach level 4 in earlier prototypes and now we're trying to get it to 5 or 6, after which if it's successful we have the plan and commitment to go further. TRL is useful because it demonstrates the hurdles to innovation - it's not typically getting to step 1, as most people (I think) suppose, it's getting past the higher levels and into deployment.

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Notes from Utrecht Workshop on Ethics and Privacy Issues in the Application of Learning Analytics

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00
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Niall Sclater, Sclater Digital, Nov 20, 2014

Summary of a presentation from Hendrik Drachsler - "his call for ethical and privacy issues in the application of learning analytics had produced over 100 issues... put into four categories: privacy, ethics, data and transparency" - and Jan-Jan Lowijs - "described the nine general themes in the Directive which we found a useful way to propose answers to some of the 100 issues that had been submitted." Issues of privacy and security are becoming more prevalent in data analytics, and I'm not sure a policy-based approach will be sufficient to address them. See also: learning analytics using business intelligence systems. And see also: NY Times, Privacy Concerns for ClassDojo and  Other Tracking Apps for Schoolchildren

 

 

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Embedding Learning in Work: The Benefits and Challenges

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00
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Charles Jennings, Workplace Performance, Nov 20, 2014

One of the major aspects of the personal learning environment system we are designing revolves around the idea of embedding learning in work. Why? As Charles Jennings writes, "A common finding that has emerged from study after study over the past few years is that learning which is embedded in work seems to be more effective than learning away from work." After summarizing a number of research studies making this point, he turns to some of the challenges. One is that such learning can't be designed - it is "self-managed, and the measurement is in terms of outputs." Another is "the lack of understanding and failure to use performance support approaches" in typical workplace learning systems. Finally, "embedding learning in work almost always requires the active support of executives, business managers and team leaders."

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My reclaimed content workflow

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00
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D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman Dot Net, Nov 20, 2014

Useful graphic from D'Arcy Norman illustrating his "reclaimed content workflow." As I am almost certainly facing a website migration this winter, the first in nine years, I am reconsidering these very issues. He writes, "I consider 2 parts absolutely essential: the WordPress-powered blog/site running at darcynorman.net, and my Aperture library living on my home laptop." I'm much the same way, except I manage both photos and content with home-rolled code. Maybe I shouldn't. But it's a hard habit (or passion) to break.

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National OER Framework

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00
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Paul Stacey, Musings on the Ed Tech Frontier, Nov 20, 2014

It's really interesting to read this longish post from Paul Stacey describing work he has done with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization to promote the use and development of OER at a Pan-Arab level to institutions, teachers and students, and then his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was hosted by Abdullah Almegren who leads the National Center for e-Learning & Distance Learning at the Ministry of Higher Education. He has a photo in the exact location I was photographed wearing the same Arab dress. I'm thinking maybe we should exchange notes. He has "been helping the US State Department with their Open Book project" while I've been engaged in MOOCs. There's a lot of overlap. And I agree with him when he writes "OER affords a cross-cultural education experience and can act as a form of diplomacy, understanding, and peace-keeping."

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Public school educated and proud of it

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00
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Kelli McGraw, sharing findings, inviting conversations, Nov 20, 2014

Every once in a while (far more frequently than I would like) someone touts the quality of students and professors at the elite universities like Yale and Harvard and MIT and the like. The same argument is less overtly made but nonetheless also applies to elite private schools. I've never believed these arguments, if for no other reason than that I've had plenty of opportunities to interact with these students and professors and, frankly, they're no great shakes. And far too often they seem to be just like you and I, but with their ethical filters turned off. My education comes from the public school system, and my university degrees were from that intellectual powerhouse, the University of Calgary. I received a first rate education and I'll stack up the result with anyone from one of the elites. In this post Kelli McGraw expresses similar sentiments about her education and work in the Australian public system.

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Oculus Rift: Freezers, smilers, grippers, swayers, screamers and freak-outs – resistance is futile

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00
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Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Nov 20, 2014

I wonder how big systems like Oculus Rift will become. OR (I'll call it for short) is a virtual reality system that fits like a mask over the face. And as Donald Clark says, "Once you flood their field of view with a screen that has a high refresh rate with rock solid tracking so that your head movements mimic what would happen in that world, along with great audio – you’ re there. That new world is your reality." I really should get me one of those. This article classifies OR reactions and provides a video of one person "freaking out" in the environment.

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POERUP – Policies for OER Uptake

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00


Various authors, POERUP, Nov 20, 2014

According to the website, "The official funding period of POERUP has ended on 30 June 2014, now all the project's key outputs and public deliverables are finalised and available to the public." It states, "POERUP wanted the policies to be evidence-based policies – based on looking beyond one’ s own country, region or continent, and beyond the educational sector that a ministry typically looks after."

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Here's How To Figure Out Everything Google Knows About You

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 17:00
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Julie Bort, Business Insider, Nov 19, 2014

This is a useful article not only because it tells you what Google knows about you (which is always interesting reading) but because it gives a hint at Google's methods and how effective they are. In my case, the methods produce spotty results, which oddly makes me happy. This is the most useful: "First, click on the link below or type it into your browser: https://www.google.com/settings/ Then click on Account history." Then scroll to the bottom to see 'Ad Settings'.

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Educational Technology Conferences #32 January to June 2015

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 20:00


Clayton R Wright, Stephen's Web, Nov 17, 2014

Clayton R Wright has once again compiled and distributed his enormously useful list of education and education technology conferences. The list "covers selected events that primarily focus on the use of technology in educational settings and on teaching, learning, and educational administration. Only listings until June 2015 are complete as dates, locations, or Internet addresses (URLs) were not available for a number of events held from July 2015 onward."

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Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You but What Coursera Can Do For Your Country, Part 1

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 14:00
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Tressie McMillan Cottom, tressiemc, Nov 17, 2014

Coursera has obtained the endorsement of the U.S. government, which is promoting it to some 21 million U.S. military veterans. The "partnership provides one free Coursera Verified Certificate to every US Veteran to help improve employability skills in high-demand fields such as data science and entrepreneurship." Tressie McMillan Cottom responds: "I emailed my chair and said, 'they’ re turning my dissertation and manuscript into a satire.'" Coursera, she writes, probably found "employers aren’ t nearly as interested in training workers as we seem to think they are." So what they need to do is convince the labour market to pay a premium for their credentials. "Endorsements are not a small matter when you’ re trying to convince people that your piece of paper is valuable.

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Data is Just A Clue to the End Truth

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 14:00
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David Crotty, The Scholarly Kitchen, Nov 17, 2014

"Show them pieces of the picture, so they can stand back for a little bit and let it pass, and come away with a deeper understanding." And "look after truth and goodness, and the beauty will look after itself." These are the  essences of data visualization. This, and the idea that it is a human trait (and capacity) to look at complex disparate data and to identify meaningful information that emerges from the chaos. To me (and not to the video) this means that misperception is as important as perception. An example: I originally read the title of this article as "Data is Just A Clue to the End  of Truth" and this altered my perception of the article and the video, and let me see something different in it. Any data visualization employs the designer, the data, and the viewer - perception (and recognition) require all three. In what sense, therefore, does data 'reveal' truth? No - truth should go into data visualization, but what comes out is beyond truth.

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Convivial Tools in an Age of Surveillance

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 14:00
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Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Nov 17, 2014

Audrey Watters talks about "how we can push back on the hype surrounding ed-tech disruption and revolution, how we can ask questions about whose revolution this might be — to what end, for whose benefit — and how we can, should, must begin to talk more seriously about education technologies that are not [built] upon control and surveillance." I like especially the section about Alan Kay "pushing forward a vision of what we now call 'personal computing.' Not business computing. Not cryptography. Personal computing.... It’ s 'personal' because you pour yourself into it — your thoughts, your programming." Why then is education technology about "control, surveillance, and data extraction?" I also like the suggestion that "what we need to build are more consensus-building not consensus-demanding tools." Except, of course, we shouldn't care about the outcome of such tools. We should care about the process. See also The Future of Education: Programmed or Programmable.

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Mozilla Open Badges

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 11:00
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Various authors, Mozilla, Nov 17, 2014

If you want to get started with badges and don't know where to start, this is the place to start. It's the Mozilla Open Badges wiki page, and it has the basic information, likes to starter kits, and links to a bunch of other resources. "A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ ve earned. Open Badges take that concept one step further, and allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations and attaches that information to the badge image file, hard-coding the metadata for future access and review."

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How Online Journals Increase Student Communication Skills

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 22:00
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Patricia Fioriello, Kids Learn to Blog, Nov 16, 2014

Oh hey, remember when blogging was the next great thing to help kids learn to communicate on the web? They still are! The trick is to get started. "We encourage starting things simply. Have your child start by describing his day. What did he eat for breakfast? What did he and his friends talk about at recess? Did anything good happen today? Bad? This will get the child in the writing mood and get the basics down quickly." Nothing fancy. Just write. It doesn't have to be good. Just write. This applies to everyone, not just kids.

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