Miscellaneous

A 16-Year Old Programmer Just Made a Plugin That Shows Where Politicians Get Their Funding

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 14:00
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Mbiyimoh Ghogomu, The Higher Learning, Jan 20, 2015

Campaign financing is a bit different in Canada and individual politicians don't really get direct support from funders (at least I think they don't). Still, we have to applaud the concept. And even more, take note, this incredibly useful application was created by a self-taught 16-year old. Original story on The Bulletin. "You can download the Greenhouse plugin for free here." Story and longer interview in Vice (probably the original source for the story).

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The No. 1 Predictor Of Career Success According To Network Science

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 16:00
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Michael Simmons, Forbes, Jan 19, 2015

While there is merit to Michael Simmons's suggestion that size and openness of one's network is a predictor of success, I think it is vastly overstated to say that this is revealed to us by Network Science (as though it were some sort of oracle) and that it is " the blueprint for creating career success." Indeed, the major elements cited as factors in Steve Job's success - "tinkering with machinery with his father, dropping out of college and sitting in on a calligraphy class, exploring India and buddhism, living on an Apple orchard" - are more likely predictors of failure. It is more likely, in my estimation, that his career was started when he started  hacking phones (this is known as phreaking). As I've often said: great wealth is prima facie evidence of criminality. That's not to say opening your network isn't a good idea - it is. But don't think that it will turn you into Steve Jobs. That's just magical thinking, and Forbes should (but apparently doesn't) know better than to publish it.

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Software updates, installations now require consent

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 14:00
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Unattribted, CBC News, Jan 19, 2015

I will be curious to see how software companies adapt to this new Canadian law. Companies must gain explicit permission in order to update software, and in addition "clearly disclose to users if its software could collect personal information, interfere with the normal operation of a computer, alter settings or preferences or data on a computer  or allow a third party to access a computer." This would have made the  Sony rootkit illegal (though Sony could have paid the $10 million fine with loose change found in its couch). What I wonder is whether burying the information in an end-user license agreement (EULA) would be sufficient. You can read the  full documentation here on the Canadian government web site.

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Public Sales Of Google Glass To End Later This Month

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:00
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Sam Sanders, NPR, Jan 19, 2015

We can learn all kinds of lessons from the Google Glass public trial, which is now coming to an end. This article does a good job at articulating some of those lessons (and I have no doubt there are technical lessons behind the scenes as well). Google Glass (perhaps unexpectedly) created privacy issues (I know it sounds obvious in retrospect but I don`t recall any sort of widespread concern when the product launched). Also, it showed how important it is to (try to) frame the public discourse about a new product. And it illustrated the value of price point and users. "The thinking was that they'd generate a community of developers to develop applications for Glass,' he said. But the high price point of Glass kept the market too small."

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Toronto Deep Learning Demos

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:00
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Yichuan Tang, Tianwei Liu, University of Toronto, Jan 19, 2015

'Deep Learning' is a form of machine learning that generates clusters or categorizations without the aid of a training set - the machine learns to recognize things by itself. This set of demonstrations from Toronto apply descriptions and captions to images. Most of the results are quite good, though you can fool it still with specific examples, like the Taj Mahal. Deep learning is important for a couple of reasons: it demonstrates that neural networks can learn abstractions without a priori knowledge, and it creates a set of applications that can be useful for e-learning analytics, such as resource classification for intelligent recommendation systems. The Toronto site has other resources that are equally applicable to e-learning. I've talked about Boltzmann machines in the past; Multimodal Deep Learning With  Boltzmann Machines illustrates aspects of this. Also:  Quantitative Structure-Activity/Property Relationship (QSAR/QSPR). And Multimodal Neural Language Models.

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ProjectCampus

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:00
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Various authors, Website, Jan 19, 2015

Connecting applications is the new black. No doubt many people have been looking at sites like  IFTTT and thinking about how they could emulate the same approach. So here we have ProjectCampus, which enables groups of students to form 'projects' within a course, where these projects become a part of the student's eportfolio, and which integrates with a set of applications including Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, YouTibe, Dropbox, and more. Meanwhile,  Workatoo is the same sort of application, but designed for the enterprise workspace.

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Why You Need To Leave Academia In 2015

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 23:00
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Unattributed, Cheeky Scientist, Jan 18, 2015

This is the decision I made en passant maybe a decade and a half ago - around the time that I realized further investment in a PhD was counterproductive. Now my reasons were a bit different. But I knew at the time there was no compelling economic case for continuing; I had learned what I needed to learned and the actual piece of paper wasn't going to produce a lot of additional value. "The Fairy Tale Is Over. Academia is broken. The time to leave it is now. If you don’ t leave, you will be poor, mistreated, and unhappy." The funny thing about this article is that it's actually trying to entice people to leave academia and move to an industry career (where there is actually a shortage of skilled professionals).

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Building better curriculum through Universal Design for Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 20:00


Hilda Anggraeni, BC Campus, Jan 18, 2015

I'm not sure there would be wide acceptance for the 'Universal Design for Learning' but I thought I'd present it anyways. Here are the three tenets:

  • Multiple means of representation
  • Multiple means of expression
  • Multiple means of engagement

I question it right off because I think (say) that an opponent of learning styles would question the need for the first principle. But the framework isn't based on instructional outcomes (which is what these opponents focus on). "A key ingredient of inclusiveness is accessibility— students must be
able to both access and comprehend course materials in order to learn and must be offered
means of expressing their learning that is accessible to them." In that regard, I think UDL might be  too narrow to account for all aspects of learning, and is focused on presentation more than pedagogy. Here's the  full paper the article is based on.

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On the difference between ‘ought’ and ‘is’ (and getting from one to the other)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 20:00


Doug Belshaw, Open Educational Thinkering, Jan 18, 2015

David Hume famously  argued that one cannot infer to an 'ought' from an 'is'. "The distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv'd by reason." Instead, Hume argued, we are informed by a moral sentiment - one more way in which reason is always a slave of the passions. Doug Belshaw sees this as a problem. "We perceive things through the lens of what ought to be. This, inevitably, leads to a situation where a person/group/state points to something as ‘ evidence’ in support of their views." But I think this leads to a mistaken theory of change: "To my mind, meaningful change comes through people (and organisations) having a reason to change. They respond to ‘ incentives’ , loosely-defined." I am very unconvinced by 'incentive' theory in general. Because people don't change because of external inducements. They change because they care about the outcome. Understand this, and you understand both economics and education. Related: obey or suffer.

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The Deeper Ethics of Education and Open: Generosity, Care, and Relationships

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 20:00


David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Jan 18, 2015

So, here's the argument, in a nutshell: education is fundamentally social. Knowing, for example, that the professor cares matters. This manifests itself in education as sharing. The core ethic of open is sharing. "All the work we do in 'open' education is work directed toward figuring out how to share more completely and more effectively." So a couple of key points follow:

  • Authoring and publishing are helpful, but insufficient on their own to rise up to the level of what deserves to be called education.
  • Applying open licenses to copyrightable works is terrific, but insufficient on its own to rise up to the level of what deserves to be called “ being open.”

I agree with these points but not the method of getting there. Think about what "being open" really means, in it's broadest sense. Sharing? Yes - but the whole idea of "being open to new experiences" or other concepts of that ilk are equally important. If a person is only social, they will not become educated. They need to engage not only with other people, but with the subject matter. You can form a society out of closed minds - but you cannot educate them.

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Critical connections: personal learning environments and information literacy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 20:00


Alison Hicks, Caroline Sinkinson, Research in Learning Technology, Jan 18, 2015

This paper looks at the intersection of personal learning environment and critical information literacies and suggests " that PLE scholarship informed by CIL scholarship, and vice versa, will yield a deeper understanding of modern learning contexts as well as a more holistic and responsive learner framework." The paper introduces with a dense but reasonable description of the motivations for PLEs and outlines some of the thinking that informs the concept, both in terms of learning landscapes (eg., 'open', 'broad') and learning approaches (eg., 'learner-driven'). "PLE and CIL approaches to learning could be used to redesign the research assignment and frame inquiry as a process that is social and connected as well as tolerant of new and emerging modes of communication," write the authors.

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How is Canada’s PSE system doing?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 12:00


Léo Charbonneau, University Affairs, Jan 18, 2015

University Affairs renews the call for a national educational research organization, this time focused on higher ed. "We suffer in Canada from a lack of many key data, particularly institutional data, related to postsecondary education," writes Lé o Charbonneau. He cites recent work by the Higher Education Quality Council of Onratio (HEQCO) to make the point, including its recent report, Still Worth It After All These Years. Would they be so happy to call for a national research agency if it were less kind to the university system?

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ORCID

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 15:00


Various Authros, Website, Jan 17, 2015

This is interesting. "ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-driven effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers.  ORCID is unique in its ability to reach across disciplines, research sectors and national boundaries."

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Are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Enabling A New Pedagogy?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 10:00


Unattributed, Contact North, Jan 17, 2015

Five questions that shape the debate:

  • Are MOOCs available for credit? They're starting to be.
  • Are MOOCs influencing the way faculty think about education. Numerous examples suggest that they are.
  • Are they impacting courses not taight online? Yes, they're pushing the use of blended learning and OERs.
  • Are MOOCs improving the quality of online learning? Maybe. In some cases, high quality courses are produced, but other MOOCs are not high quality at all.
  • Are MOOCs transforming post-secondary education? I'd make that a pretty unqualified yes.

The author cites numerous examples in response to all of these questions. Well worth a look, especially for MOOC sceptics.

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Disruptive technologies 2015-2016

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 14:00


Jane Hart, Learning in the Social Workplace, Jan 16, 2015

Via Jane Hart: "Brian Solis explores some of the biggest technology trends and possible twists on the horizon for 2015 and 2016. Topics include cyber security, mobile payments, drones, bitcoin, social media, digital, omnichannel, attribution, cx, music, movies, Hollywood."

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Blogphilosophy: #education needs to shift, creating meaningful #identities

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 11:00


Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, Jan 16, 2015

Inge de Waard: "Education should step away from its century long idea that it’ s priority is to get people into jobs. It should instead start to provide a lifelong learning path towards supporting a personal identity, letting people find what makes them tick in a peaceful way, creating multiple paths of meaning in a social learning world."

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Pearson to develop PISA 2018 Student Assessment 21st Century Frameworks for OECD

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 11:00


Press Release, Pearson, Jan 16, 2015

I guess somebody had to get the contract to develop the PISA tests. That it's Pearson is not a surprise, really. Among other things, the new test will "Redefine reading literacy, taking into account how young people are taught to approach the digital environment including how to recognise credible websites and online documents." My prediction: after the redefinition, nations that have traditionally done poorly (specifically, the United States) will substantially improve their rankings. Via Audrey Watters.

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Rethinking Low Completion Rates in MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 11:00


Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan 16, 2015

So he got a whole article out of this. And Chronicle coverage. "It’ s hardly a surprise that people who are trying complete MOOCs do so at a significantly higher rate than do those who aren’ t trying to complete them."

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Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2014

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00


Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Jan 14, 2015

In case you missed it, Audrey Watters top education trends of 2014. Here they are:

  1. Buzzwords
  2. The Business of Ed-tech
  3. School and "Skills"
  4. MOOCS, Outsourcing, and Online Education
  5. Competencies and Certificates
  6. The Common Core State Standards
  7. Data and Privacy
  8. The Indie Web
  9. Social Justice
  10. #Fail

There's a certain cynicism informing this list, which I think is unavoidable if you stary in the business of covering the field long enough. This, I think, is where my role is different: I not only cover the field, but I'm deeply engaged in building as well, which allows me to take hope in something, even if it's only my own efforts.

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The Hype is Dead, but MOOCs Are Marching On

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00
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Don Huesman, Knowledge@Wharton, Jan 14, 2015

MOOCs are emerging from the "trough of disillusionment," says Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller in this Wharton interview. The discussion focuses on the value of MOOCs, especially for things link continuing professional development, and Coursera's "verified certificates," which she says are the company's primary source of revenue. There's also discussion of the "cohort model," which sounds a bit like the  serialized feeds discussed here years back. As for growth: "we are hosting nearly 900 courses and I expect to have 1,000 courses on our platform by early 2015. In three years, we’ ll have 5,000 courses, which is about the curriculum of your average medium to large university," she says.

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