Miscellaneous

How Google Chromebooks conquered schools

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 13:00


Anick Jesdanum, Associated Press, Feb 18, 2017

This is an interesting statistic: "Chromebook's share of the U.S. education market was 49 percent last year, up from 40 percent in 2015 and 9 percent in 2013, according to IDC figures released this week." Who would have thought it? But the Chromebook has several advantages: it's cheap, it's lightweight, and it provides access to a full set of tools. That said, "Macs and Windows laptops are still dominant on college campuses." But will this change? And could it go international? The answer to the latter question might be "no" - for example, "Chromebooks are useless in China because the device depends on Google services that aren't available there." But the concept would work, wouldn't it?

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European MOOC Platform Expands to 5 U.S. Universities

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 13:00


Rhea Kelly, Campus Technology, Feb 18, 2017

I can think of all sorts of policical questions that might be asked in the U.S. following this announcement (especially if the British import succeeds where the US-based alternatives failed). On the other hand, there is the global trade argument: "The partnership with FutureLearn will allow the universities to extend their reach internationally and tap into new communities of potential learners, according to a statement from the company."

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The Myth of Apple's Great Design

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 20:00


Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, Feb 17, 2017

As a counter to yesterday's post celebrating Apple, a couple of articles are out today with the opposite view. One of these points to the longstanding issue of Apple's software (where 'upgrade' is defined as 'removing features people use'). "Take the iPod," writes Ian Bogost. "It made listening to a whole music library easy, but iTunes always made managing that library difficult and confusing— even destructive. The other article asks Is Apple Over? Longtime Mac  aficionado Shelly Palmer writes, "To be incompatible with the competition is expected. But for Apple's products to be incompatible with thousands of dollars' worth of equipment that Apple forced you to purchase borders on insane."

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Amazon Launches Chime Video & Voice Chat

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 17:00


Amazon, Feb 17, 2017

Amazon has launched a new video-chat and conference service called Chime. I can't say I'm a fan of the name. I downloaded the software and it seems slick if simple - note the nifty URL it give me, http://chime.aws/Downes - and I'll probably run some tests this week (so watch my Twitter account for announcements of ad hoc conferences) (note that the URL won't be useful unless I'm actually hosting a meeting).

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Tracking innovations in online learning in Canada

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 14:00


Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Feb 17, 2017

Tony Bates reports on a project that sees him criss-crossing the country talking to education and technology innovators. He is "developing a comprehensive national survey of online learning and distance education in Canadian public post-secondary education" and working on "a project for Contact North, identifying pockets of innovation in online learning in Canadian post-secondary institutions outside Ontario." Both of these respond to oft-stated needs for more data on learning techn ology in Canada. He writes, "there seems to be a widening gap between what is actually happening on the ground and what we read or hear about in the literature and at conferences on innovation in online learning." That disconnect has always existed; it's why I report here on blogs and projects as well as on companies and academic literature.

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Regulating “big data education” in Europe: lessons learned from the US

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 14:00


Yoni Har Carmel, Internet Policy Review, Feb 17, 2017

I found this item while doing some background reading related to the IEEE-LTSC's approval today of a new proposal to look at standards for the ethical sharing of child and student data. The main point of the analysis - and indeed, the main reason for the IEEE project - is that the responsibility for the management of student data is shifting from the school to the technology company. We've seen how that can turn out badly. There's the risk of "disclosing sensitive information about children, like data about learning disabilities, disciplinary problems or family trauma." There's also a concern that "monitoring of students’ online activities may overly limit creativity, free speech and free thought, by creating a 'surveillance effect'." There are "concerns big data techniques prematurely and permanently labeling students as underperformers." And there are worries that "decision-making based on algorithmic models will exacerbate bias and create new forms of discrimination." Image: JISC, The future of data-driven decision-making.

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Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers Is Out

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 14:00


Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Feb 17, 2017

Not the best headline (I thought it referred to a new U.S. government policy). But Michael Caulfield has released a new eBook (127 page PDF) on web literacy for students who are fact-checkers. There's some really useful and relatively novel content here: "how to use date filters to find the source of viral content, how to assess the reputation of a scientific journal in less than five seconds, and how to see if a tweet is really from the famous person... how to find pages that have been deleted, figure out who paid for the web site you’ re looking at..." and a lot more. These are things I do on a daily basis to make sure I don't pass along junk in this newsletter. I'm glad Caulfield has rolled these techniques up into a single document and explained them for everyone.

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Social Media Research Toolkit - Peer Tested & Peer Reviewed

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 12:00


Anantha Soogoor, Philip Mai, Ryerson University | Social Media Lab, Feb 17, 2017

As the website says, this "is a list of  50+ social media research tools curated  by researchers at the Social Media Lab at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University.   The kit  features tools that have been used in peer-reviewed academic studies. Many tools are free to use and require little or no programming. Some are simple data collectors such as tweepy, a Python library for collecting tweets  and others are a bit more robust such as Netlytic,  a multi-platform (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) data collector and analyzer, developed by our lab. All of the tools are confirmed available and operational."

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eLearning partnership opens doors to 10 million students

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 21:00


Ochieng’ O Benny, University World News, Feb 16, 2017

An agreement between the Association of African Universities and eLearnAfrica "will enable 10 million students to access higher education through online services provided to AAU member universities," according to this report. As eLearnAfrica CEO Brook Negussie says, "Africa cannot afford to keep building multi-million dollar physical universities. The continent would have to open a few every week for years just to meet existing demand."

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I look like a self-made millionaire. But I owe my success to privilege.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 21:00


Jason Ford, Vox, Feb 16, 2017

When we talk about education and human development we often overlook the fact that success is driven by a lot of factors that have nothing to do with learning. This article makes the point as clearly as any I've seen. Being well-nourished as a child, being safe, getting a good education, being debt-free, getting good introductions, eliminating the risk of failure, getting capital from the family, and having the right physical appearance - if you have all of these, you might be successful. Miss any of them (have a learning deficiency, lack confidence, be uneducated, be in debt, be unconnected, have no safety net, have no capital, be female or black or whatever) and your chances of success drop dramatically. 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Show me the evidence…

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 21:00


James Clay, e-Learning Stuff, Feb 16, 2017

At a certain point, writes James Clay, "the problem is not the lack of evidence, but one of resistance to change, fear, culture, rhetoric and motivation." At what point, he asks, is there enough evidence? With some existing academics, "Despite years of “ evidence” published in a range of journals, can studies from Jisc and others, you will find that what ever evidence you “ provide” it won’ t be good enough, to justify that academic to start embedding that technology into their practice." We need sometimes to understand what is motivating the question, rather than simply reaching for the answer.

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Editorial: Why Apple ignores so much pundit innovation advice

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 19:00


Daniel Eran Dilger, Apple Insider, Feb 16, 2017

This is a good article even if the writing gets excessively syrupy and sycophantic at times. The author identifies three major themes of "toxic innovation advice" and talks about how Apple has avoided them. Now I won't even touch an Apple device any more, but the three themes are nonetheless resonant. The first involves acquisitions: why doesn't Apple buy Dropbox, Uber, etc.? But buying the already successful isn't a good investment strategy. The second is advice to innovate incrementally, eg., to build better Windows-based systems, rather than abandoning windows entirely. But doing what was already successful isn't a good development strategy. Finally, there's the advice that Apple should target existing commodity markets. But building technology that was already successful isn't a good device strategy. You get the idea. The point here is that Apple isn't alone in getting this sort of advice. I get it all the time (and it often drives policy). The key to success is being able to resist it.

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What We All Agree On

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 16:00


Unattributed, University Ventures, Feb 16, 2017

This post from University Ventures Exchange, people who "invests in entrepreneurs and institutions that are reimagining the future of higher education", seeks to find common ground where "the many challenges and opportunities facing higher education lend themselves to bipartisan consensus." From my reading these points are not "agreed on" at all, and of course the world consists or much more than the "bipartisan consensus" the VCs refer to. The fact is, they are seeing higher education institutions as they are - big engines of revenue that could be profitable investment centres - rather than what they could be for students and the public as a whole.

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Revenge of the Lunch Lady

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 16:00


Jane Black, Huffington Post, Feb 14, 2017

This is a really interesting report looking into issues related to school lunches in the United States by focusing on schools in Huntington, West Virginia, which had been labeled "the most unhealthy in the country" and had suffered the attentions of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. While the authors no doubt expected a disaster what they found was a local food services manager who was reforming the system from within. In the course of the article we read of the conflicts of interest that result in pizza being called a vegetable and the food industry dumping surplus cheese and butter on the system. And we read about the challenges posed by the idea that schools might refuse a poor child anything to eat because their parents didn't pay.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

A conceptual framework for integrated STEM education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 13:00


Todd R. Kelley, J. Geoff Knowles, International Journal of STEM Education, Feb 13, 2017

The conceptual framework in this paper employs the metaphor of a pulley system whereby scientific, engineering and mathematical thinking lead to integrated educational approaches. The idea is to promote STEM and a metadiscipline offering "an integrated effort that removes the traditional barriers between these subjects, and instead focuses on innovation and the applied process of designing solution to complex contextual problems using current tools and technologies." The really interesting part of this paper, though, is the comparison between scientific and engineering methodologies. The paper also looks at the engineering perspective of technology as compared to that found in the humanities. These create tensions, and the model essentially uses a community of practice as the 'rope' to mediate between them and integrate the educational program.

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The Legacy of InBloom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 13:00


Monica Bulger, Patrick McCormick, Mikaela Pitcan, Data & Society, Feb 13, 2017

As the story (34 page PDF) says, "InBloom was a $100 million educational technology initiative primarily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aimed to improve American schools by providing a centralized platform for data sharing, learning apps, and curricula." It collapsed three years ago amid accusations of privacy violations. This article depicts it as in part "a clash between Silicon Valley-style agile software development methods and the slower moving, more risk-averse approaches of states and school districts" and in part a problem of communication. "InBloom’ s communication materials and messaging were developed by consultants rather than in-house experts and explained the technology solution without conveying any useful purpose, thus failing to communicate a compelling value proposition to teachers, parents, and students." But in racing for federal dollars, the project also scaled up too quickly, attempting to achieve overnight a vision that did not take into account the public's interests and concerns. Via EdWeek.

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Gillard and Riseboro: How Canada can help boost girls' education globally

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 13:00


Julia Gillard, Caroline Riseboro, Ottawa Citizen, Feb 13, 2017

This article fits a standard pattern worth exploring. The lead author is a well-known politician (in this case former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard). The article has four major sections:

  • a story describing the problem (a 12-year old girl sold into marriage);
  • a policy or mandate (Goal 4 of the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs));
  • outline of the responding organization ((GPE) is the only global partnership focused exclusively on education);
  • and the ask (Global Affairs Canada will soon release its response to Canada’ s International Assistance Review... We hope to see Canada’ s continued and deepening support).

Textbook. And it's published in a major newspaper in Ottawa.

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Lessons Learned: Expanding technology-enabled approaches for out-of-school children and refugees

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 11:00


Center for Educational Innovations, Feb 13, 2017

This article describes a learning program in Sudan where tablet computers with learning resources are made available in learning centres in communities, where the learning centres are themselves solar powered. On the surface it looks like a good program, and though it has yet to be evaluated is similar to other programs with the same objectives. The story itself led me to follow links to the Center for Educational Innovations, which ran the story, and its parent, Results for Development. Like many US-based initiatives, the organization tend to look for  private-sector based responses to social challenges.

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Folk Intuitions about the Causal Theory of Perception

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 23:00


Pendaran Roberts, Keith Allen, Kelly Schmidtke, Ergo, Feb 12, 2017

If I see a clock, my perception of the clock is caused by the clock. Right? This is the so-called 'folk intuition' about perception, but not only is it not clear that it is true, it is not even clear that ordinary people (aka 'folk') think it is true. This paper reports on a test of folk intuitions about perception and finds that, instead of the strong 'causal' theory of perception, folk are content with a much weaker 'non-blocker' theory of perception. We don't feel obligated to say that there actually is a clock when we report having seen a clock. This has all kinds of implications for our understandings of testing, experience, and learning. Image: Bö hm and Pfister.

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How will education change in the next 10 years?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 20:00


Various authors, Quora, Feb 12, 2017

This is a question thread on Quora which has just been graced by Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. Khan predicts the rise of mastery-based learning, competency-based credentials, and alternative and clearer career paths. It's not wrong, per se, but it feels like a very incomplete picture to me. There's a number of other responses as well which make for interesting reading.

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