Miscellaneous

Patient Zero of the selfie age: Why JenniCam abandoned her digital life

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 15:00
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Emma Reynolds, News.com.au, Apr 21, 2015

The subtext of this item is that there is something wrong with sharing your life online, because after all the original "cam girl", Jennifer Ringley of JenniCan, gave it up after seven years and not has no social networking presence at all. But I think that reflects more the price of fame than of sharing, and I don't think we should accept the subtext. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating article well worth reading and an interetsing look back at, if you will, a more innocent internet.

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The Open Publishing Revolution, Now Behind A Billion-Dollar Paywall

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 13:00
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Tina Amirtha, Fast Comnpany, Apr 21, 2015

Mendeley, as the author notes, built a piece of software "aimed at helping researchers organize their papers, annotate them, and share them with each other." In 2013 the company was acquired by Elsevier, which had "to squash the threat Mendeley posed to its traditional subscription model, and to own the ecosystem that Mendeley had constructed, with its valuable data on the behavior of millions of researchers." The reaction of members was, not surprisingly, widely negative. This article looks at the fallout, two years later, and some the efforts Elsevier has taken to soften its image.

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What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration From HBX

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 13:00
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Bharat Anand, Jan Hammond, V.G. Narayanan, Harvard Business Review, Apr 20, 2015

I think I have to file this under the category of "catching up" as the 'lessons' learned by Harvard Business School have long been known and studied in the wider online learning and distance education communities. Indeed, some of the recommendations they make - like having people begin by introducing each other in an online discussion, or that "norms of online collaboration can be shaped" - had become cliché s long before HBS 'discovered' them. More recent work has been focused on how to adapt these long-known techniques to massive and open online courses (because, as we all know, a thread consisting of 160,000 introductions is unmanageable). And some of the 'discoveries' appear to be genuine but have been disproven by deeper investigation. Extrinsic motivation, such as paying people, or tying collaboration to grades, may appear to work in the short term, but  fails in the longer term.

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Education shouldn't be a zero-sum game

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:00
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Andrew Parkin, Academica, Apr 20, 2015

Is Canada really over-emphasizing university graduation? It has one of the highest rates of university and post-secondary education completion rates in the world: "In Canada, 50% of the adult population has completed tertiary education, easily the highest rate in the OECD." But  a recent report for the Canadian Council on Chief Executives recommended cutting back on university degrees. "Canada could dramatically improve the quality of university education by cutting enrolment as much as 25 to 30 per cent," wrote Ken Coates. But it's not clear exactly what problem this solves. As Andrew Parkin writes in Academica, "Canada does not look at all like a country that has over-emphasized university education to the detriment of colleges," he writes. "The problem is not an over-emphasis on universities but an under-emphasis on any and all forms of postsecondary education and training." And it's not clear that a more open admissions policy in either system acts to the detriment of either quality or outcome. Quite the opposite: a wider admissions policy lessens our reliance on testing and enables those without the advantages of socio-economic status find an environment where they can thrive and flourish - people like me. Image: Herald Sun.

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Being There: Heidegger on Why Our Presence Matters

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:00
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Lawrence Berger, New York Times, Apr 20, 2015

On reading the headline I immediately thought of Terry Anderson.  He writes of the importance of 'presence' in learning "that views the creation of an effective online educational community as involving three critical components: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence." As this article in the NY Times notes, the idea of presence is linked to the idea of our consciousness of external objects. Heidegger would ask, "given that I experience a stone in a more profound manner, what does that have to do with the being of the stone itself?" And Lawrence Berger offers the explanation, "Not only are we in direct contact with the people and things of this world, but also that our presence matters for how they are made manifest — how they come into presence — in the full potential that is associated with the sort of beings that they are." Now I don't believe this exactly - I don't think there's some sort of mystical projection of ourselves into the external world. But presence and consciousness are closely linked.

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Kifi

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:00
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Website, Kifi, Apr 19, 2015

I have two major things to say about this site. First, analytics and recommendations are becoming commoditized. This is one of a number of services revolving around the concept of learning about you and recommending resources. The second this is that this is a beautiful piece of web design, gracefully introducing new users into a relatively comprehensive understanding of what it does with impressive efficiency. Find and share. Find and share. It's the new web. It's the modern version of applications like ScribeFire, which I was playing with last night after spotting it in a Doug Peterson post. Related: Jared Jacobs  describes how he achieved the spotlight effect in the Kifi tutorial.

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Open Web Presentation for BC Campus

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:00
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Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Apr 19, 2015

Alan Levine introduces and enmbeds a video entitled The Open Web (a) Lost (b) Reclaimed (c) Co-claimed (d) All of the above? He writes that it "was meant to get at what we see as un-necessary dichotomies in ed tech (and also to poke at multiple choice). This was the landscape setting to talk about the work we did at TRU during my stint, both the SPLOT tools and the You Show open seminar." You might also want to look at the The CogDog Show » Syndicate This - "a portfolio site built for my time as an Open Learning Scholar at Thompson Rivers University," he writes.

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VR and consciousness – some truly freakish ideas

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:00
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Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Apr 19, 2015

I experience the arbitrariness of consciousness every day. I put on my glasses, and my whole world changes. More recently, I have enjoyed the altered consciousness of being completely immersed in sound by means of my MP3 player and some quality earbuds. We are conscious - we experience. The two are one and the same phenomenon (think 'morning star' and 'evening star'). The varieties of experience are the varieties of consciousness. And experience is, fundamentally, in the mind, and consciousness is in part a re-experiencing, in part an imagining, in part a sensory perception, and in part, as Charles Dickens famously said, "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato." At a certain point, when virtual reality becomes sufficiently real, it becomes cognitively indistinguishable from actual experience, and hence, equally powerful.

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The OER15 conference

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:00
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Grainne Conole, e4innovation.com, Apr 19, 2015

Grainne Conole summarizes two of four keynotes at the OER15 conference taking place in Cardiff, one by Cable Green and the other by Josie Fraser. According to Green (Conole writes) "it was time for an OER implementation strategy, and in particular a focus on what is needed to achieve change and mainstream OER? He invited us to look at and comment on a consultation document on OER tinyurl.com/oerstrategy. " I find this interesting, because I did not get the sense that there was a support for "an OER implementation strategy" at the meeting in Sausalito last month - people felt there should be a diversity of approaches, not one coordinated approach. Fraser, meanwhile (says Conole) "questioned how we could do this (mainstreaming), referring Martin Weller’ s book ‘ The battle for open’ . She suggested that we think of mainstreaming as inclusive, valuing difference; and that the Internet is now part of everyday life."

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Call for OER Stories

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 13:00
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OER World Map, Rob Farrow, Apr 19, 2015

Do you have a story about creating or using a free and open learning resource? A project creating a global 'map' of open educational resources (OERs) has issued a call for OER stories. "These could be OER projects or initiatives, Open Educational Practices like someone generating OER or teaching with OER, the development of guidelines & institutional policies on OER, new insights and research on OER, as well as the development or use of helpful infrastructure tools for OER." This addresses one of my major concerns about an OEE mapping exercise, which is that such an initiative will tend to favour established and institutional OER repositories, and to ignore the much large bulk of creativity and sharing that happens outside the institutional space. So I encourage you to send your story, and give them a wider perspective on the creation and use of free and open learning resources.

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Interesting Comment on Pearson’s LMS Plans From Customer

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 13:00
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Phil Hill, e-Literate, Apr 19, 2015

This article looks at Pearson's withdrawal from an learning management sysatem (LMS) request for proposals (RFP) and speculates about whether the publishing company is withdrawing from the LMS space. Pearson says it is committed to "supporting" its current eCollege / LearningStudio platform, but as Phil Hill notes, this doesn't mean it will invest in new features. This raises the question, which is not posed in the article, of where Pearson will invest, if it's not in the LMS space. It's hard to judge from client feedback. As Michael Feldstein says, "when faculty are given an opportunity to ask for what they want, they ask for more of the same. Photo: Mashable.

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MOOC : l'essor des cours en ligne ouverts à tous

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 13:00
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Jérôme Cartegini, Clubic, Apr 19, 2015

Good article en franç ais about the origin of MOOCs and how they developed over time. It covers the gamut from our original MOOCs in 2008 to the Stanford AI course to projects like EdX. It also looks at accessing MOOCs, content and organization, and the limits of the concept of open online learning. It's nice to see an informed an accurate model, in contrast to, say, this piece of  revisionist history from Udemy which paints themselves as the originator of MOOCs on a timeline that begins in 2011. Thanks to Sylvie Dostaler for the Clubic link and to Paul Bradley for the Udemy link.

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The Taming of Tech Criticism

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 13:00
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Evgeny Morozov, The Baffler, Apr 19, 2015

Evgeny Morozov reviews The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, by Nicholas Carr. he writes, "Carr firmly believes that our embrace of automation comes from confusion, infatuation, or laziness— rather than, say, necessity. 'The trouble with automation,' he explains, 'is that it often gives us what we don’ t need at the cost of what we do.'" All very well, but what point does such criticism serve, asks Morozov. "All Carr can do is moralize and blame those who have opted for some form of automation for not being able to see where it ultimately leads us... (this) lack of ambition is itself a testament to the sad state of politics today." As Morozov says, if you want to be popular, you can't do deep criticism, and so all we get are shallow analyses. Now some of us (I point to myself here) think we do offer a deep analysis - but then, of course, we don't (and never will) write for the popular press. Society, heal thyself. Via ICT4D Jester.

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Are Harvard, Yale, and Stanford really public universities?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 23:00
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Jeffrey J. Selingo, Washington Post, Apr 18, 2015

I knew from previous articles about the massive endowments held by private universities like Harvard and Stanford. But here's something I didn't know: "the top 10 schools in terms of assets have about $180 billion... None of that money, nor the gains on it are taxed. As non-profit entities, neither are the extensive land holdings of the nation’ s colleges and universities. Such benefits account for $41,000 in hidden taxpayer subsidies per student annually, on average, at the top 10 wealthiest private universities." Maybe it's time to revisit the question of why the wealthiest students get the largest subsidy from the taxpayer. It certainly puts the debates that I take part in - like, for example, the 'sustainability' of free and open educational resources. What is the 'sustainability' of the Harvard subsidy? Via Bryan Alexander.

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The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 23:00
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Adrienne LaFrance, Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, Apr 18, 2015

People like to criticize BuzzFeed, lamenting the form of the articles and quizzes, and worrying about the death of longform journalism. But BuzzFeed is just the latest in a long history of innovations in journalism, innovations ranging from the first magazines like Time, the national newspaper USA Today, and music video formats like MTV. This article is an extended look at these innovations, and usefully suggests that we look at BuzzFeed as part of a larger arc, not as a single episode unrelated to the rest of media. "BuzzFeed’ s approach has freed its writers from certain longstanding constraints. Because their financial success isn’ t tied to the number of people who view a specific story— and because they don’ t have to worry about the interests of advertisers who appear on a particular page— they’ re free to write stories they truly think readers will enjoy."

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Keybase

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 18:00
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Website, Keybase, Apr 18, 2015

OK, honestly, I don't understand all the details, but I think this - or something like this - is pretty important. Keybase is a website where you can "get a public key, safely, starting just with someone's social media username(s)." I used it to create my own public key and associate it with my accounts on Twitter and Github. So why is this useful? If someone wanted to send me an encrypted message, they could get the public key associated with my twitter account, use it to encrypt it, and send it to me; only I would be able to read it. You can also so you can request my key, get my proofs, and verify my identity in any software. It also allows me to digitally sign messages and other document, so you know I am the author of them.

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Against close reading

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 15:00
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Alex Reid, Digital Digs, Apr 18, 2015

There are some really good observations in this post. The practise of 'close reading' as it is widely taught  involves "the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of text." A common  criticism of social media and online reading is that students "find nuance, complexity, or just plain length of literary texts less to their liking than we did." I don't think they ever found it to their liking, but let's assume they do. Alex Reid asks, "What does it mean to read your Facebook status feed closely when what is being offered to you has been produced by algorithmic procedures that take account of your own activities in ways that you are not consciously aware?" It's not so much that close reading is irrelevant, but rather, that close reading has changed, and while students may be aware of the new nuances, the same is not clear of instructors still embedded in critical theory (and still bent with noses in books). As Reid says, "we should pay closer attention to the ways in which the operation of text is shifting." Image: Sheron Brown, found here.

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The numbers game

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 12:00
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Steve Wheeler, Learning With Es, Apr 18, 2015

The assignment of a numeric value to student work is a technology. It's actually a relatively recent technology. Why did we adopt it? Steve Wheeler asks the question and the closest he comes to an answer is in saying "marking of students' work is... about how their work measures up against standards." In the wider scheme of things, though, surprisingly few assessments are made this way. Consider the way you recognize a person in a crowd - do you rate each person ("she's 40% of my grandmother, he's 25% of my grandmother")? Of course not. Do you give numerical values to the correct way (and various incorrect ways) of going to the office in the morning? These alternative assessments are not about "how (to)... get them to understand what they need to do better next time." They speak to a different assessment technology, one not based on grades, but on recognition.

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California’s multi-million dollar online education flop is another blow for MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 12:00
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Ryan Derousseau, The Hechinbger Report, Apr 18, 2015

According to this article, "the Online Instruction Pilot Project has become another expensive example of the ineffectiveness— so far, anyway— of once-vaunted plans to widen access to college degrees by making them available online, including in massive online open courses, known as MOOCs." To be clear, in this particular project, "to make the program self-sustaining, non-UC students were allowed to enroll, too— for $1,000 to $2,000 per course— and to earn academic credit." So here's what the story really is: calling courses 'open' and then charging thousands of dollars for them didn't work, so, blame MOOCs.

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Kirkpatrick Model Good or Bad? The Epic Mega Battle!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 14:00
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Will Thalheimer, Clark Quinn, Will at Work Learning, Apr 17, 2015

The Kirkpatrick Model is a mechanism for evaluating learning programs; you can read about it here. The idea is to take evaluations of learning events beyond the 'reaction sheet' and to look at the actual results, including "to what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement." These targeted outcomes are often, in a corporate setting, the impact of changes in behaviour (lower losses, keeping on schedule, etc). This post debates the merit of the Kirkpatrick Model. In particular, we have to ask whether it's fair to old training designers and instructors to targeted outcomes. "Employees should be held to account within their circles of maximum influence, and NOT so much in their circles of minimum influence." There's only so much a trainer can do to improve performance, just as there's only so much a cleaner can do to ensure clients are impressed, and only such a lawyer can do in a lawsuit.

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