Miscellaneous

Stanford scientists put free text-analysis tool on the web

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 09:24
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Andrew Myers, Stanford Engineering, March 31, 2014

As this prromotional article states, "Ever wondered whether a certain TV show had a slant in favor of a political candidate? Stanford computer scientists have created a website that gives anyone who can cut and paste the ability to answer such questions, systematically and for free. The website is known as etcML, short for Easy Text Classification with Machine Learning." The story says two things to me. First, learning analytics is becoming a commodity, which will manifest itself as a service that other applications can access. Second, if you're developing something and want to develop a market for it, the way to be successful is to create a publicly-accessible protototype and then promote it - I know lots of people have been working on emotional and sentiment analysis, but the world beats a path to the door of the people who actually show how it's done. Via Geoffrey Rockwell.

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Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 09:19
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Marc A. Smith, Lee Rainie, Ben Shneiderman, Itai Himelboim, Pew Research Internet Project, March 31, 2014

I think that the structure of Twitter (specifically: the fact that wheen you post, you post to an audience of all your pollowers) limits the range of possible types of 'conversatuon networks'. So don't take this post as all-inclusive. Where the value lies, however, in the recognition that very distinct forms of networks can form in an environment where people have conversations, some dysfunctional (such as 'polarized crowds') and others less so (such as 'community clusters'). Via Brent Schlenker.

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Moneyball

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 09:12


Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, March 31, 2014

People are beginning to notice the the proponents of learning analytics need to brink some new data and examples forward to support their case, as the old ones are not only, well, old, they have also been thoroughly discredited. Jim Groom comments, "a lot has happened since 2010. Mike Caulfield pointed out  six months ago, and Michael Feldstein re-iterated, the research claims of the effectiveness of Course Signals to increase retention are deeply problematic."

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The Game of Wrong, and Moral Psychology

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 09:05


John Holbo, Crooked Timber, March 31, 2014

Some interesting post-MOOC reflections on learning and moral psychology from Crooked Timber, another example I think of how a MOOC well done results in the creation of new knowledge, as opposed to the mere transmission of the old (this may not be so much true for the students of a Coursera course as it is for the instructor). Anyhow, the reflections cause in me some thoughts about the apparent contradition between two principles I have long held, the first of which is a form of utilitarianism, and the second of which is a version of Kant's principle that each person is inherently valuable. Silly problems like the  Trolley Problem are designed not merely to test these principles but to drive a wedge between them. But in fact, the two principles are different aspects of the same principle of ethics, to my mind.

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How the Web was Ghettoized for Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 11:41
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Jim Broom, bavatuesdays, March 30, 2014

Can't say I disagree with this: "For more than a decade the web has been systematically ghettoized as a dangerous space where people steal and victims are robbed (not entirely false, but not the whole story either).... The fear and loathing surrounding the internet, copyright, and downloading that enabled universities during the late 90s to shutoff the web for anything beyond basic business operations is best summed up for me in the :38 second GI Joe PSA 'Stop All the Downloading.'" I would add that the deeply disturbing aspect is that the materials available through the 'safe' portals are just as harmful, albeit in more long term and subtle ways, as students are guadually acclimatized to a learned helplessness and dependence on augthority and order.

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European Commission launches network to foster web talent through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 11:36


Press Release, European Commission, March 30, 2014

Nick Kearney pointed me to the European Commission's ususual definition of MOOCs: "MOOCs are online university courses which enable people to access quality education without having to leave their homes." I wonder who it was who convinced them that the massive and open aspects of these courses are compleetely incidental. There's a network discussion group that can be found on the European Commission’ s portal Open Education Europa. "The initiative is coordinated by p.a.u. education and in partnership with Iversity." Oh - that's who think the massive and open aspects are incidental.

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The Shifting Role of University Systems

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 10:32


Steven Mintz, Inside Higher Ed, March 30, 2014

As the impact of online learning gradually becomes apparent, what becomes of the role of the traditional university system? One person's view: "My personal view is that there is great value in systemness... system can serve as innovation incubators, assisting campuses in building the data-driven strategic enrollment and student lifecycle management infrastructure needed to support education in the 21st century; in advancing next-generation online learning, which will play a critical role in enhancing access, affordability, student success, and institutional sustainability; and leading the way as institutions gradually develop outcomes-driven, competency-based, career-oriented educational pathways."

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What All the Outrage Over the Oculus Deal Says About Facebook, the Brand

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 19:46


Simon Dumenco, Ad Age, March 29, 2014

People are really upset that Oculus Rift (a prototype virtual-reality headset) has been acquired by Facebook. Oculus VR, the parent company, got its start on KickStarter via the contributions of some 9,522 backers (who receive none of the $2 billion purchase price). Now they and other supporters feel betrayed. As Minecraft creator Markus Persson, wrote on his blog, "I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven't historically been a stable platform. There's nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me. And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition." (Emphasis his.) And as  Simon Dumenco writes, "it seems to me that various sentiments... that Facebook is creepy, untrustworthy, unethical, predatory and vaguely desperate... have gone mainstream." Language warning for numerous obscenities in this article.

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How Does PISA Put the World at Risk

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 13:32


Yong Zhao, Creative, Entrepreneurial, , Global: 21st Century Education, March 29, 2014

Three-part series on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA):

Part 1: Romanticizing Misery

Part 2: Glorifying Educational Authoritarianism

Part 3: Creating Illusory Models of Excellence

"While the dispute over PISA’ s technical flaws continues, some argue that even if PISA did everything right technically, it still could not possibly claim to be measuring the quality of entire education systems, let alone their students’ ability to live in the modern world."

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Kenya: Working to break the poverty-education cycle.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 13:00
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Julie Lindsay, E-Learning Journeys, March 29, 2014

Related to the NVCER study is this post on the impact of poverty on early childhood education. From the he UNESCO Education For All Report: "Wealth affects whether primary school children learn the basics... poverty holds back learning in secondary school.... (the) poorest girls face the largest barriers to learning."  Why? "A child whose parents are working means the child is fed, they are literate, they are able to follow up on their child’ s education and learning." Even things like basic nutritional differences between rich and poor students impact learning outcomes.

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Ethics in the Open

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 10:29
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Rob Farrow, OER Research Hub, March 29, 2014

Ethics to me depends on epistemology - what counts as right and wrong depends in an important way on what we know and how we can know it. So I haven't said a lot about ethics and learning technology, because there is so little agreement yet as to what constitutes success and what we know about that. This post considers some of the differences in ethics in work carried out inside and outside institutions. For many thee insstitution provides the ethics frameowrk. But what about outside the institution, and what about he wider framework? I think there's room, as suggested here, for an approach based on 'ethics in the open'. "There is a real need for using one’ s own judgment and reflecting on the ethical dimensions of research for oneself.   When working in the open – potentially beyond institutional reach – an awareness of ethical principles and how they should be applied is essential."

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Cloud, Services and the Transformation of Production

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 09:46


Irving Wladawsky-Berger, March 29, 2014

Good article that describes the rise of cloud computing not only as a change in the delivery of online resources, but also as a change in the organization of computing generally, and with it a gange in the organization and understanding of production and work generally. "IT-based tools are bringing major technology- and organizationally-driven productivity increases to services. A fundamental transformation in services in underway."

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Strength in Numbers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 09:36


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, March 29, 2014

It has been a long time since I've had occasion to  refer to XanEdu in thesse pages, but news comes today that "XanEdu and AcademicPub will merge as quickly as the two parties can sign the paperwork -- a response to a textbook market still clamoring for an all-of-the-above solution to course materials." XanEdu always had a good idea, but was eclipsed by self-publishing systems such as LuLu and while quietly building a respeectable market based for its educational publishing products is now looking toward greater access to learning materials directly. Hence the merger.

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