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Dave Cormier analyzes the history of 'content'. "In the 12th and 13th centuries, we see the vague beginnings of the modern university. We see, at almost the same time, the birth of thought control at universities," he writes and then cites his 'favourite educator', Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi: "Imagine, he says, if we took all the things that people needed to know and broke them into small pieces." So 'Content' requires a printing press, but even more, "It requires authority/power in the form of a government/agency/publisher deciding what is ‘ required’ to learn." Good stuff.[Link] [Comment]
Good update on the LMS failure at UC Davis (mentioned previously here). "UC Davis has finished its spring academic term as of June 9th using two partial systems, one for faculty and one for students and neither of which is fully functional," writes Phil Hill. Full functionality was never restored in the Sakai system. Overview with links to coverage and a timeline.[Link] [Comment]
Good column by Audrey Watters: " the problem isn’ t simply that schools are spending billions of taxpayer dollars on technology. That is, the problem is not simply that there are businesses that sell products to schools; businesses have always sold products to schools. The problem is that we don’ t really examine the ideologies that accompany these technologies."[Link] [Comment]
Maybe this can put the whole 'grit' fad permanently to rest. As Russ Whitehurst says, grit can't be 'taught' per se, and even if it could, accounts for virtually no improvement in learning outcomes. Jay P. Greene would like to keep the corpse alive. "There is a growing body of evidence that suggests character skills are malleable and that education plays an important role in shaping and altering character," he writes. Maybe. But is the goal of education really to make all of us conscientious, nice and hard-working people? Or is this just someone's idea of what poor people should be like if they want to better themselves? Instead of, say, being born rich, or living is an equitable social democracy?[Link] [Comment]
With Microsoft entering social in a big way, it's worth taking another look at IBM's play in the space, a play backed by years of development, in-house testing, and some judicious acquisitions. Where IBM stands out, I think, is with the analytics services to add into the mix (what they call 'cognitive collaboration'). "People want a team-oriented collaborative approach, they also want help with their knowledge. We want to bring our intelligent bots and their cognitive approach," says IBM VP Ed Brill. For example, "The doctor and patient can then have a real-time meeting even though they're actually distributed, with IBM Watson listening to the conversation in the background, providing an intelligent platform that looks at the context of what's being discussed." I'd love to be working with technology like this to develop open and personal learning.[Link] [Comment]
Do as I did and go directly to the RefMe site. It's a lovely little application that helps you manage references. It has the obligatory Chrome extension. It imports (only 100, though) and exports (in various formats) references. For a (reasonable) price, there's an Word plug-in. And you can use your mobile camera, scan book/journal barcodes, and even turn printed text into digital text with your smartphone camera. There's also an API to encourage interoperability. And a suite of services for institutions. I like this a lot. A lot, I say.[Link] [Comment]
I am an incurable listener of audio and radio - during the day I listen to CBC radio, on the road I'm a podcast addict, evenings will find me attentive to the Blue Jays broadcasts, and at night I am up with Johnny Dollar, Phillip Marlowe, and the rest of the cast of old time radio. And of course I have contributed hundreds of hours of my own voice to audio as well. What characterizes audio today more than ever is the diversity of voices you hear. So I agree with Amy Ahearn that by contrast "online learning has a mansplaining problem." It's not so much the voice as the attitude. Consider Krista Tippett: "Tippett’ s sentences were long, complex and contemplative. Her tone was one of inquiry rather than authority. She sounded different than typical instructors on platforms like Udemy, Udacity, Skillshare or Coursera who lecture in tones of confident authority.... her voice might be exactly what online learning needs." Well, OK, it's the voice too. We need more voices, and we need more diverse voices. Now I can't help being who I am, so my voice isn't going to change, But maybe I should be more like Bryan Alexander and talk to different people in the field. It's worth a thought.[Link] [Comment]
Disposable commentary, except for this: "I’ ve long thought that Microsoft should buy Coursera - and now this LinkedIn purchase may create a compelling reason to explore that deal." Coursera isn't necessarily the best deal; its client base (not to be confused with enrollements) is limited and data collection is sparse. And it's transitioning to a new and essentially untested platform. But a company like Desire2Learn would fit neatly between the Microsoft technology stack and the LinkedIn employment and professional development stack - and Desire2Learn, already based on Microsoft technologies, has a built-in client base of hundreds of schools and colleges worldwide. Image: D2L, Brightspace integration with Microsoft Office 365.[Link] [Comment]
I'm only doing two of the five things recommended by Doug Peterson, but that's good enough for me. Peterson links to a drawing by Sylvia Duckworth on the reasons to have a personal (or professional) learning network (PLN). The concept is a spin-off from the original 'personal learning environment' that has caught on with the schools and teaching community. Related: why you need to connect with your peers in the e-learning community.[Link] [Comment]
I don't consider what I do in this newsletter to be content curation, but other people do. Either way, I do consider it to be a form of online teaching and learning. hence the relevance of this article. "Content curation focuses on the accuracy, relevance, usefulness, value, and other aspects of knowledge assets," writes Marc Rosenberg. "Curators are less focused on finding more content than they are on making sure what they have is the right content." Fair enough. But you can see the difference between what I do and what a curator does by looking at the list of ten things a curator should rule out (according to Rosenberg). I will include, while a curator will exclude: things that are wrong, things that are contradictory, things that expire, things that are incomplete, things from disreputable sources, and more. Why? because I am not creating a collection. I am chasing down and wrestling a set of issues to the ground. It's as much an investigation as a curation, and it takes me places no curator will go.[Link] [Comment]
So if you have an online affair with a bot, is it cheating? What if you didn't know it was a bot? What if you could have known (by reading the terms of service) but didn't? These are not idle questions. This paper looks at the use of bots in the dating and hookup site Ashley Madison, which was hacked and 37 million accounts made public in 2015. The bots themselves were called 'Engagers' and the profiles they inhabited were called 'Angels'. Their purpose was to encourage users to sign up for paid services. For this reason they are a class of bots called 'speculative devices' - "those things that are set in place based on a conjecture of an outcome — bots and profiles are seemingly active in Ashley Madison in the hope they will engage users and generate business for example." What's significant about the Ashley Madison case is that "speculative devices are implicated in our ethics." And according to the author, "This raises the question of where morality is delegated to the non-human what do we do when we encounter the unexpected, or when we see harms being caused." Good questions. Part of a special issue of First Monday on Web 2.0.[Link] [Comment]
This paper highlights the use of technology to support education in "five remote First Nations in Northwestern Ontario conducted in early 2014 in collaboration with the communities and their tribal council, Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO)." These communities are faced with a double challenge: first, isolation, as their communities are accessible by ice road only five weeks of the year; and second, decolonization, as their heritage and culture are under threat of assimilation by southern society. Decolonization means the protection and use of their own language. It also involves being on the land in an informed and meaningful manner. It's not an either-or thing: "the people living in these remote communities continually supported and wrote about their involvement with learning, education, and other activities that demonstrate their strong relationship with the land and all its resources." This is one article in a special issue of In Education on indigenous education.[Link] [Comment]
Good post on an essential difference. Quoting none other than Richard Nixon: "It was obvious that no plans could have possibly been devised to cope with such unpredictable conduct. Yet without months of planning … I might have been completely dismayed and routed by his unexpected assaults."[Link] [Comment]
I don't think Canada needs any lessons on supposed 'visa fraud' from the Times of London, participarly when the only evidence offered seems to be the way we run our decentralized education system: "the process for granting degree-awarding powers is determined by each provincial government, which she said 'can allow more room for corruption'." If there is any evidence that fraud actually has been committed by Canadian institutions, THE ought to come out and say so instead of making insinuations. By contrast, I guess, British institutions, which can charge $18K in tuition, aren't likely to defraud their students at all! Crumpets![Link] [Comment]
It appears to be a fuss about nothing - or maybe it was a trial balloon - but though there are reports that Coursera is clamping down on free access to courses, there's no real evidence to back that up. Nonetheless, Dave Weinberger is sounding a caution. "MOOCs are here to stay," he writes, "But we once again need to learn the danger of centralized platforms. Protocols are safer — more generative, more resistant to capture — than platforms. Distributed archives are safer than centralized archives." But of course the platform created at Stanford and catering to exclusive universities was always going to be centralized. The question is why we pay so much attention to Coursera than to the dozens of other MOOC platforms.[Link] [Comment]
The second power of open, says David Wiley, is the use of open materials to support a better pedagogy. "Perhaps we should start talking about open pedagogy as the 'second power of open,'" he writes. "Perhaps that language, which has a clear and specific referent, would help a broader group of people understand that there’ s even more to open than they realized." I'd like to think so, but that's what we did with MOOCs, using open resurces to create a new pedagogy, but there wasn't really a great opening of the eyes as a result.[Link] [Comment]
This is not universally true, of course. Sometimes they have other less legal means. What they don't have is a special 'character' that makes them entrepreneurs (much less better than you or me). “ Many other researchers have replicated the finding that entrepreneurship is more about cash than dash,” University of Warwick professor Andrew Oswald tells Quartz. “ Genes probably matter, as in most things in life, but not much.”[Link] [Comment]
Last week, I got an email telling me to change my password because the LinkedIn database had been hacked. Today, Microsoft is buying the company. No, I'm not saying the events are linked. It's just surprising that a company with 500K members could leave passwords exposed. Anyhow, I'm now waiting for another email about my LinkedIn account, since apparently now Microsoft will be able to read all my personal data. Remember: in our field, companies buy customers, not technology.[Link] [Comment]
So this is interesting. Contained in a recent report we read "This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart. The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’ t have all the answers." The L.A. Times draws the appropriate conclusion: "Philanthropists are not generally education experts, and even if they hire scholars and experts, public officials shouldn’ t be allowing them to set the policy agenda for the nation’ s public schools." This is all the more true because philanthropists typically reward the best fundraisers, and not the best projects.[Link] [Comment]
Interesting accounbt of how Katrina Keene created an ed tech professional learning network (PLN) in Tennessee. "This evolution of #TnTechChat revealed something to me that I never knew in years past— that I had given up on my home state. If I had put something in action when I first began on Twitter, perhaps our state of Tennessee could have been connected sooner. But regardless, we were and are now connected."[Link] [Comment]
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