Miscellaneous

Let’s stop trying to teach students critical thinking

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 13:00


Dennis Hayes, The Conversation, Aug 13, 2014

This idea surfaces from time to time and is commonly found with the same central tenets as are found here:

  • critical thinking is not a skill - thinking of it as a skill reduces it to second-rate applications of tricks of logic
  • critical thinking means some form of indoctrination, typically feminist or Marxist
  • critical thinking is itself uncritical and typically involves adopting some perspective

As a long-time teacher of critical thinking as well as a student of the ideas behind it, I think I can unequivocally say that these three points are nonsense. Critical thinking is a set of tools that help you correct errors in your own reasoning and resist being persuaded by errors in others. It has the same status as mathematics, and failing to teach it has similarly devastating consequences.

 

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All Things in Modulation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 16:00


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 12, 2014

It's hard not to be a bit cynical about the University of Wisconsin's strategy to reduce MOOC dropouts by making courses more locally focused and a lot shorter. “ We’ ve got to pick the greatest hits, as it were, of your course and find some of the material that you think, 'Boy, if [students] only have one exposure to me or my course, here are four things I want them to know,' ” said Joshua Morrill, a senior evaluator at UW-Madison.

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Punished for Its Mission?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 16:00


Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 12, 2014

There's more than a little hyperbole in this story, which describes a small liberal arts college that does not score well on metrics because it's designed to help people get jobs or university placements outside the state of Florida, where it's funded. The real lesson here is that metrics reflect the interests of those who set them, and as a consequence often predict what they attempt to measure, missing what may be relevant or valuable. As for the college itself, it's not clear to me that a small hands-on college designed to send students to Oxford is the best use of public funds in any case. But as one person says on the comments, if the president can make the case, the metrics will be changed.

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Is there such a thing as too little cognitive load?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/10/2014 - 04:00


Kerry Johnson, KerryJ's Neotenous Tech, Aug 10, 2014

My own take here is that I'm not convinced that there is such a thing as cognitive load, but if there is, then the answer to the question is 'yes'. "Great care is taken in online learning spaces to reduce cognitive load," writes KerryJ, "But at what point (AQF and Blooms aside) do we prepare learners for the messy, complicated world they’ re going to find and how can we build that into course design in such a way that  we don’ t discourage them?"

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The Standards of Critical Digital Pedagogy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/10/2014 - 04:00


Chris Friend, Hybrid Pedagogy, Aug 10, 2014

"Educational standards limit the consciousness towards which critical pedagogy aims. Yet, those committed to developing critical digital pedagogies need to pay attention to standards anyway." So says Chris Friend, but the example he offers - "critical digital pedagogues at all levels of education must familiarize themselves with standards regarding Information and Communications Technology (ICT) literacy" - isn't convincing.

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Beginning to process the LA Reclaim Your Domain Hackathon

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/10/2014 - 04:00


Brian Lamb, Abject, Aug 10, 2014

This is good stuff. "I’ ve been intrigued by discussions concerning how things like AWS, Docker, OpenShift are shifting the software landscape, and wondering how something like UBC’ s EduCloud might allow us to do some of these things while remaining compliant with our province’ s FIPPA privacy legislation." And much much more.

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Blogphilosophy: does #peace, pacifist education exist in #MOOC?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/10/2014 - 04:00


Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, Aug 10, 2014

In the last week I have sadly deleted dozens of Facebook contacts, all of whom have in one way or another promoted the war effort of one or another side through the posting of graphic images, propaganda, or justifications. With Inge de Waard I ask, is there nobody who will promote peace? "No matter how hard I try I cannot keep war and conflict out of my mind’ s eye... And in all honesty, there is not a single course of action I seem to be able to take. The powers that be are using all their influences - no matter from which point of view - to instill all of us with the thought that 'war is necessary and good'." The same influences pervade the world of open online learning, she observes. "So can someone please build a peace MOOC?"

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Drawing a line from @elgg to @withknown: an adventure in #edtech and #indieweb

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 16:00


Ben Werdmuller, Aug 09, 2014

I personally think that the line from Elgg to Known runs through Explode!, but that's not the way Ben Werdmuller tells it. "From the beginning, it was important to us that users got to control their own space," he writes. "They could choose their own theme, and hack it, if they wanted to. Most importantly, they could choose exactly who could see each and every post: long before Mark Zuckerberg declared that the age of privacy was dead, our research indicated that students felt more comfortable with web publishing if they could keep tight reigns over who could see their work." See also:  the problem with OKCupid is not a problem with the social web.

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This poster explains Creative Commons for the rest of us

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 16:00


Sean Connor, Saylor Blog, Aug 09, 2014

This is interesting, not simply because it explains Creative Commons for non-technical people, but because it changes the thrust of the message from what you can't do to what you can do. The danger, of course, is that in licenses that state what you can do, the default is restrictive, whereas in licenses that state what you can't do, the default is permissive. Related, and also from Saylor: the care to share bar. Maybe I should add one to my site.

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Tips & Tricks for Recording Audio Narration

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 16:00


Tom Kuhlmann, The Rapid eLearning Blog, Aug 09, 2014

I can't count how much bad audio I've listened to over the years (sadly, I've been the perpetrator of a lot of it). This quick guide focuses our attention to audio quality, and is a much needed instructional technology skill.

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Shots in the heather

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 16:00


Dave Ferguson, Dave's Whiteboard, Aug 09, 2014

Following up from Danieel Lemire's characterization of research (which i endorse) from yesterday: "

Is iomadh urchair tha dol san fhraoch.
(Many a shot goes into the heather.)

That is to say, research (and learning) is about missing the mark as much as it is about success. Without failure, learning doesn't happen. But failure can follow failure without observation and reflection. "If you fire indiscriminately,  paying no attention to when or why or how, not trying to figure out why you missed, and not turning to anyone else for feedback, you’ re   going to continue putting a lot of shot into  the heather."

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Dialogue and discussion: critical for 21st century skills development

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 13:00


Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Aug 08, 2014

According to Tony Bates, conversation is essential in learning as students (and people generally) struggle consciously to find meaning in the phenomena they experience, and this will change the structure on online learning in the future. "Over time, as more experience is gained, MOOCs are likely to incorporate  and  adapt  for large numbers some of the findings from research on smaller group work. Indeed, MOOCs are likely to develop  new ways to manage  discussion effectively in very large groups. In the meantime, though, there is much work still to be done if MOOCs are to provide the support and structure needed to ensure deep, conceptual learning where this does not already exist in students."

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The insanity of research grant proposals

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 13:00


Daniel Lemire, Aug 08, 2014

Short cynical commentary (and a secret formula) on funding for research. Daniel Lemire writes, "I do not care what kind of research you do: a predictable breakthrough is no breakthrough at all. The good scientists always have speculative ideas. Sometimes these ideas come out of nowhere, in the moment. Most of these ideas are very bad… but a few represent the real breakthroughs. And that is what research is really about. Trial and error on a massive scale." Related, an  Ottawa Citizen column calls for a refocus of research funding priorities, and Academica reports, that despite an increased focus on government financing for corporate research in Canada, we're seeing "a decline from 9.6% in 2000-01 to 8.1% in 2012-13."

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The Rise of New Institutional Models and Architectures

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 13:00


Amie Colquhoun, Don Tapscott, Aug 08, 2014

Don Tapscott (or his writer Amie Colquhoun) argues that companies are now encouraging cooperative organization both inside their structures and among competitors. "Smart organizations are encouraging, rather than fighting, the heaving growth of massive online communities, many of which emerged from the fringes of the web to attract tens of millions of participants overnight. Even ardent competitors are collaborating on path-breaking science initiatives that accelerate discovery in their industries." I'd like to believe this but I really need more evidence.

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Mobile Internet Explorer's New User Agent

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 13:00


Alex Chitu, Google Operating System, Aug 08, 2014

It's ironic. It's sad. And once again, it's an example of corporations that just don't play well together, no matter what it costs their customers. "Google doesn't want to make Windows Phone more popular, so it doesn't release apps for Windows Phone. Google also serves inferior versions of its mobile apps in Internet Explorer Mobile. Gmail's mobile site for Windows Phone has a lot in common with Gmail's site for feature phones."

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How a 20 Year Old Patent Application Could Up-End Canada’s Biggest Trade Deal

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 13:00


Michael Geist, Aug 08, 2014

Opponents of free trade legislation have long argued that these mechanisms subvert the rule of law in the contracted countries. This has now apparently been proven to be the case in - where else? - patent law. "If the pharmaceutical giant succeeds, it will have effectively found a mechanism to override the Supreme Court of Canada and hold Canadian taxpayers liable for hundreds of millions in damages in the process. The cost to the health care system could be enormous as the two Eli Lilly patents may be the proverbial tip of the iceberg and claims from other pharmaceutical companies could soon follow."

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No More 'Collective Begging'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 13:00


Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 08, 2014

Hard to disagree: "Unless and until faculty, including part-time faculty, hit the streets and occupy the classrooms," said Stanley Aronowitz, a tenured professor of sociology and urban education at the CUNY Graduate Center, "there won’ t be any change of substance." Of course, there's a fundamental contradiction where the person juding your academic progress is aalso your employer paying you below-subsistence wages.

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Blended Synchronous Learning Handbook

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 13:00
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Matt Bower, Gregor Kennedy, Barney Dalgarno, Mark J. W. Lee, Aug 08, 2014

Nice. 190 page PDF. I'll just quote from the email at length: "The Handbook includes a Blended Synchronous Learning Design Framework that offers pedagogical, technological and logistical recommendations for teachers attempting to design and implement blended synchronous learning lessons (see Chapter 14). It also includes a Rich-Media Synchronous Technology Capabilities Framework to support the selection of technologies for different types of learning activities (see Chapter 4), as well as a review of relevant literature, a summary of the Blended Synchronous Learning Scoping Study results, detailed reports of each of the seven case studies, and a cross-case analysis.

"For those who are interested, the BlendSync Final Report and External Evaluation Report are also from the OLT website at the following URLs: here and here.  A list of academic papers and links to recordings of presentations that have arisen out of the project is posted  here . The project team would also like to take this opportunity to invite all those with an interest in area to join the Blended Synchronous Learning Collaborator Network to abreast of events and updates in the future. Instructions on how to do this can be found at http://blendsync.org/network."

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Learnification

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 15:00


Philip Kerr, ELTjam, Aug 07, 2014

Good paper that I wish were longer. The last few paragraphs are especially abbreviated. Philip Kerr first addresses the rise of the terms 'learner' and 'learning' in education, these reflecting an increased focus on the role of the learner and an emphasis on process. But correspondingly, there has been a focus on outcomes, especially in commercial learning, and the rise in technology in learning. These suggest that satisfactory outcomes can be achieved merely my the application of the correct learning theory. This, Kerr suggests, is incorrect.

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Racy frosh event video angers Ottawa student federation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 14:00


Umnattributed, CBC News, Aug 04, 2014

Every once in a while, you get a photo of a person enjoying a university social activity (such as binge drinking) with the caption "you can't do this in online learning." The implication of course is that the physical and social presence of an in-person class creates an experience that can't be duplicated off-campus. So while this non-sanctioned Frosh Week video - created by an organization with no institutional affiliation - is rightly drawing criticism from city post-secondary institutions, it nonetheless makes the point that you don't need to be at university in order to attend and enjoy traditional university social events.

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