Miscellaneous

MARi

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/19/2015 - 17:00
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Carney Labs, LLC, Jul 19, 2015

According to them, "MARi is the first technology platform to track your knowledge on where you want to go - in school, your career, and your life. MARi engages students in their future by giving them visibility and control of the path to get there... MARi helps an individual gather data from a variety of sources to create an accurate picture of where he or she is located within a particular academic subject area. MARi then applies a combination and information engineering, complex data modeling, and big data analytics to create an individualized map for each student. " See also their Twitter account.  Related: our Learning and Performance Support Systems.

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If You Build It Will They Come An Evaluation of Whiteboard a Networked Academic Profiles Project

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/19/2015 - 09:00
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Stian Håklev, Frances Garrett, Matt Price, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, Jul 19, 2015

What I like about this report is that it described what really happened rather than whitewashing a project that essentially never really succeeded. How often have we seen this: "In total, only 237 users signed up and 113 actively posted content to the site, with a large proportion of the content generated by students directly involved with the project." So what were the causes of failure? Student perceptions that social media wasn't useful (and a preference for using the library), the sense of being 'excluded' from online goods, and the lack of technical sophistication of the platform. The full report is a 33 page PDF.

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Just How Good Is 'To Kill a Mockingbird'?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/19/2015 - 09:00
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William Giraldi, New Republic, Jul 19, 2015

I read To Kill a Mockingbird many years ago, when I was still young, and no number of reviews for or against will alter my own appreciation of the work (I've never seen the movie, but that's OK). With the discovery and publication of Harper Lee's new lost book in the midst of a summer of discontent it seems appropriate to revisit the original. This review in The New Republic is a good venue. And the book poses a question relevant today: how do we find justice when the institutions of justice fail? It can be an act of courage to work within the system to seek change, but at the same time, it can change you, so that you accept as inevitable the indefensible. "Tom Robinson’ s dooming by the jury should have shredded the very fabric of Atticus Finch. Where are the spiritual upheavals of this man?"

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What Is Detected?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 11:00
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Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 18, 2015

Plagiarism detection software is only partially useful, according to this report, and professors may be better off just using Google to detect infractions. In addition to false positives (revealing the ironic situation where professors who never read the papers are nonetheless giving grades on them) the system fails to detect as many as a third of the instances discovered by Google. “ We say that we’ re using this software in order to teach students about academic dishonesty, but we’ re using software we know doesn’ t work,” Schorn said. “ In effect, we’ re trying to teach them about academic dishonesty by lying to them.” From Academica, here are the links to the 2007 Study and the 2015 Study.

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Houston, I think We have a (Disengagement) Problem

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 11:00
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Kelly Christopherson, Educational Discourse, Jul 18, 2015

You need engagement in education only when you're trying to get people to do things they don't want to do. Our insistence on this has bred the creativity out of them. Kelly Christopherson writes, "most people end up not using most of their capabilities, stuck in a situation where their talent is not being used to its full capacity, they are unhappy with what they are doing but fear making a change to do something else." Perhaps instead of engaging students, he suggests, we should be empowering them. Good post, with loads of references to articles on engagement.

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BeLearning: Environments for Expanding Knowledge

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 11:00
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Juan José Calderón Amador, e-learning, conocimiento en red, Jul 18, 2015

This is really interesting and embodies a lot of the sort of approach I favour: "BeLearning used new technologies through a blend training combining meeting, working and researching involving virtual spaces, digital tools and online platforms in a rich mix of interactions with traditional media: presentations, workshops, classes." There's a 44 page PDF manual available describing the process and how to apply it, and a  website supporting the initiative. The methodology is based on three 'layers' which support the mixing and remixing of individual experiences from divergent perspectives in order to develop an emergent form of knowledge that impacts an organization or community (see the illustration on page 24).

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How Textbooks Can Teach Different Versions Of History

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 11:00
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Laura Isensee, NPR Ed, Jul 18, 2015

One of the things I like about the use of internet resources in education is that we are no longer constrained to a single view of the world as we were in the textbook age (this presumes, of course, that schools use the internet to teach, and not just digitized versions of their old sources in a closed environment). This has an impact in every field, but is probably most significantly in fields where controversies exist, such as history. The subject of this article is the U.S. Civil War, but it could be anything, really.

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Learning and performance support systems: personal learning record: user studies white paper

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 12:00
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Helene Fournier, Heather Molyneaux, National Research Council, Jul 17, 2015

This is the second of the White Papers developed in support of the Learning and Performance Support Systems program (meanwhile, development continues apace behind the scenes). This one focuses on the design and application of what we call the 'Personal Learning Record'. "The Personal Learning record component will define how user learning activities are represented, captured, and leveraged in a meaningful way; data associated with learning activities includes ratings, test results, performance measures, and the like, in a distributed learning and work environment."

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Six Ways Continuing Education Can Close Canada's Skills Gap

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 09:00


Marie Bountrogianni, Huffington Post, Jul 17, 2015

Here are the "six continuing education trends that can help to close Canada's training gap," according to the Dean of the Change School, Marie Bountrogianni (quoted):

  • continuing education can provide soft skills that are in-demand and transferable
  • working adults can choose the course or program that is best suited to their needs
  • teach employees entrepreneurial behaviour, strategy, and opportunity identification
  • better linkages between employers and post-secondary institutions, and among post-secondary institutions
  • employees (who) understand and efficiently act upon the insights that data can provide
  • the experience and expertise older adults bring to their encore careers

 

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Promising Research Results On Specific Forms Of Adaptive Learning / ITS

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 09:00
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Phil Hill, e-Literate, Jul 17, 2015

"The most promising results appear to be  for a subset of adaptive systems that provide  not just content selection but also  tutoring," writes Phil Hill. How do such systems do this? An Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) "constructs either a persistent multidimensional model of the student’ s psychological states (such as subject matter knowledge, learning strategies, motivations, or emotions)." In other words, "ITS relies on a multidimensional model of the student in addition to a model of the subject area (domain model)." This allows the creation of a double-loop system: the outer loop selects learning tasks, while the inner loop "elicits steps within each task (e.g., problem-solving steps) and provides guidance with respect to these steps, typically in the form of feedback, hints, or error messages." Why does this work? It's immediate feedback, response-specific feedback, increased learner control, and individualized task selection.

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Bologna With Student Eyes 2015

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/16/2015 - 22:00
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European Students' Union, Jul 16, 2015

This is a long document and takes some time to work through. In a one-sentence nutshell, though: the ambitious plans outlined in the Bologna Plan have not been realized, largely because of inconsistent application across the member states. As Elisabeth Gehrke, esu Chairperson, says, "It is not reasonable that the Bologna Process has been in place since 1999, yet still basic recognition of degrees and qualifications is not yet a reality. There is no doubt that something must be done or in 2020 the Bologna Process will be obsolete at best." The document looks at recognition, student mobility, internationalisation, employment,  financing and the future of Bologna. 108 page PDF.

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Against Students

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/16/2015 - 11:00
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Sara Ahmed, The New Inquiry, Jul 16, 2015

I can't praise the writing (and the over-use of one line paragraphs), but the core thesis seems correct: many valid criticisms of academia are being 'swept away' through criticisms of neo-liberal doctrine and the idea of students as consumers. People say that students are 'too sensitive', according to the author, but they need to be 'too sensitive' in order to respond to questionable priorities and outright discrimination in the current system. It's akin to the use of the term 'politically correct' to dismiss legitimate grievances, to my mind. As Ahmed writes, "Those who are accused of harassment can argue, or at least imply, that students who challenge their practices are acting like consumers, being censoring, over-sensitive, or just complaining."

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Beyond the Transcript

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/16/2015 - 11:00
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Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 16, 2015

The Lumina Foundation has sponsored an initiative top extend the traditional university transcript. "Student knowledge that might be documented in next-generation transcript prototypes include co-curricular or experiential learning -- maybe working on a campus robotics team -- or even soft skills like critical thinking and good communication. Digital badges also could be included." A variety of options may be considered: "Notable players include Parchment, the National Student Clearinghouse and Campus Labs. Related offerings include those from Merit Pages, Degreed and the Mozilla Foundation’ s Open Badges."

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Introducing the Open Badges 101 course! [pre-alpha]

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 15:00
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Doug Belshaw, Jul 15, 2015

It took me about ten minutes to go through  the entire course as it is, which is basically a series of useful images linked in a linear path (next... next... next... - start here). So, yeah, there's a lot of work to be done in this course and it's totally pre-alpha. Totally fair. And you can connect to  the GitHub forums discussing how it can be improved (which, frankly, should be retained as a permanent part of the course - because, why not?) How would I improve it? Well, none of the  broad networks of connectivity envisioned in the course exist in the course. How do you make that work by building a course? I don't think you can - I think you have to start with the broad networks of connectivity, and then design learning experiences (possibly including courses) after you've done that.

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Some (further) thoughts about ‘agile’ learning design

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:00


Tony Bates, online learning and distance eductaion resources, Jul 15, 2015

If you want to learn about agile learning design, you are probably better off learning about  agile software design - from which it is derived - than from reading about agile learning designe. Agile is a well-established and well-tested approach to designing software in dynamic and changing environments; we are using it at NRC to build LPSS. But note, you'll find some key differences between the two. The agile design I read in this Tony Bates article owes a lot more to traditional learning design than it does to agile. Imagine these principles applied to learning:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Now compare with what we read in the Tony Bates article summarizing Peter Rawsthorne’ s model of agile learning design: "clearly defined and measurable broad learning goals... sub-goals or topics, negotiated with learners... core learning materials and tools chosen in advance by the instructor... assessment based on pre-determined criteria linked." I can see the relation between this and agile - but it's like Rawsthorne can't let go of the core principles of instructional design where they conflict with an approach that would result in, well, a cMOOC.

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Stop Blaming ‘The System’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 12:00
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Dan Haesler, Jul 15, 2015

This is one of those posts where I'm half in agreement and half in disagreement. The essence of Dan Haesler's comment is that we should stop blaming what we can't change and start working on what we can change. "I often hear that things will  never  change until we get rid of NAPLAN or the ATAR and we can’ t innovate in the current educational climate," he writes. "Well if that’ s your position then it’ s a bit of a cop-out. Because let’ s be honest, they aren’ t going anywhere." I agree in the sense that we should not let the system limit us; I often work outside, around or underneath the system to make things work. And like Saul Alinsky, I try to make the system work toward my own ends. But he's wrong when he suggests we should just let the system be. It often is wrong, it was built to impair progress and equity, and it should change - and if we would around the system well enough, ti will change.

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Syrians see the limits of an education in refuge

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 00:00
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Michael Pizzi, Al Jazeera, Jul 14, 2015

There are issues here that defy easy solutions. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has generally dealt with cases in Africa, and so only provided rudimentary education. But in a middle-income country like Syria, expectations are higher (and, honestly, they should be higher for Africa as well). And, "there is an urgency to these efforts, saying disaffected Syrian youths may be vulnerable to extremism," and this is true in any case where refugees are created, not just Syria. It seems to me online learning and online commerce should be able to help, but in the long run, I think we need to create a freedom of mobility, so people aren't trapped in dictatorships, impoverished nations, or refugee camps. As is always the case, education is a necessary, but not sufficient, solution to humanitarian issues.

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Updated E-Learning Definitions

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 07/14/2015 - 22:00


John Sener, Online Learning Consortium, Jul 14, 2015

Useful set of definitions that will help people discussing e-learning. It focuses only on types of course (traditional, blended, online) and programs. " Our hope is that it will move us toward a set of shared, commonly understood definitions that will facilitate the sharing of research data and professional standards in our field." Via D'Arcy Norman.

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The battle for open-access information

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 07/14/2015 - 10:00
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Martin McKenzie-Murray, The Saturday Paper, Jul 14, 2015

I've been an AAAARG member for a  long time, though in recent years it has become less useful (as people have been sharing citations, but not actual papers). AAAARG has survived legal cases, public opposition, and more, and I imagine it will survive this article, which wile it sounds sypathetic, ultimately insists that the site is doing something wrong, trotting out the old and well-worn argument to do so: “ To state the obvious, most anti-copyright activists have never had to rely on [lending rights] payments or royalties to pay rent. More than that, it has always struck me as odd that many on the left support working wages for the poor, but not the right of authors to earn a living from their work, which is one of the things copyright facilitates." If royalties were the only way to pay authors, I would be in agreement. But they're not, and the way we do it now has resulted in the least efficient and most unfair system possible. Via Darcy Moore.

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An executive’s guide to machine learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/13/2015 - 18:00
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Dorian Pyle, Cristina San Jose, McKinsey, Jul 13, 2015

I think this is a pretty good article overall. It tells the executive officer what machine learning is without making the mistake of telling them what machine learning is. That is, it focuses more on value and use than it does on technology and mechanics. I think this is a bit of a cop-out, though: "Without strategy as a starting point, machine learning risks becoming a tool buried inside a company’ s routine operations." That's like saying, "without learning objectives you can't rely on machine learning to recommend learning resources." In one sense, this is true, but in another, deeper, sense, you want the machine learning to tell you what the strategic (or learning) options are. You don't know what you don't know, but good AI should help you with that.

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