Miscellaneous

Cognitive Privilege

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 20:23

Darren Miller, Linking and Thinking on Education, Aug 07, 2017

This post offers a clear example of how the argument around privelege is (deliberately?) misrepresented. It discusses the concept of 'cognitive privilege', which writers purport to have discovered: "Daily Iowan author Dan Williams argues, people have no control over how smart they are… 'Consequently, you have nothing to be proud of for being smart.'" Darren Miller rejoinds, "I guess Olympians and professional athletes have nothing to be proud of, either." Now I'm not an Olympic athlete, but I  am  one of the cognitively privileged. And I know (and have been very clear about) not only the years of work and practice it took me over the years to achieve this position, but also  the very good fortune  I had to be born in Canada, raised with good nutrition and mental stimulation, and educated by one of the best systems in the world. These advantages are not a source of pride for me, but rather, and quite properly, a reason for humility. People with an IQ of 86 are  just as important  as the ones with an IQ of 166.

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Vermont Medical School Says Goodbye To Lectures

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:55

Audie Cornish, Sam Gringlas, NPR, Aug 07, 2017

Short video segment plus transcript on why Vermont medical School is employing active learning rather than lectures in the future. "When you do a comparison between lectures and other methods of learning — typically called "active learning" methods — that lectures are not as efficient or not as successful in allowing students to accumulate knowledge in the same amount of time." I like the use of the example of pharmacokinetics in tghe middle of the article. "Those are the types of things where you're expecting the student to know the knowledge in order to use the knowledge. And then they don't forget it."

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The digital native is a myth

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:35

Nature, Aug 07, 2017

People have been disproving the 'digital native' theory for more than a decade now. Here is my 2007 coverage of the denouement of the debate. The behaviours attributed to being 'digital native' are caused not by age or generation, but by  use of the technology. So why is it the subject of a Nature editorial in 2017 that "the younger generation uses technology in the same ways as older people?" And why are Kirschner and Bruyckere getting the celebrity treatment for a 2017 paper on the subject? Yes, "education policy is particularly vulnerable to political whims, fads and untested assumptions." But this editorial does nothing to address that; it merely contributes to it, offering a poorly researched and superficial commentary on an issue that does not appear to have been studied by the authors.

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Teaching by Algorithm

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:26

Tim Stahmer, Assorted Stuff, Aug 07, 2017

Tim Stahmer critiques a BBC segment on learning technology. "A BBC video starts by asking 'Could computer algorithms upgrade education?'" he writes. "It just gets worse from there." The video describes  Alt School, a chain of private schools partially funded by Mark Zuckerberg. "The philosophy behind Alt School is very much driven by coding and data," writes Stahmer, "something that makes the video's note about the diminishing influence of teachers leading to a decline in good people entering the profession even more likely." 

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Canadian Telcos Take Aim At Kodi Addon Site With Shocking Search: True Purpose to “Destroy Livelihood of the Defendant”

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:12

Michael Geist, Aug 07, 2017

I am as alarmed as Michael Geist about the extraordinary and excessive behaviour of some Canadian Telcos in their efforts to limit competition to cabe television subscriptions. They are fighting "the  sale and distribution  of Android set-top boxes  and websites that facilitate distribution of addons for Kodi software." Kodi is a free media player designed to look good on large screen TVs.  Bell, Videotron, and Rogers argue "that the pre-loaded software on set-top boxes makes it easy to access infringing streaming content." To this point it's a simple dispute that could be settled in court. But the Telcos went far beyond that to target  TVAddons, a Canadian-controlled website that supports Kodi and other software.

They "used a civil search warrant (known as an Anton Pillar order) to access the home of Adam Lackman, a Montreal man who owns the site, as well as the copyright issues in the case. Their actions are documented by  TorrentFreak, the  CBC, and the  National Post, which chronicle abusive conduct that included hours of interrogations without the ability to consult a lawyer." The purpose, concluded a judge, "was to destroy the livelihood of the Defendant, deny him the financial resources to finance a defence to the claim made against him, and to provide an opportunity for discovery of the Defendant in circumstances where none of the procedural safeguards of our civil justice system could be engaged." 

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Wait, Will Anyone Investigate Legacy Admissions?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:57

Eric Hoover, Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug 07, 2017

A lot of what enables Americcan universties to discriminate against the disadvanged would persist even if they were to eliminate legacy admissions, writes Eric Hoover. But it nnetheless strikes the reader as odd that there is opposition to selection by race while admission by parentage remains largely unopposed.    "We don’ t see challenges to legacies because the vast majority of legacies are wealthy whites," says Marybeth Gasman, a professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania. "They benefit and won’ t challenge the system."  This of course speaks to the core purpose of the institution: to protect, and not disrupt, privilege.

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Why a Progressive Web App Might be Right for You

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 14:15

Jason Spero, Thinking With Google, Aug 06, 2017

Light introductory content (suitable for the C-Suite) on the deployment of progressive web apps (PWA) rather than heavier iOS or Android apps. "PWAs eliminate friction by using the web to deliver app-level experiences. There’ s no need for consumers to find apps in the app store and install them— they can just navigate to the site on any browser, including Chrome and Safari." The main advantage, of course, is that you're building one app for all platforms, rtaher than writing a different app for each of Apple, Google and Microsoft.

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Learning in the Collaboration Age

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 13:36

Charles Jennings, Workplace Performance, Aug 06, 2017

I want to test the idea that there is a set of 'core concepts' in any discipline. Let's consider our own: if we look at the map I created, where is the core? It's a web, not a hierarchy. The 'core concepts' idea works for things like French cuisine  (though even here there's room for doubt). But in rapidly evolving information-based domains, the idea of 'core concepts' is almost meaningless. While historically the idea of 'core' has been static and stable, today the idea of 'core' is more like a strange attractor.

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From Connected Learning to Connected Teaching: A Necessary Step Forward

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 13:26

Nicole Mirra, DML Central, Aug 06, 2017

According to this article, "The  Educator Innovator network  has been documenting the work of educators using the connected learning approach across the country, from the  LRNG Challenge to the Connected Learning Alliance" But these resources can be a bit intimidating, writes  Nicole Mirra. So she has created a starter pack "collection of resources from across the Educator Innovator network that highlight the work of trailblazing educators...  Teachers need opportunities to see the process through which their colleagues decide to go out on that limb for the first time and experiment with new ways of thinking and doing."

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Elsevier Acquires bepress

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 13:16

Roger C. Shonfeld, The Scholarly Kitchen, Aug 06, 2017

Produced by bepress, "Digital Commons is the only comprehensive showcase that lets institutions publish, manage, and increase recognition for everything produced on campus— and the only institutional repository and publishing platform that integrates with a full  faculty research and impact suite." It was acquired this week by Elsever, prompting reassurances on discussion lists. "We are committed to keeping our pricing model the same," said bepress managing director  Jean-Gabriel Bankier in an email. "Elsevier is making a long-term investment in our technology and business model. Neither party wants to do anything that would jeopardize that (which price hikes would certainly do)." We'll see how true this remains in the long term. See also Inside Higher Ed.

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Biological Teleporter Could Seed Life Through Galaxy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 20:56

Brian Alexander, MIT Technology Review, Aug 05, 2017

We can now print life. "The device, called a 'digital-to-biological converter'  was unveiled in May. Though still a prototype, instruments like it could one day broadcast biological information from sites of a disease outbreak to vaccine manufacturers, or print out on-demand personalized medicines at patients’ bedsides." Can we  imagine  printing a human? How would you start it up? What would be the purpose?

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gRSShopper in a Box

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 20:48

The key question I'm looking at here is: to what degree can course resources provided by external providers (Coursera, EdX, etc) be presented in a gRSShopper environment. Again, I don't expect this to be easy - providers really want to you work in  their  environment, not yours. But I want you to work in one environment - your own - and access and work with external courses and resources from within your own personal learning context.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Tearing Down Walls to Deliver on the Promise of Edtech

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 19:10

Stephen Laster, EDUCAUSE Review, Aug 05, 2017

More on next-generation learning environments, this time from    the chief digital officer for McGraw-Hill Education. This makes the description all the more remarkable: "The overarching theme? Everything must be open. If the promise of and the investment in edtech are truly going to transform outcomes in this new higher education world, they have to be delivered in a seamless, open ecosystem that prioritizes flexibility over structure." This is not a model comanies (nor institutions) have been comfortable with in the past.

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An argument for the isolated classroom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 19:02

Lisa M. Lane, Lisa's (Online) Teaching & History Blog v2, Aug 05, 2017

Here's the argument: "we should strive for neutral space, not full expression of multiple levels of identity politics, social agendas, and group think...  we can create environments where the focus is on the work, whatever the academic discipline." It would be nice were classroom really like that, but in my own experience they are just as prone to baggage and posturing as any other environment.

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MOOC Adaptation and Translation to Improve Equity in Participation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 22:31

Freda Wolfenden, Simon Cross, Fiona Henry, Journal of Learning for Development, Aug 04, 2017

This study shows why it's important to test hypotheses with different models and different user groups. It describes a MOOC in India offered first in English and then in Hindi, attracting more than 40,000 students in all, and achieving completion rates over 50%. "Our findings challenge previous research (Milligan & Littlejohn, 2014), which found little transfer of learning to on-the job practices for health professionals participating in MOOCs," write the authors.  "Through the combination of the MOOC platform, contact classes and social media, the MOOC bridged local and distributed learning, creating a hybrid space focussed on a shared  ‘ domain of practice’ ." So, yeah - not your typical xMOOC. If you take care to do what MOOCs do  really well, you can achieve success, and more importantly, extend access to previously disadvantaged groups.

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Supporting Higher Education to Integrate Learning Analytics

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 22:12

Aug 04, 2017

According to the website, "the Supporting Higher Education to Integrate Learning Analytics (SHEILA)  project will build a policy development framework that promotes formative assessment and personalized learning, by taking advantage of direct engagement of stakeholders in the development process." The project is supported by the European Union's Erasmus+ program. It uses something called ROMA - the Rapid Outcome Mapping Approach. The most recent result is a learning analytics report issued in April. Via InterLab.

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Differentiation, individualization and personalization: What they mean, and where they’re headed

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:54

Aug 04, 2017

Mostly we read about 'what they mean' and a lost less about 'where they're headed', but as a template to distinguish between these three concepts this post will do as well as any.

  • Differentiation: "The teacher drives instruction and adjusts lessons that are best suited for each particular group."
  • Individualization: "The teacher still drives instruction – but, unlike differentiation, an individualized lesson is designed to accommodate the particular needs for an  individual  learner."
  • Personalization: "The teacher is no longer the sole driver of instruction –   each learner now collaborates with the teacher to drive his or her learning."

What distinguishes different types of personalization are the elements the student can control or influence. In most cases, these are solely delivery related, such as pacing or modality. The learning outcome, in all three models, remains as defined by the institution.

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How to make a racist AI without really trying

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:38

Rob Speer, ConceptNet blog, Aug 04, 2017

This post works on several layers. First, it makes the obvious point that it is very easy to create a racist artificial intelligence (AI). Second, it makes the less obvious, but much more important, point that making a racist AI is the  default  if you use standard techniques. Using the most popular website crawl data, the most popular sentiment lexicon, and the most popular AI engines, you inevitably get a racist result (for example: Mexican food is rated worse than other foods, typically Black names are rated lower than other names). Third, the author also shows how easy it is to  correct  for built-in racism (i.e., if you get a racist result, you're not really  trying). And fourth, at a meta level, is the use of the notebook format to present the results, so you could work directly with the code yourself if you wanted to. The challenge to learning analytics is, of course, how transparent will LMSs be in showing their analyses, and how can we be sure they didn' simply take the path of least resistance to create racist results? And what  other, less obvious, biases are built into our data?

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The Spotify of the textbook world takes off as Bibliotech is go

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:17

JISC, Aug 04, 2017

Before using something like Spotify as an analogy, it is always best to make sure they aren't in danger of going bankrupt during your press announcement period. The idea here is that Bibliotech provides a textbook marketplace for students, negotiating collectively with publishers, and provides textbook rentals "for as little as £ 2.99 a month" per title. But there are some big differences. Spotify provides access, while in Bibliotech students purchase access to "bespoke e-textbook packages which match institutions' reading lists." Prices are determined by the publisher. Rentals are for 12-month periods. I expect to read a study in three years saying that savings were minimal or negligible. 

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‘Motrain’, Virtual Coin-Based Corporate Learning Motivation App For Moodle

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:09

Moodle News, Aug 04, 2017

Is a virtual currency the one thing  you  thought the learning management system was lacking? Me neither. But here it is, nonetheless. "Motrain rewards students who interact with Moodle content with virtual coins." These coins can be exchanged for prizes at the LMS manager's discretion. Suggestions in the post include "A day or week of parking in the Director’ s parking spot, a  week of telecommuting, take-out or a night out for the office." The likely result is to introduce LMS managers to the downside of gamificaton, where people are working to earn points, rather than to learn the material.

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