Miscellaneous

Accidental Exposure

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 10:00


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Nov 15, 2014

After again being confronted by students angry that their dissertations are being sold on Amazon, ProQuest has  announced that it will stop selling them on Amazon. It will still keep selling them, of course, just not in a place where students might accidentally find out. "We discovered that the language in the contract was not clear enough about the scope of the distribution,`said a VP at ProQuest. Yeah, right. The  FAQ refers to it as "dissemination" and you have to read through three quarters of the document before you find the word "sell", and students have to "embargo" their work to prevent this. If they were being clear and honest they would put the word in the first paragraph and give students a way to opt out of commercial distribution while retaining non-commercial distribution.

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Federated Education: New Directions in Digital Collaboration

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 17:00
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Mike Caulfield, Hapgood, Nov 14, 2014

I think that this is quite a good proposal that has many merits. It begins by pointing to what is probably the central problem with Wikipedia: obtaining consensus within a very large community. "You go online to share it and you’ re teleported past the personal and dialogic and suddenly find yourself having to defend the inclusion of this fact or this edit... And it gets worse, because if you lose that battle (notability, accuracy, citations, linked ideas — whatever the battle is) your contribution disappears." Caulfield then describes as an alternative the federated wiki, where an idea (or item about content) will migrate from person to person before a consensus is developed (if ever). My own approach would probably be less 'tribe' centered and less consensus centred. I don't think there's a whole lot of value in either. But the idea of a piece of content moving from person to person and growing and adapting (which a record of these changes) as a lot of merit, and is worth investigating further.

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The Data on Diversity

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 17:00
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Beryl Nelson, Communications of the ACM, Nov 14, 2014

Diversity is an asset in pretty much any working or learning situation, but diversity can be a challenge, especially with participants who are not accustomed to diversity. This can result in bias and stereotyping among members, causing them to misrepresent or filter what other group members are saying or doing. "Even a small bias can result in a large difference in the representation of minorities at the top levels of a company." To address these issues, some effective practices include: making data available, creating a critical mass, embracing of differences, and sponsorship of women and minorities. "An organization that says 'we value diversity' is more trusted than one that says 'we are color blind.'" Good article, very detailed, worth the read.

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Managing Open Access publication

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 14:00


Owen Stephens, Jisc Monitor, Nov 14, 2014

If you're reading this article and wondering what APCs are, you're not alone. There are  dozens of things it could be, and the author doesn't even bother with a link, let along an expansion of the acronym. From the context, after a bit of sleuthing, I figured out that it probably means 'article processing charge'. But it's very unfriendly of the author not to tell us this. Don't do this! Having said that, I think the project being described is interesting and applies equally to open educational resources. The purpose is to "write a system specification for an application to support data and workflows related to the costs of OA publishing and/or funder mandates." I imagine that publication costs cannot be escaped, though I would personally place the emphasis on cost-effective institutional repositories rather than expensive publisher services. (p.s. the author attribution is a guess, because this information is also not provided).

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Advantages and Disadvantages of SCORM 1.2 vs 2004

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 14:00
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Erik T. Lord, eLearning Chef, Nov 14, 2014

Any digital technology that lasts for more than ten years has to be considered a success. "Despite the growth and excitement around the xAPI (TinCan) spec, SCORM remains the most popular and supported method of ensuring a standardized communication between an online course and the LMS." The secret is, it just works. "There’ s a reason most eLearning content is still built for SCORM 1.2… it simply works and generally satisfies the tracking requirements many organizations require."

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Beyond Borders: Global Learning in a Networked World

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 20:00
[Slides][Audio]

In this talk I address the phenomenon of open online learning, and in particular the massive open online course (MOOC), and discusses how it opens new frontiers in learning. Through their use of open educational resources and a student-centered pedagogy, MOOCs make learning accessible to people no matter where they live. This is resulting in the transformation of the global education system such that advanced and formal learning is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable. In this talk I talks about the transformation of educational systems talking place, the policy implications of open online learning, and the practical implementation of open online courses.

Unbordering Education, Yerevan, Armenia (Keynote) Nov 10, 2014 [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Photos from Armenia and Georgia

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:00


Stephen Downes, Flickr, Nov 13, 2014

I've been in the  Caucasus region for the last week or so. Here are photos from Armenia and Georgia: Sevan Lake, Armenia;  Khor Virap Monastery and Mt. Ararat, Armenia; Tbilisi, Georgia;  Geghard Monastery and Garni Temple, Armenia; Yerevan, Armenia.

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Why Google wants to replace Gmail

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:00


Mike Elgan, Computer World, Nov 13, 2014

One of the values of traditional email and RSS is that you choose exactly what you want to see; if there is filtering and organizing, you do it yourself. This runs against the Google business model, which selects these resources for you (and charges customers for premium placement in those listings). So - argues this article - the release of Google's Inbox means they are working toward the end of regular email.

Mike Elgan writes, "Google exists to mediate the unmediated. That's what it does. That's what the company's search tool does: It mediates our relationship with the Internet. That's why Google killed Google Reader, for example. Subscribing to an RSS feed and having an RSS reader deliver 100% of what the user signed up for in an orderly, linear and predictable and reliable fashion is a pointless business for Google. It's also why I believe Google will kill Gmail as soon as it comes up with a mediated alternative everyone loves"

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The Disconnect: Do we really have a skills shortage? Or just a communication problem

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:00
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Jessica Barrett, Calgary Herald, Nov 13, 2014

Our  LPSS program is intended in part to address the skills shortage. But suppose it doesn't really exist. "We have not seen wages spike in response to a labour shortage, as would be dictated by the law of supply and demand." Maybe not, but many businesses are not viable if wages spike. Additionally, informal agreements often exist among employers about wage rates. So this data does not entail the conclusion that there is no skills gap. But suppose this is the case; what's happening instead? "We have a problem, not necessarily with the skills, but with how one describes the skills... Digital gatekeepers have none of the leeway inherent in an in-person exchange." Well if that were true it's the same as a shortage, so we should still expect a spike in wages. But what happens instead is that companies make do without. No doubt better algorithms would help (and we'll probably see a follow-up article in a few months that just such a process is being marketed by the main commentators in this article). But going back to the days of the personal interview is not an option.

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Academic citation practices need to be modernized so that all references are digital and lead to full texts

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:00
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Patrick Dunleavy, LSE Blog, Nov 13, 2014

I have long been frustrated in academic research by the lack of URLs referencing the cite papers. This article argues for a change in practice to the effect that all papers would directly link to the papers they cite. I have less faith in the author in the utility of the DOI system for legacy content - these are just as often broken as others, as publishers and universities change the URLs of papers and do not update the registry. I also like the idea of 'source quotes' to ease searching for relevant passages: "Source quotes replacing page references do not have to be memorable, nor must they be especially salient bits of text, nor very long ."

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Harvard secretly photographed students to study attendance

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:00
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Matt Rocheleau, Boston Globe, Nov 13, 2014

The lede captures it nicely: "Harvard University has revealed that it secretly photographed some 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study of classroom attendance, an admission that prompted criticism from faculty and students who said the research was an invasion of privacy." We are drifting toward a surveillance society, even in (especially in?) academic environments. And institutions should know better apparently don't.

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The times, they are (always) a-changin’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:00
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Melonie Fullick, University Affairs, Nov 13, 2014

Melonie Fullick argues that calls for universities to change are misrepresenting the complexity (and reality) of change in the system. "Universities already have changed, over the decades and centuries. It’ s just that they’ ve never changed enough for the present moment... I’ d say the question is not whether universities will change – since this is ongoing – but what those changes will look like, how they will happen, and whose needs they will serve best." Interesting article with some valid points.

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Fall of the Banner Ad: The Monster That Swallowed the Web

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:00
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Harhad Manjoo, New York Times, Nov 12, 2014

The internet was originally a military and academic network designed for the free sharing of information and communications. As it began to be opened in the 1990s to allow commercial participation there was significant opposition to the introduction of advertising to the environment. These fears turned out to be well-founded, in my opinion, as much of what is bad about the web today can be traced back to the need to pursue clicks over content. I remember these first banner ads from Wired as I was a longtime member of the Wired online forums (called 'Hotwired Threads'). Today I am reading that sponsored posts  are providing significant returns for advertisers. This next great retreat from meaningful content and communication will be equally harmful. Me need so much to be able to move beyond advertising, but the commercial interest is pervasive, and nobody seems to know how to escape the trap we set for ourselves 20 years ago.

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Connectivism and Composition: Toward a Networked Classroom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:00
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Jason Tham, Weblog, Nov 12, 2014

Based on the slides this looks like an interesting talk, capturing the core ideas of connectivism. I also like seeing someone else with a proper presentation page, one including slides, audio, and eventually, a transcript. My only significant criticism would be the obligatory invocation of collaboration, which is quite unnecessary and misses some core points of connectivism. Collaboration is about everybody working for a single objective, while in connectivism people work on diverse objectives, interacting and cooperating on points of mutual interest.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Knowmad Society

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 09:00


John W. Moravec, Education Futures, Nov 12, 2014

Good diagram, overall. I don't know where it comes from, exactly; I found it on Facebook. I'm not sure how "not restricted by age" is a 'skill'. I would say "shares" rather than "invites sharing". I would say "cooperates and communicates" rather than "collaborates". I would say "investigates new technologies" rather than "purposively..." (dropping the 'purposively' to reflect the idea of exploration over dedication to specific outcomes). I would say 'disregards hierarchy' or 'eschews authority' or some such thing rather than 'thrives in flat networks'.

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What Happened To Women In Computer Science?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 20:00


Steve Henn, NPR, Nov 03, 2014

It's worth looking at this phenomenon.  When I worked in computing in 1980 half the staff were women. "For decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged." What happened? asks NPR. Well, many things. But mostly this: " The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers... marketed almost entirely to men and boys. This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the computing revolution. It helped define who geeks were, and it created techie culture." Today, 20 years later, we reap the fruits of a dysfunctional misogynistic culture (p.s. don't bother with the comments unless you want to be depressed all over again).

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The grassroots of learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 20:00


Ryan Tracey, E-Learning Provocateur, Nov 03, 2014

Good article looking at 'the earlier Cormier' and 'the later Cormier' on the subject of rhizomatic learning. Me, I'm not so sure that what Dave Cormier had in mind was the idea of following link to link to link - but he is in a better position to correct (or not) the author on this. At any rate, the post was engaging, which is good enough for me. P.S. don't miss the comments, beginning with Crispin Weston's criticism of the concept of content and of the dynamics behind group formation (good, informed comment, well worth the price of admission).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Competency-Based Education: No More Semesters?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 17:00
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Anya Kamenetz, NPR Ed, Nov 03, 2014

OK, back in 1998 I  said that time would no longer be used as a measure of learning, "that time in online learning ceases to be an objective standard." I said things like "learning will be measured by the amount of information accumulated, not the amount of time spent in a chair" (I was less precise back then). Though I  supported such things as prior learning assessments I've never been keen on competencies. I learned working directly with teachers (eg. at the Brandon Adult Learning centre) that you can't just break down course content into a bunch of modules; more global variables come into play as well, and are captured by such artifacts as the term paper. Now where does that go on the test? Now in our current work we're deloping algorithms to detect competencies in expert performance. One perfectly acceptable result to me here is the null result, that is, a result showing that expert performance cannot be reduced to a set of necessary and sufficient competencies.

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3rd Meeting of OERu partners

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 08:00
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Various authors, OERu, Nov 03, 2014

If I were one of those people who reads the tea leaves, I would say OERu and WikiEducator are heading for a split. Why? Here's the text of the email I received today from OERu: "The OERu is a flagship initiative of the OER Foundation and we are proud to host our planning and course development on WikiEducator as our preferred platform." Up to this point, in all previous correspondance, the two were basically synonymous. But now WikiEducator has been demoted to "preferred platform." Coincidence? Well, like I said, if I were to read tea leaves... but, ah, of course, I don't. So this is nothing more than a link to the event advertised in the email, the 3rd Meeting of OERu partners (register as a  remote participant here).

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The new digital workplace: How enterprises are preparing for the future of work

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 23:00
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Dion Hinchcliffe, ZD Net, Oct 30, 2014

The educational workplace, like all others, will continue to change dramatically as the information revolution marches on. Essentially, the next wave of change in the enterprise will bring it to something like par with what people today have at home: "mart mobile devices, jam-packed app stores, wearables of every description, a constellation of game-changing sharing economy services ala Uber and Airbnb." This will have sweeping changes on the ground, accoridng to the author: "New modes of collaboration; changes in how we structure our organizations because of digital networks; new ways of developing and managing workforces and talent;   the collaborative economy as a new core business model; upgrades to the digital workplace to reflect the complexity and ubiquity of tech."

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