Miscellaneous

Ed Tech Moonshot

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 21:00

This tongue-in-cheek title was used for the whole day of discussions George Siemens and I and guests had at the LINK center at the University of Texas in Arlington (Part One, Part Two, Part Three). This presentation was delivered impromptu to an assembled audience at noon. It explored the core purpose of learning technology, as linked to lessons learned through the four major domains in my career: media, computing, philosophy, and education.

, Arlington, Texas (Lecture) Apr 21, 2016 [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Personal and Personalized Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 21:00
[Slides][Audio]

In this presentation I outline the major differences between personal and personalized learning. "In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves."

Spring VirtCon, Washington D.C. (Keynote) Apr 21, 2016 [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Washington D.C.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 21:00


Stephen Downes, Flickr, Apr 24, 2016

Photos from last weekend in the U.S. capital. See also my photos from a week in Italy: Naples, Amalfi Coast, Isla Procida.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The powerful hacker culture

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 15:00


Daniel Lemire, Apr 24, 2016

Daniel Lemire has authored a few posts on hacker culture over the last year or so and his take is essentially that the hackers are winning. Compare, he says, the hacker ethic with academia: who is responsible for progress? I quote:

  • Academics are great at self-promotion. Hackers who try the same strategies often fail.
  • Academics are usually not interested in building a new technical process.
  • Successful academics are mostly people who have found ways to get others to work for them.
  • Academics succeed mostly by their mastery of communication. Hackers let their work speak for themselves.

If you want progress, Lemire argues, "you need people who thrive when they solve hard practical problems." Hackers thrive by getting something done. "And once it is done, academics will take the credit."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Open Access Interviews: Sir Timothy Gowers, Mathematician

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 12:00


Richard Poynder, Open and Shut?, Apr 24, 2016

In what he calls a "watershed moment" for open access, Richard Poynder writes (18 page PDF), "legacy publishers have now effectively co-opted the OA movement. And this has been done in a way that will enable them to continue to control scholarly communication, and to continue making what many believe to be obscene profits from taxpayers (who ultimately foot the bill)." In addition, according to Poynder, the leaders of the open access movement - notably Stevan Harnad - have given up. Who next to lead? he suggests British Mathematician Sir Timothy Gowers. But this doesn't change the fact that it is academics themselves who have been lethargic. Academics themselves who demonstrate through inaction that they don't care about affordability. Why would we expect academia to support open access? That's like suggesting that the peerage abolish the knighthood.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

How (Not) to Hide a Scandal

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 14:00


Ellen Wexler, Inside Higher Ed, Apr 23, 2016

You probably remember the images from 2011 of a police officer walking up and down a line of seated student protesters at UC Davis, casually dousing them with pepper spray. But until last week, you would not have seen the image when searching for UC Davis. As the Sacramento Bee, reported: UC Davis spent thousands to scrub pepper-spray references from Internet. That all changed this week as activists countered the SE to bring pepper spray and UC Davis back together again in the public consciousness. I  took part in it. I'm glad this particular incident has been rescued from obscurity. But I wonder how many similar incidents, perhaps not as widely remembered, have been spent their way into algorithmic oblivion.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Social Cost of Bad Online Marketing

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 14:00


Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Revew, Apr 23, 2016

I would probably lump 'bad online learning content' into the same category. Here's the issue: As Lyons puts it, marketers "took the Internet, one of the most wonderful and profound inventions of all time, and polluted it with advertising and turned it into a way to sell stuff." This is true of roughly 90 percent of the stuff I read for this newsletter every day. Now of course the author takes the classic 'blame the victom' detour - it's really our fault for 'feeding the bears' by clicking on clickbait or not paying for content. But maybe marketers could try something new too, "by asking one simple question, starting now: how can our marketing effort make the Internet  better, instead of worse?" Commercial interests working for the public good? Is it possible?

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Character Lab

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 14:00


Character Lab, Apr 23, 2016

I can't say I agree with this strategy, but people should know it's a thing, and probably coming to a trade show near you (and will certainly be pitched to your administrators on the golf course). There's already a TED talk. "Take goal-setting in your classroom to the next level ," says the pitch, amid posters advertising 'grit' and 'purpose' and 'self-control'. I see no evidence to suggest that a 'lack of character' is what impedes people seeking a good education and better quality of life. But it's always easier to blame the poor (and poorly educated) for their own character flaws than it is to actually put money and priority into opening the doors and creating equitable access to all the benefits of an education. But hey, if you disagree, "start using the WOOP method today to guide your students toward completing their goals." Via EduWonk.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Worrisome Decline of Corporate Blogs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 14:00


William Comcowich, CyberAlert, Apr 23, 2016

I know that blogging seems to some like a lost art, and I am away that I am expressing my inner curmudgeon when I take to that venerable form, but the fact is that there are are risks, for both myself and for corporations, in taking to social media as the primary means of expression. The foremost among these is the risk that what I write simply won't be read, that it will be swallowed in the maw of the algorithm never to reappear as 'relevant' or 'top'. "Publishing on third-party sites is akin to digital sharecropping because content producers lose control. The third-party websites can change their rules, or even disappear. Brands that hitch their PR and marketing wagons to the wrong social media star assume an enormous long-term risk."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Reconsidering Rigor in Schools

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 14:00


Mike Crowley, The Synapse, Apr 23, 2016

I've never been a fan of so-called 'rigor' in schools. This article makes the case against nicely as it reviews  Thom Markham's description of "a demand for more personalized learning, brain-friendly environments, less recall and more thoughtful application of knowledge, optimal conditions for eliciting intelligent behaviors, constructivist tools, and respectful, caring relationships that honor the learner." Moving away from 'rigor' doesn't mean lowering standards, it means changing them. "The core task of the modern world is not to prep students for standardized tests by delivering content... but to prepare them to judge the quality of information, generate new ideas, filter them through a net of critical analysis and reflection, and share and move the ideas through a design process to create a quality product, either as an idea or a material object."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Microsoft Joins the Club with ‘Classroom’ App and Office 365 Education Updates

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 14:00


Tony Wan, EdSurge, Apr 23, 2016

We have Google's Classroom, Apple's Classroom App, and now Microsoft's Classroom, free for Office 365 Education users. "Each Classroom is an online homepage where teachers can create student groups, distribute assignments and files, and share events and reminders via Outlook. The tool is also integrated with students’ OneNote Class Notebook, a digital binder where students can take and share notes, complete assignments and organize class materials." If I were vending learning management systems, I'd be looking to get into a different industry.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Social media fuels distrust in American media, poll finds

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 14:00


Froma Harrop, NBC, Apr 22, 2016

This part is true: "Trust in the news media is being eroded by perceptions of inaccuracy and bias." This part isn't: "(It's) fueled in part by Americans' skepticism about what they read on social media." As this news item notes: "The most important factor in determining trust: whether or not they know the original source of the story."  Here's  the actual study (not linked in the traditional media news report, naturally)."The study also finds that in the digital age, several new factors largely unexamined before — such as the intrusiveness of ads, navigability, load times, and having the latest details — also are critical in determining whether consumers consider a publisher competent and worthy of trust."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Introducing Backchannel Technology into a Large Undergraduate Course

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 00:00


Ruth Neustifter, Canadian Journal of Learning, technology, Apr 21, 2016

It feels a bit odd reading about the use of backchannels in classrooms in 2016, since it was back in  2007 I was experimenting with them (and others well before that!). But progress moves slowly, I guess (I'm thinking that had I surveyed my participants back then I could have had a publication out of it, just like this author). here are the results: "The purpose of this research was to examine the feasibility of using a backchannel in a large university lecture and to determine whether its use significantly improved student perceptions of engagement and enjoyment in class. Overall, the results supported these hypotheses." The paper is OK, I'm glad it was done, and it's good to see the technology move forward. I just feel I want more from academic literature, somehow.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Divergence in children's non-cognitive skills based on family income

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 21:00


Jonathan Kantrowitz, Education Research Report, Apr 21, 2016

This relates directly to the subject of my talk in Arlington on Monday. "Little is known about the relationship between family income and children’ s non-cognitive (or socio-emotional) skill formation. This is an important gap, as these skills have been hypothesized to be a critical link between early outcomes and adult socioeconomic status." Sadly, the paper cited is available only by paid subscription. Because, you know, reporting on the disadvantages created by income gaps doesn't have to mean actually caring or doing anything about it.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

You Pay to Read Research You Fund. That’s Ludicrous

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 21:00


Ryan Merkley, Wired, Apr 21, 2016

This is an opinion article from the CEO of Creative Commons that (as the title suggests) defends efforts like SciHub to provide direct access to scientific publications despite publisher copyrights. Ironically, as I was reading this article, a bit screen came up, blocking the content, requiring me to turn off my ad blocker.  I'm not turning it off. Here's the thing - I don't mind viewing an advertisement, but what the ad blocker blocks are advertisements that track my viewing habits and (sometimes) try to install spyware on my computer. So let me quote the final line in the article baack to Wired: "There’ s no way anyone can know what research and data can reveal unless we set it free. Innovation can come from anywhere— not just academics— but only if we allow for a non-linear and unrestricted approach to inquiry and discovery." There was a day Wired could survive without spying on its readers, but not any more, I guess.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau affirms $50M for physics think-tank in Waterloo, Ont.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 15:00


Jackie Sharkey, CBC, Apr 21, 2016

The story swirling around the internet is that the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, answered a question by explaining why quantum computing is interesting and novel. Coverage in Canada about the story focused on the funding announcement for quantum physics at the Perimeter Institute. Which was as it should be. It should not be remarkable that a prime minister should be able to spend 30 seconds speaking knowledgeably about something the government is spending $50 million on. And Trudeau was, after all, a teacher.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Open peer review : from an experiment to a model

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 12:00


Julien Bordier, HAL, Apr 21, 2016

This could be an important article. The report (49 page PDF) reports on research around open peer review "facilitated by a specific work of a copy editor, name this prototype as: OPRISM, Open Peer Review facIlitation through Social Media" and proposes a model for the practice. The approach is not without risks, for examplee, "that authors refuse to participate to such protocol and, hence, avoid publications practicing open peer review... The author either fears to ruin his reputation or refuses to be criticized." But on balance, with ownership and control of the manuscript remaining in the author's hands, and review and commentary contained in separate documents, these risks can in general be overcome. And indeed, "As a referee put it himself, 'the referee is reviewed'.... the referee's hegemony, usually mediated by the journal behind the curtains of anonymity, is questioned. Thus, open peer review introduces reciprocity in the process."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Gamification, personalization and continued education are trending in edtech

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 22:00


Sean O'Connor, TechCrunch, Apr 20, 2016

The real story here is buried: "While the market is small and fractured today, GSV Capital estimates that education will grow from 9 percent to 12 percent of America’ s GDP over the next decade. This equates to a trillion-dollar opportunity." That's an awful lot of opportunity. Good article with good insight on some rising companies and key trends.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Higher education is trapped in a competition fetish

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 23:00


Rajani Naidoo, University World News, Apr 19, 2016

Interesting take. Makes some points that need to be made. Rajani Naidoo writes, "I am arguing against is the idea of competition as a fetish – the idea that different types of competition can be unthinkingly applied to answer all the unsolved problems of higher education. Or the idea that competition has become so powerful that other ways of organising are rendered obsolete."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

MOOQ

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 23:00


Various authors, Apr 19, 2016

Somehow I think that my understanding of MOOC quality will be different from their understanding of MOOC quality, but I wish them the best. "MOOQ’ s mission is to develop a quality reference framework for the adoption, the design, the delivery and the evaluation of MOOCs in order to empower MOOC providers for the benefit of the learners. The main goal of MOOQ is therefore the development and the integration of quality approaches, new pedagogies and organisational mechanisms into MOOCs with a strong focus on the learning processes, methodologies and assessments." I will say that the design on the web page reminds me of the inoffensive corporate art you see outside banks or at Canary Wharf.

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