Miscellaneous

Literacies for the digital age: Financial literacy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 22:00
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Kathy Schrock, Discovery Education: Kathy's Klatch, [Sept] 04, 2014

OK, what is a literacy, exactly? I ask because offers a whole list of literacies, ranging from financial literacy to digital literacy to civic literacy - and then proceeds to outline some. And that's where I begin to get uncomfortable, as it seems 'literacy' on this model is really just a collection of life lessons. The 'financial literacy' section, for example, is accompanied by a graphic depicting "needs vs wants" and includes things like "saving for a goal" and "what do banks do?" (I assume 'steal your money' is not the accepted answer here). But literacy is not a set of facts, nor even a set of skills, related to a domain or discipline. Put loosely, literacy is the ability to recognize, work with and create methods and processes of the domain. Yes, you need to understand (some of) the content, but it's far more important to be able to interrogate, manipulate and manage the elements of the domain, which includes far more than just content. A definition of literacy defined in terms of content alone may as well be interchanged with propaganda, for that's all it is. Literacy goes far beyond that. See also: Media Literacy, Out of Bounds.

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The challenges of open data: emerging technology to support learner journeys

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 22:00
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Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu.org, [Sept] 04, 2014

One of the consequences of an outcomes-driven competency-based education system is that it creates the risk of running through the gamut of issues surrounding metadata that characterized the development of online learning resources. This appears to be the basis for the development of LMI in Britain - labour market information. Graham Attwell describes and links to the "LMI for all" API in this presentation. This is a better approach than simply defining XML schemas, as it creates access to data that can actually be used for applications. Maybe second time around we'll get more of this right "with the intention of optimising access to, and use of, core national data sources that can be used to support individuals make better decisions about learning and work." I'd love to see something like this for Canada.

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Reflecting on reflection

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 22:00


Harold Jarche, [Sept] 04, 2014

I have often described the 'Downes Theory of Education' (which is not original to me, and which is too simple to be called a theory) as follows: "To teach is to model and demonstrate; to learn is to practice and reflect." So much writing focuses on the first pair of activities; the bulk of educational literature is focused on how to teach. My focus has generally been about how to learn, but even here I have tended to focus more on practice and less on reflection. But reflection should not be overlooked; 10,000 hours of practice may produce expertise, but 10,000 hours of unreflective practice produces nothing but sore shoulders. Harold Jarche begins this important conversation. I think it's necessary to expand on the idea. A lot.

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Community Source Is Dead

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 22:00
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Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, [Sept] 04, 2014

I've never been a proponent of what is sometimes called 'community source' (but which is really a closed federation posturing as though it were some sort of open source). The way it  worked was, "several institutions contract together to build software for a common need, with the intent of releasing that software as open source." Fair enough. And it did address the problem of bringing together the resources needed to create such software. But there's a second problem, says Michael Feldstein: "What is the best way to plan and execute software development projects in light of the high degree of uncertainty inherent in developing any software?" Community source is difficult to manage, and nowhere nearly sufficiently agile to respond to changing needs. See eg. the interesting comment from Josh Baron: " I certainly understand the desire on the part of institutional leaders to have control over key decisions and reduce the messiness, this was my first reaction when entering the Sakai community as well, but as soon as these leaders begin to take control they can end up ruining the 'secret sauce'." See also: Kuali for-profit.

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Educator’s Guide to LiveBinders

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 16:00
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Justin Stallings, The Edublogger, [Sept] 04, 2014

Overview of what looks like a really interesting tool, Livebinders. "To accommodate this ever evolving world of information, teachers and students both need an online tool where they can collect, share, reflect, and grow from their learning. This is where a tool like LiveBinders comes in.   LiveBinder  is your digital binder for all of your online content and learning." The article is probably an advertorial and all that (otherwise, why flood it with links to the LiveBinders site), and the product is essentially a hosed commercial service, but the concept is still attractive.

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What Digital Accelerates

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 16:00


George Couros, Connected Principals, [Sept] 04, 2014

Good article on the benefits that can be realized by digital technologies in schools. I especially like the discussion under the heading 'empowering voice'. George Couros writes, "there is still the mindset in many organizations that administrators need to “ control” the story that is sent out about their schools.   The feeling is that with every blog post, tweet, website, etc., approval must be obtained before it is shared.   This is not leadership.   Our job is to not control talent, but to unleash it."

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The Open Access Interviews: Paul Royster, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 13:00
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Richard Poynder, Open, Shut, [Sept] 04, 2014

Long, interesting, and important essay by Richard Poynder on open access (20 page PDF). The context is an interview with Paul Royster (pictured), who has established the second largest institutional repository in the US at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with some 60K open access works. A great accomplishment. But he is surprised to see it attacked by open access advocates. "He was startled to hear SPARC announce to delegates that henceforth the sine qua non of open access is that a work has to be made available with a CC BY licence or equivalent attached... the OA movement no longer views what he is doing as open access."

Well, I've had  this argument with people before. I have long felt that the insistence on CC-by (which allows commercial reuse) comes not from actual proponents of open access, but by commercial publishers promoting their own interests. That's what we see represented in this article. "The OA movement’ s failure to address the definition problem, and its willingness to “ partner” with publishers is enabling publishers to bend and mould OA to their needs rather than the needs of the research community." How? "By insisting on CC BY, the OA movement is encouraging publishers to further increase their prices — and without providing any additional value."

Additionally, CC-by sets the stage for the enclosure of open access works. The University of Ottawa's Heather Morrison explains: "Picture Elsevier buying out Hindawi, for example (is this more far-fetched than Elsevier buying out Mendeley or Springer buying BMC), then including Hindawi content in ScienceDirect and shutting down the Hindawi OA sites." In the LMS world it would be like Blackboard buying out companies that offer open access software like, say, MoodleRooms. She adds, "there is nothing to stop publishers from lobbying against public spending on archives (have people really not noticed that governments around the world are listening to such arguments)?" (See also)

For my part, I continue to support what is called 'Green' open access, in which authors and institutions archive their own work, without the intervention (and expense) of publishers, and in which, for me, and for the people who have actually promoted open access,  open access is “ immediate, permanent online access, free for all on the Web” (with no reference to, or need for, a specific licence). And I will go further and say that Creative Commons and organizations like SPARC, by privileging CC-by, are actually harming rather than helping open access.

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Moocs are free – but for how much longer?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 19:00
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Chris Parr, Times Higher Education, [Sept] 03, 2014

You can't just say “ Moocs have started out as a free opportunity – and free is a great way to get people interested,” as Stanford's John Mitchell does. MOOC means free. If academia wants to charge tuition for instruction, I won't complain, since academia has been doing that for 2,500 years. But they don't get to call such courses open or MOOCs. Because they're not!

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Bookless library opened by new US university

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 16:00
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Alison Flood, The Guardian, [Sept] 02, 2014

Although purists might think of a bookless library as a contradiction in terms, I think that something like this is the only way forward for librarians (and books, like scrolls and tablets, may continue to be kept in museums and archives). I also like this: "Once a book has been viewed twice on this system, it will be automatically purchased. The set-up, said Miller, 'allows for many more books to be available for the students, and the university only has to pay when the student or faculty member uses the book', allowing students 'to make direct choices regarding the books they want to read and have available in the library'."

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With $30 Million More in Hand, IFTTT Looks to the Internet of Things

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 16:00
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Mike Isaac, New York Times, [Sept] 02, 2014

Forget Google and Facebook. The future will be run by companies like IFTTT: "The way we see the Internet of Things playing out, there’ s going to be a need for an operating system that’ s detached from any specific device,” Linden Tibbets said. “ What we’ re doing now is the foundation for that.”

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Why Learning From Mistakes Is Overrated

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 14:00


Stephen J. Meyer, Forbes, [Sept] 02, 2014

I'm not sure exactly how I want to respond to this - and after several minutes thinkibg about it decised that this fact makes it work passing along. Here's the author's main point: "Maybe failure is really interesting to explore only after success has been achieved." Before success, people haven't found out what they're good at - and this is what they should focus on. But after success, they've found their niche, and the types of failures they experience are more about process rather than direction. I asked myself, first, have I have some kind of 'success' that I could pin down and identify, and second, is there some 'thing' that I'm good at? Because I do believe I learn from my mistakes, which would mean these two conditions must have been satisfied. But I think that identifying 'success' and the 'thing' we're good at isn't so straightforward - and therefore, neither is this argument.

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Internal emails show LA school officials started iPad talks with software supplier a year before bids

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 14:00


Annie Gilbertson, 83.9KPCC, [Sept] 02, 2014

This is why people don't trust the good intentions of corporations. As Audrey Watters summarizes: "several LA news organizations obtained and published emails between LAUSD, Apple, and Pearson officials. The emails reveal that Superintendent John Deasy began meeting with these companies to discuss the hardware/curriculum purchase almost a year before the multimillion dollar contract went out to bid. The district agreed last year to purchase 700,000 iPads — one for every student in the district. The devices would come pre-loaded with curriculum created by Pearson. The expected cost of this project, including upgrades to the district’ s WiFi: over $1 billion." The deal has since been cancelled - which makes it, I think, the exception rather than the rule.

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OER Beyond Voluntarism

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 15:00


Brian Jacobs, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 01, 2014

I don't think panOpen.com's Brian Jacobs gets the concept of OERs. here's what he writes in Inside Higher Ed: "A better way forward is to compensate the stakeholders -- faculty, copyright holders, and technologists, principally -- for their contributions to the OER ecosystem. This can be done by charging students nominally for the OER courses they take or as a modest institutional materials fee." The point of OERs is that you don't charge the students. Yes, the way forward is to compensate OER developers. But the way backward is to start charging end-users again (since they are typically the ones who can least afford it).

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Don't Email Me

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 15:00


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 01, 2014

I guess everyone has read the story about the professor implementing a no-email policy for his class. He wants to speak to students in person only. He argues that he is "teaching students to be more self-reliant by making them read assignments and the syllabus more closely, and freeing up time for conversations in the classroom and during office hours" but really he's just cutting back on the level of interaction between professor and student. That's not necessarily a bad thing - students like people everywhere will take the greatest advantage of a service possible. But it reflects a failure of imagination.

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Clinical Teaching of Interprofessional Child Development Assessment Skills in a Large Group Setting

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 15:00


Teresa Carter, Eileen Hanna, Marilyn Swinton, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, [Sept] 01, 2014

So what to make of this? As summarizzed, "The research found no discernible difference in student learning between the facilitated and non-facilitated workshops; however, students in the non-facilitated workshop indicated that they would have preferred a more guided discussion." Links: Report  | Appendix.

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It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 15:00


Eric Enge, SearchEngineLand, [Sept] 01, 2014

You  may have read about the benefits of adding authorship information to your web pages using Google+ functionality, but Google's attempt to incorporate these into search results has been discontinued. "John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a Google+ post that Google will stop showing authorship results in Google Search, and will no longer be tracking data from content using rel=author markup." So what went wrong? What always goes wrong with metadata? People weren't making up their pages. Even publishers were disinclined to use author metadata.

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Common sense for some and new and inspiring for others

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 18:00


Barb Brown, Weblog, Aug 29, 2014

Barb Brown responds to a post  I wrote back in 2013. I complained: "Course instructors discuss their approaches to backward instructional design and describe the digital tools used to support collaboration.... Well, this too could have been written in the 1990s, I guess...." She replies, "The topic may not be as timely or important to some audiences, especially those who are expert in teaching online... however, the topic of post secondary instructors collaborating on the design of online courses is relevant to a broad audience." Well maybe - but is content "relevant to a broad audience" really what belongs in an academic journal? More and more, what we are seeing is journal authors writing to an audience consisting of each other - and not keeping up with developments in the field. They applaud each other for having 'discovered' things that have been in practice for years, and even naming them after each other (hence, e.g., "Hai-Jew’ s (2010) fourfold approach" for updating an online curriculum (ie., legal, new tech, new pedagogy, changes in the field - oh, oh, oh, I never would have guessed it would be those four!)).

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Returning to optimism

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 15:00


Bryan Alexander, Aug 29, 2014

This is a common failing in education writing: "I’ ve been spending too much time with macroeconomics, getting bogged down in the grim news about America’ s employment and income data....   But following these inquiries in depth, I lost sight of human capacity and agency." Here's the solution: "say more about what could happen if we make the right decisions." And more to the point: the moment you think education is more about money than it is about people, you're sunk.

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Employers Aren’t Just Whining – the “Skills Gap” Is Real

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 15:00
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James Bessen, Harvard Business Review Blogs, Aug 29, 2014

"The idea of a 'skills gap' as identified in this and other surveys has been widely criticized," writes James Bessen, citing criticism from Peter Cappelli, Paul Krugman and the New York Times. "A worldwide scheme by thousands of business managers to manipulate public opinion seems far-fetched.," he says (naively). But the evidence for a skills gap can be found in wages. " We see it in the high pay that software developers in Silicon Valley receive for their specialized skills. And we see it throughout the workforce. Research shows that since the 1980s, the wages of the top 10% of workers has risen sharply relative to the median wage."

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Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 15:00
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Alison Flood, The Guardian, Aug 29, 2014

So the premise here is that context has an impact on memory, and that eBooks read on the Kindle lack the appropriate context for remembering. "In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," said Mangen. But, you know, it's one study, with one set of readers. I've been reading online for the last 30 years. I expect my sense of context may well be different.

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