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This is not a bad paper though I wish the authors had been more imaginative in their typology of delivery models - the old "in-class, hybrid or online" classification could admit of much more nuance, ranging from pedagogical style (active learning, constructionism, lecture) through to media employed (videos, texts, simulations). There's a bit of that in the only substantive diagram of the model, which begins with sets of options for content, activities and feedback. But these seem placed squarely within an instructivist frame, and do not help guide delivery decisions in any substantive manner. I think the discussion is interesting, even though the model suffers from the flaws of models generally: people who understand the model don't need it, while people who need the model don't understand it.[Link] [Comment]
This is a pretty interesting paper up to the end of page four. It discusses the phenomenon of 'conditional release of material' - that is, showing students course content only after they have reached a certain threshold, such as passing a quiz. The author surveys types of and conditions for conditional release. You can stop reading at the point where you read the statement "Two of the authors surveyed undergraduate students in their courses over two semesters." The data that follows is essentially useless, even discounting the response rate of 38% from the surveys (I don't know why authors feel compelled to write these papers and why journals like JOLT feel compelled to publish them).[Link] [Comment]
There has been quite a bit of negative reaction to the revelation that Facebook has been experimenting on its users (this, of course, won't stop Facebook from experimenting like this, but it will stop them from publishing the results). Here's what you need to know, according to GigaOm, about the experiments. Here's Facebook's defense. Still, some people (including Audrey Watters) wand to de-Facebook. They'll be on Twitter (do you really think Twitter is any more ethical than Facebook?). But there's no escape. Even if you're gone, you'll be part of Facebook's secret dossier of individuals. "There are no protections against shadow profiling. Just like with so-called "people search" websites, we have no legal mandates with which we can identify and remove our information from their systems."
But if you think all this begins with Facebook, or even with the internet, then I think that you're being terribly naive. How do you think credit scores are calculated - by magic? Companies like Equifax have been maintaining 'shadow profiles' for decades. "According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the three largest players in the credit reporting market — Equifax, Experian Information Solutions Inc. and TransUnion LLC — each maintain files on at least 200 million Americans culled from about 10,000 information providers." (Via) The insurance industry, as well, relies on such profiles when assigning risk and calculating rates. Marketing agencies collect dossiers to help them target mailing campaigns. Political parties keep track of voters. The list goes on and on. And they all experiment with different messaging to produce different results. So let's not all be shocked by this.
And the social experimentation continues unabated. There's a long history. There are well-established procedures and ethics regulations which are routinely ignored by industry. Indeed, they're popular entertainment. They're passed off as art. Or reality series. Grocery stores and retail outlets constantly experiment with traffic flows and consumer behaviour. All the big data and learning analytics studies - what do you think they are doing? Governments and companies frequently experiment on soldiers, welfare recipients - indeed, any person from a disadvantaged group is fair game. So, again, let's not be shocked by all this.[Link] [Comment]
Building Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for Academia and Industry, Onlea promotes economic diversity in Alberta
My longtime colleague Jennifer Chesney has joined up with two others at the University of Alberta to launch "a not-for-profit spin-off from the University of Alberta producing flexible, mobile-friendly, interactive learning courses, educational experiences, and assessment solutions that can be distributed across the wide variety of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms" (there's no shortage of adjectives with this group - perhaps they could leave some for the rest of us!). They were responsible for the popular Dino 101 online course.[Link] [Comment]
This article from a couple of months ago is making the rounds, and is well worth a look. As background, "Funded by $100 million from the Gates Foundation, inBloom was a non-profit organization aiming to store student data so that school officials and teachers could use it to learn about their students and how to more effectively teach them." According to the article, "The main instrument of inBloom's death was privacy. Because inBloom involved so much student data, privacy concerns began to swirl about, and eventually turned into a tornado." Is there evidence that providers have learned from this? Not so much.[Link] [Comment]
If the Economist says something is good, I begin to worry. And so too with this article touting the destruction of the universities at the hands of the MOOC. The Economist sees the elite universities faring well, with smaller for-profits and even medium-sized public universities bearing the brunt. I'd like to think that open online learning will make the elite universities irrelevant - of course, a lot of things have to happen for that to take place, but we can always hope.[Link] [Comment]
I'm not sure how exactly a company that professionally produces five-minute 'educational videos' with the intent of making them go viral qualifies as "upstart" but I guess in some world anything that is not traditional is an upstart. And ooo, radical: "The course is also piloting a call-and-response model where user response drives content: Mr. Boudreaux will add new videos based on the most common questions he receives from students."[Link] [Comment]
It is realluy an idea for its tgime, I think. "Twenty years ago yesterday, cognitive scientist Stevan Harnad posted a message on a mailing list, a message he headed “ A Subversive Proposal” .... Today the Subversive Proposal is viewed as one of the seminal texts of the open access movement."[Link] [Comment]
Summary and reflections on the 2014 CETIS conference that took place in Bolton a couple of weeks ago. Of note, from a talk by Phil Richards, "In the moves towards reducing the range of activities which Jisc works on Phil highlighted a move away from working with standards, and highlighted the NHS as an example of a sector in which large sums of money had been invested in the development of interoperable systems based on open standards which had failed to deliver." Note though that the alternative is not necessarily the employment of proprietary standards. It could be "non-standards based systems, such as “ innovative, successful learning technology without standards” such as "Sugata Mitra's 'hole in the wall' work as an example of successful self-organised learning which we should seek to emulate."[Link] [Comment]
Interesting proposition: "The holy grail of open learning at the moment is finding a sustainable and reliable model for the validation of non-traditional learning (open courses, MOOCs, practical work experience, self-tuition etc). These forms of learning may be openly documented but have little or no formal credibility when applying to study at a university or applying for a job." I'm not sure I agree. What we want is validation of the person, not validation of the learning.
Anyhow, the point of this post is to introduce "the project VM-Pass which aims to implement the recognition of virtual mobility and OER-learning through a learning passport." If that sounds a lot like Mozilla badges, it is. But "the key to VM-Pass is the validation process that is based on combination of peer review and crowdsourcing. The passport contains information from the course provider on the certificate the learner has earned with transparent links to all criteria. In addition there is the learner's own profile."[Link] [Comment]
Short post in which I discuss the question of whether the Facebook research program is a vioolation of research ethics. My conclusion? It's not.[Link] [Comment]
To borrow from an old quote, it renders quaint normal concerns about research ethics. Facebook is performing experiments to manipulate users' emptions. From the paper: "We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness." Via William Hughes.[Link] [Comment]
"Deleuze and Guattari (D & G) enumerate 6 approximate characteristics of the rhizome. The principles are: 1. Connections – a rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections. 2. Heterogeneity - any point of a rhizome can be connected to any other and must be. 3. Multiplicity – A multiplicity is, in the most basic sense, a complex structure that does not reference a prior unity. Asignifying rupture. If you break a rhizome it can start growing again on its old line or on a new line. 5 & 6. Cartography and decalcomania – the rhizome is like a map and not a tracing."
I think we've learned a lot about MOOCs. And as one of the academics gathered during the Texas snowstorm, I think I can say confidently that these five things are not among them. The five:
Where does the Chronicle say this nonsense comes from? From an organization that should know better. It's not simply that these statements are false (though no doubt some of them are). It's that they're misplaced and emphasized the wrong things. Note that not one of them has anything to do with whether people learn, form communities, or make their lives better.
Professors read Twitter reviews of their courses in thsi video, a take-off on the mean tweets meme. "One professor read a review saying, 'She will mock your aspirations then cackle over the remains of your spirit.' Another comment was: 'Good lecturer, ugly shoes.' The camera panned to take in a row of Crocs." I would never wear Crocs while teaching. I would, however, wear ugly shoes.[Link] [Comment]
11 publishers are raising their prices all at the same time. "Publishers insist, however, that there was no conspiracy to raise prices and that the previous cost model for e-books wasn’ t sustainable. 'We had absolutely no knowledge and we weren’ t advised by the aggregator at all that other publishers were making a change at the same time,' says Rebecca Seger, director of institutional sales for the Americas at Oxford University Press." Not surprisingly, there is tension and mistrust between academic libraries and publishers.[Link] [Comment]
You may have heard of LRMI (Learning Resource Metadata Initiative) but you may not know who is using it. This post offers a short selection of sites where it can be found. Despite Barker's qualification ("there are others using LRMI properties in their webpages that I happened not to find (t.b.h. I didn’ t spend very long looking) ") this seems to me to be a very short list.[Link] [Comment]
Nice. "Badges designed and awarded using BadgeOS are now exposed as Open Badges compliant Assertion - Assertions are the DNA of Open Badges. They are data files which describe the badge and identify who it has been awarded to." P.S. The headline writers should note the difference in meaning between saying "issue first badges" and "issue our first badges" or "issue their first badges." English: it definitely needs to be clear. Related: Alan Levine writes, "But to me badging, nanodegreeing, calculating massive course dropouts remains overweighted on one side of the system."[Link] [Comment]
Diana Laurillard offers the answer to the question in terms of what problems MOOCs have solved, which seems to be a bit of an odd way to address a nascent technology. "The problem MOOCs succeed in solving is: to provide free university teaching for highly qualified professionals." Well, yes. And that's the problem the internet had solved by 1990, and the web by 1999. But surely that's not the extent of the problem-solving being does by open online content and services. I have always intended open online learning so address issues of access. Laurillard writes, "by 2015 there will still be 53m children out of school... UNESCO estimates that we need 1,600,000 teachers to achieve universal primary education." At $10K per teacher, that's an additional $16 billion in salaries; at $100K that's $160 billion. I see no sign anyone is prepared to pay this kind of money. So we need to address access in some other way than simply hiring teachers. Can MOOCs help here? Maybe. As Laurillard says, "If we are to have any hope of reaching our most ambitious educational goal of universal primary education, we have to find innovative ways of teaching." (p.s. - if you charge "even the modest cost of $49" it's not a MOOC). (p.p.s. this was posted on the ALT newsletter today; previously posted at IOE London blog May 14).[Link] [Comment]
I once did a quick survey of how long it would take me to get completely caught up reading patent applications in just one area of ed tech. It would be, I discovered, several lifetimes. Calling it a 'patent thicket' is an understatement, by far. But this article is a fun read, picking up nine or so influential patents over the years, from the Skinner apparatus for teaching spelling (1866) to Blackboard's Internet-based education support system and methods (1999).[Link] [Comment]
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