Miscellaneous

Take away the descriptors

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 23:00
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Pam Hook, Artichoke, Oct 30, 2014

This is a fun project. "Nine notable offenders have agreed to have a go at stripping the jargon from the following educational terms... take a popular educational expression (captured in 2 words and a hyphen) and simplify it by writing 1000 words about it."

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Problem: Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 16:00


Dian Schaffhauser, T.H.E. Journal, Oct 30, 2014

One of the problems with a term like 'better than' is that it is context-free. Even when pinned down to some extent, as in the headline "Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students", we still don't know what is meant by 'better', and the end result is nonsense. This is exaggerated when you select as your representative teachers "early adopters to integrate technology in labs and physical experiments, hands-on activities, field trips and data collection" and you judge them on "how to use these technologies to solve sophisticated thinking problems." To conclude from this that teachers are "better at using tech" is empty and fruitless. Teachers are more adept at some things - deep thinking, say. Students are better at other things - pattern recognition, perhaps, or twitch-games maybe. Any wider generalization (and, indeed, even the two or three I just posited) are either wrong or meaningless.

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Training the Trainers for Linked Data

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 16:00
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Seth van Hooland, Ruben Verborgh, International Conference on Dublin Core, Metadata Applications DC-2014, Oct 30, 2014

I'm very much a linked-data kind of person; it suits the way I think far more than documents or even things like index cards. That's probably no real surprise to people. This post takes that way of thinking and expands it into a tutorial for practitioners. It's a set of slides (117 page PDF) that defines linked data, explains the advantages, and provides practical guidance in its application through four major steps: clean your metadata, reconcile with authoritative sources, enrich your metadata, share on the (open) web. There's a wealth of resources in this for those who look, for example, references to a number of data-cleaning tools (slide 21) or named entity extraction (NEW) (slide 57). And there is a really good discussion of representational state transfer (REST) in the second half of the deck. See also The 1:1 Principle of Linked Data, by Richard J. Urban.  See more from the same conference.

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Stop Being So Positive

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 13:00
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Gabriele Oettingen, Harvard Business Review, Oct 30, 2014

Although it addresses an important point, the title is very misleading. The study cited in the article (Future thought and behaviour change) is actually pretty interesting, but it divides future thoughts (ie., thoughts about the future) into 'fantasies' and 'beliefs'. The former are forms of wishful thinking, not based in rehearsal or past performance. The latter are based on experience and practice. And as the author says, "empirical research reliably finds that high expectations of success and and optimistic beliefs indeed foster motivation and successful performance." There are good grounds for expecting specific forms of 'positive thinking' to work. For example, "teaching mental contrasting of feasible desired future outcomes would result in better academic performance than teaching students to only think positively about the respective future."

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The Modern Workplace Learning Landscape: it’s more than telling people what to learn

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00
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Jane Hart, Learning in the Modern Social Workplace, Oct 30, 2014

Short overview article with a useful diagram touching on all aspects of workplace learning. The key message: "A L& D department that only focuses on Directed Learning is simply a Training Dept. The L& D Dept of the future will need to support learning in all its forms. But to do this it will need to shake off its command-and-control training mindset, and it will need to develop new roles, activities and new skills." I'm sure the diagram (or versions of it) will populate dozens of slide shows in the future.

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Research information management systems - a new service category?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00


Lorcan Dempsey, Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog, Oct 30, 2014

The aim of research information management (RIM) is "is to synchronize data across parts of the university, reducing the burden to all involved of collecting and managing data about the research process. An outcome is to provide greater visibility onto institutional research activity." I'm not sure it's a new category per se but it's cl;early an important institutional function (and in a best-case scenario supports open access). Anyhow, the article has a lot of good links to resources, including RIM standards: "two are especially relevant here:CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) from EuroCRIS, which provides a format for exchange of data between RIM systems, and the Casrai dictionary. CASRAI is the Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information."

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Teacher resistance against school reform: reflecting an inconvenient truth

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00


Ewald Terhart, School Leadership & Management, Oct 30, 2014

This is a really interesting article. It considers at length the nature and causes of teacher hostility toward educational reform, especially that reform imposed from the outside. "Innovation and change impulses are at best used as long as they fit or can be adapted to the beliefs, attitudes and needs of teacher culture in general and the needs and problems of each single teacher in particular. This process of transforming or adapting change impulses from the outside sometimes even disfigures or distorts the impulse." This is why in my own practice I have attempted to describe and implement (what might be called) reform outside the traditional academic milieu, with the idea that it can and will be transferred by teachers and professors into their own practice once (and once once) it is seen to be useful.

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MOOC Research Literature Browser

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00


Katy Jordan, MOOC Research Literature Browser, Oct 30, 2014

Katy Jordan  has compiled an impressive list of MOOC research on this page. And even though her blog posts are  suspended she's still adding new papers to it. My only complaint is that there seems to be no way to create an RSS feed from it (even  feed43 will not work) (she's using Google spreadsheets).

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Research about cMOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00
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Heli Nurmi, Heli connecting ideas, Oct 30, 2014

Heli Nurmi summarizes the article Participants’ Perceptions of Learning and Networking in Connectivist MOOCs, written by Mohsen Saadatmand and Kristiina Kumpulainen. "The results show that participation in MOOCs challenges learners to develop self-organization, self-motivation, and a reasonable amount of technological proficiency to manage the abundance of resources and the more open format. Participants in cMOOCs use an array of technologies and various networking skills. The nature of cMOOCs requires students to assume active roles, in a spirit of openness, to shape activities and collaborate in goal achievement." As she points out, though, the self-selecting nature of the survey would tend to favour such results.

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New Evidence: Deeper Learning Improves Student Outcomes

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00
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Bob Lenz, Edutopia, Oct 30, 2014

It could be the new face of the 'core content' lobby group, or it could be a genuine move forward in education reform. Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether I can trust the source. The concept of 'deeper learning' is "to focus on the set of skills and knowledge that reinforce each other and together promote rigorous and deeper learning. These include:

  • Mastery of core academic content
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Working collaboratively in groups
  • Communicating clearly and effectively
  • Learning how to learn."

According to this article, "a new study by the American Institutes for Research ... investigated whether schools in the Deeper Learning Network achieve better student outcomes than local comparison schools, and found that the answer is yes." I remain sceptical: not of the idea that critical thinking and learning how to learn improve learning outcomes, but whether they need to be conflated with the other three.

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What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00
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Vicky Davis, Edutopia, Oct 30, 2014

I would probably address the subject a bit differently (my take on citizenship is more about proactive engagement rather than the 9-Ps of protection) but this article is a good quick take on the idea, and certainly a good starting point to make you think about some issues. For example, what constitutes privacy in public places? Should you really blur license plates? What about using geolocation? Is online content really "a 'digital tattoo' that is almost impossible to erase?" See also the  five minute film festival teaching digital citizenship, also from Edutopia.

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Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 22:00
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Glenn Greenwald, YouTube, TED, Oct 29, 2014

The caption summarizes: "Glenn Greenwald was one of the first reporters to see — and write about — the Edward Snowden files, with their revelations about the United States’ extensive surveillance of private citizens. In this searing talk, Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’ re 'not doing anything you need to hide.'"

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The Story of Greatguy7

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 19:00
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Eric Sheninger, A Principal's Reflections, Oct 29, 2014

So this school principle is looking for good examples of YouTube videos being used to teach things and is referred to an account by someone called Greatguy7, who turns out to be an eight year old boy. Among the videos is one on how to make YouTube tutorials, which he refers to a colleague. Great story, right? Here's the kicker: Greatguy 7 turns out to be his own son. Eric Sheninger writes, "not only did I have no idea about this, but I had never helped him get on YouTube or create videos for that matter...  The end result, in his words, was that my son taught a veteran teacher with over 30 years of experience how to make and share videos."

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This Has Potential

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 19:00
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Doug Peterson, Doug - Off the Record, Oct 29, 2014

Doug Peterson segues from a discussion of the teaching of mathematics in general (and how it is killed by memorization and out-of-context problem sets) to the introduction of the new equation-solving tool (photograph the equation and it presents the solution). "Essentially, the app lets the camera take a picture of a problem and it solves it for you, including “ showing your work” .  How many times have you heard that in your mathematics life?" This has value, he says, because it may move us from applying a solution by rote toward asking ourselves what the solution means.

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Review of Clark Quinn’s New Book: Revolutionize Learning and Development: Performance and Innovation Strategy for the Information Age.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 19:00
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Will Thalheimer, Will at Work Learning, Oct 29, 2014

Review of Clark Quinn's book Revolutionize Learning and Development. Thalheimer writes, "Clark loves what we do. He just wishes with hope that we did it better. He puts the focus on on-the-job performance, saying that our learning solutions should be aimed at creating results in the workplace. Indeed, Clark nimbly changes our name from the Learning and Development team to the Performance and Development team! Learning is just a means to performance." See also  this interview between Thalheimer and Quinn.

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Stand Up for Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 19:00
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Various authors, National Union of Teachers, Oct 29, 2014

Britain's National Union of Teachers (NUT) has released a manifesto (16 page PDF) addressing changes to the direction of that nation's schools. While the document is focused on the British general election slated for 2015, the document has wider relevance. Among other things, it argues that:

  • We need a wider vision of learning and achievement
  • We need more time for teaching – not more tests
  • All children deserve qualified teachers
  • We need to end child poverty
  • Education should not be run for profit
  • We need teaching to be an attractive profession

I think these are reasonable statements. And I think that all parties will need to look at a retreat from the numbers-based corporate-focused education that has characterized reform in some places in recent years.

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Conversation on Workplace Learning and Literacy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 19:00
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Stephen Downes, Valerie Irvine, John Kenney, YouTube, Oct 27, 2014

Framed around the LPSS program, and looking at specific issues such as workplace learning and literacy, this discussion outlines some of my views on the problems we are trying to solve, the applicability of the solutions we are creating, and the question of broader social needs being served by the program. I am in one window; Valerie Irvine and John Kenney are in the other.

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Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, IMS Global Learning Consortium, and International Digital Publishing Forum Announce Digital Learning Metadata Alliance

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 12:00
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Press Release, IMS, Oct 27, 2014

According to this press release issued by IMS, the new organization will be called the Digital Learning Metadata Alliance and can be found at  dlma.org - "The first incarnation of DLMA work will be the metadata schema for EDUPUB a joint collaboration between IDPF and IMS Global to enable e-books that are interoperable across reader platforms, web browsers and educational systems (such as learning platforms and learning tools)." Dublin Core just the other day assumed  formal responsibility over the learning resource metadata initiative (LRMI). The significant feature of this annpouncement is the inclusion of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), which is "the global trade and standards organization for the digital publishing industry."

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Poverty Is Strongest Factor in Whether High School Graduates Enroll in College

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 09:00
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Laurie Arnston, Higher Education Today, Oct 27, 2014

Despite all the emphasis on how important teaching and testing are for improving educational outcomes,  the fact remains that the worst results from higher-income schools are still better than the best results from low-income schools. This is why education alone is not sufficient to provide opportunities to youth. Governments also have to be focused on measures that address equity, in order to lower the pervasive impact of poverty on outcomes. Measures that do not address this cause are not (despite the rhetoric) addressing outcomes; they are addressing some other objective, an objective the proponents do not want to talk about.

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Solidarity in the Ivory Tower

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 09:00
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Herbert Pimlott, Academic Matters, Oct 27, 2014

Herbert Pimlott writes, "The growing number of precarious academic workers teaching an ever-larger number of undergraduate students is a threat. It is a threat to our profession, with serious implications for our working conditions, our compensation, and the future of collegial governance. It is also a threat to the existence of higher education and the public university as we know it. Indeed, it is also part of the tale of Canada’ s shrinking middle class."

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