Miscellaneous

It Takes All Kinds

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 19:00
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Erin Miller, ACRLog, Jun 21, 2015

Fun discussion of personality tests. And yes, I've done dozens and dozens of the Buzzfeed tests, some of which are not to be taken seriously, but others of which offer at least some insight (a lot depends on the test). The author writes, "The point is that this was a valuable exercise in self-awareness as well as team building. I learned about what motivates and what irritates my coworkers and what different skills sets each of us possess and value. However, I learned the most not from the test results themselves but from hearing feedback and opinions of my colleagues as we analyzed ourselves and discussed in which ways we fit the different categories (colors)." Notice: not one word about making all someone's instruction 'blue' or 'orange'.

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When Learning Analytics Meets E-Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 19:00


Betul C. Czerkawski, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Jun 21, 2015

Survey article. Not many deep insights here ("It is important to recognize that learning analytics hosts many opportunities and challenges for the society at large...") but there are links to a number of specific analytics projects and some learning analytics tools.

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Games vs Game-based Learning vs Gamification

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 19:00
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Pranjalee Thanekar, Upside Learning, Jun 21, 2015

The highlight of this post is a simple table that distinguishes between games, game-based learning, and gamification. "A popular example of Gamification is Deloitte’ s Leadership Academy, which uses rank, rewards, missions and leader boards as one of the ways to encourage its employees and client companies to log on, take courses and continue corporate training despite busy work schedules."

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Max C Roser and 223 of his closest friends are Enemies of the Truth!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 19:00
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Will Thalheimer, Will at Work Learning, Jun 21, 2015

I think that the question we need to ask here is not how wrong Max Roser was not how much damage he has done (both of which, I think, are quantified in this post) but rather, what is it about our existing system to creating and disseminating knowledge in education that makes Max Roser's actions seem reasonable and plausible to Max Roser. Because I'm quite sure he never set out to misinform 223 people. So what led him to, first, believe that the diagram represented a form of knowledge, and second, to share it without verifying the veracity of the information? This is the fundamental problem of education in our society. It is incredibly easy to get people to remember things - too easy (which is why these 'learning outcomes' studies are so misleading). What really matters is remembering the right things, useful things, and usable things. Maybe by studying Max Roser instead of merely complaining about him we can find out how to address this.

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Tap, Swipe … but not for long.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 19:00
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Dean Groom, Playable, Jun 21, 2015

I think it is useful to observe that different devices are used for different purposes. For example, we tend to prefer large devices - such as desktop computers - if we are using the computer for a long period of time. Now true, I read What is Code on my phone (the first time; I reread it on a desktop and enjoyed all the animations too the second time). But reading 38,000 words on a phone isn't something I normally do (what can I say? I was riveted). So generalizations like "teen s are using nothing but phones" may reflect the fact that they're not working at jobs all day (or at least, not desk jobs) more than than some trend about the future of computing devices.

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How to respond to learning-style believers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 19:00
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Cathy Moore, Jun 21, 2015

This is a post to help bolster the arguments of people who disagree with me. :) But treat carefully. Cathy Moore writes, "Learning styles have been popularized by well-intentioned people, including possibly your professor of instructional design. However, the claim that we have to adapt our design to accommodate different learning styles has been repeatedly debunked by research." My take is that many people who talk about learning styles do not believe that this means we have to "adapt our design" to different learning styles - we are not, in other words, instructionists. Indeed, from my perspective, one of the problems of instructivist approaches is that they are completely indifferent to - and unimpacted by - individual learner differences. So they begin by denying what to me is the most obvious and intuitive fact about learning and education - that everyone is different. But hey, maybe if you read Moore's last paragraph you'll disagree with me. And I certainly agree with this: "I say that the best way to honor people’ s individuality isn’ t to shove them into simplistic categories so we can pour information into them." Taxonomies are for pigeons. See also: Will Thalheimer.

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Foundations for OER Strategy Development

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 19:00


Nicole Allen, Delia Browne, Mary Lou Forward, Cable Green, Alek Tarkowski, Jun 21, 2015

This document has matured a lot since it began life as a proposal earlier in the year. It is not much more balanced and nuanced, and is approaching a state where it can be considered a comprehensive account of open educational resources (OERs). There are still bits I disagree with: it should be more focused on the value proposition, and less focused on the specific manner in which the value is realized; and it still stresses a common approach (and especially definitions and standards) on grounds of being able to scale rather than a diverse and multi-faceted approach on grounds of usefulness. But it's better - a  lot better - than what I was seeing earlier.

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High-profile academic fraud a symptom of underlying dysfunction

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 11:00


Melonie Fullick, University Affairs, Jun 20, 2015

The case under discussion in this article involves a study purporting to show that a brief conversation about an issue with a canvasser dramatically impacts survey results. It turns out there were issues of credibility and the journal retracted the paper. But while the individual involved is certainly responsible, argues the author, so is the system. "If you build a system that rewards this kind of performance then you should expect unpalatable results to emerge. If you want a gamified system, people will find ways of gaming it...  We can’ t complain about high-profile cases like this without also engaging in some critical reflection on the system in which such incidents can happen. We can’ t say we want to hire the best people, when only one particular, narrow version of 'best' is noted and rewarded."

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The Web Will Either Kill Science Journals or Save Them

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 13:00
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Julia Greenberg, Wired, Jun 19, 2015

Even more on the recently released  report asserting that academic publishing is in the hands of an oligarchy. This is an interview with one of the report's author's. He nicely summarizes the dilemma academics find themselves in: "If you switch to a totally collaborative world where you put everything online, then we need to get rid of the evaluation culture, because as long as there’ s an evaluation culture no one will do that."

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'Poshness tests' block working-class applicants at top companies

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 10:00
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Matthew Weaver, The Guardian, Jun 19, 2015

This is part of the explanation of why education alone is insufficient to ensure social and economic equity in society: "as university education has become more prevalent employers have turned their attention to other characteristics 'such as personal style, accent and mannerisms, adaptability, team working'. These 'soft skills' were repeatedly found to be interpreted as 'proxies for ‘ talent’ '." In different societies what counts as 'posh' varies, but those from elite backgrounds always have ways of recognizing their own.

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Do you want to make a difference in L&D, or do you want to be liked?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 19:00


Donald H Taylor, Jun 18, 2015

So this is a classic case of the straw man fallacy: "they (learning styles) are accepted because as a profession we are too keen to be liked rather than to be critical. We almost never ask 'What’ s your source? Where’ s the research?' when someone wheels out another of these pseudoscientific canards." Actually, I see that question asked so often (especially about learning styles) that I wonder why some people are so concerned about this as opposed to any number of other questionable practices.

So let me try once again to capture the appeal of learning styles. I'll use an analogy: height. It is immediately and intuitively obvious that people are different heights. So when someone comes along and says "there's no such thing as heights" we know that this is ridiculous. What the person really means is "teaching people differently according to height produces no measurable difference in learning outcome." And we can understand how certain types of tests produced that result. But what if we're teaching people how to play basketball? Now height matters a lot. And that's the same thing with learning styles: they don't matter at all until they matter a lot.

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Academic publishers reap huge profits as libraries go broke

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 16:00
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CBC News, Jun 18, 2015

So I wrote another of my periodic messages to our own library services today recommending dropping some particular subscriptions and recommending they reconsider whether we spend money on these subscriptions at all. Because, really, why should we? It's good money spent badly. And as we read in this CBC article discussing  the report published last week (covered in OLDaily here), the publishers are making out like bandits while libraries struggle to provide even basic services. "The quality control is free, the raw material is free, and then you charge very, very high amounts – of course you come up with very high profit margins."

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What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 13:00
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Leo Mirani, Quartz, Jun 18, 2015

It's hard to imagine, but I can remember a day when we used paper for everything. Paper (light cardboard, actually) for library catalogues. Paper for books and news. Paper for all of my notes, my papers, bills and statements. Photos that were created by dipping paper into liquids! Typesetting machines. Paper clips. LP albums on vinyl. Sure, there were radio and television, but we never did anything with those, we just watched and listened (though I do remember the great  CB craze of the 70s (you could predict a lot of the internet just by knowing about CB). ” If we’ re the last people in history to know life before the internet, we are also the only ones who will ever speak, as it were, both languages. We are the only fluent translators of Before and After.” Quite so. And as one who stood tall in the Before, let me tell you, the after is better. So much better.

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Why do students from privileged schools dominate the Year 12 art work exhibition?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 11:00
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Trevor McCandless, EduResearch Matters, Jun 18, 2015

Another example of a case where the definition of 'merit' is actually a selection mechanism for background and privilege. "What makes someone particularly good at ‘ art’ is not what tends to be taught in schools, but rather the tastes and dispositions students already have due to their social class and how well they can display these tastes and dispositions in ways which surprise the judges. Access to the tastes and dispositions that ensure success is restricted to those with the right cultural, social and ultimately financial capital." Image: StArt Up.

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Will Learning Analytics Transform Higher Education?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 11:00
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Abelardo Pardo, Slideshare, Jun 18, 2015

The answer to the question posed in the title is of course "yes". But beyond that, there are some good observations in this slide show about the relation between analytics and education. Paul Prinsloo comments in Facebook, though, "Very little indication of whether the transformation will be for the better or the worse - No interrogation of the deeper epistemological/ontological questions regarding the use of student data..." True enough. It's still worth a look, though. Image from Long and Siemens, 2011.

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Tim Cook says lack of diversity in tech is 'our fault'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 11:00
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Christina Warren, Mashable, Jun 17, 2015

While on the one hand completely supporting this article, on the other hand I want to insist that the concept of diversity extends well beyond age, gender and colour. You can be diverse across all three and be staffed exclusively by Harvard grads. Diversity extends to background, culture, avocations, pets, and so much more. 'Learning style sceptics' notwithstanding, diversity means you need both introverts and extroverts, tactile people and thinking people, scientists and artists, creatives and conservatives. Mix it up. "And that future, according to Cook, should be diverse: 'I think the most diverse group will produce the best product, I firmly believe that,' he says. Even without taking its values into account, Apple is a 'better company' by being more diverse."

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MOOCs and Learning Sciences: Where we have been. Where we are going

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 02:00


George Siemens, Slideshare, Jun 16, 2015

Skides from George Siemens for the Scandanavian MOOC conference. While there are some elements from his recent study, I'm seeing also a sharper, more critical Siemens. This is good. Starting with slide 31, a nice diagram mapping five models of change, Siemens points out to the "audience that higher education has ignored to date." Skip to slide 36 and the framework for understanding future technology infrastructure. The elements: control, ownership, integration, structure. A model on slides 54 and 55. Maybe Siemens is building some ideas here. I'd be interested to see him build the tech to try it out. Siemens also mentions his 2008 ITForum paper. It's interesting to compare this with my IT Forum paper from around the same time. Similarities and differences, both of us on the same track, but seeing things a bit differently.

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The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 23:00
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Vincent Larivière, Stefanie Haustein, Philippe Mongeon, PLOS ONE, Jun 16, 2015

I'm not exactly sure you'd need a study to reach this conclusion, but hey, more data and evidence can't hurt. "Unfortunately, researchers are still dependent on one essentially symbolic function of publishers, which is to allocate academic capital, thereby explaining why the scientific community is so dependent on ‘ The Most Profitable Obsolete Technology in History’ ". Via Inside Higher Ed.

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Internet 'Magna Carta' vote launched by British Library

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 23:00
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BBC News, Jun 16, 2015

On Monday we'll be able to learn the clauses selected after a nation-wide debate in the U.K. among schoolchildren on a Magna Carta for the internet. It's all part of an  advertising campaign for the Magna Carta (which doesn't really need advertising, I would think, but there it is). You can vote now. Right now the leading candidate is "to not let companies pay to control it, and not let governments restrict our right to information." Hey, that would get my vote.

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Bionic bra inventors from Uni of Wollongong boosted by MOOC

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 14:00
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Tim Dodd, Business Review Weekly, Jun 16, 2015

When I first started OLDaily I don't think I could have imagined that any of the nouns in this headline would ever appear in a post. Except maybe 'bionic'. But there it is, and it's exactly the sort of thing I want to be reporting. “ What we are really interested in doing in all of our MOOCs is to take those sorts of research discoveries and tell the public the stories of scientific discoveries and how it impacts on peoples lives,” said  Eeva Leinonen, the University of Wollongong’ s deputy vice chancellor academic.

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