Miscellaneous

A Way to Raise money for Education Technology

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 04:00
Terry Freedman, ICT & Computing in Education, Nov 26, 2018

I'm still waiting for the day when the Air Force needs to run bake sales to fund its operations. This, I guess, is the modern equivalent of those bake sales." Rocket Fund is a crowdfunding platform for schools. Rocket Fund modernises school fundraising, empowering schools to raise money from businesses and their community more efficiently." You know what's an even more efficient way to raise money from business and community? Taxes.

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Misleading on Fair Dealing

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Michael Geist, Nov 23, 2018

Michael Geist is up to part five in a landmark series on how the publication industry has been misleading lawmakers about the state of educational publishing in this country. He covers:

I find it interesting that you can create a five-part series based on misrepresentations made by the publishing industry, but I am sadly not surprised.

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Autonomy and Identity

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Les Green, Semper Veridis, Nov 23, 2018

Short post on how autonomy and identity go hand in hand. I've argued for autonomy in the past as a core element of successful networks, and it's not hard to see why: "its value lies in creating lives for ourselves, in making up identities, in choosing and pursuing ‘conceptions of the good’." But what about cases where identity is determined by nature - whether my DNA says I'm Irish or English, for example. Even here, autonomy plays a role: I can choose to discover the truth of the matter, or not really care either way. Autonomy isn't merely about "whether, or how far, some aspect of our identity is a matter of one’s own say-so." It's about defining one's own way of life, whatever one's DNA.

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Study: It only takes a few seconds for bots to spread misinformation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, Nov 23, 2018

According to a new study, it can take seconds for Twitter to spread false news across the internet. But in addition, the study also examined "the critical role played by so-called 'influencers:' celebrities and others with large Twitter followings who can contribute to the spread of bad information via retweets." The bots get the ball rolling, but the influencers finish the job. Bot owners depend on this. "The researchers found that, far from being random, those bots actively targeted influential Twitter users with negative content to create social conflict. Those users often did not realize they were being targeted and hence retweeted and helped spread the misinformation."

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The Future of the Public Mission of Universities

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Robin DeRosa, actualham, Nov 23, 2018

This is a transcript, with slides, from a teriffic talk given by Robin DeRosa  on the privatization of public infrastructure and the outsourcing of core educational functions - like online course design and hosting - to commercial entities. The first half of the talk looks at the impact of privatization in other areas and some of the problems it can cause. The talk then looks at privatization in education specifically. There`s a lot that could be said, but I think a few points are worth underlining. First, privatization represents a lost of control over key infrastructure (with resulting fee increases, reductions in service, and co-option to serve other interests). And second, privatization does not actually save governments the money it purports to save. Comprehensive and persuasive, this article deserves a slow read.

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What Does VR Have to Do With Online Education?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/22/2018 - 04:00
Laura Lynch, LearnDash, Nov 22, 2018

I remember when we first created multi-user online environments back in the early 90s. They were a natural to support learning online, we reasoned. The first thing we build, of course, were classrooms, field trips, and scenarios. We were terribly naive. Then along came 3D environment like Active Worlds and Second Life, and they seemed like a good idea for education. People right away built classrooms, field trips, and scenarios, and we laughed at them for being terribly naive. Now I'm reading about the potential uses of VR in education and seeing the talk turn to classrooms, field trips, and scenarios. What can I say?

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https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/cyoa-choose-your-own-adventure-maps

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/22/2018 - 04:00
Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obsacura, Nov 22, 2018

The branching scenario is a classic model for learning games. These maps make the structures of these games clear. For the most part they are just trees - one correct outcome and 15 bad outcomes. Sometimes, they contain links from one banch to another, and people taking the E-Learning 3.0 course will recognize them as DAGs (Directional Acyclic Graphs). Except for the last one, which is a time travel game, and loops back to the start, making it a cyclic graph. Via Christy Tucker.

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Practice-Informed Learning: The Rise of the Dual Professional

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
GuildHE, Nov 21, 2018

This report (64 page PDF) examines practice-informed learning, defined as "encompassing any situations where expertise from industry is brought into the classroom to inform teaching practice, or where more hands-on learning is taken out into professional settings." It offers a quick overview, notes benefits to students ("up-to-date understanding of their chosen field", "opportunities to begin to develop professional networks"), then offers the 19 case studies that constitute the bulk of the report. The 'dual professional' referenced in the title is the "practitioner-teacher" who keeps a hand in both industry and education. Via WonkHE.

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Forget movie villains—it’s the “good” superheroes that are the most violent

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, Nov 21, 2018

Watching Infinity War I found myself rooting for Thanos against the superheroes trying to stop him. Sure, he was trying to wipe out half the universe, but this paled against the wanton violence of the superheroes. Statistics back me up. "According to a new study, the 'good guys' are actually significantly more violent than the antagonists they're trying to stop." I'm certainly left wondering about their priorities and their methods when I watch a superhero movie. Why is the instinct always to resolve differences by fighting? How is it that superior strength always defines what's right? Why do they use their powers for combat rather than humanitarian purposes? If media either reflects or informs cultural values, then the recent slew of such movies must leave us wondering.

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Journal Retracts 29 Articles, Explaining Little

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Nov 21, 2018

An IEEE Journal is retracting 29 articles published over the last two years over what appears to be editorial board impropriety. But it is not announcing which articles it is retracting. "For now, the IEEE said that 'three volunteer editors identified during the investigation as involved in the misconduct have been permanently excluded from IEEE membership.'" All the more reason why review, publication and (of course) retraction should be conducted openly.

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The value of where you earned your PhD

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Christine Daigle, University Affairs, Nov 21, 2018

This article poses the question, "Why do hiring committees appear to favour graduates from big-league universities?" It's the "wow factor", writes Christine Daigle, and it should be ignored. "The argument has been made for a very long time that CVs should be anonymized for hiring in order to contravene bias, implicit or not, when assessing CVs," she argues. "I think we should do the same for university credentials." I think that's a good idea, but I can't imagine that the big universities' marketing departments would be in favour of it for a minute. The "wow factor" is, after all, exactly what they are selling.

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Unbundling and Rebundling Higher Education in an Age of Inequality

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Laura Czerniewicz, EDUCAUSE Review, Nov 21, 2018

Doug Belshaw today reminded me to go back and look at this article from October (I subscribe to EDUCAUSE feeds and newsletters but still manage to miss articles) on the concept onbundling and rebundling education. Laura Czerniewicz based the unbundling on Michael Staton's Disaggregating the Components of a College Degree though of course there are many ways to unbundle. The major question, though, lies in how the parts are put back together. Do we retain the idea of higher education for public good, or does it become a modern day Netflix - privatized, commercialized, and available only so long as you continue to pay?

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The End of Trust

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
McSweeney, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Nov 21, 2018

This all-nonfiction issue of McSweeney’s "is a collection of essays and interviews focusing on issues related to technology, privacy, and surveillance." It's is available as a free download (344 page PDF). It's worth a look - Cory Doctorow on privacy nihilism, Ethan Zuckerman on the ethics of distrust, Douglas Rushkoff on the media virus, Edward Snowden in a Q&A on blockchain, Edward R. Loomis on surveillance tools. The articles are short, accessible, and there's a lot of them.

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MOOC S trategies of European Institutions

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Lizzie Konings, Darco Jansen, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, Nov 21, 2018

This is from last year, but I only just found it, and it remains relevant today. It's the results (71 page PDF) of a questionaire of European higher education institutes (HEI) on their approaches to MOOCs. Here's what's significant: "the  majority  of  HEIs  (66%)  are  not  connected  to  one  of  the  big  MOOC platform providers (e.g., edX, Coursera, FutureLearn, Miriada X, etc.), but offer their MOOCs in their institutional platforms or in available regional/national platforms." Additionally, "respondents (51%) agreed that MOOCs should be for everyone" and suggested a range of possibilities to reach those left behind. Reading this report was a refreshing antedote to the crass commercial perspective I read yesterday in Forbes.

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Where Is My Mind?: An Interview with Andy Clark

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 04:00
David Maclean, iAi News, Nov 20, 2018

Short interview with philosopher Andy Clark. His first book, Microcognition, came out (and was very influential) around the time I was working on my PhD studies on the same topic. He explores connectionism, extended cognition, and the nature of consciousness. "If the information stored ‘out there’ is in those ways properly integrated with the stuff known by the bio-core, it counts as part of your extended mind. I think we’ll all get used to this in the near future, as we routinely extend our minds using various forms of more personalized A.I.," he says.

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Beware Of The Great MOOC Bait-And-Switch

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 04:00
Derek Newton, Forbes, Nov 20, 2018

If you just go by what the large U.S.-based institutions and companies are doing, which is what this article does, then MOOCs look like a scam. "MOOCs are now the free ice cream, the bait in the trap and, as such, it’s normal to wonder what they’re really worth even if they’re free." But outside the bastion, MOOCs are doing what they were intended to do: provide free learning resources to millions of people. This week alone I'm looking K-MOOCs in Korea (see here) and the KOOL system in Kerala (see here). It's the stark contrast between the world according to Forbes and the world according to the rest of us. (Note, as always, with Forbes, there's a spamwall, which I disable with Ublock Origin; there's also popup video - scroll down, scroll up, scroll down again and the 'close window' (X) appears above the video so you can shut it down).

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Why “Many-Model Thinkers” Make Better Decisions

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 04:00
Scott E. Page, Harvard Business Review, Nov 19, 2018

Science these days is about making models, not simple generalizations. Models are tested by overall fit rather than by specific predictions. And they are designed to offer a specific perspective (often incorrectly called a 'lens') on a domain. But they can constrain our thinking, making it difficult to imagine any possible state of affairs not described by the model. But in models as in all things, diversity is better. "While applying one model is good, using many models — an ensemble — is even better, particularly in complex problem domains. Here’s why: models simplify. So, no matter how much data a model embeds, it will always miss some relevant variable or leave out some interaction. Therefore, any model will be wrong." I would add that it's really hard for a single person to make many models, which is why a collection of people independently creating models offers the diversity we need without the inhetrent difficulty it otherwise entails.

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Post-REST

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 04:00
Tim Bray, Ongoing, Nov 19, 2018

REST stands for 'Representational State Transfer' and it was the nice light-weight way we created interfaces between programs running on the web (instead of using the heavy and over-engineered Web Services architecture). But now Tim Bray is looking at what comes after REST. "Mes­sag­ing and Event­ing... is all over, and I mean all over, the cloud in­fras­truc­ture that I work on," he writes. Request workflows are another area of focus. But the big changes are persistent connections and "QUIC (Quick UDP Inter­net Con­nec­tion­s) which aban­dons TCP in fa­vor of UDP, while re­tain­ing HTTP se­man­tic­s."  The idea is to speed up streaming content (such as games, messaging and video) as explained here.

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Are MOOCs Going to Disappear? 4 Challenges to Overcome

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 04:00
Laurie Pickard, Class Central, Nov 19, 2018

The answer to the question is "no", at least in my view, but for reasons having little to do with the four outstanding issues highlighted in this article. We've seen these issues show up in any number of articles: completion rates, accreditation, accessibility, and sustainability. These, though, are the issues faced by traditional online courses pretending to be MOOCs. In MOOCs as they were originally defined, completion rates are a non-issue, accreditation is in the eyes of the participants, access is to any and all who are interested, and sustainability is based in the community (and the fact that we don't really have budgets to offer these things).

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The relationship between Personality Traits, Learning Styles and Academic Performance of E-Learners

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 04:00
Nabia Luqman Siddiquei, Ruhi Khalid, Open Praxis, Nov 19, 2018

I like posting titles from academic journals referring to learning styles if only to needle the very loud voices from a certain quarter that there's no such thing as learning styles (and it's funny looking at the proliferation of academic studies on one side and polimics (insisting we look at the evidence) on the other side. Of course, no doubt this study too is fatally flawed as it argues that "personality traits have a facilitative role in learning process of e-learners and it also helps to motivate the e-learners... personality traits and learning styles are correlated to each other ... (and) all four learning styles were correlated with GPA."

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