Miscellaneous

Graham Brown-Martin

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 19:00


Graham Brown-Martin, Learning {Re}imagined, Feb 06, 2017

I'm generally sympathetic with the aims of this post but I can't get past his use of corporate logos and branding (specifically, the whole Star Wars motif) to animate his call. I come from the same place he does, in 1985, "the future of learning was bright and educational technology would play a central role in its transformation by removing the curriculum, the artificial subject silos and the streaming of kids by age, so that learning could be experienced and lived." I didn't need Seymour Papert to come up with these ideas for me, I might note: a lot of people figured this all out independently. I too regret that "technology was co-opted not to liberate but to reinforce standardisation and automation of schools ways." But no I won't join an “ EdTech Rebel Alliance” - I will continue to work with my own identity and my own brand, even if not stamped with corporate imprimatur, as I have always done.

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The woes of Windows 10

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 19:00


The Economist, Feb 06, 2017

We still use Windows 7 at the office. Our version of Exchange, meanwhile, is so old it is actually incompatible with newer versions of Outlook, with the result that my Windows 10 laptop and desktop at home have to use Thunderbird to access email. It's a common scenario.  The article blames the complexity of Windows 10 and privacy concerns. I disagree. First, I think that the software-by-subscription model is seriously flawed; you no longer own software, so signing over to Windows 10 means permanent annual expenses. Second, I think the Microsoft apps that come built-in with Windows 10 (Mail, Calendar, Maps, Groove, Messaging, even Edge) are terrible; features I'd come to count on have vanished. Windows 7 with the 2010 versions of Word, PowerPoint, etc., is a stable long-term solution. The software won't disappear on you, features won't disappear on you, not even if you stop paying Microsoft. And that's why companies and individuals are sticking with it.

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Cameroon's Anglophone Regions Suffer Under Internet Ban

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 16:00


Moki Kindzeka, AllAfrica.Com, Feb 06, 2017

The Cameroon government has shut down internet access in English-speaking regions of the predominately French-seaking country in response to unrest in the minority population. The outage, which has lasted two weeks, is having a significant effect on the region's nascent internet industry. Edward Snowden notes, "This is the future of repression." I'm sympathetic with all sides in the dispute, and hope they are able to de-escalate. meanwhile, the event makes it clear that organizations need to develop diginal communications that do not depend on the internet, a 21st century wireless Fidonet, if you will. Image: Steve Tchoumba

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Knowledge Science: The Great Big Beautiful Puzzle

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:00


Dennis Thomas, Learning Solutions Magazine, Feb 05, 2017

This is a view of knowledge and learning that I think is wrong (and would argue has been disproven in application) but which is nonetheless believed - either implicitly or explicitly - by many. The idea is that all knowledge can be understood conceptually a nd semantically, and that it all fits a giant puzzle explaining the universe, which can be understood using "time-tested a priori knowledge."

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Transversal Competencies and their Assessment: Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 11:00


Ramya Vivekanandan, Esther Care, Rebekah Luo, UNESCO, Feb 05, 2017

'Transversal skills' is the term adopted by UNESCO to refer to things like 21st century skills, critical thinking, persitence, and related skills. This article observes that they are being more widely valued world-wide. But the question remains: how are they being evaluated? It is in this context that UNESCO Bangkok published Assessment of Transversal Competencies: Policy and Practice in the Asia-Pacific Region (62 page PDF) "in the aim of understanding more about these questions and how some countries are trying to answer them."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Coursera’s New Strategy Takes Inspiration From Netflix—and LinkedIn

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 11:00


Jeffrey R. Young, Sydney Johnson, EdSurge, Feb 05, 2017

Coursera is continuing its migration from being a MOOC provider offering free online learning to a subscription-based learning provider charging fees for access to learning materials. The model, as this article points out, has already been established by Netflix (for videos) and Microsoft (for its LinkedIn owned Lynda course platform). According to this article the big problem with the model is the size of the courses ("meaningful education cannot be delivered at massive scale") but of course the real problem for students is the course fee.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Loving It

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 12:00


Alex Usher, Higher Education Strategy Associates, Feb 04, 2017

Just a day or so after authoring a good article Alex Usher comes out with this piece defending the agreement made between McDonald's and Colleges Ontario to recognize part of the corporation's training program as equivalent to college credit. There are probably good argument that could be made to defend the deal but Usher instead misrepresents  the OSPEU response as knee-jerk anti-corporate reaction, which it most certainly is not. Nowhere does the OSPEU even suggest that "McDonald’ s is a big evil corporation," as Usher says, though it does criticize the company's business practices, "tax-evasion schemes, anti-union tactics, and a reliance on a precarious low-wage workforce,” all of which are well-substantiated. The OSPEU response is eminently reasonable and boils down to two major points: first, the McDonald's curriculum is not transparent, and second, corporate training is probably not equivalent to a college education. For example, "it is difficult to see how principles of macroeconomics, involving such issues as interest rates and national productivity, are learned hands-on or in two weeks of classes over three years."

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Top Fears Shutting the Door on Open Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 12:00


A.J. O'Connell, Campus Technology, Feb 04, 2017

Some people say fear is the reason professors don't want to open up classrooms, but I agree with MERLOT's Gerry Hanley: ""I think it's really a workload issue. Open educational resources don't often have the full package of supplemental material that publishers provide, and so it often means faculty have to pull together additional assignments, homework assignments, what might be lecture materials — things along those lines." People forget that many if not most university professors see teaching as a burden, not a profession. They want to do research not recitations. I know we live in the era where fear prevails and everybody's afraid, but I still think fear is cited far too frequently, and that most people are guided by much more pragmatic emotions.

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Inspirational teaching in higher education: What does it look, sound and feel like?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 12:00


James G. Derounian, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching, Learning, Feb 04, 2017

In a paper tht could have used a good edit James G. Derounian identifies factors associated with inspirational teaching in the literature and then validates the findings through a study of actual practice. "Three clear elements of inspirational undergraduate teaching emerge: First and foremost, undergraduates believe it to be motivating; second, and related – inspirational teaching is deemed encouraging and third such teaching flows from teachers’ passion for their subject." Deemed? Like I said, a good edit. In conclusion, "a simple formula: Inspirational teaching → Aspiration → Transformation."

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The University and Student Learning: A System in Conflict?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 12:00


Janet Adkins, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, Feb 04, 2017

According to this article, the globalization of the education system "creates tepid universities all doing the same thing and producing similar results." This results from the primacy of the market-driven economic model at the core of globalization, which eliminates specialization and favours standardization and commodification. "Streamlining such a complex system means courses need to be compatible both across, as well as up and down the system. Systems need to be simple to achieve vertical and horizontal alignment."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Is ‘fake news’ a fake problem?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 22:00


Jacob L. Nelson, Columbia Journalism Review, Feb 03, 2017

Not to keep harping on this, but I wonder whether the failure of traditional news to come to terms with fake news is a failure to understand what fake news is. I turn to the venerable Columbia Journalism Review, which has just posted this highly questionable study about the amount of time people spend on fake news sites, as compared to 'real news" sites. But you can't judge news as fake or not based on where it was published. Not a week earlier, the same Columbia Journalism review published an "open letter to Trump from the US press corps," and signed at the bottom "The Press Corps" which turns out later to be the work of a single writer. Classic fake news, from the Columbia Journalism Review. Don't suspend disbelief just because the source is authoritative.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

on academic travel

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 22:00


D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman dor Net, Feb 03, 2017

D'Arcy Norman is reconsidering academic travel, especially to the United States. I know many other academics are thinking the same thing, and I've been asked a couple of times about my position. I won't be changing any plans nor refusing invitations. This is not because I endorse the current administration. I do not. It's because I'd have to boycott a lot of countries if I applied a similar standard worldwide. And I'm not willing to do that. People aren't perfect, governments aren't perfect, and I'd rather be an activist by setting a good example rather than passing judgement on the bad. As for the carbon footprint - well, I spent years trying to get by with public transit in New Brunswick, and that should buy me a lifetime pass on carbon emissions.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Take a closer peek at this complimentary eBook, Eliminate Nonessential Content below

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 13:00


Helge Scherlund, Feb 03, 2017

Something I've learned in several decades of speaking and writing is that the space between the words is as important as the words themselves. We might be tempted, as this book title suggests, to eliminate them as unessential content. But spacing mattters and you can't just dump nonstop content on people. You need to interject pauses, shifts in perspective, animation and even play and nonsense to provide people with context and space to comprehend and maybe even learn from what you are saying or presenting. That's not to say that all the content in the eBoom is wrong, it's just that the title focus is misplaced. Anyhow, you get your 'free' eBook in exchange for your name and your email address. Here's the link I got to the 47 page PDF.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

European Union regulations on algorithmic decision making and a “right to explanation”

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 13:00


Adrian Colyer, The Morning Paper, Feb 03, 2017

We've seen how an AI can become a  racist xenophobe in one day of training. We've also seen how propaganda can create the  same effect in an entire nation. So it stands to reason that algorithms can embody the prejudice and hate present in the data set used to train it, and can even magnify that effect in its decision-making. So it's reasonable  to require that the decisions made by these AIs be vetted in some way. This is the purpose of European Union regulations related to profiling, non-discrimination and the right to an explanation in algorithmic decision-making.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

« Back to News Print This Is 'Inclusive Access' the Future for Publishers?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 13:00


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Feb 03, 2017

What's brilliant about "inclusive access" is that it makes universities and their professors willing accomplices in publishers' campaigns to gouge students for textbook content that should be free or nearly free. This article plugging inclusive access (which is actually the opposite, exclusive access comes in the wake of a one-day  30 percent drop in Pearson share prices due to declining sales. So they're really pushing this alternative model where the cost of expensive digital textbooks is added to course fees and made a required fee for all students, offering no escape for those wanting to borrow or buy copies of books from other people.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Free images done right

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/03/2017 - 13:00


Doug Peterson, doug — off the record, Feb 03, 2017

If you want free images you can use in your class, you can use any of my 28,374 photos, all of which are openly licensed. Of course, many other people offer similarly free photos as well, which is great.  Photos for Class is a service that performs a search on Flickr to find openly licensed photos. Of course  you can easily do this too. So far so good. But Photos for Class edits the photo file and adds an attribution block to the bottom. OK, no problem, I guess. But a full third of that attribution is an advertisement for Photos for Class. Now here I draw the line. I at least chose to use Creative Commons and Flickr, even if I don't want their marks on my photo, but I never endorsed Photos for Class and I definitely don't want their advertising on my photo. Free images done wrong, in my books.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

An Amazing Statscan Skills Study

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 20:00


Alex Usher, Higher Education Strategy Associates, Feb 02, 2017

A recent  Statistics Canada report makes for fascinating reading, though I caution that it's based largely on perceptions, which as we know can be misleading. Alex Usher does a decent job summarizing it. Basically, they examine job descriptions to see what skills are required, examine university graduates to see what jobs they get, and through that determine what skills characterize what university programs. It's interesting because 'humanities' sits at the bottom of the scale on just about everything, as does education (which does marginally well in social skills). Scientific, technical and professional programs rank the highest, even for skills normally associated with the humanities, such as reading comprehension and critical thinking. So what accounts for this? Well, like I say, perception. If we look at the most common jobs table, we find a disproportionate number of humanities majors in sales and retail, the rest in education. These are either not perceived as higher-skilled occupations, not described as precisely as scientific, technical and professional occupations, or really are lower-skilled. Take your pick.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The state of Jupyter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 20:00


Fernando PérezBrian Granger, O'Reilly, Feb 02, 2017

If you've been doing any work in data analysis you might have run across references to the Jupyter Notebook. Essentially this is an application that allows you to embed running bits of code into a text document. So you have text, then a code sample, and then (voila!) the graph that the sample produces. What's nice is that you can mess around with the code and see the results immediately - this is known as "interactive computing" and has been a mainstay of the reserach community for some time now (and you can also see web-based examples in code pens). See also  this item from Tony Hirst.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The State of Personalized Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 20:00


Philip Hickman, Ken Eastwood, , Eliot Levinson, Ed Tech Digest, Feb 02, 2017

Not all  personalized learning the same. That's the main message in this article. The authors write, "The current use of the term 'personalized learning' varies from:

  • small group instruction based on performance levels to
  • longitudinal history of all assessments students ever took to provide them with knowledge of what to assign to
  • artificial intelligence based products that assess the cognitive level and learning style of a student and provide a variety of resources based on the student’ s learning style, current performance, and understanding of a subject."

True enough, and I've read accounts of all three. But these days people almost universally mean the third. Almost universally. The first two versions are essentially terms applied to in-person learning applied without the use of technology.

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Continuous, Curated Learning: The Business Case

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 14:00


Stephen Walsh, Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, Feb 02, 2017

Sometimes people call what I do here 'curation', but I really dislike that word, because it's not what I do. Maxim Jean-Louis came up with a better word recently: scholarship. I think sometimes people have forgotten what that means, and have substituted soulless academic make-work in its place. Anyhow this article makes the case for learning professionals to engage in scholarship (the real thing): "You’ re not just aggregating content from multiple sources. That’ s what machines do. You’ re acting as an intelligent human filter, drawing attention to what really matters – because you understand your audience, their needs and their context. It’ s a very personalised service – and it scales really well if you use the right tools. As Beth Kanter put it, you’ re spotting the awesome." Yeah.

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