Miscellaneous

Sketching a Process for Sharing / Getting Feedback on Certification Drafts

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 18:00


Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Jul 16, 2016

I am not even remotely convinced that creating a 'Creative Commons Certification' is a good idea either as a means of education or promotion, but it's not my call and of course the organization can do what it wants. Of more interest to me here is the process of getting people worldwide to collaborate on the creation of the certification draft (which is, as nearly as I can judge, the content of the certification curriculum - "a structure of 'modules' each of which has a series of Performance Objectives"). The document itself can be edited by the team, but what about input? Commenting could get messy after more than a small number of participants. Feedback forms? What about GitHub? "Just saying GitHub, much less showing anyone the interface, is enough to send most people running back to their parchments." But here's what it looks like. I tried out the system, and yes it works, but my comment (collected by GitHub as an issue) basically disappears.

I've actually thought about this problem quite a bit. Not with respect to this particular document, but with sharing and feedback mechanisms generally. It will come as no surprise to readers that I think a centralized system (eg., with primary author(s) and comments) is inherently flawed, because you can't make sense of more than a few hundred comments. Additionally, the centralized 'consensus document' model (like, say, a Wikipedia page) is also flawed, because there will not be consensus on anything once you have more than a few contributors. The only thing that is viable in the long term, in my mind, would be a system in which each person gets their own version. The final version is then created by a (semantically neutral) algorithm from the hundred (or million) individual versions. Levine's article was also posted at Get CC Certified (see it there).

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Goods: organizing Google’s datasets

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 18:00


Adrian Colyer, The Morning Paper, Jul 16, 2016

This is in my mind the correct way to manage data. Rather than define your data models ahead of time (and then require that every system and every person comply with the data model) you simply allow people to define and store data however they want, and then collect it and organize it after the fact. That is, after all, what Google does with the world wide web. This article summarizes  a paper describing a system that does that. 'Goods' is a system that organizes the documents used inside Google. "Goods crawls datasets from all over Google, extracts as much metadata as possible from them, joins this with metadata inferred from other sources (e.g. logs, source code and so on) and makes this catalog available to all of Google’ s engineers." Did it work? "Goods quickly became indispensable." Yeah, it would. Tell me again why you have to design your models ahead of time? "Because Goods explicitly identifies and analyzes datasets in a post-hoc and non-invasive manner, it is often impossible to determine all types of metadata with complete certainty."

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Why Most Academics Will Always Be Bad Writers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 15:00


Noah Berlatsky, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jul 16, 2016

OK, it's true that most academics write badly, if I am to judge by the volumes of academic writing that I've read. It's not political or philosophical, writes Noah Berlatsky. Contra Pinker, he argues "Academics don’ t need to be elitist, careerist, or corrupted by postmodernism to write badly." It's because writing well is difficult, and most academics don't have the skill, he says. True enough, but hardly an excuse. Most people aren't physicists, and physics is certainly hard, but most journal publications are not instances of bad physics. And in the disciplines that actually study writing, such as most of the social sciences and humanities, bad writing is actually evidence that authors do not understand the subject being discussed, much unable to discuss it properly themselves. True, clarity of expression does not mean you are correct (Pinker is an obvious counterexample) but you cannot be correct without clarity.

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Why Higher Ed Must Resist the ‘Platform Revolution’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 12:00


Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 16, 2016

"Where the authors of Platform Revolution get themselves in trouble," writes Joshua Kim, "is when they claim that higher education is ripe for transformation by platform." The authors write, "the fundamental product being sold by schools, colleges, and universities is information of various kinds." Of course this isn't true, and it's a misstake to think of learning as some sort of information search problem. "If information is what we 'sold' in postsecondary institutions," writes Kim, "then we would quickly be out of business." That doesn't mean platforms are worth nothing, but they need to be combines with cooperation, community and creation.

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Personalized Learning Versus Dungeons and Dragons

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 09:00


Matt Crosslin, EduGeek Journal, Jul 16, 2016

This is a good analogy for the distinction I've been drawing between personal and personalized learning, though Matt Crosslin uses it mostly to criticize personalized learning in favour of an unnamed alternative. "Many prominent personalized learning programs/tools are a modern educational version of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series from the 1908s," he writes, "But let’ s face it – the true 'Choose Your Own Adventure' scenarios in the 1980s were  really role playing games. And few were as personalizable as Dungeons and Dragons." Quite right. And if you study the D& D manuals (confession: I did) you find that the whole idea is to provide resources and support for the games, not the game design itself. That was up to the players. This, and not some naive 'learning pathways' idea, is what should characterize future education technology.

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Virtual Reality on the Horizon

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 09:00


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 16, 2016

The original title of this item was "Despite  the hype, virtual reality still years away from making a difference in higher ed." This seems right. We're still in the early adopter phase, where proponents " imagine a future in which students go on field trips around the world from the comfort of the VR lab, joined by tour guides who connect to the class remotely." But several thinks hold the technology back. Cost is one; headsets are still expensive. Movement is another, particularly when combined with oft-experienced "virtual reality sickness". But this, according to the article, is the time to get involved with the new technology. "It seems like a crucial time to jump on it, mold it, direct it and fashion it in a way we think serves our mission," says Anthony F. Guest-Scott.

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U.S. Publishing Industry’s Annual Survey Reveals Nearly $28 Billion in Revenue in 2015

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00


Marisa Bluestone, Association of American Publishers (AAP), Jul 15, 2016

Some people look at this as a TAM (Total Addressable Market) to chase after with new technology. I look at this as an opportunity to reduce billions of dollars of social costs associated with learning and development. The figure includes spending on eBooks, paperback books, and hardcover books (which grew in 2015). It also includes downloaded audio, which through doubling to about $500 million is a tiny fraction of the overall amount. Average prices (by my calculation) were $6.44 for audio, $6.70 for eBooks, $4.31 for paperback and $9.36 for hardcover. Considering you can't even resell your electronic works, they appear vastly overpriced, which explains why both paperback and hardcover revenues were up in 2015. Still. Given that the per unit reproduction cost is near zero, there seems to be little reason why eBooks should cost an average of $6.70 each. I'm thinking more like 6 or 7 cents.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Will AI Companies Make Any Money?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00


Thomas H. Davenport, Harvard Business Review, Jul 15, 2016

I've tried to say this before but it's tough to make the case stick when you're talking to AI researchers. Will artificial intelligence (AI) companies make any money? asks Thomas H. Davenport. He answers, " it’ s going to be difficult to make a good living just by selling cognitive software... in general, this type of software will mostly be abundant and free. If your company knows what it does, how to use it, and how to integrate it into your business, you’ re golden. If you’ re planning to sell it, not so much."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Social Media in Research: From 'Big Data' to 'Wide Data'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00


Axel Bruns, Snurblog, Jul 15, 2016

Snurblog has been summarizing talks at the Social Media and Society conference in London, starting with this one. "As a community, we haven't been helped by the hype around 'big data' that social media data have come to be caught up in. Social media data have been falsely seen as a telescope with which we can observe large-scale patterns, but this view fails to recognise that these data are not naturally occurring: they are not 'raw' data, but are both framed by and framing other contexts. We must work to better understand these contexts – and one key such context is the social media platforms in which the data are being produced." So far we also have  big social data research, the  U.S. election on Twitter, and  drug use on social media.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Time Ontology in OWL Draft Published

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00


World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Jul 15, 2016

For future reference, the latest version of the World Wide Web Consortium's time ontology, now supporting multiple calendars (and not just the Gregorian calendar).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

International Organizations and Educational Reform

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00


Louis Volante, CEA Education Canada, Jul 15, 2016

Amid all the calls in Canada for a "national education policy" about this or that it is rare to see celebrated our provincial divisions. But that is the case in the last paragraph of this article: "our provincial autonomy is an important characteristic in helping our vast nation successfully address external international pressures in a manner that is respectful of and consistent with our regional culture, history, and geography." This is a contrast, say, with the "soft law" tactics of the European Union "that seeks to undermine traditional constitutional doctrines and values that support a limited view of Social Europe." This discussion is found in the context of a wider look at international organizations such as the World Bank, OECD, UNESCO and the EU, on global education development and policy. I would probably have wanted to look at other international organizations such as global foundations (Shuttleworth, Hewlett) and multinational corporations (especially Microsoft, Google, Apple and Pearson).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Alberta Public Charter School System

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00


Dianne Gereluk, Eugene G. Kowch, Merlin B. Thompson, CEA Education Canada, Jul 15, 2016

Normally we think of a charter school as a privately owned and run institution doing whatever it likes and competing with the regular system for better students and instructional resources. This article paints a somewhat different picture of the Alberta Public Charter School system. Located in western Canada, this system creates the dimension of choice often sought by parents within the bounds of the public education system. While schools set their own area of focus and govern their own teaching process, they are still held accountable, and are still a part of, public education in Canada. This has created stresses, because charter school teachers are only associate members of the provincial teachers' association, and space and resource limitations have created resource constraints. Readers from outside Canada might find this model an interesting comparison with, say, the charter school model employed in the United States.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

How The Internet May Evolve

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00

The Pew Research Center is inviting a select group of people to participate in a survey that asks people to answer five questions about how internet may evolve – about the tone of social discourse online, education innovation for future skills, the opportunities and challenges of the Internet of Things and algorithm-based everything, and trust in online interaction. If you would like to share your knowledge, please access the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PD6772K These are my responses.

, , Jul 12, 2016 [Link]
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Ed-Fi Alliance and IMS Global Learning Consortium Announce Next Steps

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 19:00


Ed-Fi, Jul 15, 2016

More details of emerging learning technology standards initiatives have been announced. Here's the information (all quoted): "the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Data Conference, the nonprofits Ed-Fi Alliance and IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS Global) announced... Earlier this year, the two standards bodies announced their intent to implement a single, unified approach for:

That's all. I'm sure there are stories behind the scenes about how these two organizations got together and found common ground on these specifications.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

White Boy Privilege

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 20:00


Royce Mann, YouTube, Jul 14, 2016

"I get that change can be scary but equality shouldn't be."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Personalized Learning Explainer: Teaching to the Back Row

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 20:00


Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Jul 14, 2016

The best thing I have to say about this video to Michael Feldstein and Phil Hill is that it's short. It should be shorter. It's not simply that the video "feels like a commercial that could have been produced by a textbook publisher" (inexplicably, that was the objective!) but that the characterization of "personalized learning" is so narrow as to be obnoxious. "Teaching to the back row"? FYI the back row is where the socially unpopular sit, not where the students who have difficulty learning sit (he says as a former straight-A back row student). "Personalization is just a collection of methods of reclaiming some quality time..."? I know that the people at e-Literate have always focused on traditional in-class university teaching, but to suppose this perspective defines a broad concept like "personalized learning" is utterly ridiculous. I know it's only a two-minute video, but it would have been more accurate without the latter 1:59.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Blair, Corbyn And Leftism

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 17:00

The left will be opposed by the media, which are owned by the wealthy, opposed by donors, lobbyists and think tanks, opposed even by a certain percentage of those it represents. But its steadfastness is its credentials. Knowing that we can depend on a leftist government to follow through is what gets it elected.

, , Jul 11, 2016 [Link]
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Learn by doing: Why work-integrated learning works

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:00


Anne Sado, Tom Jenkins, Elizabeth Cannon, iPolitics, Jul 14, 2016

Certainly I am in support of the idea that work and learning ought to be more closely linked. So I am in general supportive of the idea that "post-secondary students should have access to some form of work-integrated learning." But I believe the push should come in the opposite direction from that proposed by these authors from the Business/Higher Education Roundtable, particularly with respect to the role of business. They should be trying to find more ways  provide access to education to people who are already employed or who are seeking employment, rather than access to work for people who are enrolled in higher education. Why? because this is where the most need is, and this is where business especially has been sorely lacking in willingness to invest. As for the higher education students, I would emphasize workplace less and practical experience more - student-initiated social development projects, for example, are equally viable. And as one commenter notes, this should not become some sort of intern program exploiting students.

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A Design-Based Approach To Teachers’ Professional Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/13/2016 - 23:00


Sharon Friesen, Michele Jacobsen, CEA Blog, Jul 13, 2016

in this short article Sharon Friesen and Michele Jacobsen quote Carl Bereiter in support of design-based research and learning. "'Best practice, evidence-based practice, and reflective practice all refer to ways of making optimum use of know-how' however, while necessary, these are insufficient for creating new insights into practice, or 'know-why' directed towards advancing practice." They recommend learning that "employs research processes and methods to create and study innovation in authentic learning contexts." Image: Sharon Friesen, I hold in my hand a bird.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Perils of Using Technology to Solve Other People's Problems

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/13/2016 - 13:00


Ethan Zuckerman, The Atlantic, Jul 13, 2016

"Many hard problems require you to step back and consider whether you’ re solving the right problem," writes Ethan Zuckermaan in this excellent article. "If your solution only mitigates the symptoms of a deeper problem, you may be calcifying that problem and making it harder to change." This is the characteristic result when technologists see a social problem as an engineering problem. "The problem with the solutionist critique, though, is that it tends to remove technological innovation from the problem-solver’ s toolkit." As I've long said, the best use for a technology is one people select for themselves, and  designing a solution to a problem is exactly the wrong way to design technology (none of my colleagues at NRC agree with this). Recommended via Gerald Ardito. Related: UNICEF principles for digital development.

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