Miscellaneous

Why IBM is buying Ustream: Cloud, marketing, analytics

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/24/2016 - 20:00


Larry Dignan, ZD Net, Jan 24, 2016

I don't usually cover acquisition stories, but because live streaming is so central to education, and because options are so limited, I felt this acquisition should be noted. It's fairly easy to see why IBM would be interested in UStream. I was a bit surprised, though, to find UStream valued so lightly - though I guess a lot of people did what I did, and opted for Google Hangout On Air instead, even though it is flakey and fickle, because UStream always seemed to have bandwidth issues. UStream, though will make a good acquisition if IBM wants to look at learning more deeply. "UStream has tools that enable marketers to collect and automate leads and manage broadcasts. UStream also has an internal communications version called Align as well as live video streaming at scale." Of course,  not everyone thinks acquisitions like this can help IBM.

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Network Inequality

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/24/2016 - 20:00


Anil Dash, Medium, Jan 24, 2016

Why isn't there more diversity in ranks of social media A-listers? It's because platform-builders are often advised to focus on theoir own niche first, and the A-listers "were simply talented people who were early to the platform, and often were chosen by the platform as 'featured users'" picked out of that handful of friends and family who joined the platform. And as Dash wrote in You Can’ t Start the Revolution from the Country Club, "the most common reaction from many networks once they’ ve birthed a few featured stars, is generally to remove the ability for others to follow in their footsteps." That's why the launch of Google+ was like a war as writers from places like Gawker and Mashable struggled to be first in line. So now that the social website This. has launched, it has started that process, promoting "featured members and publishers". Lily white children of Silicon Valley and the magazine set, pictured. As long as social media is based on mass, not diversity, the usual set of insiders will be famous, and the rest of us will have nothing but them to read in our inbox.

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It’s time to rethink academic conference funding

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/24/2016 - 17:00


Melonie Fullick, University Affairs, Jan 24, 2016

I'm sympathetic with the points made in this article, I really am. The whole business of paying money to attend an academic conference is a barrier to participation, and this is exaggerated when you're a student or non-permanent staff. Now maybe I'm not the best person to comment, since I don't pay conference fees any more. But looking back at  my own presentations it's pretty easy to see what my strategy was when I was young and (literally) hungry. I used my graduate assistantship to pay for attendance at one national graduate conference a year. Everything else was local, sometimes really local. I gave twenty-seven presentations inside Canada (most of them in my own province) before I ever spoke internationally, not counting an online talk I did for UMUC. Being an academic is a lot like being a comedian. Sure, it's great to visit and work  Just for Laughs or Comedy Central. But you have to play a lot of local clubs first. Do the work.

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Network Development as Leverage for System Change

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/24/2016 - 17:00


Curtis Ogden, Interaction Institute for Social Change, Jan 24, 2016

This is subtitled "How focusing on diversity, flow and structure in human networks can be a foundation for great  change." I don't think it's quite that simple, though the item caught my eye because I think of food distribution and learning and the economy as networks. Note, though, that I do not think of them as systems. There's an important distinction. And, I would say, if we want our  systems to work, we need to make them less like systems, and more like networks. What's the difference? A system is teleological - it is goal directed. It has a  purpose, and typically, it was  designed. A network, by contrast, is self-organizing. There is no "dominant narrative". Any organization or direction is  emergent from the individual actions of the members of the network. Via Jon Husband.

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Game Genre Map: The Cognitive Threshold in Strategy Games

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/24/2016 - 00:00


Nick Yee, Quantic Foundry, Jan 23, 2016

Interesting article that maps popular strategy games against a 'gamer motivation model' - on one dimension, the level of strategy involved in the game, and on the other, the pace and excitement of the game. I tend to prefer high-strategy games and my personal favourite, Civilization, ranks third among them. But it's not high excitement. What's interesting is that an entire quadrant of the chart lies empty, corresponding to high strategy and fast pace. This is the 'cognitive threshold', a place where games are no longer fun (presumably there's also a boredom threshold at the lower left of the diagram). The concept described here is the gamers' version of what educators call 'flow'.

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Service Note

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/23/2016 - 21:00


Jan 23, 2016

Please note that my internet web hosting provider has announced it will start blocking IP addresses from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. This is obviously undesirable (not to mention out-of-date in several cases). I have applied for an exemption. If the exemption is not granted I will be forced to change providers, however, I might not be able to do this by February 1, so there may be an interruption of service to those countries. My apologies in advance.

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Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/23/2016 - 15:00


Peter Hill, Michael Barber, Pearson Learning, Jan 23, 2016

This report cited in Contact North's  Top 10 wish list for 2016 is worth a look. Not that I agree with what's in it, but it's useful to see where one of the largest educational publishers is heading and what it thinks about the state of learning and assessment. The authors look at new technologies such as adaptive testing, multiple versions of tests, data analytics, automated marking, testing for deep learning, and the like. They apply these to assessment challenges, such as the need to assess the full range of outcomes, to assess achievement at the high and low end of the achievement scale, and assessments that provide meaningful feedback on progress. They also say there should be an "accountability system" that clarifies "who can and should be held to account for what at each level of the system." I just don't see this approach as particularly imaginative and forward-looking. All these possibilities ahead of us and we're still looking at tweaking classroom tests.

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How to Learn Effectively in Medical School: Test Yourself, Learn Actively, and Repeat in Intervals

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/23/2016 - 12:00


Marc Augustin, PubMed Central | Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, Jan 23, 2016

The recall of facts is not nearly the whole of learning, of course (though it is often presented as though it were), but the methodology outlined here accords with my own understanding (which I have styles as "practice and reflection"). "Surprisingly," writes the author, "scientific knowledge of how to learn and acquire factual knowledge is not a standard part of the curriculum in medical school." The program should be "taught actively by posing questions and quizzing students, provide tests to foster learning, and repeat the learning strategies in spaced intervals." What's interesting is that if this method is practiced, the person's ability to remember facts itself is improved. Which, when you think of it, makes sense. "With practice, the memory can be trained comparable to the training of a muscle." Image: secretGeek. Via Emily Springfield in an EDUCAUSE listserv.

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An absurd number of jobs around the world are going unfilled

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/23/2016 - 12:00


Amy X. Wang, Quartz, Jan 23, 2016

According to this article, which cites an analysis released yesterday, "companies’ across-the-board hiring difficulties also indicate the existence of a clear mismatch between employers and job seekers." This is a global phenomenon, but some countries are recruiting internationally to fill vacancies, while others tend to lose people to this recruiting. But it's not just migration. "Wage inequality, education, and new forms of work like the gig economy and part-time arrangements all play a role. "

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How “Do-it-Yourself" (DIY) is Playing a Key Role in Digital Course Development in Higher Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/23/2016 - 12:00


Contact North, Jan 23, 2016

There are three distinct phases to this article: first, the author describes the development of creative technologies (Wordpress, Lulu, Garage Band) is enabling us all to create and distribute images, objects, sound and text. However, second, as these technologies become more complex, they require teams of people to produce quality materials. "Lone instructors rarely have the time, incentives, budgets, or skill sets required to fully realize the potential of the digital format." This leads to the final phase, whereby "the academic may be perceived as being 'deskilled'; that is, one of the core functions of the occupation is taken away from the academic and done elsewhere." Image (and useful slide show): Chrissi Nerantzi.

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Educational data, Pearson and the ‘theory gap’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 19:00


Jan 22, 2016

It's a bit surprising to find this post on Pearson's blog (and a bit less surprising to find Pearson's response). In this post Stirling University's Ben Williamson offers several reasons to question Pearson's claim that it is opening up a "theory gap" with its creation and release of big data sets. "Pearson is becoming a methodological gatekeeper with the capacity to carry out new forms of educational research using large-scale datasets, big data and data science methods," writes Williamson. But this data is not theory-neeutral - no data is - and it builds in presuppositions about what is important and what constitutes 'success'.

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Campus Event Systems Integrated

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 19:00


Jan 22, 2016

It's a small thing, really, and the surprise is that it took this long to do: "Software from OrgSync, which has services to help student organizations operate online, can now integrate with 25Live from CollegeNET, which allows campus event schedulers to search dates and spaces in order to reserve campus space."

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The Massive Decline In Larger Education Company Market Caps

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 16:00


Phil Hill, e-Literate, Jan 22, 2016

This is a little bit of stock market analysis from Phil Hill: "Despite  the talk of record investments in ed tech and digital content, the reality of the business of big education companies is not so robust. In fact, there is a massive decline in market caps for many of these large companies, as investors are seeing real weakness." By "massive decline" he means that share prices of four publicly-traded companies are half what they were a year ago. I know that people like to read a lot into stock market analyses, as Hill does here ("investors are seeing real weakness"). But who knows what investors are seeing? Maybe they're seeing better deals elsewhere. Maybe it's because private investments in learning technology were $6.5 billion in 2015, up from $2.5 billion the year before. Maybe they're seeing spots before their eyes. The stock market is not rational, and it is a fallacy to ascribe rationality to it.

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The Economist Launches Online Course Platform Learning.ly

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 16:00


EdSurge, Jan 22, 2016

EdSurge reports "The Economist Group launched  Learning.ly, a catalog of proprietary  online courses, on January 12." According to the report, "According to a promotional email, the courses are designed to be taken in 90 minutes or less. If you consider yourself an expert,  applications to become a faculty member are also  open." Via Audrey Watters.

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When U.S. air force discovered the flaw of averages

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 13:00


L. Todd Rose, Toronto Star, Jan 22, 2016

This is more evidence attesting to the fact that you can't just define for the average when you're designing for human beings. It therefore throws into question the reliability of a lot of research in learning and technology based on assessments of classes or larger groups of people. This includes learning analytics, and it also includes research based on studies like the PISA evaluations or similar sorts of metrics. In the case of the Air Force, they designed aircraft with adjustable seats, controls, and gauges - that's "personalization". But even better, if it could be done, would be to build custom-built aircraft for each pilot. That's "personal". We can't do it for aircraft, but we can do it for learning.

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The Tragedy of the Canadian Common CV

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 22:00


Jim Woodgett, Medium, Jan 21, 2016

This is why we need a personal learning record (PLR). "What was initially conceived as a time saving initiative has become a nightmare. The only thing “ common” about the CCV is the uniform hatred of it. As of today, Canadian academics would vote for Donald Trump if it meant the end of CCV. Because this is the only means to submit required data for grant applications, everything is dependent upon it ..." As the author writes, "The more progressive agencies allow the applicant to describe what they think are their most important contributions, and why. Instead of collecting never ending measures (that rarely pertain to useful data), why not leverage active on-line databases that are more easily verifiable such as ORCID, ResearcherID, PubMed (including the CV publication list feature of PubMed), or Google Scholar?"

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Previously thought impossible: Body cells transfer genetic information directly into sperm cells

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 16:00


Sayer Ji, Sign of the Times (SOTT), Jan 21, 2016

I've discussed this before. Lamarkian evolution is a theory that posits that "an organism can pass on characteristics it has acquired during its lifetime to its offspring." Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and  Erasmus Darwin were key figures in the development of evolution in the late 1700s, a theory Erasmus's grandson, Charles, would advance with the theory of natural selection. Lamarck's theories regarding use and disuse would be adopted by the younger darwin, but his ideas on 'soft inheritance' based on environmental factors were rejected more or less definitively by  August Weismann in the 1880s. But what if Lamarck was right, and what if the impact of emvironment and experience  can be passed down from one generation to the next? That's what this experiment suggests. "This work reveals that a flow of information can be transferred from the soma to the germline, escaping the principle of the Weismann barrier." Study on PLoS One.

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Platform Cooperativism: Challenging the Corporate Sharing Economy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 16:00


Trebor Scholz, Rosa Luxemberg Siftung, Jan 20, 2016

"Despite all the scrumptious, home-cooked convenience of the 'sharing economy,'" writes Trebor Scholz, "we may end up sharing the scraps, not the economy." It's time for an alternative, he writes, and this alternative is the platform cooperative - a mechanism that employs the efficiencies of the internet for the benefit of the people doing the work, not some third party who simply owns a platform. "Silicon Valley loves a good disruption, so let’ s give them one." Good overview with descriptions of mechanisms and underlying principles. 32 page PDF. See also the Platform Cooperativism website.

I've run my own experiments in platform cooperativism with the foundation of the Moncton Free Press. It hasn't gone as well as I would have liked, though I think it's performing a valuable service for the community. It needs more care and attention than I've been able to give it. And it needs, most of all, a revenue stream and a way of paying contributors and staff. But I think it's there, and if the NRC gig doesn't work out, I always have this to fall back on. Platform cooperativism is also a model for learning technology that does more than exploit students and authors for private sector gain.

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The truth about “1 Like = 1 Prayer” posts on Facebook

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 13:00


Craig Charles, Techexplained, Jan 20, 2016

A question I've received a lot recently revolves around why I want a distributed network rather than a centralized system like Facebook or Twitter. To me, the answer is very clear: systems that depend on mass, like Facebook (or Twitter, or Google search, or presidential elections) are systems where group affinity is manipulated for private wealth and gain. A classic example of this is the prototypical Facebook 'like and share' campaign. The people who distribute these care nothing about whether you want to save the whales, campaign against corruption, or promote gun rights. What they care about is accumulating a huge number of ;likes and shares' around a page, which they can then monetize. The next time you click 'like' on a Facebook meme, think about that.

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Why People Get More Stupid in a Crowd

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 13:00


Michael Bond, BBC | Future, Jan 20, 2016

Close to ten years ago I was in the middle of clarifying my thinking on what I called at the time 'groups and networks' in papers like  That Group Feeling and talks like Groups vs Networks: the Class Struggle Continues. The post looks at a study examining part of my message in those talks: "Group conformity stands in marked contrast to the 'wisdom of crowds effect, whereby aggregating the opinions of large numbers of people gives answers or predictions more accurate than those of any individual. This happens only when members of a crowd make their judgements independently of each other, and it is most effective when a crowd is diverse" (of course it's not just my message; a lot of people think this). So, interesting. More about Daniel Richardson’ s research.

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