Miscellaneous

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2014

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00


Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Jan 14, 2015

In case you missed it, Audrey Watters top education trends of 2014. Here they are:

  1. Buzzwords
  2. The Business of Ed-tech
  3. School and "Skills"
  4. MOOCS, Outsourcing, and Online Education
  5. Competencies and Certificates
  6. The Common Core State Standards
  7. Data and Privacy
  8. The Indie Web
  9. Social Justice
  10. #Fail

There's a certain cynicism informing this list, which I think is unavoidable if you stary in the business of covering the field long enough. This, I think, is where my role is different: I not only cover the field, but I'm deeply engaged in building as well, which allows me to take hope in something, even if it's only my own efforts.

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The Hype is Dead, but MOOCs Are Marching On

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00
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Don Huesman, Knowledge@Wharton, Jan 14, 2015

MOOCs are emerging from the "trough of disillusionment," says Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller in this Wharton interview. The discussion focuses on the value of MOOCs, especially for things link continuing professional development, and Coursera's "verified certificates," which she says are the company's primary source of revenue. There's also discussion of the "cohort model," which sounds a bit like the  serialized feeds discussed here years back. As for growth: "we are hosting nearly 900 courses and I expect to have 1,000 courses on our platform by early 2015. In three years, we’ ll have 5,000 courses, which is about the curriculum of your average medium to large university," she says.

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The Drivers of a Successful BYOD Initiative

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00


Eric Sheninger, A Principal's Reflections, Jan 14, 2015

"The overall goal of any BYOD (Bring Your Own Device - see more) initiative should be to support and enhance student learning," writes Eric Sheninger.  "It should not be implemented as a way to just pacify students by allowing them to use their devices only during non-instructional time or to eliminate discipline issues." The post then highlights a number of policy considerations, including planning, student and teacher professional development, and infrastructure.

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180 Best Photoshop Tutorials of Year 2014

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00
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Yogesh Mankani, The Neo Design, Jan 14, 2015

Doug Peterson  offers this link to the 180 best Photoshop tutorials of the year. Photoshop is a powerful but difficult piece of software. It's also very popular. I looked at a number of the tutorials; they're free and open, and do the job, effectively showing me how to do this or that. But the main thing I want to highlight here is this: one hundred and eighty. This. Year. This is the scale of open education that is possible, and if we figure out how to do it right we can make this range of learning available to everyone, all the time. This, by the way, does not reduce the need for advanced photoshop instruction. It increases it.

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Look what they've done to the GED. Aligned with Common Core and handed over to Pearson

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00
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Mike Klonsky, Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog, Jan 14, 2015

Mike Klonsky highlights the dangers of the corporatization of education. "The GED exam has been overhauled, aligned with the Common Core and handed over to Pearson, the giant British testing and textbook corporation in order to supposedly prepare students for 21st-Century jobs. The new test is now much harder. The test prep classes are given on-line. No more personalization." The result? "In 2012, a total of 401,388 people passed the GED test. In 2014, only  58,524." Now I understand that the GED standards have to be rigorous. But the other part of the responsibility is getting people up to that standard. That is why the commercialization is a failure.

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Campaign for America’s Future: An Education New Year’s Resolution We Can All Believe In

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:00
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Jeff Bryant, National Education Policy Centre, Jan 14, 2015

Ostensibly about the "dreary" predictions about education for 2015, this article is in fact about getting to the core of the problem, at least in the United States: "It’ s The Inequity, Stupid." I've listed on this site a wealth of evidence showing the best predictor of outcomes is socio-economic status. Poor people do poorly in education. That's a problem when the mantra is that "good education is the only route out of poverty." It's hard to be more self-defeating (unless, of course, your objective is to keep poor people poor). There are signs this may be changing. This week, a New York Times editorial called for "confronting and proposing remedies for the racial and economic segregation that has gripped the state’ s schools, as well as the inequality in school funding that prevents many poor districts from lifting their children up to state standards." It would be good for everybody were the United States able to reverse course on inequity. Its policies are exported, especially to the developing world, precisely where they currently do the most harm. Photo: me.

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A simple proposal to fix the Internet

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 19:00
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Arthur Fontaine, Arthur Fontaine's Blog, Jan 13, 2015

The "simple proposal" is not so simple, but it's one I endorse and am working toward with LPSS. Arthur Fontain explains, "the Internet is designed so that user identity is owned by the service provider... My theory is that's all you need to fix.  Below I will propose a free and open cloud service that lets you manage your own identity, and keep all your stuff private." The first attempt to do this was OpenID, but the idea of federated identity was simply swallowed up by the service providers. That's why the solution has to be more robust than simple identity provision. See also: Identity 2.0.

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New Clues

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 14:00
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Doc Searles, David Weinberger, Jan 13, 2015

I can't say I found a depth of insight and wisdom in the New Clues document, especially as it closes with the same message the Beatles sang to us all those years ago: All you need is love. The new document is far more flippant than the old, refers far more to Silicon Valley tropes ("Kumbiyah sounds surprisingly good in an echo chamber", "Google your topic. Take your pick", "Anger is a license to be stupid".  But it's there, and you may as well enjoy it. See also the related Metafilter thread.

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New modes of integration: Individuality and sociality in digital networks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 14:00
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Marian Adolf, Dennis Deicke, First Monday, Jan 13, 2015

This paper looks at the impact of the decline of mass media on community. It suggests that a two-part process takes place: first, the removal of individuals from traditional social structures and supports, and second, their reintegration into a new type of community defined by networked sociality. "The latter kind, typical for modernity, is based not on resemblance (or even kinship) but rooted in complex society’ s ever increasing interdependency." Rather than being part of a traditional cultural group, in other words, we get personalized networks. This gives us "new modalities of social integration: a permanent process of addressing and referencing information is set in motion. Every link, every hashtag, every meme that is shared — representing media-borne information — embodies this notion." It's a good paper, though written in dense and heavy prose, but worth the effort to decipher. See also Colombo and Landri, Schools and Networked Sociality. Image, Galley et. al., from Conole.

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Post-Collegiate Outcomes Initiative

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 16:00
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Teri Lyn Hinds, Kent Phillippe, American Association of Community Colleges, Jan 12, 2015

It seems a bit odd that the Gates Foundation is funding this project looking at redefining the outcomes of post-secondary education. After all, isn't that what a government would normally look at, as it assesses funding priorities? But then again, maybe it's not so odd, when we look at this background document. Instead of 'social' outcomes, such as 'better health' or 'quality of life', as described by the Institute for Higher Education Policy in 1998, we now get 'human capital' outcomes, such as 'career advancement'. Now this is just a very early document, but really, could we at least try to pretend to care about social outcomes? There's coverage of the PCO initiative in both the  Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed.

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My five wishes for online learning in 2015

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 16:00


Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Jan 12, 2015

I like that his wishes are Canada-focused and almost in alignment with my own. Here they are:

  • Faculty will start adopting open textbooks on a large scale in 2015.
  • Faculty in each province or state will develop agreed province wide curricula for OERs
  • A new ‘ green-field’ , designed and built from scratch, institution that is conceived around the idea of digitally-based education designed to meet the learning needs of a digital age
  • A national research and development centre on digital education
  • An online university preparation program for international students.

For $20 million a year we could have the R& D centre, he suggests - and the rest would not be out of scale with that expense. Yes, it's a lot, but compared to the scale of other government expenditures, it's a tiny fraction. To any politicians listening - I'd be happy to lead the R& D centre; we can use our NRC program as a starting point.:)

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The Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 13:00
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Ida Aalen, A List Apart, Jan 12, 2015

The design of internet technology always gets back to what you want from your application, and what you want your users to do. It's easy to forget. This article reframes that discussion by focusing on the "core mode;" which defines "the core tasks users need to accomplish". Now this article is directed more toward a business team developing an website for an organization - in this case, a cancer information site. People don't bring their page design ideas or lobby for positions on the menu - what they contribute is the nature of the content that needs to be on the site and why it needs to be there, that is, what goal it supports.

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If I Could Make a School

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 13:00


Unattributed, Business Innovation Factory, Jan 12, 2015

Longish article (32 page PDF) describing the he Business Innovation Factory’ s Student Experience Lab. They write, "Using BIF’ s student-centered participatory design approach we seek to:

  1. Put the student at the center of the innovation in education conversation
  2. Develop and test innovative design concepts for new school experiences
  3. Provide new life and learning skills for students

It’ s student-led R& D. And it works." It's about (according tot he article) creating a "menu of options", a web of support, and a blended curriculum. But let me add a note of caution: the article feels a bit artificial to me. For example, a student her parents immigrated from "Columbia" - a misspelling that suggests the quote is not genuine.  That said, it's a concept that has been around for a while. Here's Tom Carroll  discussing it this week. Jeff Drury  linking to the site in 2011. Via Ewan McIntosh.

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Apps Everywhere, but No Unifying Link

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 13:00
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Conor Dougherty, New York Times, Jan 12, 2015

'Apps' - as introduced to the world by Apple and emulated by prettey much every other mobile platform - represent a huge step backward for the internet. We used to have this whole network of linked sites. Now apps stand alone, isolated from each other, each one in its own data universe. For example, "if you find a few hotels on HotelTonight, you cannot email them to your spouse, because there are no links to send." That's why I still use things like expedia.ca - web sites, so I can share the location of the information. The future, I think, is "software to repackage websites so that they can be sold and downloaded like apps, but still can be searched and linked like web pages."

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A Teenager’s View on Social Media

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 13:00
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Andrew Watts, Medium, Jan 12, 2015

I thought this was interesting - it presented a certain perspective (U.S. male teen in college in Texas), it posed me a mystery (which I solved: what does YikYak mean when it says 'enter your digits'? Phone number), and identified some areas of concern for people using the social networks (not privacy per se "We aren't sending pictures of our Social Security Cards here, we're sending selfies and photos with us having 5 chins") but privacy in terms of following ("Without the constant social pressure of a follower count or Facebook friends...") and content ("There are no links on Instagram, meaning I'm not being constantly spammed by the same advertisement, horrible gossip news article, or Buzzfeed listicle ...).

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When rhetoric gets real

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 10:00
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Alex Reid, Digital Digs, Jan 12, 2015

I've dealt with the concept of 'reality' and e-learning in a couple of presentations, including  this one delivered to the Department of National Defense 2008, and  this one delivered to the Australia's Flexible Learning Network in 2001. So it should be no surprise that I see 'reality' as a bit of a slippery concept. On the one hand, saying that 'my cat is real' seems to add no new information about my cat. Of course he's real, and right between me and my keyboard as I type. On the other hand, saying '2+2=4' is 'real' seems to be questionable. Is there some 'thing' out there that is '2+2=4'? Plato thought so. I don't. So now we have this post, which asks about the reality of rhetoric. Now our entities do not even have the status of 'things' or 'facts'. So is rhetoric real? Good question.

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TPACK as shared practice: Toward a research agenda

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/11/2015 - 19:00


David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, Jan 11, 2015

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) has surfaced in the literature recently as "a popular framework for describing the knowledge required by teachers to successfully integrate technology," says David T. Jones. However, despite the newness of the field, old habits die hard: TPACK "has consistently been conceptualized as being a form of knowledge that is resident in the heads of individual teachers." Regular readers of OLDaily will know we need to look at knowledge more broadly. Jones writes, "the entire context, understood as an interactive system including people, materials and representational systems, in which an activity takes place becomes “ a fundamental part of what is learned” (Putnam & Borko)." The post analyzes teacher knowledge as situated, social, distributed and protean (ie., tending or able to change frequently or easily).

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On Nerd Entitlement: Those who feel underprivileged are now the privileged

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/11/2015 - 10:00


Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, Jan 11, 2015

Compared to the vast majority of people, I am rich and I am privileged. No, I am nowhere near the one percent, but that's irrelevant. Having said that, it was no easy road to get to where I am. So I emphasize deeply with Scott Aaronson's perspective. I do recommend  Scott Alexander's post about Scott Aaronson's struggles, except the last section (which trivializes everything that went before). Here's  coverage in the Chronicle, here's Scott Aaronson's post, and here's his 'Comment 171' that kicked off the whole discussion.

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Theory lags practice

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/11/2015 - 10:00


Daniel Lemire, Jan 11, 2015

This could be a lesson for knowledge in general: "Don’ t ever make the mistake [of thinking] that you can design something better than what you get from ruthless massively parallel trial-and-error with a feedback cycle. That’ s giving your intelligence much too much credit. (Linus Torvalds)." The fact is, the theory - or the principle, representation or model - comes only after the fact, is an abstraction of the fact, and is not the fact.

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Preparing Students for Competency-Based Hiring

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/10/2015 - 20:00
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Stacey Clawson, EDUCAUSE, Jan 10, 2015

Get ready for this. The days of the transcript (if it was used at all) as a basis for hiring is about to change. Competencies, rather than transcripts or credentials, will become the hiring standard of the future (or - I should add - something like competencies (for a variety of reasons)). Stacey Clawson, writing for the Gates Foundation, writes, "Competency-based programs offer the potential to go beyond a limited view of higher education, giving students the opportunity to develop and practice the skills needed for a meaningful career, life, and citizenship." We can see the writing on the wall: "An easy-to-adopt, integrated infrastructure designed for institutions that serve the new student majority - older, part-time, lower income, and distance learners - is needed to help scale competency-based programs." She is thinking of the institutions, but my focus is on learners and employers. How will they access their competency definitions? How will these be presented in hiring decisions? An institutional infrastructure served or hosted by providers will be insufficient. I'm not sure the Gates Foundation understands this, though. Image: How to Manage a Camel.

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