Miscellaneous

Mesage to OpenEd Community

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 17:00


Unattributed, University of Guelph, Jun 12, 2015

The University of Guelph appears to have reconsidered its plan to trademark the term 'OpenEd'. It was not intended to compete with, um, OpenEd, but "it is evident that the various meanings of the term 'OpenEd' will be challenged to co-exist and therefore, the University of Guelph is taking steps to release the official mark in its entirety, although this will make the mark available for others to attempt to make it their official mark or to apply to register it as a traditional trade-mark." I think we understand that. And I would like to think the community will make a similar noise the next time it's tried (note that this item does not appear as a freestanding web page, but just a note punned to the 'News' page, and probably has a short lifespan).

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Is Slack the new LMS?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 14:00
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Mathias Elmose, Synapse, Jun 12, 2015

Slack  is a team communications tool. I've heard a lot of  good things about it recently, though I haven't used it myself for anything serious (it's an enterprise tool, and our enterprise doesn't use it, so...). This article, by  Mathias Elmose in Synapse, suggests that Slack would make an excellent LMS. "Slack is a team chat app that enables great communication and collaboration. What I like about Slack —  when thinking about learning —  is that it’ s by default an active environment. No matter where you are in Slack you can write, post, share, comment and more. Discussion is not an add-on element buried deep within the course —  Slack is discussion." So, OK, this article wins because it has the best gif ever depicting old-school learning. My big issue with Slack is that it is all about team, not network. It's about enterprise, not environment. It's something I would like to see work  with a PLE, but it is manifestly  not a PLE. See also:  SlackEdu Slack Chat. Via Sean Connor, by email.

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Apple News vs. Facebook Instant Articles: How they compare

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 14:00
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Lucia Moses, Digiday, Jun 12, 2015

A month ago  I commented on the launch of Facebook's 'Instant Articles', in which news providers were encourage to publish directly on Facebook (this is a natural for a Facebook-only internet service as we see in the plans for Internet.org). Now Apple has announced a similar program. "As with Facebook Instant Articles, Apple suggested publisher branding in News would be strong. But Apple talked more about discovery and curation  and  stressed personalization in its presentation."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Messaging App Jott Is Blowing Up Among Junior High And High Schoolers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 11:00
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Sarah Buhr, TechCrunch, Jun 12, 2015

I'm not really sure how schools could block Jott, though I'm fairly certain they will try. The program sets up an off-grid mesh network that allows people (young teens in schools, mostly) text each other even then they have no data plan or internet access (this is very similar to the way the One Laptop Per Child set up interactivity in under-serviced schools worldwide). You could try to ban the application, but people can easily hide it. Cutting off wifi, internet or cellular signal access won't help, since the application sets up its own network. "Jott started testing the closed, or mesh network idea with a few select schools in March. That seems to have been the spark that led to a ginormous amount of growth for the startup. The effect was viral. Kids using the app in each school told their friends." They're now up to half a million users.

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Richard Prince, Instagram 'ripoff artist,' has own art appropriated

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 11:00
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Matt Kwong, CBC News, Jun 12, 2015

So who is right here? We have an artist, Richard Prince, who appropriates images from Instagram, makes small changes to them, and then posts them in galleries as high-priced art. Some of the images came from the Suicide Girls Instagram account. So they ahve taken the Prince image, made some small chnages, and are selling it on their site for a fraction of the price. Irina Tarsis, the Brooklyn-based director of the Center for Art  Law, suggests that Price may be able to make a case for infringement. "What Prince is bringing with his artwork is so  strange, this change of context. Maybe nobody else can copy that," said Meyers. But to the Suicide Girls founder, right is squarely on their side. "By making these available, we're showing we still have power. We still  own our images," she said.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

7 reasons why kids right to have went apeshit over this GCSE maths question

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 14:00
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Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Jun 10, 2015

I mentioned this item last week. Now, Donald Clark lists seven reasons why the question is unfair. "It sets you up with a probability question, they bait you with probability, then switch to algebra," he says. "it lays a trap for students. The appearance of an equation in the question n2 – n – 90 = 0 suggests that this needs to be solved." Well, yeah. All of these are good points. Again, though, let me emphasize that the point of a question like this is to test whether you think like a mathematician. When you look at the world, what frame do you see it through? The entrepreneur will 'see' spreadsheets of sweets and profit margins. The chemist will 'see' chemical processes and reactions. The explorer will 'see' possibilities and discoveries. And the mathematician sill 'see' everything in equations (yes, even probabilities). The core question is: do we need to 'see' the world this way? Well, some of us (especially physicists) need to. But by no means all of us. And therein lies the problem with standardized tests.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

I have 227 browser tabs open, and my computer runs fine. Here’s my secret.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 14:00
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David Roberts, Vox, Jun 10, 2015

Via Doug Belshaw's weekly newsletter comes this tip: vertical tabs. "Almost all computer monitors these days are widescreen. Vertical space is at a premium, while there are wide areas off to the side of your browser that go unused. So why not move the tabs over there?" It's something I've also recommended as a feature for personal learning environments.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Test Preppers, Take Note: Free SAT Study Tools Could Signal Sea Change

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 14:00
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Eric Westervelt, NPR Ed, Jun 10, 2015

The SAT has taken a lot of  criticism over the years. This appears to be a response. One side-effect, suggests NPR, is that ti may make the test-prep industry slightly less lucrative. There are two major strands. The first is the introduction of a set of free study tools to level the playing field for less-affluent students." SAT and Khan Academy will partner to produce the online materials, and the Boys & Girls Club of America will focus on in-house tutoring and support. This is an instance of the Triad Model. The second addresses the test itself, which will be revamped. "The essay section will now be optional, and students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers. And obscure SAT words that are little used in everyday conversation will be dropped. The emphasis now will be on relevant, useful vocabulary in context."

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Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00


UNESCO, Jun 08, 2015

Four major themes from this report from UNESCO describing education as a "common good":

  • Education is not the only force to sustainable development, but it is one of the most important ones
  • We need to keep the human element of education (things like culture, society, inclusiveness) and not just the utilitarian aspects
  • We need more flexible methods of delivering and validating learning in a complex employment environment
  • Knowledge and learning are not just public goods (ie., provided by the public) but are common goods, ie "necessary for the realization of the fundamental rights of all people."

"If education is seen as this deliberate and organized process of learning, then any discussion about it can no longer be focused solely on the process of acquiring (and validating) knowledge. We must consider not only how knowledge is acquired and validated, but also how access to it is often controlled and, therefore, how access to it can be made commonly available." 85 page PDF. Good stuff.

 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Objections to the OECD's AHELO

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00


Inside Higher Ed, Jun 08, 2015

One major condition for measuring things like educational outcomes is measuring the right thing. Colleges and universities are arguing that OECD does not do this. “ The AHELO (Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes)  approach fundamentally misconstrues the purpose of learning outcomes, which should be to allow institutions to determine and define what they expect students will achieve and to measure whether they have been successful in doing so. AHELO, which attempts to standardize outcomes and use them as a way to evaluate the performance of different institutions, is deeply flawed,” states the joint letter dated May 7 from ACE (American Council on Education) and Universities Canada.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Does Harvard Need Your Money?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00


Kellie Woodhouse, Inside Higher Ed, Jun 08, 2015

All I will say about this issue is that this is yet another example why essential public services such as health and education should be funded publicly by governments through taxation, rather than funded privately by individuals through charity. Taxation not only ensures to a greater degree that revenues are collected fairly, it also ensures to a greater degree that revenues are spent more fairly.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Questions for the University of Guelph on its trademark of OpenEd

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00
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Brian Lamb, Abject, Jun 08, 2015

Why oh why would the University of Guelph feel the need to trademark the term 'OpenEd'? Why would any trademark office give it to them? This especially when the 'OpenEd' conferences have been held for years in various locations, last in Canada in 2009. Ironically, when I  spoke at it in 2004, this was exactly the sort of thing I warned about. And as Brian Lamb notes, that the University of Guelph doesn't even seem to know anything about the concept. "Looking at the University of Guelph’ s Open Learning and Educational Support website, I could find no mention of open educational resources, open textbooks, open pedagogies, open source, open access, open licensing, etc… So perhaps you were unaware of the existence of an “ open education” community, one that frequently uses “ open ed” as an abbreviation, or for functions such as URLs, or as a Twitter hashtag. Were you indeed unaware that “ open ed” was a thing? If so, when did you become aware of it?" Of course, since I  spoke in Guelph in 2005, some people there should be aware. See also Clint Lalonde, who gives a  detailed account of the dispute.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Reflections on the Closure of Yahoo Pipes

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00
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Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, Jun 08, 2015

I haven't used  Yahoo Pipes in a long time, mostly because I can get  IFTTT to do much of the same thing more quickly, and I can do the rest with my own software. But as Tony Hirst writes, the shut-down of Yahoo Pipes signifies a change in the nature of the web. We're drifting one peck at a time from openness and interactivity to a number of large and locked-down domains accessible only via specialized APIs. He writes, "At the time as the data flows become more controlled, the only way to access them comes through code. Non-coders are disenfranchised and the lightweight, open protocols that non-coding programming tools can work most effectively with become harder to justify. When Pipes first appeared, it seemed as if the geeks were interested in building tools that increased opportunities to engage in programming the web, using the web. And now we have Facebook. Tap, tap, peck, peck, click, click, Like. Ooh shiny… Tap, tap, peck, peck… "

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Categories: Miscellaneous

A Personal API

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 12:00
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Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, Jun 08, 2015

This part of a wider conversation around the idea of "a domain of one's own", a concept Jim Groom has been talking about for a number of years now. An API of one's own extends the idea, embracing the concept of data connectivity along with that of a personal server. As he suggests, though, actually implementing the idea can get "a bit hairy" because you can no longer lock down the sort of data structures students want to use. Of course, from my perspective, this is a feature, not a bug.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Tricky GCSE maths exam sees pupils take to Twitter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 12:00
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BBC News, Jun 08, 2015

I was interested enough in this problem that I Googled to see what  the question was, thought about it, and when I didn't solve it in ten seconds or so, looked up the answer. Would I have solved it? Yeah, eventually. But what this question tells me is the difference between learning some mathematics and thinking mathematically. If you've just memorized some formulae, you're going to be thrown off by the two parts of the question. But if your approach to probabilities is to automatically set up the (correct) formula, you can actually solve this in your head in a couple of seconds. Can you show that (6/n)*(5/n-1)=1/3 means (n^2)-n-90=0? Sure, easily.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Towards the Post-Privacy Library?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:00
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Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jun 08, 2015

Suppose I read about having a baby or stealing uranium at my local library. I'm not going to be plagued with advertisements for diapers or probing questions from the security agency. But in the online library of the future, this all changes. People are very interested in what you're reading. Sometimes it's for the puerile purpose of selling you stuff, while in other cases it has to do with the much more adult concerns of state and security. Either way, the question of what you can do in a free society has been changed. And this has direct implications on learning. See more in American Libraries on digital futures.

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E-books: Histories, trajectories, futures

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 16:00


Michael M. Widdersheim, First Monday, Jun 07, 2015

"Commercial e-books are a product of history that resulted from concerted efforts by the publishing industry to control products and customers," writes Michael M. Widdersheim. "The book publishing industry sought to find a way to reduce production and shipping costs, avoid overproduction, reduce storage costs, increase revenue, maintain scarcity, and lower risk." And they have been largely successful, prevented from monopolizing the industry only by e-book vendors, such as Amazon. But they still have their niche: "E-books will likely continue to intersect with the education industry, whose interest in the student surveillance economy calls for control and prediction — exactly what that the data-capturing potential of e-books offers."

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How to Fix a Racist Frat

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 10:00
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Kate Dries, Jezebel, Jun 07, 2015

This story (a must read!) is about racist American fraternities, but its themes are limited to neither racism nor the United States. "Racism among Southern Greek organizations— or in Greek organizations across America, or American organizations in general— comes down to people; people who want power, people who want their lives to stay the same, people who let a group mentality corrupt their lives. To get anything to change, you’ d have to get thousands of college kids to band together and demand it— college kids who, by nature of their designation, are only inclined to care about their community in a whole-hearted way for a brief period of time. 'It’ s all tribal, it’ s all pageantry. It’ s people trying to freeze-dry cultural aspects of their life,' Greg told me. It’ s working." I've  written about this before, at length. But schools and educators love their groups.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Large-Scale, Government- Supported Educational Tablet Initiatives

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 07:00
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Rana M. Tamim, Eugene Borokhovski, David Pickup, Robert M. Bernard, Commonwealth of Learning, Jun 07, 2015

This report is "a systematic review of current government-supported tablet initiatives around the world was conducted to understand their origins, underlying principles, financial and organisational models, and expected outcomes." The bulk of the report is a country-by-country survey of tablet initiatives. Comparisons were drawn regarding motivating factors, cost and finances, and educational impact. The results so far, write the authors, are encouraging but not conclusive. "The majority of the initiatives were launched in a hasty and uncalculated manner, similar to the uncritical enthusiasm that surrounded the One Laptop per Child initiatives." This has impacted the literature available for review and the quality of the data from which to draw conclusions.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

(E-)learning strategy for the future

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 07:00
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Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, Jun 07, 2015

It shows that even the best can learn. Teemu Leinonen writes, by email, "In Finland we are in a middle of redesigning the national educational system. It is happening in all levels, from schools to Universities. I am somehow involved in this and  wrote some ideas about it in my blog. Some international media has wrote about the school reform emphasizing "phenomenon learning", instead of tradition academic school subjects. Here: The Independent, EdWeek, The Conversation." I love the 'three points' for learning (do not select just one way of learning, do it all online, get rid of stupid things). Leionen comments, "The hardest part is to get rid of the old: the long tradition of teaching and learning from the times when information was a scarcity and finding a place for everyone in an industrial society was one of the main reason to have an educational system."

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