Miscellaneous

Koller, Thicke, and Noble: The “Blurred Lines” Between Traditional Online Courses and MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 04:00
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David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Jan 05, 2015

David Wiley takes a look at MOOCs (well, xMOOCs) and concludes that the are really no different from traditional online courses, except for the branding. And the significant change, he argues, is that the platform not takes top billing while the institutions are second fiddle. "When institutional brands like Stanford, MIT, and Harvard are willing to be subordinated to platform brands like Coursera and EdX, at least in course marketing, what does it portend?" And, channeling David Noble's digital scepticism, suggests that it means "a future of a quality-eroding, profit-grabbing commercialization of higher education masquerading under the banner of 'widening access and improving quality.'" This is a bad outcome, no doubt. But the existing situation is no better. MIT and Harvard are every bit as involved in 'quality-eroding, profit-grabbing commercialization' as the rest of them.

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Six Transformational Ideas for the New Year

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 01:00


Steven Mintz, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 05, 2015

Steven Mintz comes up with six trends from last year, oh wait, I mean, for next year, or for 2004 or something. Anyhow, here they are:

  • teach at scale
  • adaptive course design
  • flexible arrangements (such as) asynchronous online courses
  • courseware (yes, seriously, he listed courseware)
  • curricular alignment
  • coaching

Normally this wouldn't be worth the time of day, but the author is the Executive Director of the University of Texas System’ s Institute for Transformational Learning. Where it is, I guess, still 1994.

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An educational Fitbit?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:00


Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog, Jan 05, 2015

Doug Johnson illustrates both the promise and the peril of measurement in education. Drawing on the popularity of health and fitness devices such as FitBit, he speculates as to where an educational analogue could be developed. But look at the sort of things it might measure:

  • Pages read
  • Math problems solved
  • Words written

Is this what we mean by educational health and fitness? These measures are (at best) inputs to the educational process, related to the practice, but not the purpose. An educational FitBit would need to drill a bit deeper - after all, even the real FitBit measures things like heartbeat and weight, things we can't change directly, but are reflective of the outcomes of fitness activities.

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Translating and implementing the Khan Academy in Brazil

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:00
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Michael Trucano, EduTech, Jan 05, 2015

Fascinating look at a project to implement the Khan Academy in Brazil. The usual problems surface (19 computers for a school of 650 students, etc) but reading between the main points we also see a transformative impact. For example, "Based on what is being observed in Brazil as part of the Khan Academy implementation, Mizne noted that, in practice, calling teachers for help is a last resort for many students, for a variety of reasons," including the ability to move at one's own pace, to review material, and to be sure they understand one thing before moving to the next.

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When it comes to Education and Technology, “Efficiency” is not the point

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:00


Steve Krause, stevendkrause.com, Jan 05, 2015

From The Hechinger Report, which Steve Krause states"'is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based at Teachers College,  Columbia University' that apparently generates a lot of articles about education that get poured right into a lot of  mainstream publications," we read that "the assumed purpose of technology (e.g., computer stuff, basically) in this article is efficiency, and some version of that word/theme appears at least a dozen times in this 1,000 or word so piece." This, he writes, misrepresents the purpose of technology in education. "Modern computer technologies allow teachers and students to do things  differently now than they did." The course was inefficient, and so is the online course, but what tech allows us to do is to get away from the course entirely.

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Harmonizing Learning and Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:00
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Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Jan 05, 2015

Definitely read this long post from Michael Feldstein in response to Dave Cormier's recent  set of  articles about engagement (I find it fascinating that the truly heady thinking takes place in blog posts, not Twitter, and not academic journals). Here is the nub: "If you want high-performing workers, you need engaged workers. And you can’ t force people to engage." Cormier's main point was that the primary purpose of education was to address the problem of engagement first, rather than learning this or that topic, arguing that people who are engaged in learning will be better and more productive employees in the future. Feldstein supports that intuition with some studies from Gallup. "It really comes down to feeling connected to your school work and your teachers, which does not correlate well with the various traditional criteria people use for evaluating the quality of an educational institution." Image: Marketing Land.

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Are rich media better than single media in online learning?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:00
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Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Jan 05, 2015

Tony Bates suggests, "In general, it is usually a useful guideline always to look for the simplest medium first then only opt for a more complex or richer medium if the simple medium can’ t deliver the learning goals as adequately." One reason for this is "there may be too many distractions in a rich medium for students to grasp the essential point of the teaching." But if what Daniel Lemire  says below is true, then this is false. And it's false, I think, because the application of 'cognitive load theory' to learning is mistaken. And it is mistaken because it takes an atomistic view of learning, rather than an interconnected or network view of learning.

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How to learn efficiently

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:00


Daniel Lemire, Weblog, Jan 05, 2015

What's interesting about this post is the suggestion that efficient learning is the opposite of what we might think it is. Lemire first outlines three reasonable principles (quoted):

  • Seek the most difficult problems
  • Reflect on what you have supposedly learned
  • Avoid learning from a single source

This is in fact exactly what I have done most of my life (even in public school, where I frequently went well beyond the curriculum to create 'projects' devoted to any of a variety of topics). Then Lemire observes, "When studying, many people do not want to mix topics 'so as not to get confused'. ... What researchers have found is that interleaved practice is far superior. In interleaved practice, you intentionally mix up topics. ... Interleaved practice is exactly what a real project forces you to do."

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Google’s Philosopher

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 13:00
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Robert Herritt, Pacific Stamndard, Jan 05, 2015

This argument from "Google's philosopher" (actually Oxford ethics professor Luciano Floridi) has been flagged as "novel", but they're actually in line with a lot of contemporary thinking. According to Floridi, 'you are your information, which comprises everything from data about the relations between particles in your body, to your life story, to your memories, beliefs, and genetic code." This reminds me immediately of McLuhan's argument that our tools and devices are extensions of ourselves, and George Siemens's suggestion that our thoughts and ideas are contained in the network beyond our physical brain. The idea of an identity that is not simply the body has a long history, and in today's networked and digital age, it makes more than merely spiritual sense.

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Hotels Fight for the Right to Block Guests' Wi-Fi

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/04/2015 - 14:00
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Kate taylor, Entrepreneur, Jan 04, 2015

This story has been around for a while, but it points to the danger of commercial provision of essential services. As everyone knows, price is determined by the law of supply and demand - it is, essentially, whatever the market will bear. But the often unspoken corollary is that creating artificial demand is a reliable means of driving up price. This is what hotels are trying to do when they block personal Wi-Fi hotspots. It's a vile practice that creates no value for the customer at all. How much of the 'free market' is based not on provision of goods and services, but on creating artificial scarcity? Education is an excellent case in point. Learning should be ubiquitous, but we channel it through institutions, create the requirement for degrees, and charge students a large mortgage for passage.

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Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/03/2015 - 15:00
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Hans de Zwart, Medium, Jan 03, 2015

So what is life like in the surveillance state? Ask artist Ai Weiwei. He lives under constant observation courtesy of the Chinese government. This article describes his efforts to understand and test the limits of constant observation, including the impact it has on the observers (ware in many ways less free than he is). Weiwei's present is our future. Perhaps we will rely less on humans to do the watching, simply because the workload makes it impossible. But I have no doubt we will respond by testing limits, adapting (as urban youth already have with the hoodie) and accommodating. This article is a good account, but I think it misses something important. With privacy at a premium, I think that the unexpected result will be that the range of unacceptable acts will be reduced. It's simply a matter of practicality - when you see everything, you can only focus on the worst things, and the lesser evils become effectively decriminalized. But in such an environment corruption and petty theft can prevail, and the end result is that people feel less safe, and not more safe.

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6 Tips To Turn Your Presentation Into An Interactive eLearning Course

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/03/2015 - 12:00
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Christopher Pappas, eLearning Industry, Jan 03, 2015

The six tips aren't especially interesting, and the relentless overlays begging you to subscribe or like are annoying. But the first 'tip' is actually a pretty good list of what are called 'rapid e-learning tools' - basically authoring suites that allow you to create traditional e-learning. The only drawback is that they are all commercial tools, and generally expensive (I don't know of an open source rapid e-learning tool). It's clear from this list and from a review of the sample courses that this part of the industry is pretty mature. The list includes dedicated e-learning tools like Captivate and Lectora, cloud-based like Lectora Online or Gomo, or inside Powerpoint like iSpring.

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The Downes Prize 2014

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 21:00

Every year at this time I award the Downes Prize to the most-read post of those I've posted some time in the previous 365 days. This year that means any one of 1123 total posts from hundreds of authors around the world. The award is intended to be an objective measure, not based on popularity contests, campaigns, or any other such thing, but reflective of actual interest in the item on the part of OLDaily readers..

Without further ado,

 

This year's Downes Prize is awarded to:

Blended Synchronous Learning Handbook

Matt Bower, Gregor Kennedy, Barney Dalgarno, Mark J. W. Lee, Jacqueline Kenney, Aug 05, 2014

 

This text was a runaway winner this year. It's reflective of a trend in these awards over the years - while something might catch the popular interest and spike briefly, it is the deep and insightful text with lasting import that attracts enough attention over the course of the year. The current work was funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching, has five authors from three universities, six case study contributors, and four more names in the Reference Group. There's a  website with more information and resources from the last three years of the project.

"This Handbook," write the authors, "is the main output of the Blended Synchronous Learning Project. It includes a Blended Synchronous Learning Design Framework that offers pedagogical, technological and logistical recommendations for teachers attempting to design and implement blended synchronous learning lessons (see Chapter 14). The Handbook also includes a Rich-Media Synchronous Technology Capabilities Framework to support the selection of technologies for different types of learning activities (see Chapter 4), as well as a review of relevant literature, a summary of the Blended Synchronous Learning Scoping Study results, detailed reports of each of the seven case studies, and a cross case analysis."

 

Honourable Mentions:

 

Why lectures are dead (or soon will be), Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources

 

Hack This Book: Announcing Open Music Theory, Kris Shaffer, Hybrid Pedagogy

 

Article at the Open Badges in Education workshop, Hans Põ ldoja, hanspoldoja.net

 

Social Learning is Voluntary; Collaboration Platforms are Enablers, Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID and Other Reflections

 

Why can't you comment on this post? #indieweb, Ben Werdmuller

 

Old Literacies and the “ New” Literacy Studies: Revisiting Reading and Writing, Norm Friesen

 

The MOOC Misstep and the Open Education Infrastructure, David Wiley

 

Does job success depend on data rather than your CV?, Matthew Wall

 

Are Laptops Really Bad For Learning? , Darren Kuropatwa, --I know this much is true.--

 

10 Trends to Personalize Learning in 2015, Barbara Bray, Personalize Learning

 


Previous Winners

 

In 2013, the Downes Prize was awarded to Tony Bates for Discussing design models for hybrid/blended learning and the impact on the campus

 

In 2012, the prize was awarded to Clayton R. Wright, for his series of posts annotating educational technology conferences.

 

In 2011, the prize was awarded to the  Consortium for School Networking for  Acceptable Use Policies in Web 2.0 & Mobile Era.

 

In 2010, the prize was awarded to JISC for Effective Assessment in a Digital Age.

 

, , Dec 30, 2014
Enclosure: Downes_Prize.jpg, 1jpg, Downes_Prize.png
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Categories: Miscellaneous

My tech prediction for 2015 - two small letters…

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:00
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Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Jan 02, 2015

Donald Clark's predictions for 2015 centre around the letters AI. "Computer power, neuroscience, economics, cognitive psychology, linguistics and control theory have come together to produce a phenomenal cross-disciplinary effort," he writes. "Forget that backstop of PowerPoint futurists, the Gartner curve; this thing will just grow and grow." I would be rather less inclined to credit economics, cognitive psychology and control theory. I think the nascent successes of AI have more to do with the realization that language, truth and logic were not created in neat semiotic categories and deep linguistic and algorithmic structures, but are rather a chaotic assemblage of connected entities that swirl and form and reform in patterns and structures we can count on (for a time at least). But this isn't wrong: "AI is my pick, not just for 2014 but for the next 50 years, as the ‘ Age of Algorithms’ is a deep, broad, paradigmatic shift that has already delivered powerful pedagogic shifts (search, recommendation and adaptive)." Image: Daily Galaxy.

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Model for democratisation of the contents hosted in MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:00


Javiera Atenas, Universities, Knowledge Society Journal (RUSC), Jan 02, 2015

Though I would endorse the recommendations for the  democratisation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) I think they don't quite go far enough. This paper outlines the objectives of MOOCs and finds that in their implementation they fail because the contents are locked down (obviously this refers to xMOOCs). To fix this, the author recommends that we (quoted):

  • Export the contents into OER repositories as individual objects
  • Export the content as data packages per module and or unit into OER repositories
  • Convert the MOOCs into OCW self-taught courses

This would essentially convert MOOCs into OERs, which is what we did with cMOOCs. But if the contents are simply being presented (and maybe reused by teachers) they may as well remain static and locked. Taking it a step further means that the contents are not intended to be memorized by students, they are intended to be used by students as 'words' in a 'conversation' - the object of the course is not to learn the contents, but to do something with the contents.

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The Man Behind Common Core Math

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:00
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Sarah Garland, NPR, Jan 02, 2015

It's hard to believe, but the problems that plague the Common Core standards in the U.S. have the same roots as the problems that plagued Learning Object Metadata and other IMS standards. The Common Core standards  were born in the No Child Left Behind program under the Bush government. The idea was to reform a very diverse set of state standards that were too broad and insufficiently deep. They would form the basis for standardized tests, and would enable publishers to create standard texts. Designed from the beginning as a state-led initiative, the standards were supported by the Obama administration.

So what went wrong? The math standards were essentially written by Jason Zimba, a physicist working in his garage who believed that if you got the testing right, all else would follow. This resulted in output essentially the same as IMS: all standards, no implementation. "As powerful and influential in reshaping American classrooms as the standards could be, they don't include lesson plans, or teaching methods, or alternative strategies for when students don't get it." So now while Zimba tutors his daughters in that same garage to make up for the gaps in Common Core, the standards themselves are the subject of widespread criticism. 

"I used to think if you got the assessments right, it would virtually be enough," he says. "In the No Child Left Behind world, everything follows from the test." Now, he says, "I think it's curriculum."

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Adult Learners: Facilitating Social Learning Experiences

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:00


Around the Corner, Miguel Guhlin, Jan 02, 2015

This is a revision of an older article offering a variety of approaches to facilitating adult learning, based around a structure of eight 'tips'. I'm not fond of listicles, but the tips here are solid and borne of experience. Quoted from the article:

  1. Address the logistics of the course in your course materials
  2. Personalize your online learning environment with multimedia
  3. Develop and share materials with potential participants
  4. Set up forums that address the “ social dimension” of introducing people and getting to know each other, as well as forums for dealing with technical aspects
  5. Remember to scaffold and support learning conversations rather than dominate them
  6. Don’ t be afraid to pull in guest speakers
  7. Avoid long discussion posts, as well as posts that feature a lot of questions
  8. Encourage people to discover each other’ s strengths and what they each have to bring to the table

Each of these points is followed by several paragraphs of explanation and examples, so the whole article is worth a look. They are also reflective of my own experience offering MOOCs.

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Is The Writing On The Wall?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:00
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Doug Peterson, Doug - Off the Record, Jan 02, 2015

My Lenovo computer, which runs Windows 8.1, boots up in about two seconds, even after two years of use. No that is not a typo. It's a convertible, which means it can function as a laptop and a tablet (and I've used it as both). The screen is touch-sensitive. But none of this is the reason why it boots so quickly. Part of it is Windows 8.1. But the main part of it is that it is a solid state hard drive which basically contains a flashed image of the start-up state. Load it into memory (2-seconds) and you're under way. Why is this important? Because this is the counter-example to Doug Peterson's argument here that "the writing may be on the wall" for windows computers in education. Windows 95 and Windows 7 running on traditional hard drives took forever to start up, and so are increasingly unfit for schools. True. But my computer takes two seconds. (Note: I have to keep Norton's up to date, and I avoid Internet Explorer. Also, Lenovo doesn't do driver updates, so I have to do that manually, to fix a wifi slow-down issue.)

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Bliu Bliu: ‘the only company in the world that teaches languages we don’t even know’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:00
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Philip J. Kerr, Adaptive Learning in ELT, Jan 02, 2015

Fascinating review of the language-learning company called Bliu Bliu. The principle behind the site is that you learn language by immersion, reading and using language. OK, so far so good. The system works by presenting you a series of tests building on your knowledge level, so that you are only introduced to a few new words at a time. The entire set of test exercises is automatically generated. Sounds good? According to this review, it isn't. Indeed, to this point, it appears to be awful. Why did it go wrong? "It is generally accepted now that comprehensible input may be necessary, but it is not sufficient for language learning to take place," argues Philip Kerr. "Bliu Bliu has falsely assumed that comprehensibility can be determined by self-reporting of word knowledge, and this assumption is made even more problematic by the confusion of words (as sequences of letters) with lexical items."

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Too big to disrupt?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 14:00
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Tim Kiladze, Globe, Mail, Jan 01, 2015

This article focuses on the Canadian banking industry's response to threats to their business from companies like Google, Facebook, PayPal and Square. Thanks to regulation preventing them from risky ventures into insurance and sub-prime mortgages, the Canadian financial industry weathered the recession almost unscathed. But new threats from new technology (and especially virtual or online payments) threatens their position. Mistakes cost billions. The banks are in a good financial position and have a history of innovation, which helps them. But what they rely on most of all, concludes the article, is the trust they have built with consumers over the years.

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