Miscellaneous

Why Are We Still Using LMSs?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 14:00


George Kroner, edutechnica, Feb 02, 2017

Good question. The author offers responses in terms of convenience, consumerization, connectedness, and compliance, but none of these responses seems to satisfy. And so we should prepare for an inflection point. "The technology has reached a stable, dominant design.  Typically when this happens in a product category, a new wave of innovation characterized by different ways to address  the same need." It hasn't happened yet to the LMS, says the author, largely because of the way they're procured - selection committees in large institutions. He says the tipping point "will be driven by courageous choices made by individual institutions," but more likely, to my mind, it will be driven by forces outside the institution. Image: edutechnica

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‘Regaining Public Trust’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/30/2017 - 14:00


Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 30, 2017

As competition from non-traditional education providers intensifies, colleges and universities will depend a lot on public perception and trust. So this is not a good time for that trust to be eroding, but that's what's been happening as they blithely collect ever-increasing tuition fees and conduct research at the behest of the highest bidder. At least now the effort is underway to reverse that trend. "Beyond data, re-engaging the public also means talking more about -- and designing policies and programs around -- who college and university students really are, since only a fraction are “ traditional” students straight out of high school... It also means “ maintaining a laser focus on equity and quality” in what will likely be a deregulated environment going forward."

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The foundation of a more secure web: Google Trust Services

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/30/2017 - 14:00


Noinsight, Hacker News, YCombinator, Jan 30, 2017

So there's something: "You can now have a website secured by a certificate issued by a Google CA, hosted on Google web infrastructure, with a domain registered using Google Domains, resolved using Google Public DNS, going over Google Fiber, in Google Chrome on a Google Chromebook. Google has officially vertically integrated the Internet." Also: "server written in Go, running on a Google server OS, located on a Google designed server appliance, which is centrally controlled by a Google designed microprocessor, which is finally manufactured in a Google owned semiconductor foundry. Oh, and the sand used for silicon purification is sourced from a Google-owned stretch of beach." OK, maybe not the last. But Google is a force of nature, to be sure.

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The coming of age of digital education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/30/2017 - 14:00


Gavin, FE News, Jan 30, 2017

MOOCs are growing shorter, tighter, and more popular. Against a "backdrop of growing popularity with learners, and growing recognition by employers, MOOC platforms themselves are evolving and a much more sophisticated landscape of short online courses is emerging." This is the result found by a study by The Open University, FutureLearn, and Parthenon EY. No links provided in  several  news sources to the original study (boo! hiss!). The author - Gavin - appears also to have no last name.

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“Time is the bottleneck”: a qualitative study exploring why learners drop out of MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 01/30/2017 - 14:00


Thommy Eriksson, Tom Adawi, Christian Stöhr, Journal of Computing in Higher Education, Jan 30, 2017

The authors of this study interviewed participants of a couple MOOCs and asked them why they dropped out, rolling up the responses. Time was one of the factors cited, though there wasn't really an effort to quantify or order the responses, though 'time' was the most frequently cited reason. They then draw some odd conclusions. "When a course is open for everyone, some learners will have problems with the content being too difficult, or too basic, and some will have problems with understanding English, while others will have problems with Internet connections. Thus, we can ask two rhetorical questions: Are MOOCs really open?" I don't think this follows at all from the study.

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Cognitive bias cheat sheet

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 12:00


Buster Benson, Better Humans, Jan 29, 2017

This is a really nice use of Wikipedia to create a useful learning resource. The subject is cognitive bas and the author's intent is to bring together and categorize the various sources of bias, then provide some simple heuristics to comprehend them. Great idea (and I not in passing that these biases apply everywhere, and are not subject specific). The article offers an object lesson in how to use open educational resources in such a way that the licenses don't matter. It's the age of the internet - you don't need to mix and combine resources, you just link to them.

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Top 10 IT Issues: 2000–2017

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 12:00


Susan Grajek, EDUCAUSE, Jan 29, 2017

EDUCAUSE released its  annual list of the top IT issues in education last week and the article - though chock-full of useful analysis - is the usual  mé lange of IT angst: information security, student success, leadership, management, funding, the like. It's worth a read as a good review of the strategic issues of the day. But the best perspective is always perspective, and that's where this 17-year retrospective steals the show. It's an interactive graphic (take the time to play with it) showing how issues have trended, come and gone through the years (the only constant, it seems, is a worry about funding). In an interview with the report's author, Susan Grajek,  EdScoop suggests that the trends show that “ IT took a back seat in the narrative” to a larger story — namely how IT forms the very “ foundations of student success in higher education.” You can look for yourself, but I'm not seeing it.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

3D TV is finally, blessedly, mercifully, dead — will VR follow suit?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 12:00


Joel Hruska, ExtremeTech, Jan 29, 2017

I wonder how many pundits predicted that virtual reality would be one of the big trends for education in 2017. I wasn't one of them. Virtual reality, though definitely cool, suffers from many of the same issues as 3D TV, as this article notes. "Like 3D, it requires expensive, personal peripherals. Like 3D, games need to be designed explicitly for VR in order to showcase the technology to best effectiveness. Like 3D, VR can cause nausea and headaches. Like 3D, working in VR has an entirely new set of best practices... VR is debuting as a gaming peripheral, and gaming is still much more of a solo activity than TV watching." VR has many niche applications. But it won't sweep through learning and technology this year or the next because, fundamentally, it can't.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Canada’s accidental brain drain

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 12:00


Adam Crymble, University Affairs, Jan 29, 2017

According to this article, "Canada has relied upon its supposedly self-evident and enduring allure to bring expats back," it is losing too many of its best and brightest, and "ending the brain drain should be a priority for the federal minister of innovation." I don't agree. First of all, many if not most of the Canadians who remain are (ahem) also its best and brightest. It's not like those who immigrated or who remained here are somehow not good enough. Second, it is natural and valuable for the flow of students and academics to be two-way, bringing in expertise from abroad and exporting the Canadian perspective in return. Just as we welcome those who arrive here from elsewhere, we should enthusiastically wish the best for those who decide to leave.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Leaving Lynda.com

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 12:00


Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 29, 2017

When companies acquire each other they create debt out of nothing, which creates from thin air a new urgency to increase customer revenue. This is what has happened to universities subscribing to Lynda.com as they face double digit increases after Lynda was acquired by LinkedIn, and LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft. In its defense "The company went on to say that part of the price hike can be explained by recently added features such as learning management system integration and offline access, as well as its ongoing push to expand its course library." But typically, these changes would be paid for (and justified) by the acquisition of new customers, not by squeezing existing customers.

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Global Survey on the Quality of MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 12:00


Open University of the Netherlands, Jan 29, 2017

This is a call to participate in a global research effort: "The survey addresses MOOC learners, MOOC designers and MOOC facilitators. It begins with a few questions on your profile before you are asked to select the survey section that fits best to your main role in MOOCs (i.e., either as MOOC learner, MOOC designer, or MOOC facilitator)."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Building a Chatbot: analysis & limitations of modern platforms

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 00:00


Javier Couto, Tyro Labs, Jan 28, 2017

Good article exploring the strengths and weaknesses of various chatbot platforms. "The chatbot ecosystem is moving very fast and new features are being released every day by the numerous existing platforms." There are non-technical platforms aimed at average users: Chatfuel, ManyChat, Octane Ai, Massively and Motion.ai. These, though, do not have natural language processing ability and are not suitable for commercial applications.  The five major solutions are all from major companies (not surprisingly). They "represent already a standard or at least they are on (their) way to become one: Api.ai (Google), Wit.ai (Facebook), LUIS (Microsoft), Watson (IBM), Lex (Amazon).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Of OER and Platforms: Five Years Later

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/28/2017 - 18:00


David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Jan 28, 2017

David Wiley revisits his suggestion five years ago that 2017 could be the end of open educational resources. His reasoning is basically sound: "Our fixation on discovery and assembly also distracts us from other serious platform needs – like platforms for the collaborative development of OER and open assessments." And he argues that the value-add of systems like Pearson’ s MyLab and Cengage’ s MindTap makes them significant educational tools. So it may be that his prediction wasn't wrong so much as early. "PDFs aren’ t going to get us there," he writes. "We need more efforts to provide the benefits of publishers’ “ adaptive” systems while honoring and enabling the values of the OER community." No question. Image: FutureOER

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Community-Focused Versus Market-Driven Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/28/2017 - 15:00


Matthew Metzgar, Digital Pedagogy Lab, Jan 28, 2017

The thrust of this fairly detailed article is that "though the true purpose of public education is clear — to provide benefits to individuals and communities — education is now becoming more aligned with the purposes of firms; all of which may lead to richer companies but poorer (in an educational sense) communities." I don't agree with the dichotomies set up in the article - in particular, I don't associate technology use with corporate control - but I am nonetheless wary of corporate influence. After all, we have the example of how a focus on market forces rather than communities has served traditional media, which now struggles both for credibility and sustainability.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Searchable Directory of Canadian Researchers of Online, Blended and Distance Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/28/2017 - 15:00


TeachOnline.ca, Jan 28, 2017

Contact North has launched a directory of Canadian researchers in open and distance learning. Browse through the listings and you'll see a lot of big names in the field. Norm Vaughn writes, "Wow, the idea for a Canadian researchers directory is AMAZING - as nothing like this exists at the moment and I think it will really help to build and enrich the online, blended, and distance research network in Canada - kudos to Contact North for putting this together." I have to admit having had similar sentiments when I saw the list.To add your information to the list (note, you have to be working at a college, university or other institution in Canada and have published work that other people have cited) share the information via the Contact Us form.

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Co-design consultation 2016-17

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/28/2017 - 15:00


Various authors, JISC, Jan 28, 2017

Britain's JISC is entering the final stages of selecting it's next big focus. After a process of consultation, the choice is down to two options:

I find it interesting that neither of the final two has anything to do with online learning.  Alternatives included studying the implications of the intelligent campus, the next generation of learning environments, and digital apprenticeships.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

New data on the breadth of skills movement in education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 01/28/2017 - 12:00


Helyn Kim, Esther Care, Tyler Ditmore, Brookings Institute, Jan 28, 2017

I would say that it's not a lot  of new data, but it's some, and it shows widening adoption of skills programs around the world, including work in critical thinking and problem solving. "Evidence points to a higher rate in identifying a breadth of skills within national documents (except mission and vision statements) and in including descriptions of skills progressions."

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Struggling = Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/27/2017 - 21:00


Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, Jan 27, 2017

Papert called it "hard fun". We;ll, it has been fun but I've been swearing a lot recently. Getting to understand technologies like Docker and Vagrant - and all the associated middleware and protocols and conventions - has been a lot to undertake. I have a simple objective to start - create an image of gRSShopper and serve it from AWS. Why do it it this way? Why not just study what I need? Because if I want to truly understand it I have to build it. That's the point of Karl Kapp's argument in this post. "When you really want learners to understand content or concepts, force them to struggle with the concept or the idea. The act of struggling and manipulating and engaging with content will make it more meaningful and more memorable." And if I want to be credible when I talk about these technologies, I have to know them, inside and out.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Looking Beyond the LMS: Why a Single App Won't Work

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/27/2017 - 21:00


David Raths, Campus Technology, Jan 27, 2017

I think this vision of the future of educational technology is fundamentally correct, though the description in this article is lacking. "We are using Canvas as a thin layer and laying apps on top of it. For instance, we needed a better way to record video, so we developed an app to record video on an iPhone or iPad. Once you upload it, it automatically gets bounced into your Canvas account. We are using Canvas as the core glue to hold together a bunch of other things."

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How I Built that Free Microlearning Template

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/27/2017 - 12:00


Tom Kuhlmann, The Rapid E-Learning Blog, Jan 27, 2017

'Microlearning' is the new buzzword in the rapid e-learning community, but be careful. As this article shows, it is often realized as a quick Flash animation. I, however, am viewing the internet on a 4K screen. These  animations appear like postage stamps in the middle of my screen (which makes sense, since they were designed for mobile). Designers, however, should create learning resources that can be viewed well on any screen - from a tiny handheld to a living-room television. This takes more care than dashing  quick Articulate animations provides. By contrast, look at my  presentation pages, which show (imperfectly) how  presentations and videos can be sized up and down to fit any screen.

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