Miscellaneous

Let’s get systematic, baby…

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 00:00
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Brian Lamb, Abject, Oct 07, 2014

Good overview of a number of posts looking at the post-LMS LMS, which (to me at least) seems like the same old LMS, but with a cloud back-end and maybe some social. I think he could have mentioned our non-LMS (ie., our LPSS personal learning environment) but we need to stretch its legs a bit before claiming any street cred.

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Marriott fined $600,000 by FCC for blocking guests' Wi-Fi

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 15:00
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Katia Hetter, CNN, Oct 07, 2014

What a lot of people do, including me, is use their mobile phone as a wireless access point. Mobile LTE sppeeds are good enough now to support at least minimal internet access. But hotels, who have historically overcharged for internet access, find this to be unreasonable competition. So they've been blocking the signals. This turns out to be against the law, at least in the U.S. (and probably in most places). This is good for students, and not so good for people who are trying to control access (like schools). Just don't tell them about Firechat. It may be too much for them.

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Ed Radio Reimagined

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 18:00
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Stephen Downes, Ed Radio, Oct 06, 2014

I find it interesting to note that audio podcasting has almost dropped off the internet map. For someone like me, audio is a lot more useful than video, and almost any time of the day, unless I'm actually in a meeting, I'll be listening to something online (in my car I still listen to radio, but my mobile phone connects to it by Bluetooth and gives me a lot more content). Bryan Alexander has listed  a number of podcasts he listens to, so I'm not alone.

So. I've been puttering away off and on for the last few months to convert Ed Radio into something that's fresh and valuable, and not just playing canned content. So I've set up my aggregator to harvest a number of ed tech podcasts; these in turn are used to create a single podcast feed you can subscribe to, an M3U and PLS file you can download as a playlist, and a live Shoutcast stream you can listen to over your computer or mobile phone. I've also set up an AudioBoo account as one of the sources. There's new content every day, and I have the capacity to broadcast live events. I love radio, and even if nobody ever listens, I love being able to create something like this.

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Academy of Art University student's CS6 licenses canceled

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 18:00
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David Lawrence, Creative Cow, Oct 06, 2014

You used to buy software on a disk and it would always run. But software companies are convcerting to an annual license model, where there's no disk, and like content streaming, you get to use the software only so long as you keep paying for it. I've bought movies this way, but to this day I can't even watch the movies I've paid Microsoft for (which to me means that they've simply stolen several hundred dollars from me). No appeals, no refunds. That's just entertainment. When you have a similar dispute over software worth thousands of dollars, and on which your career depends, you can find yourself in a difficult position if the purchase goes south.

That's what's happened to students at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. They were told that their tuition would purchase Adobe Creative Suite licenses. "We were told," they write, "that these licenses would never expire and all forms of professional and student work were permitted." But Adobe doesn't work that way any more, and so has started cancelling the students' licenses. The students (quite rightly, in my view) are crying foul. But they have no rights, and no appeal. They're upset, and I don't blame them. More here, and some  press coverage here.

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Hack This Book: Announcing Open Music Theory

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 09:00
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Kris Shaffer, Hybrid Pedagogy, Oct 06, 2014

While I still have my criticisms of  this textbook (music notation is not my thing) I think it represents a useful innovation and, I hope, further undermines the traditional publisher paradigm of university textbooks. It's not just that the published books cost money (though there is that) but also that they convey a single authoritative voice. These open textbooks disrupt that. "OMT is open-source and not simply open-access. We have made it legally and (as much as we can) technically possible for instructors, and even students, to contribute to the text, translate it, publish it in other formats, copy it— in a word, to hack it."

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LinkedIn University Rankings

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 09:00
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Various authors, LinkedIn, Oct 06, 2014

This has to be better than the made-up rankings provided by entities like U.S. News & World Report, or Macleans in Canada, but even so the purpose remains the same: the rankings reflect the values held by the ranker, and are intended to push the rankees into pursuing those metrics (hence, the U.S. News rankings, for example,  push universities away from opening access to lower income students). Just so, the LinkedIn rankings are "based on career outcomes". The  LinkedIn blog defines outcomes based on "desirable jobs," for examples, where "we define a desirable job to be a job at a desirable company for the relevant profession. For example, we define desirable finance jobs as finance jobs at companies desirable for finance professionals." So my university, the University of Calgary, which educated me very well indeed, would fail, because I did not get my (not so desirable) desirable job as a philosopher.  More from PS Web. Via Academica.

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New York Times Plans to Eliminate 100 Jobs in the Newsroom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 09:00
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Ravi Somaiya, New York Times, Oct 06, 2014

The New York Times was one of the earliest and most prominent news sources to set up a paywall and opt for subscription-based online services. Though the newspaper has consistently claimed that the move was a success, it's not clear that it has been. This latest item suggests that the digital option is not paying its way. The  economic model has peaked - the newspaper isn't getting any more new subscribers, and it's niche mobile products aren't expanding its reach. As Matthew Ingram tweets, "The NYT's apps are like untargeted mini paywalls -- they were built to serve the paper's needs, not users' needs." It's the  software driving the journalism, argues Financial Times editor Lionel Barber. Links via American Press Institute.

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Google unveils Drive for Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 09:00
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Charlie Osborne, ZDNet, Oct 06, 2014

Google continues its push to commoditize learning management. It "said Tuesday that the academic version of its online storage solution can be used with Google Apps for Education and boasts unlimited storage with transfer support for files up to 5TB in size. In addition, the cloud storage system includes reporting and auditing tools, as well as encryption both from the device and between Google data centers to keep files safe." People will probably want to use this; the question is whether any applications other than Google tools will be able to make use of the service.

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Salon Culture: Network of Ideas

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 09:00
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Andrian Kreye, Edge, Oct 06, 2014

The first three quarters of this article offer an interesting outline of the history of salon culture, that is, the fomenting of ideas through the social gatherings of thinkers and intellectuals. The last quarter devolves into dreck promoting things like TED. Leaving aside the (paid?) placement, however, the article is worth a look. And leave aside the idea that salons are reserved for intellectuals. One of the great things the coffee-house culture did was to (to a degree) democratize the salon. In Canada, every city has dozens of Tim Hortons Coffee outlets where, arguably, our real society is forged. The internet democratizes the salon even more. TED and similar congresses are attempts to countervail that, returning to the idea of salon culture as reserved for the elites. For that reason, they should be resisted.

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Does job success depend on data rather than your CV?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 18:00
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Matthew Wall, Oct 05, 2014

I have written recently about alternative modes of assessments and credentials. This story feeds intot hat trend. "A number of firms are moving beyond automatic keyword matching to find 'suitable' candidates... for example, recruitment technology firm Electronic Insight doesn't even bother to look at your skills and experience when analysing CVs on behalf of clients. 'We just look at what people write and how they structure their sentences,' says Marc Mapes, the firm's chief innovation officer."

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Tech Advances Fuel LMS Identity Crisis

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 18:00


Benjamin Herold, Oct 05, 2014

Things are getting confusing again. "A slew of vendors— many of which eschew the 'learning management system' moniker altogether in favor of terms such as 'virtual learning platform'— are competing aggressively to establish their software as the best available tool to help schools offer more-personalized instruction."

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College is ripping you off: Students are cash cows, and schools the predators

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 12:00
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Thomas Frank, Oct 05, 2014

Another in the ongoing series of articles ripping into the college and university business model. "One day we wake up to discover there is no Santa Claus. Somehow, we have been had. We are a hundred thousand dollars in debt, and there is no clear way to escape it. We have no prospects to speak of. And if those damned dreams of ours happened to have taken a particularly fantastic turn and urged us to get a PhD, then the learning really begins. Meanwhile, the last of the German tuition fees are being abolished, ending an experiment in social injustice that began a number of years ago. And  a study that shows "even relative low levels of tuition fees of around 1,000 euros per year are likely to deter students from lower socio-economic backgrounds from studying."

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The myths about Canada’s skills gap

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 09:00
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Chris Sorensen, Oct 05, 2014

Reasonably coherent article about the skills shortage in Canada. Here's the first major data point: “ There are increasing calls by employers for educators to do more job-ready training. But these calls have been increasing at the same time employers’ spending on training has been dropping.” Why would this be? "A sort of workplace prisoner’ s dilemma: Why spend thousands improving an employee’ s skills only to have him or her poached by a hungry competitor?" That's why our focus is on personal learning, while looking for industry support. By creating a learning network we avoid the prisoner's dilemma, thereby creating a means whereby employers can invest in training, not simply as an on-the-job tool, but also as a recruiting tool.

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German universities face funding fears as states scrap fees

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 09:00
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Alexandra Topping, Oct 04, 2014

Leading the opposition to ongoing plans to eliminate tuition fees in Germany are - wait for it - universities. Dr Holger Fischer, vice-president of Hamburg University, said: "It is a catastrophe for the university." The coverage in this Guardian article is no less apocalyptic. "The German university fee system is on the brink of collapse," it reports breathlessly. From where I sit, it looks like a social democratic government actually following the principles it campaigned on (other left-leaning parties should take note). "Tuition fees keep young people from low-income families from studying and are socially disruptive." The trend toward the elimination of tuition fees in Germany is a good thing, and should be celebrated.

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Learning in an Introductory Physics MOOC: All Cohorts Learn Equally, Including an On-Campus Class

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 09:00
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Kimberly F Colvin, John Champaign, Alwina Liu, Qian Zhou, Colin Fredericks, David E Pritchard, Oct 04, 2014

Ouch: "In spite of the extra instruction that the on-campus students had," reports this study, there is "no evidence of positive, weekly relative improvement of our on-campus students compared with our online students." So, according to this study, MOOC students learn just as well as in-class students. Which raises the question of why, exactly, we would force students to go through the unnecessary time and expense of in-class participation.

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JSTOR, Daily

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 09:00
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Colleen Flaherty, Oct 04, 2014

Although I'm the first to support increasing the accessibility of scientific research, every time I think of JSTOR I think of the persecution of Aaron Swartz, so when JSTOR announces it is launching "content a little more digestible and to engage a different kind of audience" in the form of " JSTOR Daily. The slick-looking home page already features some 100 blog posts and original articles," I wonder what the catch is. And the catch, I suppose, is that most of "the world’ s knowledge" is locked behin a subscription wall, and JSTOR Daily just becomes, in effect, advertising for that.

OK, in fairness, the articles are really well written and the content is interesting and engaging. I looked at the most recent half dozen and checked the references and all the JSTOR articles, though dated, were accessible even from my non-subscription home desktop. I'm definitely subscribing (O love general interest publications like this). So maybe my prejudices can be overcome.

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