Miscellaneous

The Occupy Movement Takes on Student Debt

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Vauhini Vara, The New Yorker, [Sept] 26, 2014

Try telling these students that nothing good emerged from the Occupy movement. One spin-off group from Occupy, Rolling Jubilee, purchases student debt owned from loans at Empire College, for about three cents on the dollar. The debt, totalling $4 million, was owed by 2,000 students. The group then announced that these debts had been cancelled. Not all students had their whole debt eliminated, but the initiative is to be applauded. Via Audrey Watters.

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Where Does the LMS Go From Here?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 26, 2014

According to this item, EDUCAUSE has laiunched a new Gates-funded initiative, to examine why institutions cling to old learning technology (aka the LMS) and what to do about it. The report notes "the importance of personalization, which ranked highly among students. More than two-thirds of students, or 69 percent, said they would be interested in a feature that support them in reaching their personal educational goals." Related: Matt Crosslin, The LMS is a Wild-West Conglomeration in a Box.

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Task Force on Flexible Education publishes its interim report

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Report, Simon Fraser University, [Sept] 26, 2014

I found this item after following an item noting that David Porter is  leaving his position as Executive Director of BC Campus, a position he has held since 2003. He is also involved with the  Task Force on Flexible Education at Simon Fraser University. That's the organization that released this  interim report (25 page MS Word document). The report identifies four areas of focus: strategy and vision; program designs and business models; learning models, delivery, and support systems; and learning experiences and learning spaces. Readers will find value in the detailed definition of 'flexible learning' in the report, as well as the description of the initial review process. Image: David Porter, from LinkedIn.

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Abstracts of Three Meta-Analysis Studies of Serious Games

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, [Sept] 26, 2014

The most interesting result of this survey of meta-studies of serious games: "Learners learned less from simulation games than comparison instructional methods when the instruction the comparison group received as a substitute for the game actively engaged them in the learning experience (so activity, not game elements seems to increase the learning)." Which accords with what we know about learning.

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Shrinking Numbers, Changing Values

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 26, 2014

In this [post it becomes clear that the values represented by university ranking initiatives count against universities reaching out to recruit the poor and disenfranchised. Which (in my view) was exactly the purpose of these rankings in the first place: not to measure the quality of universities, but to skew them toward the values espoused by the rankers. With publications like  U.S. News & World Report being behind the rankings, you can infer for yourself what those values are.

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A shift toward efficacy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 22:00


John Watson, Keeping Pace, [Sept] 25, 2014

Discussion of the Pearson report published in 2013 The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomes, which “ outlines Pearson’ s own efficacy programme and shares the company’ s strategy and initiatives in its first phase.” I think 'efficacy' is a nice non-threatening way of saying 'outcomes' (it's like they have writers or something). I am sympathetic with the desire for a meaningful evaluation of learning - there are good reasons. But this language troubles me: "all future projects would be evaluated based on the change that they would produce in the world. The organization explicitly defined change as a measurable outcome." It's the 'measurable' bit that is a concern: the  data may say something isn't useful in general, but humans don't generalize. It's the  specific case that matters. And if the person evaluating the outcome doesn't care about the specific case - well, this is exactly why I think education needs a "do no harm" provision.

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Solving the Textbook Cost Crisis Through OER

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 19:00
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Nicole Allen, Slideshare, [Sept] 25, 2014

Good slide deck from Nicole Allen, who has been representing SPARC recently. "The cost of college textbooks has grown to a point that virtually every campus is now seeking solutions. While many institutions have successfully reduced costs for students through stop-gap measures such as rental programs, lending libraries and licensing deals, the greatest potential for permanently solving the problem lies in Open Educational Resources (OER)." The argument is well substantiated with references and statistics (useful for using in your own presentations).

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HiringSolved

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 16:00
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Website, HiringSolved, [Sept] 25, 2014

OK, this came to me via an unsolicited email, so it might not be legit. And it costs money, so agaoin, it might not be legit. But let's pretend for a moment that it is. Now ask, how does this impact universities and colleges: "a global, all skill set aggregator that provided emails and phone numbers... that's accessible to individuals and enterprise alike. Find millions of candidate's work history, contact information and online (work-related) proof." If we have this, why again do we need degrees?

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Code of practice “essential” for learning analytics

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:00
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Niall Sclater, Learning Innovation, [Sept] 25, 2014

I can certainly understand the argument in favour of a code of practice for learning analytics. It would be needed to address questions of ownership, privacy, retention, and more. But I don't think that such a code would accomplish anything. Those who would behave ethically don't need a code, while those who don't behave ethically will either ignore the code or mine it for loopholes. (p.s. most institutions fall into the 'unethical' or 'just don't care' categories - see Hellman on libraries  giving away the privacy store and  privacy leakage on a catalogue web page). The solution, in my view, is technological. We need to return the property of individual students (specifically, their information) to the students. We shouldn't possess it at all.

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The MOOC Where Everybody Learned

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:00


Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, [Sept] 25, 2014

One of the nice things about MOOCs is that they have the potential to refute some long-held beliefs about education. Like this: "Without coaching and the support system of a traditional program, the thinking goes, ill-prepared students will not learn a thing. Not so, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology." Researchers  wrote in a paper in IRRODL that "“ There was no evidence that cohorts with low initial ability learned less than the other cohorts.” In other words, “ If they stuck it out,” says Mr. Pritchard, “ they learned.”

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How to Wear A Gutra

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:00
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Mona Al-Hajjaj, YouTube, [Sept] 25, 2014

I've been practising. Because I now own a gutra, and because you can learn anything online, informally. And  it's easy to find dozens of sources. My  igal is unfortunately a bit small, so I will be looking around for a new one that fits my large head.

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MOOCs -- Completion Is Not Important

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:00
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Matthew LeBar, Forbes, [Sept] 25, 2014

It's old news in a recent article, but I've had a few people mention this article to me over the last few days: "data suggest that most of the students taking these courses are not doing it for a degree:  a survey of 35,000 MOOC students found that 79 to 86 percent of students already have a college degree   (the percentages vary from country to country). Many of the students took MOOCs to help them in their current job or in getting a new one, while only 13% took it to work towards a degree."

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Canadian physicians get advice on how to handle ‘rate my doctor’ websites

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:00
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Sharon Kirkey, Canada.com, [Sept] 25, 2014

A persistent myth in the U.S. about the Canadian health care system is that, because it's socialized healh care, we get no choice of doctors or facilities. This is in fact false; even in small centres like Moncton we can (and have) changed doctors or specialists. That's why a service like 'Rate My Doctor' can even exist in Canada, much less be useful. It is similar in form and function to 'Rate My Professor' (yes, we halso have choice of professors in out mostly socialized higher education system). This post provides advice to doctors on how to maintain their internet reputation. Hint: care about patients, tell them the truth, provide quality care, and keep your word. And listen to the feedback: "Rather than turn a blind eye to these ratings, doctors should consider monitoring what is being said about them, and take measured steps to deal with these reviews."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

I’m Not in Love with the Word Empowerment

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 22:00


Bud Hunt, Bud the Teacher, [Sept] 24, 2014

I am generally in agreement with Bud Hunt's concern with the word 'empowerment' though I'm probably not going to stop using it. He says, "for me to empower you, especially when I hear the word used by others, I’ ve got to have something that you don’ t have, and I have to give it to you." In this sense, it is like 'giving freedom' or 'giving choice', as though these things wouldn't exist without your magnificence. But that isn't the sense in which I use the term - I think of 'empowerment' as supporting capacity. It's an act of helping rather than giving. But that requires first accepting that you had no legitimate power to give in the first place.

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The MOOC Misstep and the Open Education Infrastructure

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 22:00
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David Wiley, iterating toward openness, [Sept] 24, 2014

Useful and interesting article by David Wiley saying some of the things that needed to be said without pulling any punches: "The horrific corruption perpetrated by the Udacity, Coursera, and other copycat MOOCs is to pretend that the last forty years never happened. Their modus operandi has been to copy and paste the 1969 idea of open entry into online courses in 2014."

He then proposes that we be clear about defining a sense of 'open' that is "worth the name". This type of 'open' includes "free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:" retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute. As he writes, "These 5R permissions, together with a clear statement that they are provided for free and in perpetuity, are articulated in many of the Creative Commons licenses."

That's true. And I would include the CC by-NC-SA licenses I use. I think it's consistent with the 5Rs. But - and I think this is really important - the doctrine of fair use should also support these. All these 5Rs were things that I could do with print texts and vinyl LPs and radio broadcasts and the like when I was a kid. It's not that long ago. We shouldn't have to have a special license that allows us to to these things. Unless we're creating some sort of business out of it, we should already have these rights, out of the box.

It wasn't the file-sharers that produced piracy. It was the publishers. It was the expansion of laws governing commerce to include personal and private use. It was the redefinition of formerly legal acts into some new sort of crime.  These are the things that produced piracy. The creation of Creative Commons tacitly acknowledged that expansion of copyright limitations as a fait accompli. I don't accept it.

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Three Sample Branching Stories

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 22:00
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Clark Aldrich, Unschooling Rules, [Sept] 24, 2014

It's a bit like the state of gaming pre-PacMan, but I though it would be interesting to pass alone this link and set of examples from Clark Aldrich on creating branching stories. Maybe Jim Groom can take this and have his students deconstruct it into something interesting.

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Our open Geography textbook is alive!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 07:00
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Clint Lalonde, ClintLalonde.net, [Sept] 24, 2014

In many ways, British Columbia is leading the way in Canada in the support of open content and open learning. Here we have the launch of a Creative Commons licensed geography textbook. It is focused on British Columbia, not surprisingly, but people outside the province may also be interested in the details  describing how the text was put together.

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Digital Literacy Is the Key to the Future, But We Still Don’t Know What It Means

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 04:00
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Marcus Wohlsen, Wired, [Sept] 24, 2014

The best part of this article is the comment section, as the main text skips lightly through a fairly superficial understanding of digital literacy.

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