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The Gates Foundation has announced (22 page PDF) the positions it will advocate (and presumably fund) for 2016. It's focused on the U.S. college and university system and stresses the development of networks supporting personal paths for students. There are three major areas of focus:
None of these priorities is misplaced per se but the program seems very focused on US-based students and educational institutions, and seems to focus on working within the traditional institutional structure. Though I guess one could ask, what else would they do? Via EdSurge.
The headline is probably not news to the people reading this article. But to people in the movie theatres watching the Cineplex advertising that they can "own this movie" with a superticket, many of the limitations may come as a surprise. The fact is we are being misled with the purchase of just about everything today - limitations on digital copying, restrictions on repairing our cars or our lawn mowers, constraints on resale or exchange, no rights of satire and fair use - none of these would be acceptable at the prices we pay, and yet all of them constitute deliberately hidden limitations on our purchase rights. If I, an ordinary citizen, tried to do this, it would be fraud. But in the digital marketplace it's business as usual. Do people care? No. "Before anything like that can happen millions of users will have to, at a bare minimum, acknowledge that huge swaths of their lives are legally controlled by contracts they have never even read."[Link] [Comment]
Audrey Watters gasps, "Can you believe no one has ever thought about adding 'social' to online education until now?!" It boggles the mind, to be sure. But Carolyn Rosé 's project is a bit more interesting than that. The EdSurge article discussing Bazaar misrepresents the real story. Of course, everyone would like to see more social interaction in online learning and people have been working on this for decades. What's unique here is that students can "enter an online chat group where they discuss and apply what they learned [and a] computer agent— a chatbot— prompts them to discuss amongst each other." The chatbot is the focus of the Bazaar project mentioned in the article. Here's the GitHub. It's related to their wider DANCE project - Discussion Affordances for Natural Collaborative Exchange, which is an effort to promote similar interactivity inside EdX.[Link] [Comment]
According to this article, the Open University of Brazil (UAB) "has just announced its open educational resources repository — eduCAPES, during the 9th meeting of UAB Coordinators in Brasí lia. The repository is part of a series of activities aimed at promoting OER within the UAB System."[Link] [Comment]
What I want to flag here is the use of the term "professional learning community" by Microsoft. According to this article, " Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide the support educators need to continue to grow new teaching skills with their peers. Groups of educators can work and learn together to improve student achievement through book study, action research, or learning a new best practice through PLCs." The term has been around for a while. Here's a 2004 article describing PLCs: "People use this term to describe every imaginable combination of individuals with an interest in education." In 2009 Edutopia wrote about how to create a PLC. The province of Ontatio used it as a model in 2007. This article from 2005 credits Coral Mitchell and Larry Sackney with a definition of the term. Reference go back to 1997 and earlier.[Link] [Comment]
Google has rebranded and relaunched a number of services for enterprises, including education, under the heading of Google Cloud. "Google Cloud spans every layer of the business, including all of Google Cloud Platform; our user facing collaboration and productivity applications — now named G Suite; all of our machine learning tools and APIs, the enterprise maps APIs; and the Android phones, tablets and Chromebooks that access the cloud." G Suite mnight be a tough sell. "We believe that when organizations break down silos, connect people and empower them to work together, we get the speed, agility and impact needed to compete in today’ s market... With G Suite, information can flow freely between devices, apps, people and teams." My experience has been that enterprise wants tgo lock down its information, not let it flow freely. I would like that to change, of course, but as I say: tough sell.
This is probably the last result to come from 'The Official Google Blog'. Google has a new blog, called The Keyword, which unites all other blogs. There is an RSS feed but you have to search for it, since they're not using RSS autodiscover. You'll find a four-paragraph article on 'helping prospective students make decisions about their future' in today's issue. Four pathetic paragraphs. :([Link] [Comment]
This article is much better in its articulation of the criticisms of private schools than it is in offering a resolution. Former Chilean presidential candidate André s Velasco explores three areas of criticism (quoted):
These are all good points and I would contend that the private sector has not addressed any of them adequtely. But Velasco suggests "it makes sense to consider how to combine the virtues of both systems, instead of simply choosing between them." He cites a recent paper that argues "for-profits appear to be at their best with well-defined programs of short duration that prepare students for a specific occupation." How does this address these three points? We don't know.[Link] [Comment]
I want to cut this out and put it on the wall around here: "There is a recurring cultural fantasy that 'solving' the education 'problem' consists of creating a customized playlist of little content bits... Nobody who has taught believes that proper sequencing of content chunks is the hard part." Oh, but that's all so many people want to do. That's how 'learning analytics will solve education!' Argh! People (as Michael Feldstein vividly demonstrates (with examples)) should stop listening to ed tech vendor marketing when thinking about how to design and use educational technology.[Link] [Comment]
How 'ready' are people to take online learning courses (especially those that, like MOOCs, require a fair degree of readiness)? According to this Pew report, which looks at Americans only, the degree of readiness varies across society. This really should be no surprise. The statistics range from 17% for 'fully prepared' (from higher income households and with more education) through to 33% who are 'reluctant' (tend to be men 50 and over with lower educational backgrounds and lower incomes) through to 14% who are 'unprepared' (who tend to be women and over with lower educational backgrounds and incomes). I would imagine you could find similar patterns in other countries, which skews toward more-or-less prepared depending on income. The interesting find would be the outliers - countries like Ecuador and Uruguay, maybe. But Pew doesn't look at that.[Link] [Comment]
From Open Culture: "Let’ s give you the quick overview: The list lets you download audio & video lectures from schools like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford and Harvard. Generally, the courses can be accessed via YouTube, iTunes or university web sites, and you can listen to the lectures anytime, anywhere, on your computer or smart phone." Free an d open online learning is coming of age.[Link] [Comment]
Inge de Waard has been working on this just about as long as I have known her. So it's nice to she she has shut down her word processor and shipped some product. "This research investigates the informal learning journeys of 56 experienced adult online learners engaging in individual and/or social self-directed learning using any device to follow a FutureLearn course." You can read it here.[Link] [Comment]
Audrey Watters is "perplexed by the recent call to create a new discipline for education technology" but I think she has it right when she suggests that the point of the initiative is "to determine the intellectual contours and to shore up the departmental boundaries – to decree an orthodoxy – for education technology?" And, as she suggests, "this feels like yet another rebranding, rehistoricizing of ed-tech by elite American universities."[Link] [Comment]
A driverless boat (pilotless boat?) created by students from Kent School in Maryland was recovered in Wales. They launched The Osprey with a time capsule onboard off the New Jersey coast on 13 June and tracked it across the ocean. Projects like this are always great educational experiences. "Our excitement was at fever pitch. We're going to wait for our head teacher to make contact with the school in the US and then hopefully do a live weblink with them and open it up." With luck the boat can also be used to instruct the BBC on gender-neutral language.[Link] [Comment]
As described here September 1, Elsevier won a patent for an online peer review system, something the open source Online Journal Systems has been doing for decades. This post continues the discussion from Miichael Feldstein, noted for his coverage of the Blackboard patent case. He called on "educational institutions to gather together and sign a pledge that they would not procure products from companies that assert education-related software patents," but in the face of utter indifference this seems unlikely to happen. So now he's calling on software companies to respond. "The right thing for vendors to do here is to create what’ s known as a patent pool. Any patent owner who contributes to the pool pledges to only use that patent for defensive counter-suits."[Link] [Comment]
As I prepared my slides for today's short talk (we're doing a round of autobiographies in our group - a good idea) I thought a lot about where I stand vis-à -vis the rest of society. Not as 'respectable'. Not as "entitled to... education, social standing, pay and political power." I had to take each one of these, to wrest them from people of more deserving background. I had a lot of setbacks, a lot of battles. And you can never actually escape your origins, because to escape you must accept the values and assumptions of the ruling class, the core of which is that people from your class don't belong in the boardroom or with polite company. I would never do that. As this author writes, rising with your class is the only thing that makes sense.[Link] [Comment]
I spend more time over the weekend playing No Man's Sky, doing so apparently in defiance of the hate being expressed by so many critics and gamers. But look at the panels (like the one pictured; can you believe this?) - they come from one demographic, one point of view, and expect one set of things from a game. They want a storyline, an opponent, an outcome. Maybe there will be one one day but that's not what No Man's Sky is promising. What I like is that you can do things like walk completely around the planet. It takes weeks. As Tim Bray says, "this game is a huge plat form with lots of room to drop in new con tent and game-play and sur pris es." Yes, in many ways it's not a finished product. I'm actually OK with that. Because I hate the games that are defined by an storyline, an opponent, and an outcome. My world (of gaming, and of learning) is much bigger than that.[Link] [Comment]
This is a very brisk autobiography from my early childhood through to today.Internal Presentation, Ottawa (Keynote) Sept 27, 2016 [Comment]
I wonder whether this is true: "thinking thrives on silence or on dialogue with other human voices, when electronic noise has faded." This is being used as justification for banning electronic devices from the classroom. But I have questions. When I'm doing mental work, I always have some background noise - music, CBC, Ed Radio, a baseball game, whatever. My head is full of distracting noises; silence makes my mind wander. I remember the classroom lecture before computers - every agonizing scrape of a chair, squeak of a door, cough, whisper. It was all I could do to keep from daydreaming and falling asleep. By contrast, some of my best thinking places are noisy environments - pubs, markets, busy streets. So I think it's a fallacy that thinking thrives on silence, and certainly don't support banning electronic devices based on an unproven, and probably false, hypothesis.[Link] [Comment]
Shomi foundered on the same shoal that afflicted Netflix - the demands for unsustainable revenues from content producers. There's no incentive for providers to offer Shomi a good rate when they'll ultimately roll out their own service and try to grab all the profits. Meanwhile, Netflix has responded by gutting its offering and producing many of its own shows. The market for streaming video accounts is limited, though, and people won't pay for all of them. Meanwhile, it's a bit ironic for me to be reading "the last jigsaw piece for streaming video to gain widespread acceptance will be live sports" while watching my Blue Jays game on MLB.tv (as I have for several years now). The content providers will never see their pot of gold. The same thing that happened to print media and music is happening to video and is happening to education. 'Live' is just a format now; you don't have to be there, and it doesn't have to be expensive.[Link] [Comment]
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