Publishing the 23andMe Way

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:38

Joseph Esposito, The Scholarly Kitchen, Sept 29, 2017

Read both parts of this article (part one, part two). The key bits are in part two, but you need part one to set up the context. The first part describes how 23andmMe has set up it's data collection website (badly, in the author's opinion: "They could have hired someone from Netflix or Facebook, but apparently the head of end-user experience comes from Verizon or United Airlines." Burn! The second part contains the zingers. It describes 23andme's long term plan as a publisher selling access to a database.

This, he argues, is quite reasonable, since they are producing the value (he does note the contradiction with other academic publishing, where the researchers who produce the value receive no part of the value). He then notes that this model is different from acdemic publishing, because price is based on that value, unlike journal articles. "Libraries, in other words, have been exploiting publishers economically for years. It’s good to have 23andme come along and stick up for the economic rights of the purveyors of content." Wow. Brazen. (Note: Beverly Hillbillies photo was uncredited on the original Scholarly Kitchen article).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Pedagogic Architecture of MOOC: A Research Project on Educational Courses in Spanish

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 17:55

Elia Fernández-Díaz, Carlos Rodríguez-Hoyos, Adelina Calvo Salvador, International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, Sept 28, 2017

The latest issue of IRRODL has this item studying "the pedagogic architecture of MOOC on pedagogic/educational subjects in Spanish over one academic year" (ie., last year). The study includes courses from Coursera, Miriadax, EdX, Eco and Educalab. The results aren't surprising (or, as I suppose I should say, the results provide some data consistent with my prior intuitions). "All of them (the courses) used traditional methodological strategies (100%), followed by applied strategies (61.10%) and lastly dialogic strategies (55.56%)... videos are present in all of the cases (100% of the courses), the next most used educational resource are forums (82.38%) followed by teaching guides and background reading (both 69.45%)." The courses were, in other words, almost completely traditional content-based courses. The best part of the article is the discussion on the varying use of forums in the different courses, including in social media.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Young people oppose Fitbits in schools

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 15:09

Charlotte Kerner, Mikael Quennerstedt, Victoria Goodyear, The Conversation, Sept 28, 2017

The generalization in the title is based on published research surveying 100 pupils aged 13 to 14 from two UK schools, which is to say, not reliable. I was able to access some of the original work at NRC, though I imagine it is paywalled elsewhere. Here's another paper from the same work (with none of the references to Foucault etc. cited in the other paper). I question not only the unrepresentative sample but the study itself. "Each pupil was asked to respond to a statement in turn that was presented to them by the interviewer. For example, statements introduced were ‘I would recommend using the Fitbit to other people my age because … ’ and ‘as a result of wearing the Fitbit I learnt … ’." There's no indication that the study was sponsored by FitBit (the authors credit Richard Benjamin Trust, whose website is several years out-of-date). Personally, I think there's a big difference between  being required to wear devices, and then being surveiled, as these studenmts were, and choosing to wear the device on one's own, keeping the data private. I think there's really interesting work to be done on the relation between education and surveillance. But this isn't the way to do it. 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Empowering Young Minds Everywhere: Five Teams Advance to Final Round of $15 Million Global Learning Xprize

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 14:27

Press Release, Global Learning Xprize, Sept 28, 2017

So here is what Silicon Valley finders are spending their money on in a bid to disrupt education. "The Global Learning Xprize will help prove that with the right resources, children can teach themselves to read, write and do arithmetic." Here are the finalists:

  • CCI (New York) is developing a platform to enable non-coders to develop sequential instructional programs
  • Chimple (Bangalore) is developing instructional games and stories for literacy and numeracy
  • KitKit School (Berkeley) is developing a learning program with a game-based core
  • oneBillion (London) is developing learning activities with continuous monitoring
  • RoboTutor (Pittsburgh) is using some Carnegie Mellon reserach for an unspecified product

Each team is getting a $1 million startup grant. The winning team (ie., "the team whose solution enables the greatest proficiency gains in reading, writing and arithmetic") will get a $10 million Grand Prize. It's hard to be impressed with any of these proposals. I don't know why the organizers thing that short-term success with a test group will scale globally.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

How Big is the LMS Market?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 14:06

Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, Sept 28, 2017

The answer is, of course, pretty big. But Joshua Kim points to some apparent discrepencies in the research.  He writes, "Instructure (Canvas) has about a 20 percent market share. In 2016, Instructure’s revenues were about $111 million." That gives us a total market of about %550 million. "What explains the discrepancy of this LMS market size estimate (between $555 and $832 million), and those from the market research companies and the press of between $3.2 and $5.2 billion?" Two things. First, Instructure's 20% market share is for the U.S. only. Instructure has a much lower share outside the U.S. And second, it's for higher education only. There's a much larger LMS market in corporate learning, which Instructure has barely touched. Is it possible that the U.S. higher education sector is only about 15% of the global market? Well, yeah. The numbers Kim points to as inconsistent are actually pretty consistent. Having said that, the real questuon mark isn't current size. It's growth.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why Beall’s blacklist of predatory journals died

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 12:17

Paul Basken, University World News, Sept 28, 2017

Interesting article exploring the reasons why Beall's List of predatory journals was shut down. The answer, in a nutshell: publishers began complaining to the University of Colorado at Denver, where beall works as a tenured professor, and the university, which had originally defended Beall, change tack and launched an investigation into academic misconduct. Beall, meanwhile, works in "a small cubicle similar to a student’s study carrel." Nice. The list, meanwhile, has resurfaced in Europe at a new site

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Bangladeshi ‘floating schools’ reinvent education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 11:23

Sept 28, 2017

Duribg the Monsoons in Balgladesk a third of the country is flooded, making school attendance impossible. Flipping virtual learning on its head, a fleet of solar-powered floating schools has been launched to address the need. "Each morning, the elementary schools travel to different communities, picking up children along the way. The boats then docks and teach up to 30 children at a time. The boat schools also train adult villagers on children’s and women’s rights, nutrition, hygiene and other practical issues." This is the prmise of From Virtual to Reality. "While some first world countries have brought virtual reality into classrooms to study subjects like science, art and history, other schools are taking their classrooms into the forests or other natural settings."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Anatomy of a Moral Panic

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 15:49

Maciej Cegłowski, Idle Words, Sept 27, 2017

Those of us in education have experience no end to the moral panics about this and that over the years. This article is an extended take on moral panics in the media over sales of charcol, suphur and saltpeter on the internet. These, of course, are the ingredients to make black powder, a favourite of hobbyists worldwide. It reminded me of my own efforts to make rockets when I was a kid. These were not successful; the most notable result was an inch-deep hole gouged in the neighbour's porch (which truly was impressive). But of course, the panic is not just about black powder, it's about cryptography and algorithms and technology in general. "The real story in this mess is not the threat that algorithms pose to Amazon shoppers, but the threat that algorithms pose to journalism.... Moral panics like this one are not just harmful to musket owners and model rocket builders. They distract and discredit journalists, making it harder to perform the essential function of serving as a check on the powerful." Right. Via Doug Belshaw.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

4 Ways We Can Fund Personalized Learning to Create More Equitable Schools

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 15:02

Ace Parsi, Bryant Best, Getting Smart, Sept 27, 2017

The four methods are listed about half way through the post, and seem reasonable to me:

  • close group-based opportunity gaps and support best practices in teaching traditionally disadvantaged populations
  • acess to learning opportunities such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB)...  through strategies such as universal design for learning
  • targeted and supplemental investments can include support around professional development
  • create equity-based professional-development opportunities for district and school leaders.

The idea here, as I see it, is to fund personalization in such a way as to target those most in need, and to have that funding follow that need through direct investment in learning support, as well as investment in those providing that support. This is quite a contrast from what we usually see in personalized learning, where efforts go to fund initiatives directed at thoe who already have significant advantages.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 16:29

Michael Geist, Sept 26, 2017

To understand why Bell is calling for ISPs to block infringing sites without any sort of judicial review (and to criminalize commercial copyright infringement) we need to understand that the telecom company is also a content publisher, Bell Media, owning dozens of television stations, radio stations and websites. As Michael Geist argues, "the company’s position as a common carrier representing the concerns of ISPs and their subscribers is long over." This is why carriers and content providers should be separate companies. The carrier should not be responsible for enforcing censorship, especially when the carrier has its own content it is trying to sell. These proposals are about eliminating competition, in my view, and have nothinbg to do with protecting content creators or fostering innovation.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Media Has A Probability Problem

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 14:24

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, Sept 26, 2017

This is an excellent article, and while Nate Silver talks about presidential elections, the article really has nothing to do with them. And, interestingly, it begins with hurricane forecasting. The article is an extended discussion of probability that should be required reading for any educator or journalist. The presentations of alternatives as simple on-off or right-wrong decisions is a misrepresentation of a complex world. "properly measuring the uncertainty is at least as important a part of the forecast as plotting the single most likely course." And "most experts — including most journalists — make overconfident forecasts." Things to remember when reading my work, or anyone's.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

ABC – Taking African scholarly books to the world

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 13:50

Justin Cox, University World News, Sept 26, 2017

After the collapse of its traditonal business in 2007, African Book Collective (ABC) bounced back as a virtual bookseller. "Rather than restricting access it placed the books in as many channels as it could find. In print the books were published in paperback so prices remained competitive... Discoverability drives sales and access can drive sales of printed books; one channel has not consumed another and the market for African published scholarship is healthy." This is having a beeficial effect generally. "Research output in Africa is on the increase.... By working together to bring down the barriers of access to scholarly books in Africa they can fill an important gap in the market and increase their own options."

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