Miscellaneous

The massive impact on economic growth of open data in government

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 06/28/2014 - 10:00
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Ross Dawson, Trends in the Living Networks, Jun 28, 2014

People sometimes say my push toward open learning is driven by ideology, and there is a bit of that. But it is driven by economics as well, as the value of open education to governments is in the hundreds of billions. And it's the leading edge of a wider benefit that is valued in the trillions. "The major figure from the report is that potential value from open data to the G20 nations is $2.6 trillion annually, or around 1.1% of GDP over the next 5 years. The major sectors where value accrues from open data policies are Education, Transport, Consumer Products, Electricity, Oil and Gas, Health Care, and Consumer Finance." I see this expense as a needless draining of resources from the public purse to private interests, a type of waste far greater in proportion and impact than inefficiency, and probably second only to corruption and war.

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The 10 Things You Should Include In Your Website

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 06/28/2014 - 10:00


Amit Agarwal, Digital Inspiration, Jun 28, 2014

Oh, I hate list-based  click-bait articles ('listicles') because they're just so much filler. But like a speckled trout I clicked on  this one to see if I was on the list of '25 of the Best RSS Feeds for Educators' (spoiler: I'm not) and from that followed a link to another listicle, this one on ten things you should include in your website. This is actually a pretty good list, will make your site mobile-friendlier, and I especially like the idea of a  humans.txt file.

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A Slew of Studies, Summarized

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 06/28/2014 - 10:00


Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, Jun 28, 2014

The general trend of these three studies reported on in this article is that the cost of higher education isn`t such a barrier to poor people as we thought. The undertone to all three is that they are based on hedges and misleading statistics. The studies show, respectively that: college is still worth it, student aid is harmful, and student debt is overstated. The first result, though, is based on the idea that opportunity cost is lower due to the bad economy. The second blames rising tuition on aid programs. The third is based on a small  biased sample of rich people. The sort of question I ask when I see this is: what's motivating these studies?

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Meet the (Real) Net Generation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 13:00
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Don Tapscott, YouTube, Jun 27, 2014

Don Tapscott rides again - the best part is in the first few minutes where he recites all the literature saying how bad the network generation is. Then he explains why they're not so bad after all.

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LRMI at the Cetis conference 2014

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:00


Phil Barker, Lorna Campbell, CETIS, Jun 27, 2014

“ What on Earth Could Justify Another Attempt at Educational Metadata?" That's the name of the first presentation in a set of presentations summarizing the involvement by CETIS in an initiative co-led Creative Commons and the Association of Educational Publishers, and funded by the Gates Foundation. This slide show is a partial history of metadata initiatives (it doesn't mention the Canadian East-West standards and the AICC specification)(see also What is schema.org? and my blog post on explaining the LRMI alignment object).

Another presentation from Phil Barker explains LRMI - "LRMI/schema.org metadata is deeply embedded in the web to the extent that it is right in the pointy brackets of the HTML code of web pages." There's also a presentation explaining an LRMI implementation by Google custom search. Then "Ben Ryan of Jorum discussed his work in implementing schema.org / LRMI in DSpace." Finally, Phil Barker gives " a short over view of some of the sites that we have found to be using LRMI because they show up in the Custom Search Engine results." Related: video on  using schema.org to describe open educational resources.

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Study of MOOCs Suggests Dropping the Label ‘Dropout’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 09:00
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Avi Wolfman-Arent, The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, Jun 26, 2014

I'm not a fan of research papers that produce taxonomies, but if you do produce a taxonomy, it should reflect causes, practices, or some such thing. If I were to categorize MOOC users, therefore, I'd characterize them by the impact they have on the system: uploaders, commenters, subscribers, viewers, and lurkers. Each of these can be quantified by site statistics. Meanhile, the best response to  this research report is the first comment in the Chronicle: "The fact that anyone ever considered a person who clicked on a link on the internet but failed to devote several weeks of their time to the "product" to be a "dropout" should be the news."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 00:00
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Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Jun 25, 2014

Not that we were first - I know we weren't - but we had been offering courses online for four years by the time "the first online class" (at, and according to, MIT) was offered. By 2001, actually, I had left Assiniboine, where we put the General Business Certificate courses online, and had been at the University of Alberta for two years, where we put a municipal government learning and resource portal online. So I can persoanlly attest that the 'history' told by the founders of these new education ventures are works of fiction. This talk by Audrey Watters, by contrast, is not. It's the sober alternative to the hype.

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We Can Code It

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:00
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Tasneem Raja, Mother Jones, Jun 25, 2014

Intelligent and literate article on computer literacy and learning to program. The focus is on encouraging girls and minorities to join the crowd, but the real strength of this article is in the first half where the author describes the sort of literacy enabled by learning to program. It leads off with Boston's adoptahydrant.org, and then lists off some examples of digital literacy: sorting, abstraction, iteration, parallel processing. And it shows the strength of this way of looking at the world: when faced with a problem, the digitally literate can devise a method that solves it, rather than being overwhelmed. And this is what creates advantages for kids who learn to code. "Computational thinking opens doors." Via Doug Belshaw.

Another bit of computational thinking not mentioned in the article is following the links (and, believe me, this is definitely a programming skill, at least for debugging). I followed the adoptahydrant.org link to find several interesting sites: one is Boston Built, which promotes code created in that city (an idea to pass along to my colleagues here in Moncton); another is Code for America, which (again following links) is a whole set of open source civic government applications created by civic volunteers, things like Textizen, a text-based civic participation platform, and many many more. Digging into Doug Belshaw's page I found EduSpam, which I may contribute to, Mozilla Thimble, Remix, and this special link.

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