Miscellaneous

Questions for the University of Guelph on its trademark of OpenEd

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00
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Brian Lamb, Abject, Jun 08, 2015

Why oh why would the University of Guelph feel the need to trademark the term 'OpenEd'? Why would any trademark office give it to them? This especially when the 'OpenEd' conferences have been held for years in various locations, last in Canada in 2009. Ironically, when I  spoke at it in 2004, this was exactly the sort of thing I warned about. And as Brian Lamb notes, that the University of Guelph doesn't even seem to know anything about the concept. "Looking at the University of Guelph’ s Open Learning and Educational Support website, I could find no mention of open educational resources, open textbooks, open pedagogies, open source, open access, open licensing, etc… So perhaps you were unaware of the existence of an “ open education” community, one that frequently uses “ open ed” as an abbreviation, or for functions such as URLs, or as a Twitter hashtag. Were you indeed unaware that “ open ed” was a thing? If so, when did you become aware of it?" Of course, since I  spoke in Guelph in 2005, some people there should be aware. See also Clint Lalonde, who gives a  detailed account of the dispute.

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Reflections on the Closure of Yahoo Pipes

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00
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Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, Jun 08, 2015

I haven't used  Yahoo Pipes in a long time, mostly because I can get  IFTTT to do much of the same thing more quickly, and I can do the rest with my own software. But as Tony Hirst writes, the shut-down of Yahoo Pipes signifies a change in the nature of the web. We're drifting one peck at a time from openness and interactivity to a number of large and locked-down domains accessible only via specialized APIs. He writes, "At the time as the data flows become more controlled, the only way to access them comes through code. Non-coders are disenfranchised and the lightweight, open protocols that non-coding programming tools can work most effectively with become harder to justify. When Pipes first appeared, it seemed as if the geeks were interested in building tools that increased opportunities to engage in programming the web, using the web. And now we have Facebook. Tap, tap, peck, peck, click, click, Like. Ooh shiny… Tap, tap, peck, peck… "

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Categories: Miscellaneous

A Personal API

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 12:00
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Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, Jun 08, 2015

This part of a wider conversation around the idea of "a domain of one's own", a concept Jim Groom has been talking about for a number of years now. An API of one's own extends the idea, embracing the concept of data connectivity along with that of a personal server. As he suggests, though, actually implementing the idea can get "a bit hairy" because you can no longer lock down the sort of data structures students want to use. Of course, from my perspective, this is a feature, not a bug.

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Tricky GCSE maths exam sees pupils take to Twitter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 12:00
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BBC News, Jun 08, 2015

I was interested enough in this problem that I Googled to see what  the question was, thought about it, and when I didn't solve it in ten seconds or so, looked up the answer. Would I have solved it? Yeah, eventually. But what this question tells me is the difference between learning some mathematics and thinking mathematically. If you've just memorized some formulae, you're going to be thrown off by the two parts of the question. But if your approach to probabilities is to automatically set up the (correct) formula, you can actually solve this in your head in a couple of seconds. Can you show that (6/n)*(5/n-1)=1/3 means (n^2)-n-90=0? Sure, easily.

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Towards the Post-Privacy Library?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:00
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Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jun 08, 2015

Suppose I read about having a baby or stealing uranium at my local library. I'm not going to be plagued with advertisements for diapers or probing questions from the security agency. But in the online library of the future, this all changes. People are very interested in what you're reading. Sometimes it's for the puerile purpose of selling you stuff, while in other cases it has to do with the much more adult concerns of state and security. Either way, the question of what you can do in a free society has been changed. And this has direct implications on learning. See more in American Libraries on digital futures.

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E-books: Histories, trajectories, futures

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 16:00


Michael M. Widdersheim, First Monday, Jun 07, 2015

"Commercial e-books are a product of history that resulted from concerted efforts by the publishing industry to control products and customers," writes Michael M. Widdersheim. "The book publishing industry sought to find a way to reduce production and shipping costs, avoid overproduction, reduce storage costs, increase revenue, maintain scarcity, and lower risk." And they have been largely successful, prevented from monopolizing the industry only by e-book vendors, such as Amazon. But they still have their niche: "E-books will likely continue to intersect with the education industry, whose interest in the student surveillance economy calls for control and prediction — exactly what that the data-capturing potential of e-books offers."

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How to Fix a Racist Frat

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 10:00
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Kate Dries, Jezebel, Jun 07, 2015

This story (a must read!) is about racist American fraternities, but its themes are limited to neither racism nor the United States. "Racism among Southern Greek organizations— or in Greek organizations across America, or American organizations in general— comes down to people; people who want power, people who want their lives to stay the same, people who let a group mentality corrupt their lives. To get anything to change, you’ d have to get thousands of college kids to band together and demand it— college kids who, by nature of their designation, are only inclined to care about their community in a whole-hearted way for a brief period of time. 'It’ s all tribal, it’ s all pageantry. It’ s people trying to freeze-dry cultural aspects of their life,' Greg told me. It’ s working." I've  written about this before, at length. But schools and educators love their groups.

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Large-Scale, Government- Supported Educational Tablet Initiatives

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 07:00
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Rana M. Tamim, Eugene Borokhovski, David Pickup, Robert M. Bernard, Commonwealth of Learning, Jun 07, 2015

This report is "a systematic review of current government-supported tablet initiatives around the world was conducted to understand their origins, underlying principles, financial and organisational models, and expected outcomes." The bulk of the report is a country-by-country survey of tablet initiatives. Comparisons were drawn regarding motivating factors, cost and finances, and educational impact. The results so far, write the authors, are encouraging but not conclusive. "The majority of the initiatives were launched in a hasty and uncalculated manner, similar to the uncritical enthusiasm that surrounded the One Laptop per Child initiatives." This has impacted the literature available for review and the quality of the data from which to draw conclusions.

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(E-)learning strategy for the future

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 07:00
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Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, Jun 07, 2015

It shows that even the best can learn. Teemu Leinonen writes, by email, "In Finland we are in a middle of redesigning the national educational system. It is happening in all levels, from schools to Universities. I am somehow involved in this and  wrote some ideas about it in my blog. Some international media has wrote about the school reform emphasizing "phenomenon learning", instead of tradition academic school subjects. Here: The Independent, EdWeek, The Conversation." I love the 'three points' for learning (do not select just one way of learning, do it all online, get rid of stupid things). Leionen comments, "The hardest part is to get rid of the old: the long tradition of teaching and learning from the times when information was a scarcity and finding a place for everyone in an industrial society was one of the main reason to have an educational system."

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