Miscellaneous

EDEN 2016: Re-imagining Learning Environments

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/30/2016 - 12:00


Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Jun 30, 2016

Tony Bates summarizes the recent EDEN conference, writing "I was surprised at how much importance European institutions are still giving to MOOCs. There were by far more papers on MOOCs than on credit-based online learning or even blended learning. Even the Oxford debate this year was on the following motion: We Should Focus in the Short Term More on MOOCs than on OER." The resolution, Bates writes, as to his relief soundly defeated. But I would have won that debate, in my humble opinion, by talking about the critical role OERs play in MOOCs (our MOOCs) and the role MOOCs play to stimulate the use, production and reuse of OERs.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Inspiring Students: Bringing Awe Back to Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/30/2016 - 12:00


Eric Sheninger, A Principal's Reflections, Jun 30, 2016

In his monumental work  The Idea of the Holy Rudolf Otto wrote of the 'numinous' as mysterious, (mysterium) terrifying (tremendum) and fascinating (fascinans). This post seems to want to do the same thing for education. The key of the tremendous and fascinating is that it holds us in awe. "Awe is a driving force for learning that will not just benefit our students now, but also well into their future. However, traditional views and functions of school deprive many students from experiencing the joy and power of awe as a catalyst for meaningful learning." I am not troubled by a sense of awe - I get it every time I stare into the night sky or look at a butterfly, which is often - but I'm not sure it should be an objective of learning.

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Things to Know (and Potential Dangers) with Third-Party Scripts

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 06/30/2016 - 12:00


Yaphi Berhanu, CSS-Tricks, Jun 30, 2016

One of the major reasons I use AdBlocker is that it blocks many third party scripts. These are bits of code web page owners place on their pages to display the advertisement - and to do a lot more. I don't really care about the ad. It's the rest that concerns me. For example, as this post notes, "eavesdroppers can track things like your email, username, full name, home address, purchases, location, history, IP address, and preferences." Additionally, "Third-party scripts frequently cause pages to load slower. For example, Business Insider's actual site loads in about 1 second, while third-party scripts account for the majority of the 7 to 15 seconds of load time." This includes scripts that impact the performance of the page even after it has been loaded; for example, some scripts slow down page scrolls. That's why I'm back on Firefox (Chrome was having difficulties loading AdBock Plus). That's why I'll keep the adblocking software running.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Open Educational Resources: American Ideals, Global Questions

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 14:00


Steven Weiland, Global Education Review, Jun 29, 2016

This article talks about "the American led movement on behalf of the MOOC" though what it really should say is something like "the MOOC movement as seen through American eyes". It depicts MOOCs and Open Educational Resources through a puzzling history beginning "the many kinds of free instructional resources in MIT’ s OpenCourseWare project (and) culminating (for now) in the MOOC." There is no question of an American role and influence in these movements, but I think the article would have done better to contrast this role with the concurrent and sometimes leading roles played by people outside the U.S. Either way, though, the article's central premise holds - that what started as a benign movement supporting personal and international development can be seen as having been co-opted to support national and international ambitions. "For critics like Robert Rhoads and his UCLA colleagues the OER movement is primarily an expression of economic 'neoliberalism' and, as presently organized (in the U.S. at least), has little chance of fulfilling its lofty claims for democratizing education across the globe." It's not just the critics who see this though. It's also many of the originators of open online learning - myself included - who see this. Image: Carolyn Fox.

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LittleSis database of biz/gov't connections

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 14:00


Jason Kottke, Jun 29, 2016

LittleSis  describes itself as "an involuntary facebook of the 1%." It is essentially a network graphic tool showing connections between the powerful and influential in (mostly Amercian) society. It " documents personal and business connections in the worlds of government and business. For instance, here's George Soros. And Dick Cheney." We really need an international version. The record for Canadian Prime Minister  Justin Trudeau is just a placeholder. So is the record for Vladimir Putin. The mnoted website 'They Rule' was created with the assistance of LittleSis.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Robots won’t replace teachers because they can’t inspire us

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 14:00


Eric Johnson, Recode, Jun 29, 2016

I know a lot of people will want this to be true but it's not. I've been inspired by various people over time: John Lennon. Doug Gilmour. Neil Young. Arsinio Hall. Jose Bautista. These are my role models. These are (among others) the people who inspire me. Not one of them is a teacher. Ergo, one does not need teachers in order to be inspired. I don't think that the field of education understands, in general, how much of what it does is also done by parents, role models, friends, professional associates, and more. If the core function - to teach - can be performed by a machine, then the ancillary functions - motivation, inspiration, socialization, etc. - can be performed by everyone else in society. And, indeed, should be performed by everyone else in society.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Import Blackboard Common Cartridge into WordPress

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 06/28/2016 - 14:00


Tom Woodward, Bionic Teaching, Jun 28, 2016

It's hacks like this that make the world great. What we have here is basically a PHP script that read a Blackboard-produced common cartridge (the URL is hard-coded and inaccessible to me; you will need to substitute your own), creates an array of resources from the manifest, gets the resources as necessary, and then saves them as WordPress posts. There's no guarantee that this script would work on any cartridge other than the one which was tested. The point is, if you create resources using open standards, people will find a way to use them creatively. Even if they come from Blackboard. Related: Importing Moodle  into WordPress.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Talking numbers about open publishing and online learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 06/28/2016 - 14:00


Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Jun 28, 2016

I think I've always known this, but Tony Bates, who has a foot placed firmly in each camp, has the data to support it: "open, online publishing will almost certainly reach more readers than a commercial publication or an academic journal." FWIW  this is probably the one and only time I'll ever be lumped in with  Justin Bieber and  Donald Trump. Good plug for the BC Campus Open Textbook Project.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Six centuries of secularism

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 06/28/2016 - 14:00


William Eamon, Aeon, Jun 28, 2016

Interesting thesis: "by elaborating mechanical processes and spelling out how things worked – in striking contrast to the well-documented secrecy of the guilds – writers began to transform the mechanical arts from personal know-how into scientific knowledge... The world of the crafts – like that of politics – lost its magic; it broke free of its yoke to the divine.... Because secularisation subverted the notion of cosmic and metaphysical order, the rise of how-to books sowed the seeds of a more open and tolerant view of humanity."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Brexit

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 16:00

I understand the feelings of the people who voted in favour of the Brexit. They are Europe's Americans. The situation of the UK and Europe is in many ways the inverse of Canada and the U.S. And I would not vote 'yes' to a union of Canada and the U.S.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Staying Human in the Machine Age: An Interview With Douglas Rushkoff

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 16:00


Andrew O'Keefe, Singularity Hub, Jun 27, 2016

This is one of the better lines I've read today (applies equally to the internet and to Brexit): "What those of us unversed in Marxist theory at the time didn’ t realize was if you get rid of government you create a very fertile soil for the unbridled growth of corporations." Rushkoff, of course, is talking about what happened to the world of the internet he talked about in Cyberia. "Cyberia lay the philosophical foundation for the internet as an opportunity for a new kind of liberation. Rushkoff argued that the web could generate a new renaissance by birthing a technological civilization grounded in ancient spiritual truths. But a different story emerged."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Remix culture and education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:00


Steve Wheeler, Learning with 'e's, Jun 27, 2016

This post defines 'remix culture' and what it means to education. It is a follow-up to an  earlier piece on digital literacies in remix culture. "Remixing is the act of taking previously created works or artefacts and adapting them in some way," writes Steve Wheeler. I woukld have used the word 'other' rather than 'previously created' because items found in nature can also be part of a remix. And as Wheeler says, even though some schools may see it as undesirable, "Remixing is a creative process. It takes imagination to adapt an existing piece of art or music into something new or apply it in a completely different context."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Next Play for LinkedIn - an ePortfolio in every classroom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:00


Kathryn Chang Barker, LinkedIn, Jun 27, 2016

I think you can view this article on LinkedIn without signing into LinkedIn - if not, please let me know. Kathryn Chang Barker writes, "LinkedIn can and should be in every secondary and university classroom in the world, but it needs to add one more tool – an ePortfolio." I have no doubts about the benefit of an ePortfolio - or, morewidely construed, a Personal Learning Record - but does it have to be on LinkedIn? That said, the appeal for Microsoft has to be undeniable. "Already Sony is working on an education and testing platform powered by blockchain. Already Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg have produced personalized learning systems with algorithms.  Already machine learning is managing our curriculum and careers.  This is a chance for LinkedIn and Microsoft to create an innovative space in the middle of these innovations."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

21st Century Credentials: Telling the Story of the Whole Student

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:00


Cali Morrison, WCET, Jun 27, 2016

One of the criticisms of traditional testing and credentials is that they represent only a narrow part of a person's learning. This post summarizes a discussion by Ryan Craig, managing partner of University Ventures, who made the following points (quoted):

  • We’ re beyond the ‘ take our word for it’ era – there is a loss of faith in the greater community about what higher education does.
  • Technology has changed the game – learning is ubiquitous and is pushing higher education toward unbundling the degree.

The result is an emerging picture of credentials that are at one more all-encompassing and more up-to-date. "It will take radical shifts in all of our systems – the alphabet soup of linked (or sometimes not) software that we use to track students fiscally, academically, and out into their time as alumni.È

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Making Sense of MOOCs: New UNESCO-COL guide now available

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:00


Mariana Patru, Venkataraman Balaji, Commonwealth of Learning, Jun 27, 2016

From the intro: "The Guide is designed to raise general awareness amongst policy makers in developing countries as to how Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) might address their concerns and priorities, particularly in terms of access to affordable quality higher education and preparation of secondary school leavers for academic as well as vocational education and training. With very few exceptions, many of the reports on MOOCs already published do not refer to the interest and experience of developing countries, although we are witnessing important initiatives in more and more countries around the world." Here's the direct link (102 page PDF).

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Coursera pilots a new course format

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:00


Coursera Blog, Jun 27, 2016

Coursera is launching a new format today. You will recognize it as "what we had before MOOCs". Here it is: "we will begin piloting a few courses in which all content is available only to learners who have purchased the course, either directly or by applying for and receiving financial aid." It may be time to rededicate myself toward creating a genuinely open-only course framework, based to a large degree on the work I did with gRSShopper. Of course, that will require funding....

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