Miscellaneous

Journal of Online Learning Research

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 03/07/2015 - 09:00


Mar 07, 2015

The Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)  has published the  premiere issue of an open journal called the Journal of Online Learning Research (JOLR), "a peer-reviewed, international journal devoted to the theoretical, empirical, and pragmatic understanding of technologies and their impact on primary and secondary pedagogy and policy in primary and secondary (K-12) online and blended environments." The firsst issue has six articles and  features "the work of some of the individuals who inspired the journal’ s idea in 2010," including the "call to action" from Cathy Cavanaugh, Christopher Sessums, and Wendy Drexler. It also includes an article on  MOOCs and another on mentors.

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The troubling psychology behind how we decide who’s a scientific “expert” — and who isn’t

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 03/07/2015 - 06:00
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Chris Mooney, Washington Post, Mar 07, 2015

The trouble with experts, according to this article, is that they're unreliable (and our choice of who counts as an expert is unreliable as well). So we should let the wisdom of crowds prevail. Real scientific knowledge is emergent knowledge. "We should trust the scientific community as a whole but not necessarily any individual scientist. Individual scientists will have many biases, to be sure. But the community of scientists contains many voices, many different agendas, many different skill sets. The more diverse, the better."

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If You Love Something, Set It Free

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 08:00
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Tim Sweeney, Unreal, Mar 06, 2015

The 'Unreal Engine' is a gaming system that has been available by subscription for some time, but as the headline suggests, it has now been made available for free. "You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter.... This is the complete technology we use at Epic when building our own games. It scales from indie projects to high-end blockbusters; it supports all the major platforms; and it includes 100% of the C++ source code." Cool business model - it becomes commercial only if you're commercial.

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The Book of Life

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 10:00
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Various authors, Mar 05, 2015

Another find from Doug Belshaw is this absolutely fascinating Book of Life. It's organized into Capitalism, Work, Relationships, and Self, each one with a number of subtopics. I did not have nearly enough time to read it all, but I sampled quite a number of the topics (especially 'Capitalism') to get a sense that this is worth reading, even if you don't agree with everything it it. And I really like the approach: "The Book of Life is being written by many people over a long time; it keeps changing and evolving. It is filled with images and films as well as texts. By floating online, it can grow a bit every day or so, as new things come along and it can be equally accessible all around the world, at any time, for free."

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What Necessary Adult Skills Were You Never Taught Growing Up?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 10:00


Eric Ravenscraft, LifeHacker, Mar 05, 2015

Doug Belshaw flags this article in LifeHacker asking people to comment on the life skills they never learned growing up. As one commenter says, "I just realized, this entire article boils down to 'give Lifehacker ideas for future articles'." But hey, why not? In any case, the comments section is filled with ideas for good life lessons. Here's a sampling:

  • basic hygiene habits like flossing/brushing teeth, taking showers, shaving, cosmetics, and hairstyling.
  • education on how to have constructive relationships
  • basic finance. My parents handled everything and didn't teach me about budgeting at all
  • how to exercise or be physically fit
  • emotional intelligence. Being able to communicate exactly how I feel instead of sticking my head in the sand
  • knowing a little bit about car repairs and maintenance
  • how to wear makeup
  • how to handle repeated failure. How to be content with doing "alright", not "outstanding" in life
  • how to cook

Sensing a theme?

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The Voodoo That MOOCs Do

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 10:00
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Ryan Craig, Inside Higher Ed, Mar 05, 2015

When friends at the University of Alberta told me about their upcoming Dino 101 MOOC, I was enthusiastic. "It's going to draw a million people," I said. It went on to draw considerably fewer, still a success, but nothing like what it could have been. What happened? The course that was produced was formal, stuffy and academic - designed, almost, to repel interest in dinosaurs, not cultivate it. And that is the sort of mistake institutions in general have been making with MOOCs, writes Ryan Craig in this article. They're targeting them to older professionals, when they should instead be targeting them to a younger audience. "While no institution needs to hurry up to produce MOOCs with DisneyCollectorBR or even Justin Bieber, universities should view MOOCs as an important channel for reaching prospective students around the world, and target content accordingly."

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Silicon Valley likes to promise ‘digital socialism’ – but it is selling a fairytale

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 19:00
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Evgeny Morozov, The Guardian, Mar 04, 2015

One of the things I've learned over the years is to resist letting positions I hold be defined by their opponents. One of those positions happens to be socialism, and while it is true it has evolved over the years, it nonetheless resembles nothing like what is discussed by Evgeny Morozov in this column for the Guardian, or by Kevin Kelly in the  2009 article Morozov is responding to. Morozov warns that Silicon Valley's promise to bridge "the gap in consumption inequality" will ring hollow: "we might be forced to sell our cars and default on our mortgages, but we would never lose access to Spotify and Google." Perhaps when Morozov is discussing socialism he should look up the phrase "means of production". Inequality is the symptom of wider structural issues in society, a natural consequence of a system based on hoarding, and something socialists seek to redress, but socialism is (despite years of caricature in the American press) about making everybody the same. I would add that even the image attached to the article perpetuates the same misinformation - Obama isn't in any way socialist, and should not be represented as such.

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Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 16:00
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Dylan Collins, tech.eu, Mar 02, 2015

So this sounds so unlike Europe, but maybe I'm just naive: "There is a new generation of kids startups focused on platform, tools and adtech fuelled by a broader structural shift in the sector. Occasionally referred to as ‘ kidtech’ , they are tackling opportunities in the kids market that are worth billions of dollars in the adult sector." The tenor of the argument is that the U.S. Children’ s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits behavioural online advertising, and that this is being adopted by Europe, creating a spending gap that is being addressed by, well, what? Advertgising? Kidtech? "Already kids brands are doubling and tripling their digital ad spend for 2015 and it seems highly likely that kids digital ad market will be a $2 billion space inside two years driven by the availability of kid-safe platforms..." It seems to me that if they're loaded with advertisements, they're not exactly kid safe. But like I say, maybe I'm naive.

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A Town Where a School Bus Is More Than a Bus

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 16:00
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Sam Chaltain, New York Times, Mar 02, 2015

Sam Chaltain is gaining traction for some ideas that will be familiar to readers of this newsletter (plus one about school buses that is new to me). From his newsletter: "What if... we started to design schools in ways that imagined young people moving more like a murmuration of Starlings than, say, a regiment of soldiers? What if, in order to reimagine schooling, we got specific about all the things we have always done that we will need to hold onto - and all the things we must let go of in order to make space for something new? And what if, instead of viewing a thing like a school bus as merely a vehicle for transporting children to and from school, we viewed it (as one community has done) as an essential link in the chain of our overall effort to support the needs of children?"

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Whoa wow wow!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 13:00
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swiked, Tumblr, Mar 02, 2015

So look at  this photo of a dress and answer one simple question: what colour is it?

If you are like me, you will say that the dress is blue (with black trim). But if you are like Andrea and the other half of the internet, you will say the dress is white, with gold trim. Why is this significant? Typically we think we mean the same thing with simple words like 'blue' and 'white'. But in fact, our prior experiences shape the meaning of every word, to the point where we literally see different things when we see the same image. This is why no single model can define a theory of education. Each of us sees the world differently, which means each of us needs unique educational support. More on the blue dress: Daily Beast, Wired, CBS News, Washington Post, National Post, Independent.

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NY Times Textbook Publishing, Inc.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 10:00


Greg Mankiw, Greg Mankiw's Blog, Mar 02, 2015

This is why economists, and especially Harvard economists, have such a poor reputation. Arguing against the New York Times, Greg Mankiw maintaines that high textbook prices are justified because, if prices are too high, a competitor (like, say, the New York Times) could enter the market and undercut prices. Well, of course, this is happening, with free and open content textbooks, because prices are too high. But what we are finding, as  Economic Logic observes, is that the textbook market is not an open market. It is "remarkably difficult for a new publisher to enter the market" and existing prices "really looks like (open or tacit) collusion among publishers." Even more to the point, though, is his presumption that textbooks must be published by a profit-driven publishing company. If, say, textbooks were deemed a public good, and  offered by the government at substantially lower cost, why would this not be the most viable option? Via Fred M Beshears, by email.

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Why Everyone Was Wrong About Net Neutrality

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 10:00
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Tim Wu, The New Yorker, Mar 02, 2015

I will admit that I was both surprised and pleased by the decision in the United States to support net neutrality, "preserving an open Internet by prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or slowing content that flows across their pipes." In this article Tim Wu - who coined the term 'net neutrality' in the first place - explains why we were wrong to expect the decision would go the other way. But I caution against celebrations too early, and not simply because the cable and telecom companies will start court cases to overturn the ruling. The FCC has merely decided to  regulate the internet, and these regulations, over time, could erode net neutrality, condemning it to a death by a thousand cuts.

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