Miscellaneous

Want even more mind-blowing TED Talks? Let’s get more STEM teachers in the classroom. Starting with … you!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 00:00
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Baratunde Thurston, TED Blog, [Sept] 30, 2014

Sorry about the super-long title. It's typical of this post, which in turn is typical of the TED approach to education. Which is sad, and (as we see in this video) disappointingly patronizing. "Today,  Cultivated Wit launches a co-funded digital campaign to inspire math, science, tech and engineering (or STEM) undergraduates and recent grads to teach." Yes, teaching science and technology and the rest are important. But a video titled (so help me) "I blow minds" isn't going to convince graduates to teach these subjects. Offering them a competitive salary and professional standing will. But I'm still waiting for that TED video.

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Network Theorist Barry Wellman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 21:00
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Unattributed, Oll Awards, [Sept] 30, 2014

Worth noting as University of Toronto researcher  Barry Wellman receives a significant honour. "The top-cited Canadian sociologist, Wellman’ s current work continues to focus on the interplay between information and communication technologies, especially the Internet, social relations and social structure." Here's a sample of his writing, from Connecting Community: "In the old days, before the 1990s, places were largely connected -- by telephone, cars, planes and railroads. Now with the Internet (and mobile phones), people are connected." And the Glocal Village: "the Internet and other new communication technologies are helping people to personalize their own communities."

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A Guide to Evaluating Networks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 21:00
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Madeleine Taylor, Beth's Blog, [Sept] 30, 2014

From the original post it took three clicks to actually read the document, and that includes a form asking for my name and email for spamming purposes. But I'm interested in networks and I wanted to see what they had to say about evaluating networks. I could probably have stayed with the original post, although the case studies casebook is a substantial document. My main issue is that, although they are using the word network, what they are actually evaluating are consortia or collaborations. Why do I say this? Well, there's the presumption of a common objective, limited or closed membership, rules and processes - all the hallmarks of a single cohesive organization, and not a distributed entity such as a network. I'd point to their definition or account of what a network is, but they don't have one; all they have are very standard and very ordinary evaluation criteria that would be familiar to any hierarchical organization.

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How To Train Your Attention and Be Effective When Working Online

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 21:00
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Beth Kanter, Beth's Blog, [Sept] 30, 2014

OK, I have a cat that sits on my desk right in front of my keyboard, so I know about being distracted. But then again, I'm usually playing on Facebook or Twitter, so I guess it's a wash. But I'm not sure I need to go on an Information Diet, even if Clay Johnson recommends it. And I think that Daniel J. Levitin's distinction between task-negative and task-positive modes of consciousness is just so much made-up stuff. I haven't observed Linda Stone's 'email apnea' in myself (I have the regular kind of apnea, so I know what to look for). See, the presumption here is that the conversations we have online are interfering with the work we're supposed to be doing. But increasingly, these conversations are the work we're supposed to be doing. And if your work is taking you away from the network, maybe you should re-examine your work. It may be dysfunctional.

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Open Online Participant Invite for 2014-15

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:00


Various authors, Gleneagle Secondary‘s Philosophy 12 class, [Sept] 30, 2014

If you want to challenge the preconceptions of high school students (well, at least some of them) this is the place to do it. "For now the third year running, Gleneagle Secondary‘ s Philosophy 12 class is being conducted as an open-online course  that  you are invited to join as a non-credit learner in the community." This is also my third year dropping occasional comments into the course.

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Ed Tech Investment & Exit Report – 2014 On Track for New Funding Record

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 15:00
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Unattributed, CB Insights, [Sept] 29, 2014

Interesting set of statistics related to venturer capital investments in education technology. The first overall trend is that money is pouring into the sector at a record pace. Second, the list of must well-funded ed tech companies might surprise you - leading the way are companies like Open English, TutorGroup and lynda.com. "Open English is an online school created to reinvent the English-language-learning experience targeted towards Spanish and Portuguese speakers in the Americas... TutorGroup is a provider of live synchronous e-Learning services focused on teaching language to global business professionals."

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That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 03:00


Rebecca Schuman, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 28, 2014

Fun read in which Inside Higher Ed and Slate education writer Rebecca Schuman defends herself against  a long criticism authored by by Cornell writing lecturer Charles Green. "I think she crafts fundamentally anti-academic arguments, anti-academic in that they rely heavily on unsourced and unsupported generality clothed in hyperbole," he writes. She responds that she's writing magazine articles and that " a lot of “ public” writing by academics is self-censored, over-equivocated, bogged down in data analysis, and thus unreadably boring to a non-academic audience." I would add that it is often no better researched or sourced than many magazine articles either. I'll hand it to Green, though, for his game and valiant defense of his argument in the comments.

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Stephen Downes: ‘This is the next era of learning’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 12:00
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Stephen Downes, Online Educa Berlin, [Sept] 28, 2014

This is my pre-presentation article in the Online Educa Berlin newsletter (I will be keynoting there in December). It discusses the origin and major elements of our current "Learning and Performance Support Systems" program, which is launching pre-release beta invitations in October (we still have a lot of construction to do).

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The Creepiest New Corner Of Instagram: Role-Playing With Stolen Baby Photos

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 15:00
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Blake Miller, Fast Company, [Sept] 26, 2014

I'm, not so sure it's as creepy as Fast Company makes it out to be, because it's really nothing more than fantasy families, but it's noteworthy enough to mention here because of the obvious overlap that is possible with learning and technology. One wonders, for example, whether there are 'fantasy teachers' out there with wholly imaginary classrooms and fictional experiences. Just another day on the internet, I guess.

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16 reasons why this research will change how you look at news consumption

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00
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Paul Bradshaw, Onloine Journalism Blog, [Sept] 26, 2014

This is not a  listicle (list-based article) even though the headline suggests it is. The '16' in the title refers to 16 different ways of using news media, and the report compares them across different dimensions: engagement, amount remembered, and the like. So we get suggestions like: "Reading is about depth; listening is barely remembered." Which may be true, but I still love the audio podcasts, because it's not about memory (as an aside, I wish someone would one day analyze the relation between content and public service announcements in 1950s  radio dramas in the U.S. and the social revolution that followed; I think there are all sorts of ways to show that the influence of audio is pervasive even if it is not remembered).

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Professors on food stamps: The shocking true story of academia in 2014

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00
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Matt Saccaro, Salon, [Sept] 26, 2014

I don't know what's so shocking about this. Adjunct and sessional instructors have been abysmally underpaid since the days in the 1990s when I was caught up in that racket. Maybe the new thing is that they now qualify for food stamps; when I was doing it I simply had to manage with whatever food I could scrounge. I can say this: my experience as a sessional convinced me that a life teaching at a university was not for me. And note well: the only reason the system still exists is because, when it's challenged, professors close ranks and defend it to the end. That's why I do not turn to, or depend on, university professors or the institutions that hire them to achieve genuine educational reform that would open the doors of academia to the people who, ultimately, pay for it.

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A National Look at Student Data Privacy Legislation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Tanya Roscorla, Center for Digital Education, [Sept] 26, 2014

This underscores the importance of data privacy in education: in the United States, "state policymakers introduced 110 bills on student data privacy in 36 states this session, with 30 of them passing both houses and 24 being signed into law, according to an analysis by the Data Quality Campaign." In particular, according to Thomas Murray, an advocate for data privacy, institutions should "review third-party contracts carefully to identify how student data will be kept secure and what happens to student data when the contract ends," and "educate teachers so they understand how to keep sensitive data secure."

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The Occupy Movement Takes on Student Debt

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Vauhini Vara, The New Yorker, [Sept] 26, 2014

Try telling these students that nothing good emerged from the Occupy movement. One spin-off group from Occupy, Rolling Jubilee, purchases student debt owned from loans at Empire College, for about three cents on the dollar. The debt, totalling $4 million, was owed by 2,000 students. The group then announced that these debts had been cancelled. Not all students had their whole debt eliminated, but the initiative is to be applauded. Via Audrey Watters.

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Where Does the LMS Go From Here?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 26, 2014

According to this item, EDUCAUSE has laiunched a new Gates-funded initiative, to examine why institutions cling to old learning technology (aka the LMS) and what to do about it. The report notes "the importance of personalization, which ranked highly among students. More than two-thirds of students, or 69 percent, said they would be interested in a feature that support them in reaching their personal educational goals." Related: Matt Crosslin, The LMS is a Wild-West Conglomeration in a Box.

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Task Force on Flexible Education publishes its interim report

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Report, Simon Fraser University, [Sept] 26, 2014

I found this item after following an item noting that David Porter is  leaving his position as Executive Director of BC Campus, a position he has held since 2003. He is also involved with the  Task Force on Flexible Education at Simon Fraser University. That's the organization that released this  interim report (25 page MS Word document). The report identifies four areas of focus: strategy and vision; program designs and business models; learning models, delivery, and support systems; and learning experiences and learning spaces. Readers will find value in the detailed definition of 'flexible learning' in the report, as well as the description of the initial review process. Image: David Porter, from LinkedIn.

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Abstracts of Three Meta-Analysis Studies of Serious Games

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, [Sept] 26, 2014

The most interesting result of this survey of meta-studies of serious games: "Learners learned less from simulation games than comparison instructional methods when the instruction the comparison group received as a substitute for the game actively engaged them in the learning experience (so activity, not game elements seems to increase the learning)." Which accords with what we know about learning.

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Shrinking Numbers, Changing Values

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:00
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Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 26, 2014

In this [post it becomes clear that the values represented by university ranking initiatives count against universities reaching out to recruit the poor and disenfranchised. Which (in my view) was exactly the purpose of these rankings in the first place: not to measure the quality of universities, but to skew them toward the values espoused by the rankers. With publications like  U.S. News & World Report being behind the rankings, you can infer for yourself what those values are.

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