Miscellaneous

The Impact of Free Primary Education Inputs On Educational Outcomes in Kenya (2003 To 2013)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:56

Dorothy Akinyi Owuor, European Journal of Educational Sciences, May 05, 2018

For any measure of educational outcomes there is a ready-made body of literature suggesting that increasing spending to support free primary education (FPE) will not increase outcomes. I have my doubts about this research and always keep my eyes open for counterexamples. This paper, while noting the other literature, finds the opposite. With increased funding in Kenya, retention rates increase, and outcomes (including gender parity) also increase. It's not automatic, though. "The assumption that the poor will always benefit from such interventions such as FPE in Kenya may not be true if the channels of that subsidy are the limited public schools and there is a ‘scramble’ for them."

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Introducing Badgr Pathways

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 18:17

Concentric Sky, May 04, 2018

I think this was probably a necessary step in the development of a badge infrastructure. The idea of Pathways is that badges can be combined (some say 'stacked', as in 'stackable credentials') to add up to higher-level credentials. They write, "Because Badgr Pathways is based on our proposed new Open Pathways standard, Pathways can be stacked across organizations allowing the creation of data-driven bridges between the programs offered by education institutions, employers, and organizations that provide alternative credentials." As suggested in the comments there's some overlap with BadgeList but this looks to be the more robust of the two to me.

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As Facebook Shows Its Flaws, What Might A Better Social Network Look Like?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 17:37

Laurel Wamsley, NPR, May 04, 2018

This topic is on my mind a lot as I work through the various permutations of what a learning network might look like. Not like Facebook. Not like Twitter. This article mentions Mastodon, which is one of my current social networks of choice. It's not perfect either but it's better, mostly because it's not centralized and (therefore) not owned by some large corporation intent on monetizing our conversations. But also (as the diagram here shows) you are shown posts organized not by some algorithm but rather by how you are connected to different Mastodon instances. I have long said (and yet people still resist this idea) that people are the AI that should be selecting and filtering posts. That's why RSS was great - you choose who you follow. But that's also why commercial interests have tried to kill RSS, and why it's so hard to sustain a viable alterntive to Facebook and Twitter.

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OEP (Open Educational Pragmatism?)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 16:41

Doug Belshaw, Thought Shrapnel, May 04, 2018

This is more from the OER 2018 conference in Holland last week. Doug Belshaw discusses his conversations with Michael Shaw from Tes Resources. Shaw described how warm the OER community had been. "He found the hosts and participants 'incredibly welcoming' and the debates 'more open than [he’d] expected on how commercial organisations could play a part' in the ecosystem." That's nice, but maybe a little too cozy. The risk here, writes Belshaw, is the tendency of commercial partners "to embrace, extend, and extinguish" open source projects. And I would warn participants in OER conferences to beware the "charm" and "feeling of reuniting with familiar faces" (as described by Martin Weller). Community is nice. But it's easily subverted. And it shouldn't be confused with outcome and purpose.

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Building Desire Paths: An Online Calendar Smooths the Way for Student Success

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 15:26

Kes Schroer, EDUCAUSE Review, May 04, 2018

This EDUCAUSE article reads a bit like an advertorial for Calendy, a cloud-based calendar, but it's also a pretty good case study of a calendaring implementation project at The George Washington University including the process of planning and mapping the user experience. Why Calendy? Other people may have their reasons, but to me just one would be crucial: "Calendar integrations with Google Calendar, Office 365, Outlook and iCloud." It also integrates with an API and webhooks, which I guess would also be essential to me. Why use a calendar support system? "The system reduced the average student wait time for appointments from two days to 10 seconds, giving students more timely access to our services." That makes sense to me.

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Paul Wilson Adobe Captivate Tutorials

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 15:17

Paul Wilson, YouTube, May 04, 2018

As summarized on ATD, " The tutorials cover a range of topics from basic tasks, such as creating your own multiple-choice questions, to more advanced ones, such as converting a course to responsive design so it works on mobile devices. For beginners, Wilson has created a 'Getting Started Playlist' to ensure you can find all the information you need to master the software's basics." This is a great source of free e-learning with more than 140 videos, and for author Paul Wilson, a great calling card introducing himself to people looking for custom e-learning content development.

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Over 16,000 sound effects made available for free from BBC library

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 14:54

Clarisse Loughrey, Independent, May 04, 2018

It's great to have access to this library of sound effects in a reusable .wav format (though I wish I could download them all at once instead of searching through their library each time). What was most interesting (aside from the effects themselves) was the BBC's use of a RemArc license (instead of, say, Creative Commons). Some sources immediately labeled this as "bad news" because of, for example, a "licence that prohibits using these files in commercial work." Additionally, you can't use the content "for harmful or offensive purposes" and you can't use it to pretend that you are, or are endorsed by, the BBC. This leaves personal and private use wide open, which works for me. Unrelated: internet book image archives with 52 million free-to-use images.

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Moocs are a solution in search of a problem

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 14:41

Chris Fellingham, Times Higher Education, May 04, 2018

According to Chris Fellingham, MOOCs " arose from the boredom of Stanford University computer science professors fed up with teaching the same lectures each year. Out of idle curiosity, they wanted to see what would happen if they dumped their courses, lectures and all, online for anyone to take." According to this story, OOCs then searched for a problem to solve - providinbg new skills to university graduates, say, or offering new kinds of certificates. None of that is my experience, nor is it even true outside the narrow bounds of Coursera and Udacity. MOOCs were created in order top provide access to learning using open educational resources, modeling the connectivist philosophy George Siemens and I had been working on for a number of years. The problem of access is real. It exists because the people writing in places like Times Higher Education do not consider access to be a problem at all.

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Interview with SoapBox Labs Founder on Speech Recognition API to Enhance Children’s Interactions with Smart Devices

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 14:16

Sandra Rogers, AACE Review, May 04, 2018

So this is pretty cool. Speech interfaces for educational technology are advancing rapidly (as I guess shopuld not be surprising in the age of voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa and Google). This interview of Patricia Scanlon from SoapBox Labs "focuses on their new cloud-based API to improve children’s aural/oral interactions with their smart toys and gadgets via voice recognition and behavior." This is what developers like: "use our technology by simply sending an audio file to our API and our systems responds in near real-time." The bad news? The API is proprietary so it can only be used with the one engine. What we will need is a standard (and open!) speech interface API, something Mozilla is working on.

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What I Learned Producing 90 eLearning Videos In 8 Weeks At Google

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 13:56

Sam Rogers, eLearning Industry, May 04, 2018

A lot of this may be familiar to those already steeped in e-learning production, but it's a good quick read and will help managers (and employees!) very quickly determine whether a production process is on track or in danger of becoming bogged down. I expecially liked this: "by doing things in this order you will meet your learning objectives halfway through the process. This is key. There is no possibility that you will hand over a finished product that does not already meet its goal. With this approach, you can simply “refine until deadline” and quit when you hit it." Also this: "we started with the exam. Before we wrote the scripts, we made the test. When the last step of the Learner’s process is the first step you take, all the SME and legal and marketing approvals are identified and engaged upfront."

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Are Etextbooks Affordable Now?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 11:56

Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, May 04, 2018

For most people in the world, the answer to this question is still "no". I have always worked on the principle of a two-times-order-of-magnitude reduction in cost as the standard for digitization. The textbook that used to cost $60 should now cost $0.60. This loss of income is offset by a similar increase in the number of copies distributed. So the textbook that had a press run of ten thousand is now distributed to a million people. The failure by publishers to pass on the cost savings associated with digital distribution is met by those unable to afford the cost with the very reasonable response of unauthorized copying.

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George Mason’s President Says Some Donor Agreements Fell ‘Short’ of Academic Standards

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 11:43

Nell Gluckman, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 04, 2018

According to this article, "agreements show that the Koch Foundation and other donors had room to influence the selection and work of the professors whose positions they spent millions to support." More. The only surprise here is that anyone thinks this is an exception. It is an illusion to think that corporations and wealthy individuals do not expect a measure of control over the institution in exchange for their donation, even where written agreements do not exist. The withdrawal of donations to the University of Alberta in the wake of its decision to award an honorary degree to David Suzuki is clear evidence of this. The cost of contributions is compliance. Let's not pretend anything else is true.

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Colombia

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 20:51

Stephen Downes, Flickr, May 03, 2018

Please enjoy my photos from Bogota and Medellin taken while I was in Colombia last week. Here are the sets: Bogota, and Medellin.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Wisdon and/or Madness of Crowds

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 20:34

Nicky Case, May 03, 2018

This is a really nice visualization of some of the (very) basic concepts of learning in self-organizing networks. It takes a social perspective (as opposed to, say, a machine learning perspective) and offers an intuitive and accessible way to comprehend learning networks. It's text and animation (not video) and thopugh it says '30 minutes' it actually took me only 15 minutes to finish. I think it's worth the effort (though you'll want to kill the sound right away - bottom left).

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Conceptualising OEP: A review of theoretical and empirical literature in Open Educational Practices

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 20:10

Catherine Cronin, Iain MacLaren, Open Praxis, May 03, 2018

This is a taxonomy more than anything but also "aims to provide a useful synthesis of OEP literature for education researchers and practitioners." The authors assert "one or more of the following bodies of work were cited in all subsequent academic literature in the area of OEP:

  1. OLCOS (Open eLearning Content Observatory Services) project (2006-2007)
  2. OPAL (Open Education Quality) initiative (2010-2011)
  3. UKOER programme (2009-2012)
  4. CILT (Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching) research, UCT (2009-present)."

This suggests to me that their focus was a bit narrow (surely discussion of open educational practices existed outside reference to these initiatives - like this one, for example, or this one, or this one, or even this one, or for that matter our discussions about MOOCs from 2008 and forward, all of which address open educational practices (if not the canonical version offered in this article)).

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Welcome to Grasshopper, the coding app for beginners

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 20:00

Richard Byrne, Free Technologies for Teachers, May 03, 2018

I think my grasshopper logo is way better than Google's grasshopper logo (thanks Rod!) and I'm sure Google could have picked a more original name for its e-learning application. Anyhow, as Richard Byrne very briefly summarizes it, "Grasshopper is a free app that teaches you to Javascript coding through a series of easy-to-follow tutorials. The free app, available for iOS and Android, starts off with an introduction to the basic vocabulary of coding before moving into the coding lessons."

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Choosing a Responsive Email Framework: MJML vs. Foundation for Emails

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 19:54

Paolo Mioni, CSS-Tricks, May 03, 2018

As you've been following OLDaily you've probably noticed I've been having some glitches with my email newsletters lately. It's all a result of a transition to a new PLE-based version of gRSShopper, and fixing the email has moved to the top of my list of priorities. One longstanding thing I'd like to fix is responsive emails, so it's really easy to read them on computer or on the phone. Here are some of the options I've been considering. Or I might just update my own CSS. Those are the sorts of choiuces facing designers today, and programming has become more and more a case of selecting and applying frameworks.

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Piazza

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 19:30

Piazza, May 03, 2018

In an email from Kevin Kelly, Ed.D. (not Kevin Kelly of Wired) I read the following: "Piazza (https://piazza.com/) is a free discussion tool with a fantastic origin story (https://piazza.com/about/story). I've seen it in action and it is well thought out. Piazza offers LTI integration with LMS solutions, which may also work for websites in platforms like WordPress." I like that it has specific accessibility features. If you want to try it out I've created a school called 'OLDaily' and a class (in spring, 2018) called 'OLDaily' - search for them in Piazza and you'll be able to sign up. It's all free (the moneymaker is probably Piazza Careers).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

“Did We Create This Monster?” How Twitter Turned Toxic

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 19:11

Austin Carr, Harry McCracken, Fast Company, May 03, 2018

One of the more telling criticisms in comedian Michelle Wolf's talk at the White House correspondents' dinner was that the media loves Donald Trump. "You pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him... He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him." I think the same thing applies in the case of Twitter. "Though the company has taken significant steps in recent years to remove bad actors, it hasn’t shaken the lingering impression that it isn’t trying hard enough to make the service a safer space." The bad actors help pay for Twitter, just as they help serll newspapers and cable television shows. Commercial mass media, whether online or offline, offers the same incentives and creates the same problems.

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OpenDOAR is the quality-assured global directory of academic open access repositories.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 18:51

Jane Anders, Jisc scholarly communications, May 03, 2018

OpenDOAR is a directory of academic open access repositories. This post announces a new updated beta version of OpenDOAR "to develop a simplified and streamlined website with a more modern, responsive design... to work just as well on your smartphone as on your computer." There's also an update to the API (which means I need to fix some code). More: "Future plans include integration with technologies like the Elastic Stack that will allow us to put state-of-the-art search, reporting and visualization tools on our service endpoints."

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