Miscellaneous

Complexities of Measuring Effectiveness

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 10:00
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John Marschhausen, Connected Principals, Jul 07, 2014

If we actually understood this, and believed it, we would never assess learning using things like tests: "education is complex, challenging to measure, and impossible to show with a single measure. Each child in our care, every single student in our classrooms, is a unique person with different strengths, needs, and passions. Socioeconomic challenges, such as poverty, can greatly impact education – we partner, support, and engage our families to maximize educational opportunities." Related:  competency education will be the next great disruptor in the system.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Online education is dead; long live Mentored Simulated Experiences

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 10:00


Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, Jul 07, 2014

I'm not sure what is new about this proposal, except perhaps the name (which really just combines two things we already know quite well). Here's Roger Schank: "Universities have adopted online education wholesale. They are producing garbage. No, actually they are producing what they have always produced." So this, he says, is dead. Instead: "What is education? Its an experience, mentored by an expert, in which the student tries to accomplish something, fails, and then after some discussion with peers and mentors, tries again." It took less than a month for the term to be co-opted into something quite different, covertly reintroducing instructivism: " I think our ebook work is close to what he’ s describing, since we focus on worked examples (as a kind of 'mentoring') and low cognitive-load practice (with lots of feedback)."

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Personal Learning Networks, CoPs Connectivism: Creatively Explained

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 10:00
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Jackie Gerstein, User Generated Education, Jul 07, 2014

OK, with some or another of these analogies I would probably have issues because the metaphor is not exact. But it doesn't really matter because what I really like is the way the author finds different ways to creatively express the essential nature of communities of practice. And a number of them capture a little-discussed but important aspect of MOOCs and communites of practice: self-organization.

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MOOC completion rates DO matter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 10:00
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Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, Jul 07, 2014

Martin Weller offers an argument to suggest that MOOC completion rates do matter. He argues that while MOOCs may be like a newspaper, they're "like designing a newspaper where you had to read a certain section by a certain time." And, he asks: "Most MOOCs are about 6-7 weeks long, so 90% of your registered learners are never even looking at 50% of your content. That must raise the question of why are you including it in the first place?" The answer is very simple: Choice. On the internet today you have all the newspapers in the world. Most people only read a small fraction of them on a regular basis, but they feel free to dip into the content of others from time to time.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

EU's right to be forgotten: Guardian articles have been hidden by Google

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 01:00


James Ball, The Guardian, Jul 06, 2014

I'm sympathetic with both sides here. As "the result of a European court ruling that individuals had the right to remove material about themselves from search engine results," the Guardian newspaper reports that various stories about people it covers have been removed from search engine results. One such is the removal of results related to "Dougie McDonald, who was found to have lied about his reasons for granting a penalty in a Celtic v Dundee United match." Now on the one hand we should expect to have some privacy from Google's prying eyes. On the other hand, a newspaper - or, for that matter, a blogger - ought to have the right to post news about the person. Either way, it's up to a court - not Google - to make the decision, not as a blanket decision, but on a case by case basis. Update: the BBC is reporting that Google has  reinstated the missing links.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Demoting Social Silos to Syndication Endpoints

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 10:00


David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Jul 06, 2014

David Wiley discovers Known and the result is magical. "Known is a publication platform that uses the “ POSSE” publication model, where POSSE stands for “ Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere” . .. The POSSE model is just beautiful. It represents everything empowering about the Reclaim and Retain work. In fact, the more I wrapped my head around it, the more excited I got." See  more about Known. This is the model - promoted here through everything from  indiweb to  Diaspora to syndication itself - that we've been taking about here for years. It's the basis for the personal learning environment. It's the basis for mesh networking. Welcome to the future, David. Maybe you want to read  this (and this) and we can talk about breaking down the silos and building indie learning. Via Jim Groom.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 10:00
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Nathan Yau, Flowing Data, Jul 06, 2014

Interesting presentation, sadly using U.S. data only, of every major job category, the size of the population employed in it, and the average salary. What I find noteworthy is that the slider only needs to move between $20K to $180K. It raises the question: who needs more than $180K to live? And why would incomes be higher than that? The vast majority of us earn something within that range. The people who earn more are deriving an unfair advantage from the work the rest of us produce and are distorting marketplace pricing for goods and services (everything from food to health care) the rest of us need to live.

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The Future is Open

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 10:00
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Various authors, Creative Commons, Jul 06, 2014

Creative Commons has released their annual report as a picture book. I'm not sure what to think of that. Sure, there's text, but the presentation is mostly visual. The main highlight is the release of version 4.0 of the licenses - we are told they are "global licenses" that don't need to be adapted to each jurisdiction. "The new licenses include provisions related to database rights, personality rights, data mining, and other issues beyond the scope of the original CC licenses." But better is the recognition that "CC licenses are a patch, not a fix, for the problems of the copyright system." This is reflected in a  policy statement that urges that content be considered "open by default". Controls on reuse should be the exception, not the rule, and in my view, should require special justification. So much of any creation is borrowed from others there needs to be substantial justification for locking it in its entirety. I guess I don't mind the picture-book format, but posting credits on every page for each image, even the navigation icons, is distracting. Just build a credits page.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

How Should I Offer This Course? The Course Delivery Decision Model (CDDM)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 10:00


Thomas M. Brinthaupt, Maria A. Clayton, Barbara J. Draude, Paula T. Calahan, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), Jul 06, 2014

This is not a bad paper though I wish the authors had been more imaginative in their typology of delivery models - the old "in-class, hybrid or online" classification could admit of much more nuance, ranging from pedagogical style (active learning, constructionism, lecture) through to media employed (videos, texts, simulations). There's a bit of that in the only substantive diagram of the model, which begins with sets of options for content, activities and feedback. But these seem placed squarely within an instructivist frame, and do not help guide delivery decisions in any substantive manner. I think the discussion is interesting, even though the model suffers from the flaws of models generally: people who understand the model don't need it, while people who need the model don't understand it.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Conditional Release of Course Materials: Assessing Best Practice Recommendations

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 10:00


Lawanna S. Fisher, Justin G. Gardner, Thomas M. Brinthaupt, Deana M. Raffo, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), Jul 06, 2014

This is a pretty interesting paper up to the end of page four. It discusses the phenomenon of 'conditional release of material' - that is, showing students course content only after they have reached a certain threshold, such as passing a quiz. The author surveys types of and conditions for conditional release. You can stop reading at the point where you read the statement "Two of the authors surveyed undergraduate students in their courses over two semesters." The data that follows is essentially useless, even discounting the response rate of 38% from the surveys (I don't know why authors feel compelled to write these papers and why journals like JOLT feel compelled to publish them).

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Facebook psychology experiment raises ire

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/05/2014 - 10:00


Staff, Globe, Mail, Jul 05, 2014

There has been quite a bit of  negative reaction to the revelation that Facebook has been experimenting on its users (this, of course, won't stop Facebook from experimenting like this, but it will stop them from publishing the results). Here's what you need to know, according to GigaOm, about the experiments. Here's Facebook's defense. Still, some people (including Audrey Watters) wand to de-Facebook. They'll be on Twitter (do you really think Twitter is any more ethical than Facebook?). But there's no escape. Even if you're gone, you'll be part of Facebook's  secret dossier of individuals. "There are no protections against shadow profiling. Just like with so-called "people search" websites, we have no legal mandates with which we can identify and remove our information from their systems."

But if you think all this begins with Facebook, or even with the internet, then I think that you're being terribly naive. How do you think credit scores are calculated - by magic?  Companies like Equifax have been maintaining 'shadow profiles' for decades. "According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the three largest players in the credit reporting market — Equifax, Experian Information Solutions Inc. and TransUnion LLC — each maintain files on at least 200 million Americans culled from about 10,000 information providers." (Via) The insurance industry, as well, relies on such profiles when assigning risk and calculating rates. Marketing agencies collect dossiers to help them target mailing campaigns. Political parties keep track of voters. The list goes on and on. And they all experiment with different messaging to produce different results. So let's not all be shocked by this.

And the  social experimentation continues unabated. There's a long history. There are  well-established procedures and  ethics regulations which are routinely ignored by industry. Indeed, they're popular entertainment. They're passed off as art. Or reality series. Grocery stores and  retail outlets constantly experiment with traffic flows and consumer behaviour. All the  big data and  learning analytics studies - what do you think they are doing? Governments and companies  frequently experiment on soldiers, welfare recipients - indeed, any person from a disadvantaged group is fair game. So, again, let's not be shocked by all this.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Building Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for Academia and Industry, Onlea promotes economic diversity in Alberta

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/05/2014 - 10:00


Jim Armstrong, TEC Edmonton, Jul 05, 2014

My longtime colleague Jennifer Chesney has joined up with two others at the University of Alberta to launch "a not-for-profit spin-off from the University of Alberta producing flexible, mobile-friendly, interactive learning courses, educational experiences, and assessment solutions that can be distributed across the wide variety of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms" (there's no shortage of adjectives with this group - perhaps they could leave some for the rest of us!). They were responsible for the popular Dino 101 online course.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why Did inBloom Die? A Hard Lesson About Education Privacy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 22:00


Daniel Solove, SafeGov, Jul 04, 2014

This article from a couple of months ago is making the rounds, and is well worth a look. As background, "Funded by $100 million from the Gates Foundation, inBloom was a non-profit organization aiming to store student data so that school officials and teachers could use it to learn about their students and how to more effectively teach them." According to the article, "The main instrument of inBloom's death was privacy.  Because inBloom involved so much student data, privacy concerns began to swirl about, and eventually turned into a tornado." Is there evidence that providers have learned from this? Not so much.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The digital degree

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 22:00


Unattributed, The Economist, Jul 04, 2014

If the Economist says something is good, I begin to worry. And so too with this article touting the destruction of the universities at the hands of the MOOC. The Economist sees the elite universities faring well, with smaller for-profits and even medium-sized public universities bearing the brunt. I'd like to think that open online learning will make the elite universities irrelevant - of course, a lot of things have to happen for that to take place, but we can always hope.

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