Miscellaneous

ADL Community Survey

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:00


Craig Wiggins, Advanced Distributed Learning, Feb 06, 2015

Received by email: "the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative has launched a new  effort to create a SCORM profile of the Experience API (xAPI). ADL  requests your participation in this survey to help inform our  direction for this effort, and to gauge your current usage of  distributed learning products, services, SCORM and xAPI. The target  audience for this survey is anyone in the education and training  community familiar with distributed learning." This link will take you to the survey.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Copyright Manifesto: How the European Union should Support Innovation and Creativity through Copyright Reform

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:00
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Various authors, Copyright for Creativity, Feb 06, 2015

16 page PDF. Here's the problem: "Europeans discover regularly (and with increasing frustration) that they cannot access the same content across the EU." So this manifesto proposes that European copyright should be simplified and harmonized. The copyright period should be shortened, and the current state of dysfunction in enforcing the rules should be addressed. "It is an absurdity that technological progress has led to a situation where actions that were possible before these technological developments – such as buying and selling second-hand cultural goods – are now being prohibited, to the detriment of citizens." Totally agreed. See more at the C4C website.

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Google Brain’s Co-inventor Tells Why He’s Building Chinese Neural Networks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 14:00
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Caleb Garling, Medium, Feb 06, 2015

Basically this is a look at Coursera founder Andrew Ng's next venture. He's now working with Baidu and still focused on massive - “ only interested in tech that can influence 100 million users” - and in particular on using neural networks for analytics. He hasn't lost his hubris - "We have the English language. Now we’ re figuring out Chinese" - but that's OK if he does interesting work. I can't see working in Chinese being anything other than that. For those who think we think and learn in a language of logic, Chinese poses a challenge - it's completely different from English. You need to find low-level subsymbolic processes before ever getting to the language. "At the first level [the machine] might learn to detect edges in an image, and then it might learn to detect corners. This is knowledge that is common to the two languages."

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Announcement: Create Your Own Newsletter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 06:00

Create your own newsletter! The links in today's OLDaily connect to documents used in my workshop today. You can click on the links and help edit the documents as well. Whatever you create will be the content of today's newsletter.


Categories: Miscellaneous

Does Mechanism Matter? Student Recall of Electronic versus Handwritten Feedback

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:00


Megan E. Osterbur, Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Elliott Hammer, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching, Learning, Feb 05, 2015

You probably won't see this one in the Chronicle: "Our research found that whereas students who preferred or received handwritten feedback recall more feedback (quantity), those who actually received electronic feedback recall comments more accurately (quality)."

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Fibbing for Rankings

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:00


Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Feb 05, 2015

Wondering why students cheat? They learn it at school. "The University of Missouri at Kansas City gave the Princeton Review false information designed to inflate the rankings of its business school, which was under pressure from its major donor to keep the ratings up, according to an outside audit released Friday."

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Is it Time to Change Tracks with Your LMS?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:00
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Jeffrey Roth, Social Learning Blog, Feb 04, 2015

Sometimes I forget that organizations still have learning management systems (LMSs). But of course that's silly: beyond a certain size, they all have learning management systems. Sometimes they have several (in one case I studied, dozens!). But generally, they're not very happy with them. "Learning and development research firm Brandon Hall reports that, of 135 organizations, 58 percent want to replace their current LMS." But the question now in my mind is whether we just replace the current LMS with a better LMS, as this story suggests, or do we rethink how online should be provided? People who know me know I'm pretty firmly in the second camp. That's why LMS companies aren't calling me any more. But they should.

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The Beauty of the Block

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:00
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Audrey Watters, Personal Blog, Feb 04, 2015

I blocked and unfriended someone yesterday for warmongering. He was only the latest of dozens - maybe hundreds - of people I've blocked in the last few months. I was like Audrey Watters: "I didn’ t used to block. I’ d unfollow. I’ d ignore." But now I block because I don't want this in my life. And I don't block because it's simply unpleasant. I block to keep the images out of my mind. They are damaging and can sometimes hurt. Repeat something over and over enough, loudly enough, persistently enough, and people come to believe it (even if they know it's not true). That's how propaganda works. Wonder why we're raising a generation of misogynists? Look at the news, sports and other media they watch every day. And don't worry about having created a "filter bubble." As Watters says, "My blocking trolls doesn’ t damage civic discourse; indeed, it helps me be able to be a part of it." Loudspeakers blaring lies at you over and over again isn't part of civil discourse. We can afford to block them, whether they are actual loudspeakers or social media trolls.

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From free to fee: How U.S. dailies decide to use paywalls

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 15:00
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Natalie Jomini Stroud, American Press Institute, Feb 02, 2015

Interesting report that observes that few newspapers use research of any sort (beyond asking each other whether it's a good idea) before implementing paywalls (it's a summary of a recent paper that is not available online (I searched)). The research also looks at the value of paywalls and reports that, even in the success stories, "paywalls most likely will not offset steep losses in advertising revenue." But  another report suggests that the real value in paywalls might not be the subscription fees, but rather the user data. Erica Sweeney writes, "demographic data can help publishers tailor and recommend specific content, which could increase subscriptions and the value of content." Of course, this means that as you read your newspaper, your newspaper is reading you.

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Cyber surveillance worries most Canadians: privacy czar's poll

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:00
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Staff, CBC News, Feb 02, 2015

This is one of the major reasons we have focused on creating a personal application in LPSS. According to this report, "Canadians deeply value privacy, but fear they are losing the control they have over their personal information. It’ s imperative we find ways to enhance that sense of control so that people feel their privacy rights are being respected." It doesn't help that we also discovered this week that Canada's security agency CSEC has been monitoring millions of users' file downloads in an (ostensive) effort to identify terrorists. "Every single thing that you do – in this case uploading/downloading files to these sites – that act is being archived, collected and analyzed."

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Investigating the Yik Yak attack

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 00:00
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Alex Reid, Digital Digs, Feb 01, 2015

From the moment an application came into existence that allowed people in the same general area to make anonymous comments to each other it became inevitable that students would use it to criticize a professor (hence, the 'Yik Yak attack'). It is also inevitable that within a few minutes to the incident the Chronicle would publish an article lamenting the behaviour. Steve Kraus  describes the coverage (here (the original Chronicle article is paywalled). I won't pretend the behaviour was not offensive and abusive (from the snippets I saw). But I also don't blame the technology for the behaviour - I blame the environment, I blame the entitled students who think there are no limits to their behaviour, I blame a media environment which promotes this sort of behaviour on a daily basis. And how does this help: "The only student so far punished in connection with the Yik Yak incident is one who stepped forward and confessed?" Alex Reid says, " Ultimately some mechanisms of social interaction arise to regulate behavior." Not unless you can remove or kick off the offenders. The trolls and the haters don't bend to social pressure; that's kind of what defines them.

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Cloudy Logic

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 00:00
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Robin James, The New Inquiry, Feb 01, 2015

A few talks ago I cause a twitter in the audience by comparing big data analytics to astrology. It was no more than a half-formed thought, but as it turns out I'm not the only one who has had this thought and this author - via the mediation of Thomas Adorno - has given it substance. Robin James writes, "Scaled up in size and in processing power, big data could be the realization of what Adorno called 'the potential danger represented by astrology as a mass phenomenon.'" Their apparent objectivity allow them to be represented as value-neutral - but "astrology rearticulates unfashionable superstitions in the occult, in mysticism, and so on, by presenting them in empirical rather than supernatural terms— star charts and tables, for example. Upgrading the medium in which they are expressed, obsolete social myths gain new life as apparent fact." Just as does big data analytics. "Down-to-earthness is precisely the problem with forecasting: It only ever reproduces society and its most conventional norms, values, and practices. All that data up in the cloud opens no new vistas; it just repackages tired social, political, and economic institutions (white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy) in new, hip abodes on more seemingly solid ground." Yeow!

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Categories: Miscellaneous

New complaint about the iPad

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/01/2015 - 15:00
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Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog, Feb 01, 2015

It's a sad commentary.  Doug Johnson writes, "despite the popularity of the iPad in schools, Chromebooks seem to be making huge inroads. It may well be that because there is one complaint not mentioned above that still persists about the iPad: it is a SOB to manage in an institutional environment that likes control... We in education just don't much care for things we can't control easily." That said - the next time I'm looking for a tablet, I'll be looking for an Android, not Apple. Why? Because Apple maintains tight control of the device, I have to pay pay pay for anything useful, and there's a closed application and content marketplace. Oh, and I can't change the battery.

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3 Questions to Get the Most Out of Your Company’s Data

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/01/2015 - 15:00
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James Allworth, Maxwell Wessel, Aaron Levie, Harvard Business Review, Feb 01, 2015

I love the way the first paragraph of this article cuts straight through to the heart of the issue in a manner that is compelling and evocative. I won't spoil it for you. It's just cracking good writing, and I appreciate that. The article as a whole is less about the three questions and more about the idea that data-driven decisions can be more reliable than human intuition. Of course, I think that human intuition is driven by data, and that it's largely a matter of exposing it to the right information (ie: a discussion between you and your buddies in the s-suite isn't going to cut it). And additionally, data-decision decision-making is more effective when dealing with mass, not individuals. Netflix doesn't care about the 5 percent of users who hate all of its new original series, because they can make an excellent return on the remaining 95 percent. But in disciplines like education and health care, we can't afford to simply throw the 5 percent under the bus. And data leaves us guessing in these cases.

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The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Educational Landscape

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 02/01/2015 - 10:00
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Elena Silva, Taylor White, Thomas Toch, Carnegie Foundation, Feb 01, 2015

This report should be read if only for the fascinating account of the history of the Carnegie Unit - now known as the 'credit hour' - as a unit of academic measurement. Inside Higher Ed  summarizes the rest of the report concisely: "The credit hour is an inadequate unit for measuring student learning. Yet no better replacement for higher education’ s gold standard has emerged, and getting rid of it right now would be risky." I remember back in the 90s  writing that time would be replaced as the unit of academic instruction. I thought it would be replaced with knowledge units. But what is a knowledge unit? A competency? This requires a focus on assessment, but as the report authors write, "a great deal of very difficult design, development, and improvement work needs to be done to build the standards and assessments required to make education more transparent and to transform emerging design innovations from compelling concepts to sources of educational rigor at scale."

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