Miscellaneous

7 reasons why kids right to have went apeshit over this GCSE maths question

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 14:00
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Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Jun 10, 2015

I mentioned this item last week. Now, Donald Clark lists seven reasons why the question is unfair. "It sets you up with a probability question, they bait you with probability, then switch to algebra," he says. "it lays a trap for students. The appearance of an equation in the question n2 – n – 90 = 0 suggests that this needs to be solved." Well, yeah. All of these are good points. Again, though, let me emphasize that the point of a question like this is to test whether you think like a mathematician. When you look at the world, what frame do you see it through? The entrepreneur will 'see' spreadsheets of sweets and profit margins. The chemist will 'see' chemical processes and reactions. The explorer will 'see' possibilities and discoveries. And the mathematician sill 'see' everything in equations (yes, even probabilities). The core question is: do we need to 'see' the world this way? Well, some of us (especially physicists) need to. But by no means all of us. And therein lies the problem with standardized tests.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

I have 227 browser tabs open, and my computer runs fine. Here’s my secret.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 14:00
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David Roberts, Vox, Jun 10, 2015

Via Doug Belshaw's weekly newsletter comes this tip: vertical tabs. "Almost all computer monitors these days are widescreen. Vertical space is at a premium, while there are wide areas off to the side of your browser that go unused. So why not move the tabs over there?" It's something I've also recommended as a feature for personal learning environments.

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Test Preppers, Take Note: Free SAT Study Tools Could Signal Sea Change

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 14:00
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Eric Westervelt, NPR Ed, Jun 10, 2015

The SAT has taken a lot of  criticism over the years. This appears to be a response. One side-effect, suggests NPR, is that ti may make the test-prep industry slightly less lucrative. There are two major strands. The first is the introduction of a set of free study tools to level the playing field for less-affluent students." SAT and Khan Academy will partner to produce the online materials, and the Boys & Girls Club of America will focus on in-house tutoring and support. This is an instance of the Triad Model. The second addresses the test itself, which will be revamped. "The essay section will now be optional, and students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers. And obscure SAT words that are little used in everyday conversation will be dropped. The emphasis now will be on relevant, useful vocabulary in context."

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Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00


UNESCO, Jun 08, 2015

Four major themes from this report from UNESCO describing education as a "common good":

  • Education is not the only force to sustainable development, but it is one of the most important ones
  • We need to keep the human element of education (things like culture, society, inclusiveness) and not just the utilitarian aspects
  • We need more flexible methods of delivering and validating learning in a complex employment environment
  • Knowledge and learning are not just public goods (ie., provided by the public) but are common goods, ie "necessary for the realization of the fundamental rights of all people."

"If education is seen as this deliberate and organized process of learning, then any discussion about it can no longer be focused solely on the process of acquiring (and validating) knowledge. We must consider not only how knowledge is acquired and validated, but also how access to it is often controlled and, therefore, how access to it can be made commonly available." 85 page PDF. Good stuff.

 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Objections to the OECD's AHELO

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00


Inside Higher Ed, Jun 08, 2015

One major condition for measuring things like educational outcomes is measuring the right thing. Colleges and universities are arguing that OECD does not do this. “ The AHELO (Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes)  approach fundamentally misconstrues the purpose of learning outcomes, which should be to allow institutions to determine and define what they expect students will achieve and to measure whether they have been successful in doing so. AHELO, which attempts to standardize outcomes and use them as a way to evaluate the performance of different institutions, is deeply flawed,” states the joint letter dated May 7 from ACE (American Council on Education) and Universities Canada.

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Does Harvard Need Your Money?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00


Kellie Woodhouse, Inside Higher Ed, Jun 08, 2015

All I will say about this issue is that this is yet another example why essential public services such as health and education should be funded publicly by governments through taxation, rather than funded privately by individuals through charity. Taxation not only ensures to a greater degree that revenues are collected fairly, it also ensures to a greater degree that revenues are spent more fairly.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Questions for the University of Guelph on its trademark of OpenEd

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00
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Brian Lamb, Abject, Jun 08, 2015

Why oh why would the University of Guelph feel the need to trademark the term 'OpenEd'? Why would any trademark office give it to them? This especially when the 'OpenEd' conferences have been held for years in various locations, last in Canada in 2009. Ironically, when I  spoke at it in 2004, this was exactly the sort of thing I warned about. And as Brian Lamb notes, that the University of Guelph doesn't even seem to know anything about the concept. "Looking at the University of Guelph’ s Open Learning and Educational Support website, I could find no mention of open educational resources, open textbooks, open pedagogies, open source, open access, open licensing, etc… So perhaps you were unaware of the existence of an “ open education” community, one that frequently uses “ open ed” as an abbreviation, or for functions such as URLs, or as a Twitter hashtag. Were you indeed unaware that “ open ed” was a thing? If so, when did you become aware of it?" Of course, since I  spoke in Guelph in 2005, some people there should be aware. See also Clint Lalonde, who gives a  detailed account of the dispute.

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Reflections on the Closure of Yahoo Pipes

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 15:00
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Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, Jun 08, 2015

I haven't used  Yahoo Pipes in a long time, mostly because I can get  IFTTT to do much of the same thing more quickly, and I can do the rest with my own software. But as Tony Hirst writes, the shut-down of Yahoo Pipes signifies a change in the nature of the web. We're drifting one peck at a time from openness and interactivity to a number of large and locked-down domains accessible only via specialized APIs. He writes, "At the time as the data flows become more controlled, the only way to access them comes through code. Non-coders are disenfranchised and the lightweight, open protocols that non-coding programming tools can work most effectively with become harder to justify. When Pipes first appeared, it seemed as if the geeks were interested in building tools that increased opportunities to engage in programming the web, using the web. And now we have Facebook. Tap, tap, peck, peck, click, click, Like. Ooh shiny… Tap, tap, peck, peck… "

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A Personal API

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 12:00
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Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, Jun 08, 2015

This part of a wider conversation around the idea of "a domain of one's own", a concept Jim Groom has been talking about for a number of years now. An API of one's own extends the idea, embracing the concept of data connectivity along with that of a personal server. As he suggests, though, actually implementing the idea can get "a bit hairy" because you can no longer lock down the sort of data structures students want to use. Of course, from my perspective, this is a feature, not a bug.

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Tricky GCSE maths exam sees pupils take to Twitter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 12:00
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BBC News, Jun 08, 2015

I was interested enough in this problem that I Googled to see what  the question was, thought about it, and when I didn't solve it in ten seconds or so, looked up the answer. Would I have solved it? Yeah, eventually. But what this question tells me is the difference between learning some mathematics and thinking mathematically. If you've just memorized some formulae, you're going to be thrown off by the two parts of the question. But if your approach to probabilities is to automatically set up the (correct) formula, you can actually solve this in your head in a couple of seconds. Can you show that (6/n)*(5/n-1)=1/3 means (n^2)-n-90=0? Sure, easily.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Towards the Post-Privacy Library?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:00
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Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jun 08, 2015

Suppose I read about having a baby or stealing uranium at my local library. I'm not going to be plagued with advertisements for diapers or probing questions from the security agency. But in the online library of the future, this all changes. People are very interested in what you're reading. Sometimes it's for the puerile purpose of selling you stuff, while in other cases it has to do with the much more adult concerns of state and security. Either way, the question of what you can do in a free society has been changed. And this has direct implications on learning. See more in American Libraries on digital futures.

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