I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


~ ~ Vision Statement ~ ~

Open Recognition and Its Enemies


This five-part series has one of the worst opening paragraphs ever, and is quite loosely written throughout. Ultimately it addresses the issue of formal recognition of open badges. It's a frustrating read (stick to the point Serge!) but the author makes some good arguments worthy of consideration. Here are the parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five. Serge Ravet (who should consider putting his name on his blog somewhere) points to the tension in the idea of open badges conferring formal recognition on informal learning. The idea of formal recognition should be contrasted with informal recognition. Only the latter captures the intent of informal learning. Formal recognition, by contrast, leads to such things as quality standards for badges, which ultimately would limit the cadre of badge issuers to a small set of recognized institutions. But instead of formally accrediting badge issuers, Ravet argues that issuers should be endorsed informally. The core question here is: what does it mean to formally recognize informal learning, and can this be done without undermining inform al learning, or casting it (and evaluating it) by the standards of formal learning?

Today: 135 Total: 135 Serge Ravet, Learning Futures, 2017/09/18 [Direct Link]

Timebomb: How The University Cartel is Failing Britain’s Students


The premise of this report (157 page PDF) is that British students are getting a poor return for their tuition fees, this largely because the entrenched interests of a university cartel limiting the potential benefits of a competitive system. The authors have no issues with the higher fees, but feel students should get more stuff for their money: "The more lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions and seminars they receive, in general the happier they are with the value for money of their course." In response, the authors recommend the promotion of two-year degrees, more summer teaching, and a more flexible credit transfer system. This seems to be an extreme reform for what is in fact a fairly mild discontent; across 160 universities no satisfaction rating is less than 71 percent, and only the bottom 8 are below 80 percent. (p.31) That sounds like pretty good grades to me. The problem isn't the education. It's the fees. Via Jim Ellis. P.S. readers will notice that this report contains a great deal of white space - thre's an extra-wide left margin, and numerous pages are blank. I think that UK2020 could get a lot more value for money by removing the white space and offering the same report at half the length.

Today: 113 Total: 113 Richard Tice, Tariq Al-Humaidhi, UK2020, 2017/09/18 [Direct Link]

Science, open access… and Sci-Hub


As I write, Sci-Hub remains active and accessible, despite an American court awarding damages against it. I'm still of the opinion that there is no particular reason why American law should prevail in international disputes. Sci-Hub is based in Russia, and if the action should be filed and heard there. It's probably too late to stop Sci-Hub in any case. Even if the site is shut down like Napster was, the closed-access articles are out there, and the Sci-Hub database will continue to exist in one form or another. "This is the beginning of the end for subscription scholarly publishing," said biodata scientist Daniel Himmelstein (here's their research) . "I think it is at this point inevitable that the subscription model is going to fail and more open models will be necessitated." 

Today: 91 Total: 365 Enrique Dans, Medium, 2017/09/18 [Direct Link]

Member States to Commission: We don’t trust your claims that censorship filters are in line with EU law


Communia is a IP policy organization based in Europe. It advocates for limits to copyright and fairer terms for users. For example, Communia recommends that "any false or misleading attempt to misappropriate Public Domain material must be declared unlawful." In the current instance it is expressing concern about what it calls "censorship filters", aka "upload filters". These require that content hosting sites prevent the actual uploading of copyright material before it ever appears on the open web. It reports that the EU Council is expressing support for this idea. And it reports that member states don't trust such laws to respect existing laws protecting individual privacy and security. I am in agreement with Communia on this one. More from CopyBuzz. Via Open Policy Network.

Today: 99 Total: 355 Communia, 2017/09/18 [Direct Link]

Open Educational Resource 2017 Textbook List


This is, as the title suggests, a huge list of OER textbooks - 12 or so per page in this (42 page PDF), so maybe 500 texts, organized into subject groupings. What I wish (not to take away in any way from the effort this represents): the author names were written fully, rather than in the Lastname,I format; shot descriptions of each text to aid searching; database with harvest format so the list could be maintained (and used) on an ongoing basis. 

Today: 48 Total: 373 Zachariah Claybaugh, Chelsea Stone, Sacred Heart University, 2017/09/15 [Direct Link]

A Design Guide for Open Online Courses


This is a really detailed (89 page PDF) exploration of the topic. "This guide, with a foreword by Maren Deepwell and Joe Wilson, is a comprehensive summary of how we went about creating Citizen Maths, an open online maths course and service. The guide shares our design principles and the techniques we used to put them into practice. Our aim is to provide – with the appropriate ‘translation’ – a resource that will be useful to to other teams who are developing online education initiatives." The guide follows through the implementation of a set of design principles, including an analysis of need, context, learning model ("Our aim is to give thousands of learners the feeling that they are in a one-to-one tutorial"), coherence and consistency, and sustainability. There's even discussion of the course logo, colour scheme, fonts, 'talking heads', 'talking hands', and 'talking applications'.

Today: 39 Total: 299 Dave Pratt, Seb Schmoller, David Jennings, Will Buckman, Matt Bush, David
, Nick West, David Jennings, Calderdale College, 2017/09/15 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.