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It's all over the news today of course but this headline best captures my own thoughts about the matter (though I confess that another story - expressing surprise that Yahoo had a billion dollars - was a close second). Kim writes, "the fact that Yahoo's leadership is so smart, experienced, and hard working that makes bone headed acquisitions such as Yahoo buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion so instructive for those of us involved in trying to change higher ed." The lessons? We shouldn't be fooled by our own rhetoric, we should get outside opinions, and we should avoid being tempted by shortcuts. Meanwhile, I guess the exodus is on over at Tumblr (how many heartbreaks before people lean to create communities online that can't be bought?).
Cole Campese asks, "why do those who used to push forward now push back? ... the same people who built rallying calls for more open access to learning are now rejecting this movement. Why? ... Because it isn’t really open?" Well... yeah. That would be it, Cole. David Wiley is more generous than me with his response. "Yes, MOOCs have overrun the popular imagination. Yes, they are founded upon a severely impoverished definition of ‘open.’ So what are you going to do about it? Complain? Really? How about spending your time figuring out how to leverage MOOCs to move the ‘open’ agenda forward, rather than spending your time whining about how MOOCs have derailed it?" Of course, one can do both - it's not an either-or. Many's a time I've made a hill work for me by doggedly cycling up it for the betterment of my health and constitution all the while cursing the very existence of hills, gravity and opposing winds. And sometimes what the world needs is a little more salt, bitter and sour, and a little less sweetness. I'm happy to provide that.
I have in the past listed the courses offered by ALISON (I hate ugly all-acronym company names) on www.mooc.ca and just received a request to do so again (actually, they're asking for the listing on "your MOOCs list on the Gilfus Education Group website," which of course is not mine at all, except in the sense that Gilfus copied my list and put it there). Now I'm reconsidering my original decision, not in the least because ALISON (IHUAACN) is now positioning itslef as 'the first MOOC provider' (see this item, for example). What ALISON (IHUAACN) actually provides are free self-paced online course packages. And, of course, people have been doing that since the Middle Ages. And it brings to mind the sense in which a course is an event in which a course package is not.
From Bill Fitzgerald: "I've long held the notion that open source communities have been engaging in effective peer-supported learning, even while many for-profit companies and academic communities have been struggling to distill the process of peer-supported learning into something resembling a replicable product." And, he says, "In the platform-style MOOCs, the open web is missing. From a learner perspective, the portfolio is MIA. For a learner, throwing the evidence of your learning into a space that someone else controls isn't a viable long term strategy." I couldn't agree more.
Jim Groom writes, "I’d take the opportunity to try and frame out the broader vision behind Domain of One’s Own that goes well beyond the education sphere. In fact, it’s remarkable how much of the vision is encapsulated in Jon Udell‘s 2007 talk 'The Disruptive Nature of Technology.'" I think that's an interesting idea and a good way to reuse work that has been done before. "There remains an enduring issue and one which remains just as problematic six years on: a sense of coherence to the work we do online."
On the one hand, I agree with all of Donald Clark's criticisms of the recent crop of educational videos, especially those in MOOCs. He's quite right when he says there's too much talking head, too much cognitive dissonance, a dull presentation style and poor editing. He has this research and that to show that elements of video design impact retention. And yet... on the other hand, I have to ask whether improving video quality would produce enough of an improvement to justify the time and expense. Yeah, sure, if I'm consuming video like it was TV, then maybe. But if I'm in the middle of a project and I just need a clip to show me, say, how to fogment my doodad, then all that matters is that I can see what's happening. It's the act of fogmenting the doodad, not watching the video, that leads to retention.
This should be subtitiled 'The Chronicle Surveys the Outliers'. As one commenter says, "It is like asking college professors what they liked about college." And the people answering questions in this article are more typical of the professor demographic than the student: Jonathan Haber, for example, "a 51-year-old who has taken a year off from his job in publishing to try to get an entire four years' worth of college from MOOCs."
The Harvard Business Review advice to graduates is all about "success", "winning" and "persevering" in the face of challenges and competition. The well-meaning advice sounds good, but from where I sit, it seems so shallow. My advice I would have given to myself of 1986? "Find good work to do - a wrong to right, an injustice to correct, a problem to solve. This will bring meaning and value to your life. Cultivate interesting experiences and meaningful relationships. These will bring you happiness and contentment. Never mind the rest; it is irrelevant."
Links and Resources(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
RSS Feed: http://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.xml
Cites:294 Educational Blogging (Local copy)
264 Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide (Local copy)
134 E-learning 2.0 (Local copy)
126 Models for sustainable open educational resources (Local copy)
88 The future of online learning (Local copy
75 Learning networks and connective knowledge (Local copy)
70 Design and reusability of learning objects in an academic context: A new economy of education (Local copy)
59 Resource profiles (Local copy)
40 Learning networks in practice (Local copy)
33 Semantic networks and social networks (Local copy)
35 An introduction to connective knowledge (Local copy)
27 Design, standards and reusability (Local copy)
23 EduSource: Canada's learning object repository network (Local copy)
22 An introduction to RSS for educational designers (Local copy)
(Cites from Google Scholar for an H-Index = 14)
Recent Popular Articles
The Purpose of Learning, February 2, 2011.
The Role of the Educator, December 6, 2010.
Deinstitutionalizing Education, November 5, 2010.
Agents Provocateurs, October 28, 2010.
What Is Democracy In Education, October 22, 2010.
A World To Change, October 19, 2010.
Connectivism and Transculturality, May 16, 2010.
An Operating System for the Mind, September 19, 2009.
The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom, June 5, 2009.
The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, November 16, 2008.
Things You Really Need to learn: http://www.downes.ca/post/38502
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Stephen.Downes@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
About Stephen Downes
Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. As the author of the widely-read OLDaily online newsletter, Downes has earned international recognition for his leading-edge work in the field of online learning. He developed some of Canada's first online courses at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. He also built a learning management system from scratch and authored the now-classic "The Future of Online Learning".
At the University of Alberta he built a learning and research portal for the municipal sector in that province, Munimall, and another for the Engineering and Geology sector, PEGGAsus. He also pioneered the development of learning objects and was one of the first adopters and developers of RSS content syndication in education. Downes introduced the concept of e-learning 2.0 and with George Siemens developed and defined the concept of Connectivism, using the social network approach to deliver open online courses to three thousand participants over two years.
Downes has been offering courses in learning, logic, philosophy both online and off since 1987, has 135 articles published in books, magazines and academic journals, and has presented his unique perspective on learning and technology more than 250 times to audiences in 17 countries on five continents. He is a habitual photographer, plays darts for money, and can be found at home with his wife Andrea and four cats in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Stephen Downes travaille pour le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, où il a servi en tant que chercheur principal, basé à Moncton, au Nouveau-Brunswick, depuis 2001. Affilié au Groupe des technologies de l'apprentissage et de la collaboration, Institut de technologie de l’information, Downes est spécialisé dans les domaines de l'apprentissage en ligne, les nouveaux médias, la pédagogie et la philosophie.
Downes est peut-être mieux connu pour son bulletin quotidien, OLDaily, qui est distribué par Internet, courriel et RSS à des milliers d'abonnés à travers le monde. Il a publié de nombreux articles à la fois en ligne et sur papier incluant The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), et E-Learning 2.0 (2005). Il est un conférencier populaire, apparaissant à des centaines de manifestations à travers le monde au cours des quinze dernières années.
I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.
Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.
This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence. This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward.