OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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April 25, 2011

Events Today
Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, April 25, 2011.

Other people spend the long weekend visiting relatives or perhaps visiting the country. I like to spend long weekends messing around with code. This weekend's project was to finally support iCal harvest and event calendaring in gRSShopper. I've still a long way to go - I've learned a lot about the details of online calendars - but you can see some of my efforts here. If you have an events calendar and would like to have your free and open online events listed here, send me an email or comment here with the address of your iCal or other events feed (I'll make an effort to custom code but no promises).

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Do Merit Pay Systems Work? What Can We Learn from International Data?
Paul E. Peterson, EducationNext, April 25, 2011.

Ludger Woessmann responds to criticism of his recent analysis of PISA results. Readers will recall that this analysis leads him to argue that merit pay systems improve outcomes. Education Next author calls the criticism "misleading" and suggests that the NEPC "critically reviews many studies, no matter how well executed, if the findings from that study do not lend support to positions the unions have taken." Woessmann's response is, essentially, to call his conclusion "a description fact" (that "after statistically controlling for several variables, the author concludes that nations with some form of merit pay system have, on average, higher reading and math scores on this international test") rather than a "claim" that needs to be proven. Yes, it is a fact that Woessmann's study had the conclusion it did. Whether this conclusion is warranted, however, is not addressed in this response.

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files/images/data.jpg, size: 22766 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
Data Change Everything
Ellen Wagner, eLearning Roadtrip, April 24, 2011.

Ellen Wagner writes, "The digital 'breadcrumbs' that learners leave behind about their viewing, reading, engagement and assessment behaviors, interests and preferences provide massive amounts of data that can be mined to better personalize online experiences." The study of these is sometimes known as learning analytics. Wagner outlines the "five things I know for sure about the rising tide of learning analytics":
- data-driven decision-making is here to stay. I would add that we are at the frontiers of data-driven assessment
- it's about what we do with the data - "personalized predictively generated experiences will help ME stay on top of what I need to know"
- institutions already have a great deal of data, "it's more about getting smarter and putting the data we already collect to better use" (I disagree; a huge part of learning analytics will be about getting more data)
- it's hard to ignore data once you know what it says - "once you take a look at what is going on, you need to be prepared for the fact that you are going to need to respond"
- there's no such thing as being 'sort-of' transparent

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Someday writers will want to opt-out of Facebook and Twitter
Dave Winer, Scripting News, April 24, 2011.

files/images/funnel.gif, size: 5462 bytes, type:  image/gif Over the years, I have agreed much more frequently with Dave Winer than I have disagreed with him. And when he says "I think the Internet itself is a social network" I find myself agreeing with him again. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are the AOLs or CompuServs of the 2010s - online services that will wither come the day the internet supports genuine social networking capacity. That day is not long now. "Using standards we already have, like HTTP, HTML, RSS, DNS, OPML, JSON -- you can make a news net that is as open and distributed as the Internet itself. There's no company in the middle, anymore than there's a company in the middle of the Internet." Be sure to look at Winer's list of stories describing how such a system might work.

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3 keys to a flipped classroom
David Truss, Pair-a-dimes for Your Thoughts, April 24, 2011.

files/images/Flipped-Classrooms.jpg, size: 20729 bytes, type:  image/jpeg The discussion in some circles continues around the concept of the 'flipped classroom'. To reiterate for those new to the concept, the idea of a flipped classroom is that students receive their instruction (readings, lectures, etc) at home, and do their homework (assignments, groupwork, etc) in the classroom. Dave Truss summarizes a couple posts from Jonathan Martin, one in which he observes "education's value-add is and will be in the coaching and troubleshooting" (which is quite true, in my view), and another where he says "Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved." The flip is not without its challeges, though, and Truss outlines three:
- getting students to do their homework, ie., to actually view the lecture
- getting the lecture content right
- producing quality lectures that students can follow

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IATEFL – On Tech
Phil Bird, Classroom201X, April 24, 2011.

files/images/brighton.jpg, size: 87474 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Excellent summary of presentations from the IATEFL conference in Brighton, "a huge sprawling monster of a conference." Phil Bird summarizes Sue Palmer's talk on toxic childhood (video of the talk here in which she argues "children are subjected to far too much screen-based interaction at a young age, which impedes the development of human interaction skills"), Gavin Dudeney on mobile computing (bookmarks and slides, " a number of low resource projects such as Janala, Project ABC, SoloIngles and M4Lit "), Carla Arena on collaboration (videos), and more. There's also a good summary of a number of tech tools sessions, which introduce a number of sites familiar to OLDaily readers, and also some new ones, like Storybird, which impressed me with its simplicity and utility. There's even more summary from Phil Bird in an additional post on classroom ideas, including the ESOL pre-conference event, Jamie Keddie on the authenticity trap (clips and videos), Paul Braddock on motivating teenagers (slides and a broken reader), and more.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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