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September 21, 2011

What it means to be a school is now up for grabs
Ben Werdmuller, benwerd, September 21, 2011.

"Education isn’t just another enterprise market," writes Ben Werdmuller, citing a recent article on open source teaching from the Tyee "It’s one that all of our economies, livelihoods and lifestyles depend on. Far too important for a significant aspect of the process to be handed over to any one company and locked away in a proprietary system." Related: Letting students run their own school within a school.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Open Source]

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EDUCAUSE Review - Why IT Matters to Higher Education
Various Authors, Educause Review, September 21, 2011.

Well, at least they're not asking "how do we do more with less," because I think it should be generally accepted by now that (a) more isn't possible, and (b) probably won't work anyways. So in this issue of Educause Review Diana G. Oblinger asks how we can do better with less. Good change of emphasis. Hrabowski, Suess and Fritz, she writes, argue "(higher education) must begin by transforming its own culture, which is reflected in the questions we ask (and those we don’t), the achievements we measure and highlight (and those we ignore), and the initiatives we support (or don’t support)." What is that change? A culture of assessment, they write, "bringing all campus members into the discussions about problems and strategies and showing them the evidence that forms the basis of our approach." I yearn for the day managers and presidents set the example by first setting standards and, as necessary, penalties, for their own assessment.

In another article, Phil Long and George Siemens write that "Learning analytics can penetrate the fog of uncertainty around how to allocate resources, develop competitive advantages, and improve the quality and value of the learning experience." What does that mean, exactly? "Analytics provides a new model for college and university leaders to improve teaching, learning, organizational efficiency, and decision making and, as a consequence, serve as a foundation for systemic change." The article is a bit shiort on specifics, but it does mention things like "learning trails, social network analysis, discourse analysis" as examples of the work done by analytics. I get the concept - but I think we're a long way away from anything really useful. It's hard to measure impact - just ask baseball writers.

Finally, we also read in this issue, from Malcolm B. Brown and Veronica Diaz, that "whereas most schools conduct some degree of evaluation work, the institutional basis for that work is limited. A campus culture for evaluation work in teaching and learning is not firmly established at most colleges and universities. The evaluative effort is carried on primarily by individual teaching and learning support units, most often without official mandate or resource support." Again, I observe that the lower down you are on the food chain, the more likely you are to be the target of evaluation and assessment programs, while if you are sitting at the top of the heap, you are pretty much exempt from any serious evaluation at all. Which, it seems to me, is exactly the opposite of the way it should be. When we can start using assessment and analytics to measure management, that will be the day I start taking it seriously.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, EDUCAUSE, Networks, Quality, Experience, Assessment, Online Learning]

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Mobile learning: A tutor in your pocket
Jenny Mackness, Jenny Connected, September 21, 2011.

files/images/zoraini-wati-abas1.pngw300h226, size: 57188 bytes, type:   Jenny Mackness summarizes today's session in the #change11 MOOC. We had Zoraini Wati Abas with us to speak about Mobile learning (m-learning) at the Open University Malaysia. Here's the current week 2 web page with her presentation archive on the #change11 website. As Mackness summarizes, "22000+ students have benefited from mobile learning in Malaysia, which is used principally to reduce drop out rates from open and distance learning courses, even though these courses are blended."

As for us, we had set up a dedicated server to run our installation of Big Blue Button, and I had written a bunch of scripts to interface with the BBB API with a minimum of fuss. It all worked, but Big Blue Button staggered and then collapsed when the load reached 63 attendees. The sound, never good at the best of times, died completely. Barry Dahl was on hand to let us try FUZE, which worked for the 40 or so people who were able to make the jump. We've tried and rejected a bunch of things (I cancelled my WizIQ premium account today because it doesn't allow drop-ins without WizIQ accounts; Google Hangouts, meanwhile, have developed an audio problem). Maybe FUZE will be the ticket.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Google, Online Learning, Attrition, Blended Learning, Audio]

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The Danger of Having a Voice
Clarence Fisher, Remote Access, September 21, 2011.

Another post documenting the abuse public personas endure online. "Seriously," she asks, "who writes a Twitter feed to mock the skull of a 10-month-old?" It's a good question. And more seriously, "Where did we learn to become so cruel to each other?" Clarence Fisher writes, "I’m not sure what drives people to post comments like those this author talks about." This is the crux. "The mass of men," writes Thoreau, "lead lives of quiet desperation." With the internet, these lives are no longer quiet. And we have been schooled, become skilled, in the art of the vicious put-down, the cruel one-liner, through the likes of Springer, O'Reilly and Cowell. Television has wrecked society, or at least, the civility in society, and continues to do so.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Twitter]

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Константин Бугайчук, Website, September 21, 2011.

Константин Бугайчук posted in Change11 about SSDE11, the first Ukrainian MOOC, by Kukharenko and Bugaychuk (may-july 2011) Alternate link: http://bit.ly/pnT2XI and a machine translation to English.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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Cybersafety – do fear and exaggeration increase risk?
Sylvia Martinez, Generation YES Blog, September 21, 2011.

Good set of slides from Larry Magid, co-director of Connect Safely.org, on the fear-based response to cyber-safety issues. I appreciate especially the cited statistics documenting the decline - not increase - of most of the dangers currently being attributed to wider internet use. As well, there are good comments about the fear-based response to these threats. Sylvia Martinez summarizes, "Larry gives examples of “positive norming” as an alternative to fear-based messages about cybersafety and cyberbullying. Positive norming is when facts are presented about what most people do – and most people do not bully or engage in risky online behavior. Focusing on behavior that is NOT the norm makes it seem like it’s more prevalent than it actually is."

Related: "This video from Mental Blox shows a brief example of the effects of bullying. Loneliness, depression and sadness are just a few of the feelings often associated with bullying."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Bullying]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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