OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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December 29, 2011

The Need for an Evidence-based Approach to Demonstrating Value
Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, December 29, 2011.

More on the question of evidence for decision-making. "What does 'evidence-gathering' entail? There is a real danger that selective evidence-gathering is used in order to justify a particular position. This is a approach which has been discredited when governments in the UK and US sought evidence to demonstrate Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction." A higher standard, says Kelly, is quite rightly demanded. "We do need to continue to gather evidence of the value of services, and not just library services. But we need to understand that the evidence will not necessarily justify a continuation of established approaches to providing services. And if evidence is found which supports the view that libraries will be extinct by 2020 (PDF format) then the implications need to be openly and widely discussed." People like Rudolf Carnap used to talk about 'the requirement of total evidence' and the 'principle of indifference'. These are as valid today as when they wrote it.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Great Britain]

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files/images/herchmer02-300x199.jpg, size: 24077 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
The Only Real Legacy a Superintendent Leaves
Tim Hold, Powerful Leanring Practice, December 29, 2011.

My only comment on this item (and, I might add, a comment that needs to be made) is that if your primary motivation in your superintendent's position is to 'leave a legacy' and 'be remembered 15 years later' then you are totally in the wrong position. Being a superintendent should be like being a referee - the best performances are the ones nobody notices, and which thereby bring out the best in the players. Forget the legacy; do the job properly instead.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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The Digital Learning Farm and iPad Apps
Silvia Tolisano, Langwitches Blog, December 29, 2011.

files/images/iPadApps-DigitalLearningFarm-400x300.jpg, size: 50540 bytes, type:  image/jpeg OK, for the sceptics about badges: suppose you saw a set of badges such as the one illustrated at right posted on someone's website. Suppose, further, that you recognized the badges (just as you now recognize the icons you see here, ranging from TED to Twitter to iChomp to WordPress) and you knew that each of them represented roughly one university course's worth of learning. And if you clicked on them, it would take you to a certificate on the credential provider's website attesting that so-and-so did indeed earn the credential. And where the badge colour and lable described a level of achievement (ranging, say, from 'basic' to 'expert'). Would not that simple visual representation be far superior to a single line on a c.v. like "BA (hons) Philosophy"? Of course it would. And a set of recognized credentials would be worth their weight in gold. Some would be conferred by by experts (like Thrun and Norvig). Others would be conferred by community recognition ("published an article in Nature"). Others still by mastering absolute standards ("ran a 2K in less than 5 minutes"). Badges would be dated (of course). You mean you wouldn't recognize a cluster of badges like this as equivalent to a university degree? A PhD? Seriously?

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Twitter, Books, Visualization, Tests and Testing]

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Gooru Aims To Become The iTunes Of Standards-Based Learning
Jeff Dunn, Edudemic, December 29, 2011.

files/images/gooru-logo.jpg, size: 26906 bytes, type:  image/jpeg This is the end-point of standards-based education: an 'iTunes of learning' where you pay your money and learn an outcome. Like this. "Teachers can search for standards-based web tools and organize them into 'classplans.' These can be customized and shared with other teachers so they can be tweaked and basically benefit as many people as possible... It lets you organize your teaching resources into playlists, share them (like you would with iTunes Ping), and quickly access various forms of multimedia with minimal effort." Of course, it's not a large jump from this to fully commercialized 'free' resources. "Are there other options? Would you use a textbook with embedded, interactive advertising? Is this the future?" Gak! I hope not. Surely we can do better.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Marketing, Customization]

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the ethics of robot objects
Alex Reid, Digital Digs, December 29, 2011.

files/images/SuperRobotWars.jpg, size: 70246 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Interesting discussion of the ethics of robots. But I think that the concern is misplaced. Robots will have ethics; all objects have ethics, as Alex Reid points out. Sometimes these ethics are very simple - objects fall down, they are inert unless moved, etc. - while in other cases the ethics will be more complicated (heat the house no warmer than 85 degrees, travel at a speed no greater than 160 kph, etc). The danger isn't that our robots will not have ethics. The danger is that our robots will have the same ethics as those who designed them. In a world where the robots are built by government and corporations, to judge by contemporary practices, our robots will (always) be (potential) killing machines. After all, the first major deployments of autonomous machinery thus far have been to spy on people and then kill them. Reid would like to "begin by trying to understand what ethical relations already exist among non-human objects and use that fundamental ethical mechanic in the same way that engineers use physics to build the kinds of ethical relations we desire into new technologies." I'd like to do that first with humans, and maybe build ethical societies before we set them to building (un)ethical robots. And if you think building an ethical society is too much of a long shot, then you should regard the possibility of the ethical robot as even more so.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Privacy Issues]

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SOPA: Educators Speak Out
Vicki A. Davis, Google Docs, December 29, 2011.

For American educators facing draconian new internet laws, Vicki Davis is authoring a document by teachers responding to the proposed SOPA legislation. A sample comment: "This is an issue we should be studying, talking about, and weighing in on. With the blocking that this proposes, say that you claim fair use, that may not matter - you may be blocked for using copyrighted material, period... no matter whether you have fair use claims or not." Davis is asking all teachers to add their comments.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: United States, Copyrights]

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Issues for 2012 #3: Who Gets to Define Your Online Identity?
Scott M. Fulton, III, ReadWriteCloud, December 28, 2011.

files/images/Facebook20login.png, size: 8889 bytes, type:  image/png Clear and succinct explanation of the problem of identity management - if you didn't know that there is a problem with identity management, this is the article to read. "Taking advantage of this new reliance are the networks which have the most to gain from absorbing as much data as possible on users' activities... This leads to a kind of tangled conundrum that only our modern society could have bumbled into: The problem of safeguarding access is effectively being outsourced to the very centralized sources that are the crux of the existing problems with privacy and user security."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Networks, Security Issues, Privacy Issues]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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