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December 30, 2011

The Downes Prize 2011
Various Authors, Stephen's Web, December 30, 2011.

This is the second year I've awarded the Downes Prize. There's no money attached to it, no recognition, no formal banquet at the Grand Hotel, not even a certificate. Maybe one day; in the meantime, we'll start small.

Last year, the prize was awarded to Effective Assessment in a Digital Age, published by JISC. A number of excellent resources made the shortlist.

This year was a stellar year in the world of online learning, with some worthwhile contenders for the prize. Some notables include (in no particular order):
- Open Educational Resources in Brazil, UNESCO
- MITx: The Next Chapter for University Credentialing? Audrey Watters
- Using WordPress as a Syllabus Database, Alexandre Enkerli
- BlackBoard to Moodle Project Plan, Robin R Ethridge
- A TAACCCTful mandate? OER, SCORM and the $2bn grant, Lorna Campbell
- Rushkoff to Google: Don't Give Up on the Humans, Douglas Rushkoff
- Building Personal Learning Environments by using and mixing ICT tools in a professional way, Linda Castañeda and Javier Soto
- A Network Theory of Power,
Manuel Castells
- Freeing the LMS, Steve Kolowich
- Future Work Skills 2020, The University of Phoenix Research Institute

Any of these would make an excellent selection. Each combines some basic elements: it's a well-written piece, it touches on a significant event of 2011, and it was widely regarded by the community.

But it's not just up to me. I select the items that go into OLDaily, some 2900 for the year 2011. But after that, it's up to you, the readers. You create the top links through your actions. It's not a perfect system - it under-reports the actual traffic, and it confuses popular search result traffic with real news. Sometimes the link is to things that don't yet exist, like MITx or the Pearson Open LMS. Sometimes people try to run up traffic for themselves and campaign for awards like this. These false positives need to be eliminated. So there's some interpretation. But the winner must be unambiguously a top link from this list. As is this year's link.

So, without further ado, the Downes Prize goes to:

Acceptable Use Policies in Web 2.0 & Mobile Era
Consortium for School Networking, June 1, 2011.
The Consortium for School Networking has posted a web 2.0 and mobile acceptable use policy (AUP) guide (PDF download). Though brief, the resource outlines AUP policy formation and, most significantly, lists relevant laws for a couple dozen U.S. states. The guide also links to sample policies and additional resources. Via Fred Delventhal on Diigo.

Congratulations to the Consortium for School Networking">Consortium for School Networking for a job well done.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Open Educational Resources, SCORM, Web 2.0, Books, UNESCO, Google, Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Metadata, Online Learning, Personal Learning Environment]

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Online Learning 2012: Six Issues That Refuse to Die
Jim Shimabukuro, educational technology & change, December 30, 2011.

Jim Shimabukuro reviews six stories "that refuse to die":
- Issue #1: "Can current leaders take higher education into the 21st century? Most indications are no."
- Issue #2: "Are we past Web 2.0 yet? I think we are."
- Issue #3. "Is the F2F vs. online debate over? ...the debate will continue."
- Issue #4. "Is multimedia better than text? ... the choice isn’t always either-or."
- Issue #5. "Is synchronous better than asynchronous? This issue goes hand in hand with #4 above."
- Issue #6. "Is 'net generation' a misnomer for today’s students? ... it’s not a matter of how well they use the technology we’ve selected but what they expect in terms of content and pedagogy."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Web 2.0]

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2011: The Year the Free Ride Died
Joe Brockmeier, ReadWriteCloud, December 30, 2011.

files/images/free-ride.jpg, size: 15317 bytes, type:  image/jpeg There has been a lot of talk over the last year about the idea that "you are the product" of the free social networking sites such as Facebook. This is quite accurate; in exchange for offering you these services for free, the companies aggregate your personal data and sell it to corporate marketers and intelligence agencies. But it is a mistake to suggest, following, that this means "the end of free". For one thing, even if you pay for these services, and any online service, they will still collect personal information and sell it. This comes about, not because the site is free, but because the company offering it is a commercial for-profit entity. And that suggests the flip-side of free: online services where, instead of being the product, you are the owner. My own website is like that, my cooperative newspaper will be like that, public services (like some online courses, Wikipedia, etc), are like that, and more models will emerge. This is not the year free died. It's the year we saw the commercial web for what it really is. And didn't like it.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Networks, Wikipedia, Privacy Issues]

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files/images/OCW062.JPG, size: 32614 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
OWS Education Reform Demands
Elaine Hirsch, Let Children Play, December 30, 2011.

This article is a bit light but I think it's useful to have some of the statements from the Occupy Wall Street people on the subject of education on the record. On the subject of K-12 education they urge more funding, greater public control, and less of an emphasis on standardized testing. On higher education the cost of tuition was a major factor, as well as interest rates on student loans and concerns about financial institutions recruiting on university campuses.

Related, there has been some interesting dialogue about what appears to be a sea change in opinion on U.S. education reform. Tom Hoffman writes, "At the intersection of Mathews, Russo, and Cody today, the most important point is that reformers have nothing to gain through more public debate. They've got the inside game, and that's all they need. They are strongest when policymakers and politicians are completely unaware of any alternative vision. That's why they constantly claim that no alternative vision has been articulated, when many have been, in great detail and rigor. It is getting harder for them to keep up that stance, but as more and more data comes in showing their approaches aren't working, they'll have to double down."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Tuition and Student Fees, Tests and Testing]

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Semi-Academic Nonfiction
Alexandre Enkerli, Disparate, December 30, 2011.

Good post on the subject of "'semi-academic nonfiction' (SAN, hereafter). SAN books are frequently written by academics but are meant for a 'general audience'." The two types of books are interestingly different in some ways (for example, the way they document sources). But they are also distributed through different channels. Even though "most university presses have 'general' books, meant for a broad audience... it still sounds like academic publishing is its own 'game', especially in terms of distribution." And the big difference between them is probably readability. "To some, this unreadability comes from the complexity of the material itself. To others, it’s a sign that academics are unskilled writers. In such a context, the increased readability of books which 'aren’t too academic' is probably welcome.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Academia]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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