OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 24, 2012

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Journals, academia and the ivory tower
Doug Belshaw, Weblog, January 24, 2012.

In the denouement of online journals nothing quite matches Daniel Lemire's condemnation of Elsevier: "Elsevier has committed too many sins to give an exhaustive list: they have created fake academic journals so that pharmaceutical corporations could claim that certain facts appeared in a journal, they have sponsored evil regulations, and they have restrictive views on what constitutes fair use. Unbelievably, they were also involved in arms trade. They probably have the devil on their board of directors." And Doug Belshaw links to a good tirade on their worth, quoting Dan Meyer: "They affect a lot of policy, which I think is a really good, top-down approach. But then I’m over here and I can post something that’s seen by 10,000 people overnight. That’s the number of subscribers I have to my blog right now." Or as Belshaw concludes, "Is the only reason we persist with journals and their articles is because they provide a convenient means to weigh the pig?"

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Academic Journals, Web Logs, Academia, Academic Publications]

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iBooks Author and the Coming eTextbook Revolution in Higher Education
Frank Lowney, Thinking About Tomorrow, January 24, 2012.

I think that if you take the ideas behind open and distributed online learning, and combine them with some of the recent developments in the world of eBooks, you get some very powerful synergies. "For the first time in history, colleges and universities fully control the means of eTextbook production, start to finish, inception to delivery. They need no help in producing world class eTextbooks. The seeds of revolution are in hand."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Online Learning, Paradigm Shift]

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Online University Education in Canada
George Siemens, elearnspace, January 24, 2012.

George Siemens links to this report which says there isn't much innovation in online education in Canada. The report states, "Online education, particularly in Canada, has often been perceived as a poor fit with education and training needs... lack of Canadian data and strategy, lack of collaboration, and lack of resources targeted to online university education remain barriers." In particular, says the report, "Canada has weak national innovation indicators... Online education’s ability to foster workplace innovation and STEM growth is not being maximized... (and) Canadian online innovations (virtual environments, integrated learning systems) are ad hoc." Moreover, "The United States is demonstrating leadership in online education innovation thanks to broad‐based national and philanthropic support... Canadian shared e‐resource development projects tend to be provincial (limited) in scope... Open Education Resources offer the potential for cost and utility benefits, but face challenges related to support, resourcing, and systems."

From where I sit, a lot of innovation is happening in Canada. As Siemens notes, "On a personal note, I was pleased to see that University of Manitoba listed the work Stephen Downes and I have done with massive open online courses (MOOCs) as an innovation (p. 31)." But what usually happens is that the innovation is not recognized until it is adopted elsewhere. And I think the report does have a point about the lack of financial and institutional support (not that I believe a 'national strategy' would change that). Well, meanwhile, there's a whole lot of free learning going on.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Traditional and Online Courses, Project Based Learning, United States, Leadership, Canada, Online Learning]

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Stanford AI Professor Thrun Leaves University to Start Udacity, an Online Learning Startup
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, January 24, 2012.

All over the edublogosphere today is the news that Sebastian Thrun is leaving Stanford to form a new open online leanring venture. "The Artificial Intelligence class was run by Know Labs in partnership with the university. Know Labs has now rebranded to Udacity, and this will be site where Thrun will offer his online CS courses, separate from the Stanford University umbrella." There's more on this from Inside Higher Ed. This article acknowledges that there were some other things done prior to the Stanford course and correctly picks out Thrun and Norvig's major addition to the form, an automated assignment grading system: "The option of submitting coursework that will be acknowledged by the professors -- rather than just reading a syllabus and watching lectures -- 'forces you to exercise.'" There's more from the Chronicle as well.

What's more interesting to me - and apparently also to George Siemens - was the impact on the instructors. Siemens writes, "Perhaps Thrun’s move shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve interacted with many learners in the open courses we’ve done, and I frequently hear the experience described as 'transformative' or 'life changing'. When the education system is synchronized with the interests and passions of learners, the process is invigorating and tremendously motivating. However, when learners and educators have to fight the existing education system in order to learn and teach, it’s time for dramatic change. Thrun has recognized that tomorrow’s education system will be a function of large-scale teaching and personalized, social, participative learning. Even then, it’s still surprising to hear him state that 'I can’t teach at Stanford again.'"

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Personalization, Experience, Online Learning]

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Sloan-C’s Definition of 'Online Course' May Be Out of Sync with Reality
Jim Shimabukuro, educational technology & change, January 24, 2012.

Back when 'online' usually had an offline component, it made sense to define an 'online course' as, say, 75 percent online (or whatever). And today, it makes no sense at all. "How would anyone possibly determine, with any kind of accuracy, that a course was 79.4% online and 20.6% F2F (face to face)? Six-tenths of a percent shy of 80% and the course is blended rather than online? This distinction is ultimately irrelevant and serves no practical purpose." Personally, I've always felt that if the course requires you to show up somewhere, it isn't online - because really, unless you live in the same city, you won't be showing up, which means the course is as inaccessible to you as it would be if it were 100 percent offline.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Accessibility, Traditional and Online Courses, Blended Learning]

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Star Wars Uncut & Schooling
Steve Collis, HappySteve, January 24, 2012.

'Star Wars Uncut' is a crowd-sourced version of Star wars. Yes, the entire movie, more than two hours long. Each participant create a 15-second slice of the movie. The organizers spliced them together to form the entire 123 minutes. Here it is on YouTibe (most of the other sites, including Vimeo and the main Star Wars Uncut web site have been staggering under the traffic). Steve Collis draws the obvious link between this achievement and education: "Understanding the schooling paradigm-shift requires one to be a culture-watcher. It is the seismic changes in society which make the schooling system appear so anachronistic and functionally irrelevant... Consider the 'technologies of schooling': classrooms, authority figures, timetables, reporting, yadayadayada. These are redundant technologies. They are the equivalent of a horse-and-cart, or a punch-card reader. Schooling as we know it is an anachronistic technology."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Online Learning, Paradigm Shift]

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HTML5 Please
Various Authors, Website, January 24, 2012.

On the HTML5 front, as browsers develop capacities, guidlines for the use of HTML5 are being unrolled. Here's a good one: "Look up HTML5, CSS3, etc features, know if they are ready for use, and if so find out how you should use them – with polyfills, fallbacks or as they are. When Can I Use tells you the browser support story, while Modernizr gives you the power of feature detection. HTML5 Please helps you out with recommendations for polyfills and implementation so you can decide if and how to put each of these features to use. The recommendations below represent the collective knowledge of developers who have been deep in the HTML5 trenches." Ah, I'm so far behind on this I'll need a bus to catch up.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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