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April 2, 2012

Learning analytics: Starvation and telling us what we already know?
David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, April 2, 2012.

Here's the problem with learning analytics, in one simple example: "Taking a higher ed focus, there are (at least) four roles at universities for whom learning analytics might provide benefits, including:
- Administration – retention, success, at-risk, efficiencies etc.
- Students – seeing their performance in the context of others (somewhat related to success, retention etc)
- Teachers – knowing what’s going on in their courses and what happens when they make changes.
- Researchers – as a research method that complements other quantitative and qualitative methods for figuring out the why, why, how, who etc with e-learning.
So which roles do you think learning analytics, as implemented at universities, is most likely to serve? Who holds the purse strings?" That's pretty much the problem. The people who really should benefit from the daya probably won't.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Research, Online Learning]

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DS106: The Open Online Community of Digital Storytellers
Jim Groom, Kickstarter, April 2, 2012.

I've been interested to follow the story of Jim Groom and companby's use of Kickstarter to raise money to continue the DS106 experiment. In 24 hours they made their goal of $4200 and will be buying "a grown-up server (in the cloud no less!) which comes with its own grown-up costs to the tune of over $2,800 this year" (to compare, the server running downes.ca and mooc.ca costs $1600 per year, which I pay for myself (though Athabasca University kicked in $500 this year - thanks Athabasca!). So DS106 is getting some serious hardware and bandwidth. Then an elearning company kicked in another $5000, spurred on by Michael Feldstein's offer of free publicity. Now they're talking about Gates Foundation funding and getting a bus. More realistic, I think, is the idea to embed guest artists in the course - it's one thing to run a MOOC yourself, another (as we've learned in our case) to invite guests each week.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Open Content, Bandwidth, Online Learning]

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Sharing reviews and ratings between educational web app stores
Scott Wilson, Scott's Workblog, April 2, 2012.

I'd like to see a distributed way to do this, so you could share your ratkngs as though they were RSS feeds. The Learning Reghistry might do the trick. It's a mechanism for signing and sharing data 'behind the scenes' from server to server. "The Learning Registry is not a specific destination, portal or engine that educators will “go to”. Rather, it is an open technology framework to which any content creator can publish, and any technology vendor (e.g. learning management system, content aggregators, or application developers) can leverage for their applications." Scott Wilson is working "on a new project to share 'paradata' – things like reviews, ratings, comments and download/embed stats – between several new educational app stores being developed."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Project Based Learning, Portals, RSS]

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Computational Thinking: Some thoughts about Abduction
David M. Berry, StunLaw, April 2, 2012.

Induction and deduction may be familkiar to most readers, but abduction may be a mystery. Essentially, it is a form of inference to the best explanation: you see a phenomenon of some sort and make a 'best guess' about what might explain that phenomenon. When Robinson Crusoe saw a pair of footprints and concluded there must be someone else on the island, he was inferring to the best explanation. Abduction is, as this post makes clear, a form of pattern recognition. Patterns are "reusable, structured, or formalised ways of doing things or processing information and data," or as defined by Alexander, "a three-part rule, which expresses a relation between a certain context, a problem, and a solution." Of course, patterns can be much mroe than that: "conceptual, iterative, representational, logical, mathematical, etc." The post concludes with some basic thoughts on computational pattern-detection.

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Books should be as easy to create as websites
Joe Wikert, O'Reilly Radar, April 2, 2012.

This was definitely worth a quick look, and I've created an account in case I get inspired. PressBooks is built on WordPress and is an eBook authoring application. It combines two things: ease of authoring, and output in a variety of formats, including HTML, ePub, and print-on-demand PDF. Here's a quick mslide show outlining the tool, and here's the sign-up page I was led to it via this article on O'Reilly.

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

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Version 4.0 – License Draft Ready for Public Comment!
Diane Peters, Creative Commons, April 2, 2012.

My enthusiasm for a specification wanes as the version number rises, because each new version increases complexity beyond the problem the specification was originally intended to address. So now there's a Creative Commons version 4.0 chock full of improvements I really needed.

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Being Openly Selfish and Making 'OER' Work for You
James Burke, UK Web Focus, April 2, 2012.

Interesting post looking at some of the ambiguities behind the idea of open educational resources (OERs) including how to attribute the logo, how to create machine-readable attribution, rights filtering and academic usage. For my own part, the major weakness of OER is the raft of legalism it has created in its wake. In my world (increasingly the minority view) the default is open, licensing is something only commercial users need to worry about, and common sense prevails. An icon, for example, actually loses its usefulness if you have to attach "'OER Logo' © 2012 Jonathas Mello, used under a Creative Commons license: BY-ND" to every use of it. You may as well just use the words 'OER'. To me, the best reference is still a link to the original, perhaps behind an attribution-free legalese-free OER logo. Like this: OER (which, btw, is a public domain image that would make a much better OER logo).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, Academia]

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Badges: talking at cross purposes?
Doug Belshaw, Weblog, April 2, 2012.

The world is a complex place. The only way to deal with it is is to simply - to create abstractions, or as I would say, to identify and recognize patterns in the phenomena. When we teach, we often take the short-cut of teaching these simplifications directly, rather than having students identify and recognize them for themselves. This may be more efficient - there's no shortage of studies that show this - but each time we teach a simplification, we make it harder for students to recognize new or alternative patterns in the same phenomena. But complex phenomena are dynamic, changing, and the simplifications are rarely valid for long. It's better to learn how to recognize patterns for oneself, to cope with this changing phenomena. The use of badges to recognize learning exaggereates that problem, because badges tend to privilege the learning of simplifications. That's the argument - and it's a good argument - you can extract from this discussion if you stick with it from the initial exhange between Doug Belshaw and Dave Cormier, then the follow-up post by Terry Wassall and though to the comments on that post.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Online Learning]

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Canadian Open Government Consultation Final Report
Richard Ackerman, Science Library Pad, April 1, 2012.

Richard Ackerman summarizes: "The Final Report of the Canadian Open Government Consultation has been posted. It's a straightforward summary of the input provided. There were over 260 submissions to the online consultation. President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement states, "These consultations were also instrumental in developing our Open Government Action Plan which I will present in April 2012 at the Open Government Partnership in Brazil. Each element of the Action Plan is supported by what we heard during the consultation process."
- Canadian Open Government Consultation Final Report<
- Final Report of the Canadian Open Government Consultation
- Open Government Action Plan
- Open Government Partnership

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Canada]

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'Fair trade' solution to learning a new language
Dave Lee, BBC, April 1, 2012.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this service. It uses Skype to enable people from the developing world to make money offering immersive language learning online. The rates are reasonable - 8 Euros an hour. But the company offering the service takes 25 percent off the top, which seems high to me. The website features a quick intro video, a half dozen languages, and ratings for individual tutors.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, Audio Chat and Conferencing, Online Learning]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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