OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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April 24, 2012

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Remaking education in the image of our desires
George Siemens, elearnspace, April 24, 2012.

George Siemens offers a longish post on the Education Innovation Summit, another proud product sponsored by the Gates Foundation and a bunch of publishers. He says he'll be back again; they'll probably invite him if he keeps saying things like "entrepreneurship is a good thing in education" and "Many parts of the education system are in horrible shape." That said, if you read through to the bottom (and get past the horrible one, two or three word paragraphs - they're becoming a trend and education writers have got to stop using them) you begin to see his doubts: "Summit attendees are building something that will impact education. I’m worried that this something may be damaging to learners and society while rewarding for investors and entrepreneurs." This, I guess, is the difference between myself and Siemens: I start with the doubts, having seen so much evidence that they're warranted, and don't apologize for having them. But the entrepreneurs don't want to hear such doubts. "The conference was mono-voiced," as Siemens says.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Books, Online Learning]

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Twitter, professional identity, and the 1st Amendment
Jon Becker, Educational Insanity, April 24, 2012.

Canada of course has no first amendment but nonetheless has enshrined both legal freedoms of speech and religion. There is moreover the expectation that government will remain neutral with respect to religion, not favouring one over the other, as seen in a recent case involving the banning of Gideon Bible distribution in public schools. Hence the same argument exists here against the use of Twitter by publicly employed teachers to promote their own religion. But in my opinion it would be a mistake, even if Twitter posts are seen as public utterances or even publications. A public school's official Twitter account - or any other internet service - should remain religion-free. But it is unreasonable to apply the ban to a person's private Twitter account, no more than it would be to ban a person from publicly attending church on Sunday mornings or putting a cross in their front yard. People - including public employees - have the right to freedom of expression and conscience and all the rest, and it is illegitimate to argue that their employment permeates all aspects of their private lives.

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

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Are On-line Discussion Forums Conversations?
Nancy Dixon, conversation matters, April 24, 2012.

This post reports on a study of corporate discussion threads initiated by the posing of a question (so they are not what I would call typical discussion forums). Still, this post has some interesting material to think about. First, to answer the main question, Nancy Dixon writes:
1. It is possible to have conversations in on-line forums.
2. But many on-line exchanges are not conversations, they are just declarations of each responder’s position
3. When conversations do occur in on-line forums the learning and performance results go up.
Interestingly (from my perspective) these conclusions are based on the effect of diversity in the discussion forums. "Research has shown that diverse groups are often more creative, innovative, and productive than homogenous groups." But "diversity without discussion is less helpful."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Discussion Lists, Online Learning]

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Public school students better prepared for university
Unattributed, CBC News, April 24, 2012.

Results in your country may vary. "Students from public schools may be better prepared for the transition to university, a new study is suggesting. The UBC study looked at 4,500 first year physics and calculus students between 2002 and 2006 at UBC and found that public school graduates scored an average of about two to three per cent higher than private school graduates."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Private Schools, Online Learning]

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El algoritmo RSA
Jorge Ramió Aguirre, Website, April 24, 2012.

Spanish language MOOC on cryptography. (I'm still catching up on the emails people have sent me about their MOOCs). "l objetivo de Crypt4you es convertirse en el Aula Virtual de referencia de seguridad de la información en lengua hispana." The course is about the RSA encryption algorithms.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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The Connectivist Approach Applied to Research
Various Authors, Project Brain / YouTube, April 24, 2012.

YouTube video (or as they say in the trades, SLYT (Single Link You Tube)). "Interview with Stephen Downes for the Brain (Building Research and Innovation Networks) project at Coventry University, UK. Brain was part of the JISC VRE3 programme." Other interviews (George Siemens, Etienne Wenger) are also available. There's a lot of potential in research networks for the future. Like, maybe, the Canadian Research Data Centre Network. Or the NSERC Business Intelligence Network.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Great Britain, YouTube, Project Based Learning, Video, Research, Networks, Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Canada]

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Exploring Group Forming Strategies by Examining Participation Behaviours during Whole Class Discussions
Namsook Jahng and Mark Bullen, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, April 24, 2012.

There's no end to the possibilities for analysis of online discussion group contents, and this paper is another effort to mine the new treasure-trove of data now available to education researchers. This latest work in this genre examines online small group-formation strategies "to determine if there is any relationship between whole class and small group behaviour." The authors argue "The findings highlight the value of using proper grouping methods to increase participation and collaboration." In particular, "We recommend an instructor-lead careful and systematic group formation process instead of self-allocation or random assignment as suggested in the literature."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Research, Discussion Lists]

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Incorporating 4MAT Model in Distance Instructional Material – An Innovative Design
Alexandra Nikolaou and Maria Koutsouba, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, April 24, 2012.

This paper is more of a design exercise than anything else, but it's interesting, and offers some good resources for those people interested in learning styles (learning style sceptics need not read further). Those new to learning styles will appreciate the table listing almost a dozen major learning styles theories. The paper focuses on Bernice McCarthy’s 1972 4MAT Model, which is "an eight-step cycle of instruction that capitalizes on individual learning styles and brain dominance processing preferences." It then describes the implimentation of this model in an online learning scenario. The idea is that but structuring learning through all eight steps, all individual learning styles are accomodated. I think there's merit to the suggestion even if we can disagree about differentiated instruction or whether each of the eight steps is necessary or sufficient.

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

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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