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August 28, 2012

New Forms of Assessment
Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, August 28, 2012.

Something from me today. I propose some new ways of doing assessment based on measuring what you contribute rather than what you collect - what you give rather than what you earn (whether that be grades or dollars).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Assessment]

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Designing a Learning Design MOOC
GrĂ¡inne Conole, e4innovation.com, August 28, 2012.

Gráinne Conole writes, "I am very excited to be part of a team developing a Learning Design Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which will be delivered in October 2012." I will refrain from saying that this is a bit of a contradiction, at least, I'll refrain until I see the result. :)

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Tin Can in the Trenches
Wendy Wickham, Tin Can API, August 28, 2012.

I'm still keeping an eye on Tin Can because it promises to make what Scott Wilson is calling 'paradata' available to learning management systems. As Wendy Wickham says, "Running reports from my LMS and making up numbers is fine. But my Holy Grail is the ability to attach the stuff coming out of the enterprise systems with the stuff from the LMS without having to go through the [long and involved] process." It's a way to track your performance in other systems, so the LMS can recommend appropriate learning (I can imagine, for example, getting a refresher course on SAP from my LMS after taking my usual two or three hours to update a few day's worth of time records (assuming of course that SAP implemented Tin Can).

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The Problems with Coursera's Peer Assessments
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, August 28, 2012.

Coursera plans to handle 'soft' courses, such as those in the humanities, using peer assessment. Research shows peer assessments result in reliable grading. But as noted here, "peer assessment in a class of thirty is very different than peer assessment in a class of several thousand." The account posted by Laura Gibbs is especially telling. "There is going to be a whole range of feedback, from the very zealous people who give feedback longer than the essay itself, to the grammar police (yes, they are everywhere), to the ill-informed grammar police, and on down to the 'good job!' people with their two-word comments, and finally the people who commented not in English or who offered incomprehensible comments that had been translated by Google Translate." Which just tells me that free-form 'pretend you are a teacher' peer feedback isn't going to work for MOOCs.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Google, Assessment]

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Ed Startup
David Wiley, Richard Culatta, Todd Manwaring, and Aaron Miller, Website, August 28, 2012.

Just launched, a MOOC called Ed Startup. "This is a course about bridging the gap between theory and practice. As you participate in EdStartup, you’ll learn how to identify and analyze meaningful problems, find solutions to those problems, and package and distribute those solutions in a self-sustaining way that will bless the lives of students, teachers, parents, and others for years to come." See also Audrey Watters. Also, if you don't feel like going through the whole course sign-up process, you can read the whole course in one 16-page PDF. Here's David Wiley's video intro. And an intro post. Here's my own short video intro (I'm not sure how involved I'll be in the course but it's nice to do at least one thing). Also a short video on tagging blog posts.

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Sebastian Thrun bets education over driverless cars
Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, August 28, 2012.

The key part of Mark Guzdial's conversation with Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun is this: "He's not out to replace the lower end.  He’s trying to create a new, low-cost option at the upper end of the higher-education spectrum.  He wants to create an inexpensive, high-quality 'Elite' (to use Rich DeMillo’s term): An E-Ivy, or an ubiquitously-accessible Stanford." My take: the learning system is simply the set-up for the testing system, and he's betting he can create a testing system with Ivy-league credentials.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Accessibility, Ubiquitous Internet, Quality, Online Learning, Tests and Testing]

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The Internet Map: 350,000 Websites In 1 Stunning Visualization
Jeff Dunn, Edudemic, August 28, 2012.

This site, downes.ca, is tiny and almost right at the centre of the map - just what and where I want to be. "The Internet map is a bi-dimensional presentation of links between websites on the Internet."

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Inquiry-Based Learning With or Without Facilitator Interactions
Thushani Alwis Weerasinghe, Robert Ramberg and Kamalanath Priyantha Hewagamage, The Journal of Distance Education, August 27, 2012.

This another one of those micro-studies so fondly sought by the academic journals in education, but I mention it for a couple of reasons: first, because it challenges some of the conclusions usually found on such articles, and second, because of the study methodology. The sample is tiny - 20 discussion threads from four courses taught at a single institution. The authors argue, "students in online discussions can engage in deep and meaningful learning, even when there is no facilitator interaction" (I can't imagine how that got past the reviewers). The study examined threads that were teacher-initiated, and threads that were student-initiated, looking for indicators of cognitive presence such as problem-solving activity and peer support. One wonders what such a methodology would yield over thousands upon thousands of threads at Yahoo, Slashdot, Metafilter, and the rest. Would you still say "successful inquiries are possible without teacher or facilitator interactions (only?) if learning environments are designed to support students being interactive and the students have motivation, regulatory skills and a willingness to collaborate with their peers."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Yahoo!, Interaction, Academic Journals, Discussion Lists, Academia, Academic Publications]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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