November 8, 2012
Scraping ugly HTML using ‘regular expressions’
Online Journalism Blog, November 8, 2012.
A lot of the magic that I work behind the scenes in this newsletter and the MOOCs we run is based on regular expressions. This is a two part post (part one, part two) providing an overview. Ignore the references to 'OutWit Hub' - regular expressions work everywhere, not just in the one system (well, ok, not everywhere, but anywhere you're working with sufficiently powerful programming langauges). Basically, regular expressions are pattern matchers - they are code used to define types of patterns that can be matched against strings, to extract from strings, or change strings. Why would this be useful? Well, suppose you have a huge pile of data, like, say, every blog post published today. Regular expressions can be used to zero on those posts that talk about a certain thing, or class of things. They're also really useful for categorization - instead of using tags, which are labour intensive, I simply define a topic 'tag' as a shorthand for a regular expression.
[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Web Logs, Newsletters, Ontologies]
The US election was a wake up call for data illiterate journalists
Online Journalism Blog, November 8, 2012.
The difference between old education and new education is the same as this: "Journalists get access to privileged information from official sources, then evaluate, filter, and order it through the rather ineffable quality alternatively known as 'news judgment,' 'news sense,' or 'savvy' ... Silver’s process — his epistemology — is almost exactly the opposite of this: Where political journalists’ information is privileged, his is public, coming from poll results that all the rest of us see, too." Now I'm not saying new education boils down to numbers and data. What I'm saying is that while old education traded on privileged access to expert opinion, new education is based on media accessible to all. Of course, it's not like journalsts have learned any lessons.
[Link] [Comment][Tags: Accessibility, Quality]
How 'Open' Are MOOCs?
Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2012.
The attendees at EDUCAUSE 2012 turn their attention to MOOCs and open educational resources (OERs), asking, finally, how open are MOOCs? As Clay Shirky noted in his leynote, the most provocative aspect of MOOCs is not their massiveness, it is their openness. But what does that mean? Ian Bogost says, "'openness' is less often a virtue or even an activity than it is a declaration, a rhetorical framing, a kind of branding." My own view is that the 'openness' in open courses means rather more than 'without charge'. And if you look at the commercial MOOC providers, Coursera and Udacity, 'open' doesn't mean very open at all. Now I don't go so far as to say everything must be licensed just-so in order to be 'open' - open doesn't mean the same thing as 'reusable by publishers to make money off free stuff' either. 'Open' is, well, open. Drop in, have a look around, make some friends, do some things, and please don't make a mess on the furniture. But nobody seems to get that because they're all deferring to the businessmen and the lawyers. See also: the Chronicle. Also Tim Klapdor, writing about the same thing.
[Link] [Comment][Tags: Branding, Open Educational Resources, Books, EDUCAUSE, Google]
Drupal LMS to replace Moodle – Sakai – Instructure – Blackboard
Gilfus Education Group, November 8, 2012.
According to Gilfus, "A Georgia-based company today announced at Educause 2012 the availability of an enterprise extensible LMS built fully on Drupal technology. The company expects to take Moodle, Instructure and Blackboard head on by leveraging one of the world’s largest open source communities to deploy an enterprise open source learning management system... This new Drupal learning management system for education (K12 and Higher Ed) is called Adrenna Academic." Could Drupal serve as an LMS? Well, sure. But I've used Drupal a lot over the years and I always come away frustrated and disappointed. I think you'd be better off with a purpose-build LMS than one built as layers on top of Drupal (which is itself layers on layers), both for reasons of speed (unless you really know how to optimize Drupal) and reasons of simplicity.
[Link] [Comment][Tags: Blackboard Inc., Drupal, EDUCAUSE, Content Management Systems, Open Source, Online Learning, Academia]
Bookboon.com’s textbooks will remain free for students
Thomas Buus Madsen,
Bookboon, November 8, 2012.
A competitor to Flat World Knowledge, Bookboon, has announced that it will continue to distribute free online texts. "They were only relying on converting free users to paying customers. I can assure you this is not the case for bookboon.com. Since the start, we at bookboon.com have taken a different route. We decided to make our free textbooks easily accessible to all students, all over the world, by creating an alliance with the students’ future employers. These future employers pay for the insertion of a limited number of adverts inside the textbooks to highlight future career opportunities to students." So... we'll see.
[Link] [Comment][Tags: Accessibility]
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