OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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December 11, 2012

Highlights From PIRLS 2011: Reading Achievement of U.S. Fourth-Grade Students in an International Context
Various Authors, National Center for Education Statistics, December 11, 2012.

The Globe and Mail (which I will not link to, because of a paywall) made a big deal about this report today. I'm not sure how much I want to build into reading test results for fourth-grade students, but the Globe was concerned that Canada was not in the group of 'elite countries' (most of which are not actually countries: Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland) and even worse, that the U.S. scored ahead of us. These results are frankly not believable, particularly when we read (p. 17) that "No education system scored higher than Florida." I think they may be counting reading scores the way they count votes. Better to rely on international tests such as PISA, in my view (assuming, that is, we believe test results are a reliable indicator at all).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: China, Canada]

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The sound of learning
Dave Ferguson, Dave's Whiteboard, December 11, 2012.

Dave Ferguson getting it (mostly) right again: "Natalie and Buddy are exemplary musicians–but notice what’s going on in the video around the 2:00 mark: a whole stageful of musicians, ranging over at least a span of 60 years of age, takes up bows and dives into the music. No one’s tracking them in an FMS (Fiddle Management System); no one’s worried about the failure to capture and embed Shareable Audio Objects. People put time and effort into becoming better at an activity they find worthwhile." Of course, it's good that someone cared enough to create a sharable audio-video object, otherwise we wouldn't have this example to share.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, Audio]

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Headhunting by MOOC
Alastair Creelman, The corridor of uncertainty, December 11, 2012.

Commentary on reports from last week that Coursera is planning to sell student information to companies as a recruiting tool. "If the company is interested in one of those students, then Coursera sends an e-mail to the student asking whether he or she would be interested in being introduced to that company. The company pays a flat fee to Coursera for each introduction." According to the post, Udacity is also marketing information in the same way. Personally, I think it's a really good business model, though I do understand the concern that this may drive courses to fit corporate training objectives, rather than wider social needs. But we should understand, it's an option, a piece of the puzzle, and not the whole thing. "Combine this with the Open Badges initiative and suddenly there are several alternative educational paths that may be just as likely to lead you to employment as the traditional road." Alternatives create opportunities, and opportunities create innovation.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Course Modules, Marketing, Online Learning, Student Record Systems]

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The Best OER Revise / Remix Ever?
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, December 11, 2012.

cover-thumb.jpg, size: 25350 bytes, type:  image/jpeg What I like most of this revise and remix project is the objective. As described by David Wiley: "I wanted my students to gain hands on experience managing a project, I wanted them to feel the pressure of hitting deliverables, I wanted them to feel the nausea of having things fall through, I wanted them to learn to navigate managing people, and most of all I wanted them to feel the joy of completing a piece of work that blesses people lives." He wanted, in other words, to produce real world experience, because he knows that actually doing somethingis far more valuable that simply being told about doing something. That's the sort of thing open learning - with open resources - can produce. Sure, maybe his students produced "the best OER revise/remix ever," or maybe not. It's irrelevant. They learned in the best way possible - that's what's relevant.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, Project Based Learning, Experience]

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Matrimonia por Conveniencia
Laura Rey Gonnet, la diaria dia del futuro, December 11, 2012.

This is a bit niche, but here's coverage in a Uruguyan newspaper of my presentation and minicourse in Montevideo a couple weeks ago. In Spanish. See also the full PDF (but note it freezes Firefox solid on me, better in Chrome).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video]

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Size Isn't Everything
Cathy N. Davidson, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 11, 2012.

I have to admit, I am one of the people bemused by all the attention MOOCs are getting, not so much that I would join some sort of anti-MOOC brigade, but enough that I know that were I know so closely associated with the concepted, I would by now be one of the people yearning for journalists to write about something else. Of course, a good amount of the journalism about MOOCs is a part of the anti-MOOC brigade, and this item is in part a case in point. Davidson summarizes, "Far too many of the MOOC's championed in the (Forbes) article use talking heads and multiple-choice quizzes in fairly standard subject areas in conventional disciplines taught by famous teachers at elite universities. There is little that prepares students for learning in the fuzzy, merged world that Negroponte sees as necessary for thriving in the 21st century." For me, what's revolutionary about MOOCs isn't size, it's openness - and openness isn't just about free content, it's about ownership over the process. And I don't see anyone who is bored (yet) of talking about open education.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Paradigm Shift]

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This Time Is Different: US Enrollment and Employment Divergence
Phil Hill, e-Literate, December 11, 2012.

I don't agree with the proposition that "this time it's different." Here's what Phil Hill writes: "The conventional wisdom holds that enrollment jumps when employment drops, and the data does show some divergence followed a few years later by a correction. What is different this time is A) the magnitude of the divergence and B) the start of the divergence fully two years before the recession started in 2008." I think the apparent spike in enrollments is created by a lot of part-time and online learning, and that it is a bit illusory. It's also caused by echo-boom effects, as the population born between 1982-1995 is in post-secondary education between 2002-1015, give or take. If (and it's a big if) employment improves, I would expect a dramatic drop in (traditional) enrollment.

What's really different is that world population is reaching a breaking point, climate change is disrupting food supplies and other industry, resource depletion has become a significant problem, and (by contrast) worldwide prosperity, literacy and general awareness has led to an increasingly restive global population. There is moreover a chronic economic imbalance, with increasingly large quantities of wealth simply being hoarded instead of invested (it's an amount that if deployed would make money itself meaningless). U.S. demographic trends - which could be rendered obsolete with one major wave of immigration - are irrelevant in the face of these wider forcess.

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

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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