OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 9, 2013

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Quick review of the Larnaca Learning Design Declaration
Sheila MacNeill, Sheila’s work blog, January 9, 2013.

OK, I have to admit, my first thought on encountering this was to wonder why there would need to be a declaration on learning design. But the Larnaca Declaration is just that (though you'll need to click on a link to an MS-Word document to read it (PDF here)). It suggests an analogy by which we should understand learning design: musical notation. "The purpose of creating musical notation was not simply the abstract concept of music representation; rather, it was a vehicle for conveying great musical ideas to others." Part 2 offers a good history of learning design (there's a 'clip-and-save' table on page 7) while part 3 looks at the problem "that the foundational ideas and definitions are not sufficiently clear" in the field, including the bugbear of "pedagogical neutrality". The Declaration then turns to the 'Learning Design Conceptual Map', which is an attempt to extablish a common framework for describing learning designs. I'm thinking maybe they should call it 'teaching design', since the focus is on the teacher as, if you will, maestro.

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Blackboard Users Conference #durbbu: The Learning Ecology
David Hopkins, Technology Enhanced Learning Blog, January 9, 2013.

Notes from the UK Blackboard Users Conference. The first post outlines the 'Make Do or Spend' theme looking at how colleges and universities are responding to funding pressures, and in particular, an overview of Alison Littlejohn's talk 'The learning ecology: why the promise of an economy of scale has not been achieved.' Notes Littlejohn, "To move forward we need to do some 'unlearning'." The second post outlines Director of Product Management with Blackboard LearnGreg Ritter's perspective, and in particular, "Blackboard Analytics [which] extract student data, from both Blackboard and Institution student-records systems, for use in reporting to different stakeholders."

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Free-Textbook Group Will Sell Its E-Books on Chegg, for a Small Fee
Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 9, 2013.

I'm not sure what the problem is, but according to this Chronicle report, "some producers of free e-textbooks have had trouble persuading professors to adopt them." It's the sort of story the Chronicle loves. So they report with glee "one backer of 'open-source textbooks' has decided to sell its titles on Chegg, an online textbook retailer, for a small fee in hopes of reaching a wider audience." I'm not sure exactly how charging money will increase readership. We're supposed to believe the problem is that "few professors have heard of the Twenty Million Minds Foundation or of OpenStax College, the Rice University-run service that hosts the free textbooks produced by the foundation." To me that says the problem is with the professors, not the books. No surprise, that.

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Enter the MOOC
Todd Krohn, The Power Elite, January 9, 2013.

A fairly typical reaction: "While I don't see MOOC's "democratizing higher education" (which I think is a euphemism for "watering down content," see below), I do believe their value as a continuing education conduit cannot be overstated. They offer individuals a chance to brush up on certain skills, learn a new skill set, or simply explore a subject they were always interested in but never got to when they were younger. They offer companies a relatively cheap way to re-train workers and improve the skill set of their employees." Nobody seems to have anything new to say about MOOCs, suggesting that nobody really knows anything about them (this does not stop them from opining, however).

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Paying for Proof
Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, January 9, 2013.

Coursera has announced a system for verifying identities and paying for credentials for completing open online courses, according to reports from the Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed. See also: TechCrunch, Steve Krause. The verification system will involve having the student send a webcam photo of his or her identity document; there was also some discussion of typing style recognition. In my view, automated authentication will not work unless it is in the student's interest to maintain the integrity of the system (the way it it, for example, with one's bank card or credit card).

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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