OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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March 8, 2013

Your first degree course is a MOOC
Alastair Creelman, The corridor of uncertainty, March 8, 2013

reports: "MOOC2degreeis a new initiative that offers the first course of a degree program as a MOOC in the hope of recruiting students on to the full program. A consortium of seven US universities under the coordination of Academic Partnerships are already on board and intend to use MOOCs as a shop window for their regular programs." It's a bit like a loss leader - get them to do a few courses for free, earn some credits, and then have them sign up to pay full tuition for the rest of the program. "This is very mainstream and is simply a way of recruiting to regular university degree programs," says Creelman. But the main problem I can see is that it is offloading the university's most lucrative courses - high-enrollment first-year 'weeder' courses taught by teaching assistants or adjuncts - and retaining the high-cost low-return upper level courses taught by full professors to small classes. I'm not sure how that's a plan.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Tuition and Student Fees]

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How to Deploy Two-Factor Authentication
Joel Snyder, EdTech Magazine, March 8, 2013

We're reading more recently about something called 'two factor authentication'. Here's the concept: "This technique combines a password with something else the user has, such as a token, smart card or a biometric identifier." The 'gold standard' of two factor authentication is the token - a card, signet ring, or some other item that can't be easily duplicated. Google has been trying to use the mobile phone number to generate the second factor - but this depends on people having a mobile phone (and an account in good standing), and they have to not mind surrendering this form of identification to Google. I think we may be moving eventually to some sort of encrypted USB key, at least for online authentication, much like the client certificate created in your browser by StartSSL and similar companies. Unlike your mobile phone number, it won't be directly connected to the credit bureau or marketing department. But unlike passwords, it can't be cracked. In any event, we'll have to do something, as the best-before date for password technology has long since passed.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Marketing, Google, Security Issues]

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Re-thinking Workplace Learning: extracting rather than adding
Charles Jennings, performance.learning.productivity, March 8, 2013

Typically when people think of workplace learning they think of the learning as something added to the work. That's the sense of the phrase "on the job training" - as though training weren't something you would notmally be doing. Charles Jennings recasts that way of thinking in what I think is a compelling manner - instead of learning being added to the work, it's something extractedfrom the work. Now this isn't 'knowledge capture' or some similar information mining technique. The idea here is one of supporting staff to learn more from their day-to-day work activities. This approach creates challenges: "It can’t be managed and controlled in the way discrete training and learning injections into the workflow can be, [and]most of the learning processes are opaque to HR and L&D."

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

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Further Evidence of Complete Stupidity in the US Patent Office
Stephen Marshall, Stephen's Blog, March 8, 2013

As Stephen Marshall says, "I really wish the trade people discussing the need for stronger intellectual property protection would deal with the problem of stupid patents like this - they would have more credibility in arguing their case if they weren't trying to protect a fundamentally corrupt and broken system." Why the outburst? The U.S. patent office has granted US Patent 7,805,252 "Systems and methods for designing and ordering polynucleotides" to DNA Twopointo, Inc. - a patent "equivalent to the patent office issuing a patent to someone for displaying characters in English and then allowing users to edit them with a keyboard."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Patents, Google, Copyrights]

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No. 5 aha moment: the Web as a universal standard
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, March 8, 2013

This is another in the ongoing series by Tony Bates. The particular insight reported this time is "The web allows rich multimedia material to be transmitted to any computer, any software system, anywhere in the world, with an Internet connection. This has had profound implications for the design of online teaching which we still have by no means fully understood or exploited." It took several years for people to realize this, and I don't think it became obvious until the launch of the Mosaic browser in 1993 - it was then we could actually see media (well, slowly loading images) integrated with text. It was why I thought the WWW would be the backbone in this early account of an LMS. It's hard to underestimate the impact the web had on the field 20 years ago. Bates is quite right to identify this insight as significant.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Wikipedia, Teaching Online]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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