OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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July 24, 2013

Through the MOOC Darkly - Reflections on Life, Learning and the Future of Education
Stephen Downes, July 24, 2013, Saylor Speaker Series, Washington D.C., online, via Google Hangout


Overview of thoughts related to the future of education, looking at the idea of learning as personal development, that aspect of the value proposition of universities, how that affects what we understand MOOCs to be and their role in learning generally, and the relation of learning to the economy and life generally.

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These New GMail changes hurt you (and me). Do this to fix it
Derek Halpern, social triggers, July 24, 2013


Google has taken the GMail inbox and split it into a number of categories, including Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. Not everybody is happy - some site owners, like Derek Halpern, are really unhappy. He writes, "In a lot of cases, GMail labels content-filled emails as 'Promotions.' That means, if you send content to your list (like I do), your content will be featured alongside spammy Promotional emails." I checked, and OLDaily is still being categorized as 'Primary', but this of course could change at the whim of Google. I imagine Google's major objective is to separate Twitter and Facebook messages from your regular email, which is what the new 'Social' catgeory does.

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How much time does it take to teach online?
Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, July 24, 2013


Terry Anderson cites a study looking into how much time it takes to teach an online course. In a table of results (that is consistent with my own experience) almost half the time is taken up in grading and assessment. As someone who has faced the dreaded 'cubic foot of papers to grade' I can certainly attest to this. Anderson writes, "I am hopeful that steady progress in machine marking and faculty use of  tools like audio marking and templated responses, will be able to both reduce this time and allow for more formative and summative feedback for students."

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SJSU and Udacity: Poor Planning and Support, but Valuable Reviewing of Results
Phil Hill, e-Literate, July 24, 2013

The upside of the 'pause' taken by San Jose State University's MOOC offering is in the availability of the relevant data, reports Phil Hill. "How often do we get the chance to review the results of traditional college courses and see institutions publicly study the learning outcomes in order to improve the course effectiveness?" For defenders of traditional learning, the results are a bit shocking: "The pass rates for the San Jose State students in those courses ranged from 29 percent to 51 percent. For nonenrolled students, the range was 12 percent to 45 percent." When you pay full tuition and only 29 percent of students pass, you have to ask what's going on? Meanwhile, the low MOOC results are explained in part by the rush to get the course online at all. "Because of the haste, faculty were building the courses on the fly. Not only was this a “recipe for insanity,” Junn said, but faculty did not have a lot of time to watch how students were doing in the courses."

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Why today is my last day teaching onlineā€¦
Ronnie Burt, The Edublogger, July 24, 2013


There are two sides to this story: the first is up front, for all to see: "I just can’t shake the feeling that my students would have been much better served in a more traditional face-to-face setting." Fair enough, maybe. But the second side is buried deep in the post: "My face to face experiences have been more rewarding personally and professionally – perhaps because I got to know my students better and was better able to pass on my enthusiasm for course content." This feels like a more plausible reason for leaving online learning. And I wonder how much doubt expressed about online learning really refects the desire of teachers to have that personal experience.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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