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by Stephen Downes
April 7, 2014

Tweet it, Blog It, Repeat It, 60,000 Times: Truthiness Achieved
Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, April 7, 2014


If you are one of the many people who were exposed to this week's factoid - the assertion that "we process visual information 60,000 faster than text" - then you will want to read Alan Levine's investigations into the truthiness of this assertion. So far as he can tell (and he explored numerous rabbit warrens in his search) there is no actual basis for the claim (beyond public relations hype). Levine comments, "The ironic thing is that it is actually a rather ludicrous claim in the first place. What do we mean by 'information being processed' be it visual or text? ... It’s almost like claiming that rock music can be processed more quickly than than primary colors. The comparison is just… pointless." (The nearest analogue I can think of are the Shepard & Metzler experiments around rotating mental images, but even here the number 60,000 would be a total fabrication).

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3 Benefits of MOOCs in the Workplace
Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID, Other Reflections, April 7, 2014

OK, let's leave aside the fact that 'Corporate MOOC' is essentially an oxymoron. Here are the reasons advanced in support of them:

  1. Corporate MOOCs will be a pathway to social and informal learning into the workplace. 
  2. Corporate MOOCs are likely to produce a breed of community managers who will be a cross between enterprise community managers and learning experience designers.
  3. Corporate MOOCs – if done right – have the potential to bridge man of the currently existing organizational silos.

What would really be interesting? Actual corporate MOOCs - that is, a course run by the corporation that is genuinely Open. I'm not sure they're ready for this yet - corporations are still very comncerned about managing the message, even internally. But imagine the sort of real conversation could happen around product and services areas could happen with an actual corporate MOOC.

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What Education Reformers Can Learn from Kosher Certification
Jason Bedrick, Education Next, April 7, 2014

There are plenty of examples to choose from, and you don't need the political overlay (aka, "Can we have standards without the government imposing them?"), but the use of Kosher Certification to serve as an example for what is (propbably) coming for certification in education is a good one. To be clear: we're not talking about replacing government certification with religious certification. No, rather, the idea here is that a 3rd party can certify that a product meets some or another standard. Questions to ask: could we have education certification without "the Union of Orthodox Rabbis [which created] the first private kosher certifying agency in America" to kick things off? Second, what are results like in other non-governmental certification agencies (eg., whether food is 'green', 'Halal', 'natural', 'organic', 'fat free' etc.?). Third, why not have government establish base-level certification of certification agencies? Fourth, what is the resource when a certification agency misrepresents the quality of an educational offering?

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Jeff Young on Pop-Up Learning: The Future of MOOCs and Online Education
Jeffrey R. Young, Berkman Center, April 7, 2014

You'd think Harvard's Berkman Center could spring for text transcripts of audio material, but I guess noty. Anyhow, the Chronicl;e's Jeffrey R. Young "takes a closer look at who is taking MOOCs and why, and examines how free courses fit into broader Internet trends." So what's the take? "After months of hype and hope about MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, one thing is clear: they aren’t very good at teaching those most in need of education. Instead, they’re serving the education 'haves': About 80 percent of people taking MOOCs already have a college degree." Of course, this was the observation - and argument - about the internet in general in the 1990s.

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Students’ Jobs Pay Off Tuition at 7 Work Colleges
Lisa Rathke, Diverse, April 7, 2014


I don't see anything unusual in the idea to have students work during studies to pay off their tuition fees - I spent the entire time I was studying also working, variously as a dishwasher and pot washer, 7-Eleven clerk, editor, programs coordinator, and instructor. At 100 hours a semester at $11.10 an hour the students are not exactly getting rich (and one wonders whether a pay increase would result in a corresponding tuition fee increase). One thing I am wary about when work is tied to an educational program - when I worked at what were frankly some awful jobs, I was always able to quit (and did, several times, when time came to move on). I'm not sure students here can get out of bad employment situations. Anyhow, you know what would be better? Proper living wages for the staff at these colleges, and proper education funding for these students.

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José van Dijck, The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media
Suen de Andrade e Silva, First Monday, April 7, 2014

Review of what looks like it would be an interesting book, José van Dijck's The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. The book "seeks to disclose the aspects of mediated culture that are hidden from — or ignored by — common users, and which have deep cultural, political, and economic implications. Examples can be found in her discussions about the blurring of boundaries between public and private spheres of personal life, about new media governance and about the complex business models underlying social media corporations."

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Various authors, Anestuary, April 6, 2014

Sanderling is an online community for, it says, the prrofessional development community. Here's the 'Getting Started' link (I include it here because if you close the box without reading it you'll never see it again). The site has been around for a few days at least. I went to form a community but found out "The Communities page is the place where all the organizations who offer courses through Hedgehog can be found." There are no links (that I could find) to 'Hedgehog' on the site - but you can find it here. Both are the product of a company called Anestuary, which produces Edcamps and far-too-cutesy names for things. Via David Kapuler.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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