by Stephen Downes
Aug 01, 2014
Racy frosh event video angers Ottawa student federation
Aug 01, 2014
Every once in a while, you get a photo of a person enjoying a university social activity (such as binge drinking) with the caption "you can't do this in online learning." The implication of course is that the physical and social presence of an in-person class creates an experience that can't be duplicated off-campus. So while this non-sanctioned Frosh Week video - created by an organization with no institutional affiliation - is rightly drawing criticism from city post-secondary institutions, it nonetheless makes the point that you don't need to be at university in order to attend and enjoy traditional university social events.
Learning technology through generations – Paper Summary
Even Elmo's Got a Mobile,
Aug 01, 2014
Overview of the development of e-learning through three 'generations' summarizing Terry Anderson and Jon Dron’s 2012 EURODL article, ‘Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy’. My own take on the same idea is in my e-Learning Generations article, presented originally in Clare, New Brunswick. The two approaches are very different, though: they focus on the classical pedagogical models (behaviourists, constructivist, connectovist) while I map th chaneg in emphasis revealed through technology: the first three generations of e-learning (and the web generally) represent a focus on documents, while the second three represent a focus on data. Via David T. Jones.
Reclaim & Rethink
Jul 31, 2014
Tim Klapdor explores the concept of self, paticu;arly with respect to identity and learning. It's a complex issue. At first blush we think we have one self, but then everyone can think of an instance when we were (if you will) "not ourselves". Klapdor explores "Jung... the anima/animus (male/female). This underlying unconscious mind helped balance and maintain the persona..." Except that's too simple as well. There's the mental self, the bodily self, the public self, the historical self - I could go on; the list is almost endless. Philosophy is full of thought experiments designed to test the concept (if I take my brain and put it in your body, is the resulting person me or you?).
The Ethics of Big Data in Higher Education
Jeffrey Alan Johnson,
International Review of Information Ethics,
Jul 31, 2014
Interesting look at the effect of data mining in education (8 page PDF). The author makes the point that research based in data mining works quite differently from traditional research. I quote:
- Data mining eschews the hypothetico-deductive process, relying instead on a strictly inductive process in which the model is developed a posteriori from the data itself.
- Data mining relies heavily on machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches, taking advantage of vastly increased computing power to use brute-force methods to evaluate possible solutions.
- Data mining characterizes specific cases, generating a predicted value or classification of each case without regard to the utility of the model for understanding the underlying structure of the data.
- Data mining aims strictly at identifying previously unseen data relationships rather than ascribing causality to variables in those relationships.
The author surveys the ethical implications of this. On the one hand, the good news is that model-based theories which treat all students as though they were the same are replaced with an approach recognizing the individuality of each student. But on the surface, the approach risks revealing information about students they don't want revealed, and risks fostering paternalism through the recommendation process, and at a deeper level, the risk of "scientism," or " he temptation to un-critically accept claims that purport to have scientific backing."
The current issue of the International Review of Information Ethics is a special issue on the digital future of education (it's issue number 21).
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