by Stephen Downes
Mar 24, 2015
Virtually unlimited classrooms: Pedagogical practices in massive open online courses
Brit Toven-Lindsey, Robert A. Rhoads, Jennifer Berdan Lozano,
Internet, Higher Education,
There are days I wish I had focused more on making gRSShopper a commercial product. Then it would be more widely used and would be included in studies like this which look at the pedagogies employed by different MOOC platforms. It would probably have changed the conclusion, which (like so many other studies) reads "given
the tendency for the pedagogical strategies of MOOC instructors to be tied to objectivist views of knowledge [and] relying primarily on one-directional relationships between instructor-based knowledge and students as recipients, as both constructivist theories and critical pedagogy highlight, is hardly conducive to the transformative forms of engaged learning seen as most valuable to encouraging both active learning and active democratic citizenship." Good paper, though. Via Grainne Conole, Facebook.
Making the Connection
Kim Cofino shares elements of her current keynote at the ECIS technology conference in Munich. "When we learn with technology the way we live with technology, the classroom can be just as relevant and engaging as our everyday digital interactions," she argues. She surveys many of the elements - mobile, customization, social - that support this. And she says "We know students are also readily engaged by media rich experiences... So, why are we often asking students to produce two dimensional paper products (posters, reports, magazines, whatever the case may be), when we can encourage them to create multimedia and interactive demonstrations of their understanding?"
16 of the top 20 Research Journals Let Ad Networks Spy on Their Readers
Go To Hellman,
Via Audrey Watters comes this post from Eric Hellman showing that most research journals allow advertising networks to spy on their readers. "I'm particularly concerned about the medical journals that participate in advertising networks," writes Hellman. "Imagine that someone is researching clinical trials for a deadly disease. A smart insurance company could target such users with ads that mark them for higher premiums. A pharmaceutical company could use advertising targeting researchers at competing companies to find clues about their research directions."
Our Approach to Tracking and Cookies
Alan Levine writes, "On a personal blog, I am not finding much justification for cookies (one of my Holy Grails is a comment mechanism that eliminates comments). I really loathe blogs where the URLs are all crufted with Google UTM tracking cruft on the end. I always chop them off before sharing" (I've corrected a typo in this quote). I too always chop the 'utm' tracking in links I report. I have cookies for those who want to post comments, but that's it. I keep track of the number of times a post is read, but not of who read it. I have server stats using awstats but I think those are broken (I'm not sure).
Binaries, Polarisation and Privacy
How do you get nuance in a world of binaries? David A. Banks argues, according to Frances Bell, that "the ‘binaries’ of up-voting and down-voting are inadequate for dealing with ambiguity and divisive topics. They are a tool for polarisation not a means of going beyond it." She also looks at the binary of public/private, a binary that has dominated a lot of recent discourse. "The binary nature of much of our online participation like/not like, friend/not friend, follow/ not follow, click/not click, upvote/downvote, block/ not block might be seeping into our culture,as well as the platforms on which we enact it." Well, yeah. But 'binary' isn't the issue; choice is. Any set of alternatives reduces logically to a set of binary choices; even the analog reduces to the differential. And binary up/down ratings systems are by far the most usable and most reliable (some people 'never give five stars').
We need to think this through carefully. There are two questions: first, how many choices do we get to make, and second, how are choices combined to create a result. More choices are better, but we reach a limit to out capacity to make choices. Sometimes pseudo-analog devices, like sliders, can help, but they reduce accuracy, and in any case, limits are still reached. More importantly, how do we combine choices? Usually it's a case of 'the most votes wins'. But this presumes everyone is asked the same question. It's more interesting is we have diverse questions. It's more interesting if we eschew 'most votes wins' for votes on inter-related entities (this gives each vote an 'echo' effect). We need choice, but more, we need to understand a lot better what choice is.
7 reasons: Why we need to kill boring ‘learning objectives’!
Donald Clark Plan B,
I'm not really a fan of learning objectives either. For the record, here are Clark's seven reasons:
- Objectives make a poor first impression
- Stating objectives defers learner engagement
- They also cause people to stop paying attention
- They are a misapplication of Gagne
- The rule that objectives must be stated is overly prescriptive
- It's difficult to write good objectives, and few master it
- Stating them is a waste of time
From my reading, these sever objections are really just one objection stated over and over. And an even more important point, to my mind, is that different people have different objectives. It takes a lot of presumption on the part of the teacher to state their objectives.
eCampusAlberta Quality Rubric for Online Courses
We're just now waiting for the final report from this group which has been looking at quality in online courses. They launched the eCampusAlberta Quality Suite 2.0 in 2014. "The suite is comprised of the Essential Quality Standards, the eLearning Rubric, the Quality eToolkit, an online review and database system, and many quality-related professional development resources and opportunities." Sheri Oberman writes asking "I wonder how much the quality rubric factors in the connectivism and heutagogy." It's a good question. She suggests a course leaves "long tail of relationships, questions, and methodologies." But must it? Is more better? I've always shied away from discussion of 'quality' connections - I really dislike the concept. If quality in a course isn't process-based (ie., isn't based on evaluations of autonomy, diversity, etc) then what is it? I haven't seen a good answer.
Yik Yak and Online Anonymity Are Good for College Students
Rey Junco argues that the dangers of online harassment though anonymous messaging sites like YikYak are overstated. "Do issues of harassment happen on Yik Yak?" he asks. "Yes. Do they occur with a frequency that is disconcerting?" He does not state where he obtained these statistics, now what level of harassment constitutes "disconcerting" (one suspects he might have a higher tolerance for it than others). He also argues that Yik Yak has built-in measures to address harassment: "If a Yak or a comment receives 5 down votes, it is removed permanently from Yik Yak." My experience is that this is a mechanism more commonly used to stifle people objecting to harassing content.
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