by Stephen Downes
Jun 01, 2015
Why some publishers are killing their comment sections
You may have noticed I'd switched over comments on this site to Disqus. It's a half-hearted experiment designed to deal with a common problem: unwanted comments. Mine are mostly spam, but if you look at sites like YouTube or the typical newspaper site the comments go far beyond that. It's not just anonymity: “The argument used to be that it was anonymous comments [that caused problems] and people felt emboldened... at some point in the last couple of years, a switch got flipped and anonymity was no longer a need when it came to spewing awfulness. It’s almost like there’s no shame anymore." But what if comments became community? That's the objective of the Coral Project. "I would love to be able to go to a reporter and say, ‘I know you’ve got 10 minutes and 5,000 comments on your story,’” Barber said. “You can go right here and find the contributions from our most thoughtful contributors — spend your time there. Because those people have earned it." So maybe soon I can ditch Disqus and create a comment community that works.
What If The Problem Isn’t With MOOCs But Something Else?
I would answer 'yes" to this: "You can say MOOCs are failing because they lack sufficient 'student motivation,' but what if it was actually the case that society has been failing for decades and MOOCs are just exposing this?" Why do you have to motivate students at all? Because you are forcing them to do something they don't want to do. And that to me his the historic problem. "What if relying on too much extrinsic motivation is a failure? What if we are failing to embrace all of the current and historical research in motivation? What if we know a lot about motivation, but fail to real utilize any of that knowledge?" Matt Crosslin nails it in this post. MOOCs are getting past the idea that motivation is the big problem, and moving on to something else.
Some big issues in online teaching
Program for Online Teaching,
Jenny Mackness points to the paradox inherent in massive online learning: "Most of us will not be required to teach student groups numbering in the thousands, but in my experience even the teaching of one child or one adult requires us to have a rich understanding of who and what we are as teachers. Even the teaching of one child or one adult can be a complex process, which requires us to carefully consider our responsibilities." This article is part of the more comprehensive Program in Online Teaching weblog.
Pearson board cuts 18 librarians in elementary schools
The announced cuts made the national news on television today, which is probably good news for librarians, but the cuts signal longer term trends which are not good news at all: "We've received our budget rules and of course, we are suffering additional, large budget compressions. The Lester B. Pearson School Board is now over $14 million in cuts this year and some of the targeted areas are in support staff which includes librarians," Stein Day said. The Pearson board serves English-speaking students just west of Montreal. See also CBC, CTV, CJAD, Global.
I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How.
When you hear me grumbling about the state of educational research, it is because education is second only after weight loss as the source of conflicting data, contradictory conclusions, and outright bad research. No doubt no small part of it is fabricated, though the bulk of it is no doubt created by well-meaning people. This article on weight-loss by chocolate is an example of how the system can be gamed to say, well, anything. Some low-quality research was performed, a paper was published, the press releases were written, and the rest, as they say, is history. Now this story might actually be a meta-hoax - the paper no longer exists on the journal website and the publisher denies it was ever accepted. But Retraction Watch covered it. And p-hacking is a real thing. And the news stories it generated are genuine. Via Doug Belshaw.
The peer review drugs don’t work
Times Higher Education,
This is an interesting way to put it: "If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market." I'm not a great Cochrane Report supporter but I think they're right here. As the article says, peer review " it is ineffective, largely a lottery, anti-innovatory, slow, expensive, wasteful of scientific time, inefficient, easily abused, prone to bias, unable to detect fraud and irrelevant."
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