by Stephen Downes
Jun 02, 2015
Why so many questions?
Jon Dron looks at some of the motivations behind the creation of the 'Student Success Centre' (SSC) at Athabasca University, a "multi-million dollar investment in a student relationship management system." One might question the wisdom of building such a thing at all, but one fact caught Dron's attention: "Part of the justification for the SSC is that an alleged 80% of current interactions with students are about administrative rather than academic issues." I have to agree with that: that is weird. "If it is true that only 20% of interactions are currently concerned with academic issues, that is a big reason for concern, because it means our students are missing out on an incredibly rich set of opportunities in which they can help one another as well as interact with tutors." To say the least!
Why "Content Coverage" is Over: A Manifesto!
If today is Tuesday it must be time for another education manifesto. This one comes courtesy of teachers who want to focus on instruction over content. Andrew Miller writes, "it comes down to one major point: We are professionals. We know our students. We know what they need, and yes, we use curriculum and pacing guides as what they should be -- guides!" I understand the appear of a manifesto or a declaration, but I think they lose their value with overuse, and in education, they have been very overused recently.
Open Badges; issuing with the xAPI
From Ben Betts: "As a community, xAPI specialists and Badge Alliance members are working on the ability to use xAPI data as the evidence for issuing Open Badges. We’ve started out simple, specifying a recipe by which an Issuer can assert a user earning an Open Badge, via a xAPI statement. You can read more about the recipe at https://github.com/ht2/BadgesCoP/blob/master/earning/vocab.md. The next step is articulating a standard way in which xAPI statements could be used as a set of criteria, which then leads to the issuing of an Open Badge. This work has already begun in prototypes across the world." Good discussion of the structure of open badges and some tantalizing hints about their use with xAPI.
Introducing Blackboard’s New School Design Language System
Blackboard has introduced something called 'New School', which is a "design language" that is "based on principles of approachable simplicity, intended to resonate with an audience of students, parents, faculty, and alumni." Basically it's a way of redefining how Blackboard looks and feels to users. It's "simple and monochromatic, using color for meaning rather than decoration. Learning should be at the core of the product, and so our product should always be visually subservient to educational content and knowledge."
The Art of Intervenability for Privacy Engineering
Data Protection, Privacy, , Transparency (DPPT'15),
This keynote address (24 page PDF) extends our understanding of privacy and security of personal data. The classical IT security protection goals are confidentiality, integrity and availability. These don't go away. But in addition there are three other goals: unlinkability (privacy-relevant data cannot be linked across domains), transparency (measures can be understood and reconstructed at any time), and intervenability. This last is the subject of the talk. Intervenability means the possibility of intervention in proivacy-affecting processes. It includes, for example: right of access to data about oneself, the right to object, protection from automated decisions, giving and withdrawing consent, and the ability to lodge complaints.
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