by Stephen Downes
Apr 19, 2016
It feels a bit odd reading about the use of backchannels in classrooms in 2016, since it was back in 2007 I was experimenting with them (and others well before that!). But progress moves slowly, I guess (I'm thinking that had I surveyed my participants back then I could have had a publication out of it, just like this author). here are the results: "The purpose of this research was to examine the feasibility of using a backchannel in a large university lecture and to determine whether its use significantly improved student perceptions of engagement and enjoyment in class. Overall, the results supported these hypotheses." The paper is OK, I'm glad it was done, and it's good to see the technology move forward. I just feel I want more from academic literature, somehow.
This relates directly to the subject of my talk in Arlington on Monday. "Little is known about the relationship between family income and children’s non-cognitive (or socio-emotional) skill formation. This is an important gap, as these skills have been hypothesized to be a critical link between early outcomes and adult socioeconomic status." Sadly, the paper cited is available only by paid subscription. Because, you know, reporting on the disadvantages created by income gaps doesn't have to mean actually caring or doing anything about it.
This is an opinion article from the CEO of Creative Commons that (as the title suggests) defends efforts like SciHub to provide direct access to scientific publications despite publisher copyrights. Ironically, as I was reading this article, a bit screen came up, blocking the content, requiring me to turn off my ad blocker. I'm not turning it off. Here's the thing - I don't mind viewing an advertisement, but what the ad blocker blocks are advertisements that track my viewing habits and (sometimes) try to install spyware on my computer. So let me quote the final line in the article baack to Wired: "There’s no way anyone can know what research and data can reveal unless we set it free. Innovation can come from anywhere—not just academics—but only if we allow for a non-linear and unrestricted approach to inquiry and discovery." There was a day Wired could survive without spying on its readers, but not any more, I guess.
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