by Stephen Downes
May 12, 2016
I like the way Joshua Kim deconstructs that most useless of all creations, the meeting. "The people in the room will have one experience, the people online will experience something different. The people in the room will do most of the talking. There will be a technical failure in the audio or the video at some point. This is how it has always been. What right do instructional designers have in making everyone in a meeting participate in the discussion in the web meeting environment - even when some of us are in the same room?"
This is a solid and (as the title suggests) evidence-based argument from a variety of perspectives in favour of open access. To this point I think the case has been conclusively made and this article offers an excellent summary. Even more to the point, though, the article is offered via an open journal practicing open peer review. So I can see that five referees looked at the paper and offered their comments, including questions and suggestions for revisions. It also helps that I know who the referees are, so I can see that, for example, Peter Suber gave his thumbs up. There are also some other nice features, such as the ability to download images as PowerPoint slides, direct links to references so I can read them on the spot, citation exporter, tracking feature, and more. This is the future of publishing.
A press prelease from the Université de Montréal minces no words in explaining why itès dropping the bulk of its subscriptions from Springer: "'We are trying to best meet the needs of our community despite budget cuts in the last few years, the greediness of commercial publishers, and the weak Canadian dollar,' said Stéphanie Gagnon, Collections Director." One of the major culprits is bundling, which forces the university to buy journals nobody reads. "On their own, Libraries are absolutely no match for these multinational publishers. However, UdeM professors and researchers that are concerned about these changes are well positioned to make a difference.... The greatest risk for publishers is that people start questioning their access to this free research output and volunteer workforce as well as their business model.
I spent a good part of the day exploring this (and the rest of the day exploring the awesomeness of Windows 93). What we have here is really a two-part story, the first about Ethereum, and the second about Dao itself. To the first: according to the website, "Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference." Basically, it enables developers to create their own blockchain 'currencies' (which may or may not have financial value) which can be used in a variety of applications.
This leads us to the second part of the story, Dao, which is one of those applications. Basically it is a 'distributed corporation' that receives investments, chooses projects, and pays for their development; some of these projects return revenue to Dao and others don't. The key here is to prevent the corporation from being taken over and milked for value by large financial interests. As they say, "The idea of an organization without the need of headquarters, which exists almost outside of physical space, unseizable by force, which doesn’t belong to any individual or group, and which has the ability to execute itself and self-regulate, would have sounded almost religious just a few decades ago." I wonder whether we could run science and education like that.
I think this article captures the core problem not only with learning research but also with learning analytics: "simply asking what works stops short of the real question at the heart of a truly personalized system: what works, for which students, in what circumstances?" There is, notes the author, "mounting evidence that 'average' itself is a flawed construct." At a certain point, you need to be able to say why something works, which includes having an explanation for when it doesn't work. Most education research doesn't come close to this point.
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.
Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.