by Stephen Downes
Aug 10, 2016
This publication (78 page PDF) is the "final outcome of the OpenEdu project". The document rolls up results from a number of studies, including MOOCknowledge, OpenCred, and OpenSurvey. The framework "identifies 10 dimensions of open education, giving a rationale and descriptors for each. Here's the list: access, content, pedagogy, recognition, collaboration, research, strategy, technology, quality and leadership. The first six are "core" dimensions, focusing on the 'what', while the latter four are "transversal" dimensions and focus on the 'how'. Each dimension can be refined firther; for example, "Quality in open education refers to the convergence of the 5 concepts of quality (efficacy, impact, availability, accuracy and excellence) with an institution's open education offer and opportunities." That said, the report (widely) does not offer a strategic plan for openness. "There is no consensus on what opening up education means and hence little common ground on which to build collaboration," write the authors.
This is a very clearly written description of blockchain technology and how it can be used in education. It mostly quotes from John Domingue, director of the Open University's Knowledge Media Institute. See also this position paper from Domingue and three other authors and an article by Robert Herian on trusteeship in a post-trust world, and a webcast by Hugh Halford-Thompson on how blockchain technologies will change industries. But of course the best proof is in the demo, and the web page has a number of videos illustrating what the blockchain running on Etherium could enable, including conference registrations, reputation systems, and open badges. It's easy to become enthusiastic about blockchains, but it should be kept in mind that a blockchain is nothing more than a ledger; the actual work takes place outside the blockchain environment. And we should be careful not to overvalue things that can be represented in blockchains, and to question whether we actually need the representation. Do students need badges, or job offers? Do contractors need reputation points, or trust?
I've been talking for a while now about how future students will receive jobs offers or contracts as recognition for their learning, as opposed to badges or certificates. The LPSS program was looking at this last year. Now it looks like the commercial opportunity has been seized. "Students will see a list of relevant programs available from local community colleges. Viridis’ 'Skills Passport' will reflect students’ completed coursework and allow employers to review it. 'Through this passport, we’re able to validate students’ skills and become a sort of ‘Equifax for employment’,' Ortiz tells EdSurge." There's probably still room in this marketplace, and I think there's a lot more potential in portable (and usable) personal learning records than there is in analytics. But you have to build it first.
This is not a how-to article as the title suggests but rather a collection of dozens of short comments describing how various people - ranging from students to professors to editors - read scientific papers. There's a lot in common across the different accounts. They typically start with the title and abstract, jump to the conclusion, and look at the figures. From there the methodology varies a lot. I read scientific papers every day as a part of my job. My method is similar. I will focus more on methdology because it helps me weed out the trivial (eg., studies where n=6). I skim the literature view (which is almost always a list of cites in prose form, and rarely an actual summation). I focus on the discussion. The conclusion is less interesting than you might think; researchers often 'bury the lede' - the most important point may be something they observe in passing rather than in the statement of outcomes.
Why would an agency spend so much money on a flawed survey? Here's the gist: "about 312,000 final-year students from 155 institutions responded to the survey." All very nice, but basically it's a survey of students who, after four years, are still there. Gone are the drop-outs, the failures, the unsuccessful. Ignore this survey.
Compare what we say about information today with what Virginia Woolf says about words in this the only surviving recording of her voice: "(words) hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is in their nature to change." What a world we live in, where we can hear the living words of great people now long since passed on. I am inclined to agree with Woolf here; I have never thought of writing as a 'craft'. But I don't think of it as an art either. It is something else.
I love how removing my control over ads is now called "new control over ads". At least I have an explanation of why Facebook has been loading so slowly recently. My own browser still doesn't show ads on Facebook, so maybe the battle over ads on Facebook is still raging. If the advertisers win, I will not be using Facebook in the future. More on Engadget.
I enjoyed this presentation on how to make green screen videos (and how to use them in the classroom) not only because the presenter is enthusiastic and engaging but also because the video offers very detailed instructions describing how to make the videos. Also, here's some free stock video to use with your green screen. This is from the Online Teaching Conference that was held June 16 & 17 at the San Diego Convention Center. Here's the Virtual Tool Kit she references in the video, more stock footage, and the Fuse app to capture and transfer video directly to Camtasia from your phone.
There's a lot that's interesting in this paper and yet I think the most interesting work is in the first section where P2P (peer-to-peer) is defined. In the second section and thereafter we get into a type of metaphysics that doesn't interest me (but is of great interest to critical theorists). Just more taxonomy. But learning, inference and discovery are not states, as a taxonomic approach would suggest; they are processes. The third section looks at "intersubjective modes", which is more interesting, but I find it conflates between markets, which require a measurement system, and networks, in which only structure is important (there's a bit of a back and forth on whether reciprocity is required, without which of course markets can't exist). So, ultimately, can P2P be a "mode of production"? Maybe, but "participants cannot live from peer production, though they derive meaning and value from it, and though it may out compete, in efficiency and productivity terms, the market-based for-profit alternatives."
It's worth noting the parallel between this and the thesis in Patrick Watson's The Struggle for Democracy, which is essentially that democracy presupposes wealth.
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