by Stephen Downes
Oct 18, 2016
A fairly light read with a decent number of links, this short article touts the potential of virtual reality (VR) to reshape education. Of course, if past experience is any guide, instead of creating simulations of ERs and submarines, educators will use VR to simulate the typical college lecture theatre. Anyhow, some references to projects here include: Project Sansar, a VR creation platform; High Fidelity open-source VR platform; Facebook’s social VR, and much more. See also CBC, In VR and AR, Computers Adapt to Humans.
Many of the leaders in recent PISA and other academic tests have been from east Asian countries. Why? This month's special issue of Frontiers of Education in China explores the quantitative results with a set of (mostly) qualitative studies. They are all well-written and accessible. The editorial summarizes them nicely, and the first paragraph especially should be required reading (a task I've made easier for you by extracting and reformatting that paragraph). But do read the articles themselves; they address issues such as equity in Japan (made possible in part by rotating teachers from school to school each year), civics education in Hong Kong (where teachers are expected to model citizenship), changing administrative structures in Shanghai (and the challenges to equity created by marketplace approaches), hidden racism in Korea, and much more. Image: Peking University.
I haven't been able to see this actually working yet, but the promise of a 'fact check' option in Google News is intriguing. For now, the actual fact checking will depend on people, and it looks like fact-checking metadata (called Claim Review) will have to be present in the news story. "Publishers who create fact-checks and would like to see it appear with the “Fact check” tag should use that markup in fact-check articles." The Guardian reports, "In Google News, fact check labels are visible in the expanded story box on the Google News site, on both the iOS and Android apps, and roll out for users in the US and UK first." Presumably those are the places that need fact checking the most. The Guardian also takes a swipe at Facebook: "After sacking their trending topics news team, the social media site was at the center of a storm when its algorithm started promoting fake news." More on fact-checking in Google's help.
XuetangX is one of the world's top MOOC platforms with more than 5 million registrations. The service is a modified ExX platform, so look-and-feel and navigation will be familiar, even if the overall appearance isn't. This article highlights some of the modifications XuetangX has made, most notable support for mobile learning. Consider, for example, the 'rain classroom': "my class instruction PowerPoint can be viewed on students’ phones in real time.... from a teacher’s viewpoint, if you can use PowerPoint and WeChat, you can play around with Rain Classroom." Plans for the future include a XuetangX cloud service for universities and a microdegrees program.
This is an outline of a physics curriculum from first year to graduate studies. It's useful in its own right, but it makes me wonder whether someone could use something like this to actually learn physics. Yes, they would have to be very motivated, persistent, and have a lot of time. But it would have been perfect for, say, someone like me when I was working as a security guard in my early 20s. Now the textbooks in this guide are Amazon.com and therefore expensive - you'd want to replace the material with open content. And there's no community, but maybe one could be made or found. Could it be done? Image: Khan, Physics, inverted.
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.