by Stephen Downes
Nov 01, 2016
I've been tending to my own archives lately and I echo this sentiment from this Library of Congress publication (79 page PDF): "One of the still unfolding impacts of the computer age is that everyone now must be their own digital archivist. Without some focused attention, any personal collection is at high risk of loss – and quick loss at that." Here are some resources to underline this important effort:
My colleague from Assibiboine Community College, Dinah Ceplis, sent me this item describing the launch of rural internet access in Malawi. This is significant as Ceplis has spend the last two decades or so working in rural Africa supporting agriculture and distance education (areas in which Assiniboine specializes). "We are building towers, installing Wi-Fi hotspots, backhaul links, some of these will be ready before end November.... Because there’s intermittent power supply in Malawi, we are running all our equipment on solar.... We’re getting financial and technical support from Microsoft…we’re a grant recipient of the Microsoft Affordable Access Initiative." Increased access to learning is only one of many benefits Malawians will realize from this initiative.
There's a table comparing the top IT issues in higher ed over the last three years and this is probably the most interesting bit of the article. We see that IT security is the top issue for the second year in a row. But beyond that, there's a much greater focus on student success and even affordability as it seems that this year IT has become much more core to the institutional mission (compare 2014 when "demonstrating IT's value" placed a solid fifth).
I can attest from personal experience that the microbarriers described in this article existed in my university days and exist in my life to this day. It's true, in my experience, that "a relatively tiny difference in culture can make a huge difference in access." There are numerous opaque systems and unwritten rule sets. In searching for opportunities, employment and even internships, for example, "successful people are playing an entirely different game. They don’t flood the job market with résumés, hoping that some employer will grace them with an interview. They network." And even the little things. "Your shoes and belt should match."
But our approach differs. Where J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, wants to open up this culture of privilege and teach its nuances to those lucky enough to get into the system, I want to make it irrelevant. Widening access to privilege does not eliminate privilege, it entrenches it. We need to eliminate it. That's why I want to see learning and networking available to everyone, not the merely wealthy and their acolytes.
Extraction of Relevant Terms and Learning Outcomes from Online Courses
Isabel Guitart, Jordi Conesa, David Baneres, Joaquim Moré, Jordi Duran, David Gañan, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (IJET), 2016/11/01
This approach is a natural, and something I would have liked to have seen in LPSS. The project described "applies natural language processing(NLP) techniques to analyze the course’s materials and discover what concepts are taught, their relevancy in the course and their alignment with the learning outcomes of the course." You would use this eventually to assemble relevant resources from a repository network in order to build a course on the fly, based on competency information or needs assessments. This is a good core reference for projects intending to develop such systems.
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