by Stephen Downes
Apr 10, 2017
I've started using Unpaywall, a browser extension that finds open access versions of closed access publications. For example, is a search takes me to a closed Elsevier article, Unpaywall might find the Arxiv version. Too Cool. "We’re setting up a lemonade stand right next to the publishers’ lemonade stand," says Mr. Priem. "They’re charging $30 for a glass of lemonade, and we’re showing up right next to them and saying, ‘Lemonade for free’." I'm just waiting for them to find a way to declare this illegal. Also, free lemonade. They'll declare that illegal too.
What is open pedagogy? According to David Wiley, "open pedagogy is the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions... (it) is the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical when you are using OER." This struck some readers, including Jim Groom, as wrong, and after a Twitter argument (these never go well) he explains in a post. "But, I do wonder at the push to consolidate the definition beyond OERs into Open Educational Practices," he writes. "Seems to me there is an attempt to define it in order to start controlling it.... I think the locking down of open is dangerous. I think it draws lines where they need not be, and it reconsolidates power for those who define it." I am much more sympathetic with Groom's perspective. Open Pedagogy is not just about resources, it's not just about open resources, and ideally, it's not about licensing and ownership at all.
I'm not sure what principle this illustrates - chaos, maybe, cooperation, a bit, collaboration certainly, and competition too. Here's the set-up: last weekend Reddit created a grid where members could colour one pixel at a time, but would have to wait a few minutes before colouring the next one. People quickly learned to cooperate, and then these cooperatives began to compete with each other, and then they began to cooperate, and it's all a beautiful worldwide story of collective iconography played out over a weekend (complete with 4chan villains).
One of the problems with learning analytics and analytics in general is that it requires a lot of data. This means you have to watch what a lot of people are doing, which has ethical and privacy implications. The federated analytics model described here attempts to address these issues. "Your device downloads the current model, improves it by learning from data on your phone, and then summarizes the changes as a small focused update. Only this update to the model is sent to the cloud." Of course, you have to trust that your device is actually doing this.
If (and it's a big if) this thesis (pay-walled study) is correct, then proponents of cognitive load theory have a lot of rethinking to do. The suggestion is that while brains do indeed store short-term and long-term memory, they store these using two separate processes. So a memory doesn't have top be squeezed through short-term memory before it becomes a long-term memory. This makes a lot of sense to me - people like Romeo Dallaire talk about detailed complex traumatic memories of wartime where the entire experience stored and plays back over and over, brushing by the limits of cognitive overload as if they didn't even exist. "Post-traumatic stress disorder hard-wires events in your brain to the extent they will come back in digitally clear detail to your brain. You don't actually remember them. You relive them."
I'm not sure whether this represents a sea change or is just a blip, but the New York Times, which was one of the original partners when Facebook launched Instant Articles in 2015, has not ceased publishing that way. It still publishes a lot of content to platforms (as do most major publishers) but now in the form of links rather than full content. It is worth noting that the Times is trying (still) to make its way as a subscription-based service. This article documents the trend for a number of publishers.
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