by Stephen Downes
Apr 14, 2017
Democratizing digital learning: theorizing the fully online learning community model
Todd J. B. Blayone, Roland vanOostveen, Wendy Barber, Maurice DiGiuseppe, Elizabeth Childs, International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 2017/04/14
From the abstract: "As a divergent fork of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model, FOLC describes collaborative learning as a symbiosis of social and cognitive interactions amplified through effective use of synchronous and asynchronous digital affordances." According to the authors, "The underlying argument is that self-regulating and transformative learning communities can be established and sustained in fully online environments." I don't think the original CoI authhors would have ever disputed that. So what makes FOLC different? The "foregrounding democratized and emancipatory learning processes that are adaptable to the socio-cultural context of institutions and learners." This is a point where I've felt some tension with CoI (Garrison, for example, saying "strong communities must build upon strong pedagogic leadership.")
This article takes the perspective of private colleges that are reacting with concern after the state's announcement of a free college tuition program. They "reacted with a mix of dismay, confusion, criticism and, in some cases, resolve in the days after New York leaders struck a deal to start a tuition-free public college program this fall." At the same time, public universitties in the state are launching a major expansion of OER programs (which make much more sense once tuition is free). “This isn’t a nice one-off innovation,” Hatch said. “This is something that can be incredibly impactful for our students. If you can save students $700 a semester, that’s a month’s rent.”
It might be a bit early to say that virtual reality (VR) is "failing" but the arguments in this article are sound (and have been the basis behind my own caution to fully embrace the technology (as much as I really really want to)). "Where VR gets into trouble is in RPGs (role-playing games) and FPSes (first-person shooters). This is because when VR demands movement from the player, it gets not only less realistic but also dangerous."
We know there are better models of assessment than they typical tests and assignments being used today. Even so, these models are not changing rapidly at all. So what's going on? "It seems to us," write the authors, "that both the education (including educational assessment) and economics fields face two primary barriers... 1. The status quo is more profitable for those with vested interests... 2.T here’s not enough of an impetus to drive change. Essentially, the public does not see that there’s reason enough to bring the necessary pressure to bear to cause the shift." While I'd love to believe that the public would be able to drive change, I don't. That leaves the first reason as the only reason. So long as the vested interests are making the decisions, the models of assessment won't change. The solution is obvious, but not really explored by the authors.
This is funny in a couple of ways. First, it's funny because the Burger King television spot succeeded in prompting Google Home to look up 'whopper burger' and read back the response to people. See also: "I love the little girl saying 'Alexa order me a dollhouse,' during a newscast." Oh course, this is not behaviour want from their audio interface, so Google needs to think about how to prevent random activations. But it's also funny because Burger King, in relying on Wikipedia for content, made it possible for people to insert their own content into the response. "Internet trolls struck minutes after the ad debuted... editing the Wikipedia entry to describe the burger variously as 'cancer-causing' or 'a chocolate candy'." The unfunny part isn't the damage caused to the companies involved, but rather, the increasing incursion of corporate media into private spaces.
This dissertation presents "a framework that can be used for the automatic detection of antisocial behavior in text. The framework is based on the emotion and language theories." I'd call this an early study as it depends on models of anti-social behaviour and then detects for them; a fuller study would develop its own models to capture a wider range of anti-social content. Still, we can see how this is useful in the context of online and learning communities. Via Helge Scherlund.
This is a piece of marketing published by D2L some time in the last year. It's a nice overview of how to plan for the use of data analytics and how to work with the results. "This isn’t about ‘analytics’ or data. It is about insight and understanding to help you solve the most pressing challenges impacting your institution, your faculty, and your students."
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