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Could a MOOCI Contribute to the Education of the World’s Most Impoverished Children?
John Connell Weblog 2013/01/10

Let's map out the core dilemma that produces the idea (quoting from the text):

  • good-quality teaching should be central to good educational provision, and most especially for the education of young children
  • there is a massive shortage of good-quality teachers across the developing world

OK, so do MOOCs here here? Maybe, but John Connell writes, "I, for one, am less sure that the course-ness of the con­cept has to be a given.... so many of them have no access to good teach­ing, I can’t but help won­der how the MOOC might be taken, reshaped, and made into some­thing that could begin to ame­lio­rate some of the worst effects of that gen­er­ally awful situation. I have problems with this article because it really misconstrues MOOCs as "a lin­ear, struc­tured, com­pre­hen­si­ble process in which ideas or con­cepts or infor­ma­tion are intro­duced, dis­cussed, dis­sected," etc. I get what he wants - we've been talking about it here for years under the heading 'personal learning environment'. But I think he still wants it 'supervised' and 'safe' - hence, 'classroom'.

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The mixably Open Online Course (mOOC)
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2013/01/04

Two part presentation (Part One, Part Two) on the structure of open online courses. "This is an off the cuff presentation of the module structure in the Psych course we are developing, which shows some of the possibilities of combining multiple OER into a course designed for institutional reuse." This model reminds me of the Assiniboine Model, which I developed (and built software supporting) in 1997. That's the thing with the new xMOOCs, too. Technologically, they aren't really an advance over this basic concept (with the exception of automatically graded assignments, a field I left to people like Martin Holmes). See my original model below:

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Are CAPTCHAs a good idea?
Daniel Lemire Weblog 2013/01/03

I hate capchas, partially because they prove machines are better than I am at unscrambling text, and partially because they don't work. Daniel Lemire meanwhile points to the recent trend that will spell the end of capchas: "spammers appear to be recruiting human beings. There is a large pool of people on Earth who will gladly get paid just to post spammy comments on minor blogs." (Cartoon) In the comments: this alternative.

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The Turn
Aaron Silvers Weblog 2012/12/27

Interesting post from Aaron Silvers describing the (potential) benefits of ADL's Experience API. "My pledge to you was that Experience API would be able to do everything SCORM does, but better. That is still absolutely true. The turn is that doing this isn’t so much a benefit in and of itself — the benefit to the organization is different than you’ve been able to realize with the tools most of us use today." Still waiting for the Prestige.

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Connections: Deconstruction & Connectivism
Stella Bastone Weblog 2012/12/26

Jacques Derrida did not directly influence the formation of my own theories of knowledge - I was educated in a different traditon - but I find significant overlap. This, for example: "What is written is finite. That is, the moment that there is inscription, there is necessarily a selection, and there is, therefore, erasure, omission, a leaving-out, exclusion." How many times, I ask myself, have I said that language is an abstraction, a caricature of what we actually mean? So anyhow, it is because of this overlap that I really welcome this module developed by Stella Bastone comparing Derrida's deconstructionism with our own connectivism. There's a lot of really good content here, so if you find yourself with a few hours of free time and are up for some heady thinking, this module is just the ticket.

Today: Total:2162 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Developing a Roku channel is fun!
Liam Green-Hughes Weblog 2012/12/20

Right now Roku is probably more of an effort than most people are willing to make (you'll be engaged with a developer site, programming language like BASAIC, and an IDE like Eclipse) but where it points for the future is very interesting: people can create their own television channels. Now of course this mostly involves aggregating and remixing - Liam Gree-Hughes created a channel that delivers podcasts from the CCMixter website to the Roku. But it is eventually about creating and producing your own multimedia content. Imagine if most of the TV you watched was created and/or produced by your friends, not some faceless multinational. That said, I think setting up a Roku channel would be a great and challenging project over the hoilidays for technically-minded students.

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Rebuilding the Web We Lost
Anil Dash Weblog 2012/12/19

Anil Dash follows up his "The Web We Lost" post with one on how to rebuild it. It's a set of good suggestions, aimed mostly at builders. Som e of them resonate quite a bit with me. This, for example: "The people involved in creating these platforms are hired from a narrow band of privileged graduates from a small number of top-tier schools, overwhelmingly male and focused narrowly on the traditional Silicon Valley geography." He adds, "Flickr was born in Canada!" I can think of a few other Canadian innovations swllowed and made corporate by that same narrow band of privileged graduates. And then there's this: "Right now, all of the places we can assemble on the web in any kind of numbers are privately owned. And privately-owned public spaces aren't real public spaces. They don't allow for the play and the chaos and the creativity and brilliance that only arise in spaces that don't exist purely to generate profit. And they're susceptible to being gradually gaslighted by the companies that own them." What we are trying to build with (our version of) MOOCs is a public space for education. Has there been push-back against that concept? oh yes.

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Openness is still the only superpower
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2012/12/17

I think Mike Caulfield gets the basic premise right here as he writes of a "lurry of anti-MOOC, anti-Cousera columns in the Chronicle recently." Caulfield writes, "I love a good fight over pedagogical techniques and scalable architecture, but I’m less concerned about that than whether in the course of this argument we are producing open, reusable course elements. As long as the argument produces reusable course elements, our options are multiplied in moving forward. More things become possible." I agree. It was always openness that was at the heart of the MOOCs George Siemens and I created, and it was this openness that triggered the innovation and massive response to the Stanford AI course. A lot of MOOC-work since then has been dedicated to putting the genie back in the bottle. Ultimately, such efforts should fail.

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Who to host with (domain names, web space, SSL, DNS)
Ben Werdmuller Weblog 2012/12/06

I don't use the other services (though I probably should), but I do use Softlayer for my own hosting as well, which is one of the reasons why my website is usually up and why server problems are handled promply (good coding is the other reason ;) ). For domain names I use CADomains (because it's Canadian, and I need a Canadian service for .ca accounts). I will explore CheapSSL for my SSL project coming up in 2013. And I will definitely investigate PostMark.

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What Price MOOCs?
Donald H. Taylor Weblog 2012/12/03

"One topic has received less notice," says Donald H. Taylor, "How will MOOCs be made to pay?" We could simply invest the same public resources into offering free learning at all levels online that we currently expend in the traditional system, but still there persists this idea that MOOCs, somehow, must make money. Taylor's response is, "Freemium model surely?" In other words, the basic service is free, but premium extras are offered for those willing to pay extra money (in Canada, we call that "two tier"). There is no question the concept is becoming a gamechanger. "In a few years’ time you may be asked to justify your training course against one  provided by Harvard,  by a local college in Hyderabad and by an online training company in Singapore."

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On-line education is using a flawed Creative Commons license
Richard Stallman Weblog 2012/11/26

When I asked Richard Stallman about the use of open licenses for educational materials, first he complained because I didn't use the word "free", then he said that he wasn't interested in educational content, that his arguments applied specifically to software. Clearly his views have been modified since then, as this post attests. "Educators, and all those who wish to contribute to on-line educational works: please do not to let your work be made non-free," he argues. "Offer your assistance and text to educational works that carry free/libre licenses, preferably copyleft licenses so that all versions of the work must respect teachers' and students' freedom." The problem with this is the Flat World or the OERu scenario - content deposited with the intent that it be available without cost is converted into a commercial product. It's not free if you can't access it. Content is different from software, it can be locked (or 'enclosed') in ways free software cannot, without violating the license.

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How will MOOCs impact executive education?
Adi Gaskell Weblog 2012/11/22

So while the rest of us consider such trivia as whether MOOCs will advance learning, make learning accessible, or alter the future of universities, Adi Gaskell asks the really important question: how will MOOCs impact executive education. Please, now. Serously. But like executives in general, this post gets it exactly wrong: Gaskell writes, "I am not sure that online courses with 100,000 or more simultaneous students will be any more than a 'flash in the pan' a few years from now in higher education, period. MOOC’s will remain the province of only very highly-branded, elite higher education institutions." Yes, because nothing can take the place of a $100,000 MBA, not where executives are concerned!

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Napster, Udacity, and the Academy
Clay Shirky Weblog 2012/11/19

Clay Shirky on MOOCs: "Open systems are open. For people used to dealing with institutions that go out of their way to hide their flaws, this makes these systems look terrible at first. But anyone who has watched a piece of open source software improve, or remembers the Britannica people throwing tantrums about Wikipedia, has seen how blistering public criticism makes open systems better. And once you imagine educating a thousand people in a single class, it becomes clear that open courses, even in their nascent state, will be able to raise quality and improve certification faster than traditional institutions can lower cost or increase enrollment." Not just that, though. Shirky admits he received a Yale education, and he isn't the first to leverage his university pedigree into a successful media career. But if MOOCs have the impact I hope they have, going to Yale won't mean doodly. You'll have to earn your influence like the rest of us, instead of buying it at Yale.

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Who is accountable at Coursera?
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2012/11/07

Mike Caulfield finds a pretty blatant error in a Coursera course and asks a reasonable quetion: who is accountable? "And yes, this is partially an argument for why all xMOOC credit should be wrapped in a layer of authentic institutional assessment, if only to protect the value of your degree. But it’s also a straight up question — who at Coursera is accountable? And to whom?" By contrast, when I make an error in a Connectivist MOOC (and I have no doubt there have been many) there is no presumption of perfection, and it becomes part of the work of the student to identify the error and properly correct it. Oh, and there's no such thing as 'giving away the answer on the test' in a cMOOC.

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Canadian Copyright Reform In Force: Expanded User Rights Now the Law
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/11/07

Yesterday I pointed to a Michael Geist commentary documenting the swing of Canadian copyright law toward a mostly consumer-friendly legal regime. In this post, Geist lists the provisions that come into effect today:

  • addition of education, parody, and satire as fair dealing purposes
  • safe harbour for non-commercial user generated content provision
  • consumer exceptions including time shifting, format shifting, and backup copies
  • cap of $5000 for all non-commercial infringement (applies to educational institutions too)
  • exception for publicly available materials on the Internet for education

Some provisions, such as the notice-and-notice provision (rather than the US-style notice-and-takedown), are yet to come into force. Also, the digital locks provision remains on the books, despite widespread opposition. But all in all, it's still better to be here than there.

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How Canadians Reclaimed the Public Interest on Digital Policy
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/11/06

I'm inclined to agree with Michael Geist on this one, and it's reasonable to give credit where it is deserved: "the shift toward the public interest in the development of Canadian digital policies ranks as one of the most remarkable policy transformations of the current Conservative government. The change is not absolute - Canada caved to U.S. pressure on several copyright issues, delayed implementation of the anti-spam bill due to corporate lobbying, and is negotiating new trade treaties that could undo much of the recent progress - but the state of Canadian digital policy is far better than anyone could have reasonably anticipated several years ago."

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You could do this with MOOCs too
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2012/10/31

Here's the secret to MOOCs: "Once you get past the corporate culture  (“success coaches”) and Valley buzzword  ickiness (“analytics-powered dashboard”) and concentrate on the core structure of the experience, you realize this is how we live right now outside of education." Even the cMOOCs with gRSShopper and all that - they're designed to model the way we learn outside educational institutions. The way, in other words, we really learn. See also: The Red Cross launches a MOOC.

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How TED Culture Destroyed the World, Literally
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2012/10/19

Mike Caulfield keys in on the problem with TED more precisely that I ever have: "It’s the culture that surrounds TED. Because the culture of TED is what allows people like Lomborg to have more influence than actual experts. The idea of TED is that you’re smart enough to get it in 10 minutes or less, and the story that TED-ites love (b/c it supports that narrative) is the story of someone outside the 'industry' or research area coming in from another area and declaring at a glance what everyone has missed. So we get economists talking about global warming, game designers talking about learning, techies talking about political gridlock, and choreographers talking about physics. It’s so simple, they tell us."

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Could Amazon Whispercast Make School Books Obsolete?
Jason Rhode Weblog 2012/10/18

Amazon has introduced something called 'WhisperCast' to schools and teachers. It's an "online tool that helps your organization easily manage its Kindles and distribute Kindle content." The major features (from my perspective) are the ability to block browser features (teachers will love that, sadly), distribute content into user groups, and most importantly, distribute content to user-owned devices such as laptops, iPads, Androids, Blackberrys, and more (presumably the blocking feature doesn't extend to these devices). The BYOD feature is especially important; it takes the form of a type of 'content gifting'. The biggest problem, so far as I can see, is that Kindle doesn't distribute free and open access content - if you're getting it through a Kindle, you're paying for it. So I think schools should consider carefully whether they want to always pay for all content in the future before locking themselves into this service.

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xMOOCs = OCW + Cohorts
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2012/10/18

If you want a nice concise definition of xMOOCs you couldn't really do better than this take by Micke Caulfield. The definition is in the title: xMOOCs = OCW + Cohorts. "The basic premise is that OCW would benefit from a cohort that could discuss the content as it is rolled out week by week via some serialization mechanism... in many cases, literally old OCW with a cohort experience wrapped around it." The key is the serialization - we've talked about this before. I haven't abandoned the idea - it would be useful for cMOOCs as well. But yeah - if you're rolling out Open CourseWare (OCW) (not to be confused with Open Educational Resources, which are not (always) attached to a particular university) to a particular cohort then you have an xMOOC.

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Could a MOOCl Contribute to the Education of the World’s Poorest Children?
John Connell Weblog 2012/10/10

John Connell writes, "The last thing this global emer­gency needs is any kind of quick fix. But I do believe that there is a poten­tially pow­er­ful appli­ca­tion of dig­i­tal and net­work­ing tech­nolo­gies that could play a sig­nif­i­cant role, along­side all the other big invest­ments needed, in con­tribut­ing to a much bet­ter qual­ity edu­ca­tion for many mil­lions of the poor­est chil­dren in the poor­est coun­tries around the world."

Today: Total:2755 [Comment] [Direct Link]
PKM and Innovation
Harold Jarche Weblog 2012/09/25

Harold Jarche writes: In the FastCoDesign article, How do you create a culture of innovation? the authors note four skills that most successful innovators exhibit:

  • Questioning: Asking probing questions that impose or remove constraints. Example: What if we were legally prohibited from selling to our current customer?
  • Networking: Interacting with people from different backgrounds who provide access to new ways of thinking.
  • Observing: Watching the world around them for surprising stimuli.
  • Experimenting: Consciously complicating their lives by trying new things or going to new places.
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Why We Shouldn’t Talk MOOCs as Meritocracies
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2012/09/25

Mike Caulfield (whose blog has unleashed a slew of RSS posts; don't know why) cautions about MOOCs being harbingers of the return of the meritocracies. "Meritocracy, the flawed idea that an equality of opportunity leads to an equality of results (and to the 'best and brightest' operating the levers of power) can be seen as underlying many of the failures of the current era." I agree with him. Education will healp you get ahead to some degree, as the chart shows. But being in the one percent is a much bigger advantage. "If we begin talking about MOOCs as meritocracies, we are doubling down on the flawed ideology that got us into this mess." So - fair comment. I agree with him.

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Economies of Not-so-Scale and Marginal Costs of Not-Quite-Zero
Mike Caulfield Weblog 2012/09/25

Mike Caulfield nicely reframes one of the main issues regarding MOOCs: "One additional point about the Circuits and Electronics course stats I cited yesterday. Most of the talk about MOOC-scale has been about the number of sign-ups. But that’s the wrong end of the problem. What we care about is cost per completion." Well, let's consider, when you have one or two instructors, a support team, and 7,000 completers, what are the economics of that? Pretty good. "At a million dollars a course, for 7,000 students it’s costing you about $150 a completer." No, the marginal cost isn't zero. But it's better than what we're doing now. And honestly, I can't see courses costing a million dollars per in the long term. Also from Caulfield: "It’s not MOOCs replacing higher education — it’s MOOCs supporting it. It’s not revolution or disruption. It’s synergy."

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The You Matter Manifesto
Angela Maiers Weblog 2012/09/20

Angela Maiers has been promoting the concept of "you matter" for quite a number of months now. It's a good concept, but one thing about it has always troubled me: the 'you' part of the whole 'you matter' story - because it makes it seems like I need someone else to tell me I matter. So when she posted a manifesto today (follow the link) I created my own manifesto (above) to reflect the way I would write it.

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Mozilla Web Literacies v0.7
Doug Belshaw Weblog 2012/09/18

Doug Belshaw takes a stab at defining web literacies as a part of his work with Mozilla. There's an etherpad discussion of the elemental skills, ranging from basics like using the browser to advanced skills like server architecture and object oriented programming (there's a lot more to add to the list that's there). Belshaw plans to have version 0.9 available for the Mozilla Festival this November, and v1.0 for the DML Conference in March 2013. There's a long way to go between here and there.

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Designing an Exemplary Online Course: Blackboard Announces Open Online Course to be Offered
Jason Rhode Weblog 2012/09/14

As reported by Jason Rhode, "Blackboard has announced a new open online course “Designing an Exemplary Course,” as part of the CourseSites Open Course Series. The course will run from September 26th – October 17th, 2012. Registration is free and opens Wednesday, September 19th." This is Blackboard's latest effort to host a MOOC.

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Dear @Google Chairman @EricSchmidt, You Are WRONG About Educators
Chris Lehman Weblog 2012/09/13

I completely agree with Chris Lehman here. Nothing against Sal Khan, what he did was great, but he wasn't uniquely creative or gifted with some special insight. Lehman writes, "What is the main difference between daily innovations and Khan Academy software? Funding. Bill Gates and Google (e.g. you) stumbled upon Khan’s youtube videos, (first made in his closet, by himself) and thought to fund it. Now, with a team, offices, software designers, backed by tons of financial support, Sal Khan can run as far as dreams can take him." Give me the funding that Khan got, and I might do something interesting. Give the same funding to Chris Lehman, to any number of other teachers, to any of the interesting people I read every day, and they too will come up with something interesting.

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ACCC Legal Counsel: Access Copyright Licence Provides "Little Value"
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/09/06

According to the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) lawyer, Access Copyright's major accomplishment seems to be to get educational institutions (and their students) across the country to pay good money for nothing. "The majority of dealing authorized by the ACCC Model Licence no longer requires permission or payment of copyright royalties. There is therefore little value in signing the ACCC Model Licence. For those ACCC members currently operating under the Interim Tariff, the majority of dealing authorized by that tariff no longer requires permission or royalty payments. There is therefore little value in remaining in a tariff relationship with Access Copyright beyond August 31, 2012."

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How we will manage
Harold Jarche Weblog 2012/08/30

I just want to save this item on magement of the future for something I'm writing. "We are moving to a new economy that does not value any work that can be automated & outsourced. Taylorism is dead. Stephen Gill describes how we have to focus on work that cannot be done by robots." If you want to destroy the creativity and innovation in an organization, management strictly from abovbe using clearly defined objectives and processes. If you want to stimulate innovation and creativity, enable autonomy, encourage diversity, foster interactiuvity and practice openness.

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Dear news orgs, re Twitter
Dave Winer Weblog 2012/08/29

Twitter started throwing unrelated advertisements into the #EdStartUp course today, showing again how Twitter is becoming more of a media company, and less of a communications company. Dave Winer writes, "I think Twitter and Apple are headed to the same place -- halfway between TV networks and the Internet. More video, more programming, users pressing Like buttons, making wheels spin, watching celebrities and of course commercials." For me, Twitter is on the bubble - and with the way it is clamping down on content sources and software vendors, it might not be long for my desktop.

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How To Address Canadian Media Convergence if Bell - Astral is Approved
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/08/29

I think Bell is a great ISP and swear by my fibre-op connection. But I think Bell is a terrible media company and swear at (the very biased) programming it offers on television and coverage in its newspapers. As it is, it should split into two separate divisions. A merger with yet another large entity is, to my mind, just a loopy idea (and why should we all pay more just to help Bell finance the acquisition of a company that was running perfetcly well without Bell?).

Today: Total:2405 [Comment] [Direct Link]
On audience and connections
D'Arcy Norman Weblog 2012/07/31

My views are aligned with D'Arcy Norman on audience interaction: "I don’t want to be tempted to write about anything unless I want to. The audience feedback can be pretty strong, and it’s distracting. As Gould described it, it’s conservatising. To pay attention to that audience is to try to repeat previous successes, and to possibly improve on them, rather than to explore new and uncharted territory."

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How to issue open badges in 5 steps using WordPress + WPBadger
Doug Belshaw Weblog 2012/07/25

OK, I think a 'how to issue badges' post is a good idea. Unformtinately, this one is like: "Install badge-making software. Run software." (p.s. Usually I just run the origianal post without editing, but I am increasingly clearing post title of tag, since tags don't belong in titles).

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Education: sometimes it’s not complex (a reply to Nick Dennis)
Doug Belshaw Weblog 2012/07/30

This is a good overview of some of the arguments for and against 'independent schools', or what we would call here, 'provate schools'. It's a response to Niick Dennis's post Beyond Raincoats and Stereotypes, which defends the schools. My views align with Belshaw's. Specifically:

  • Independent schools are walled gardens that charge for entry.
  • We should address the causes of selfish behaviour, rather than institutionalize it
  • Choice and and better provision within the state sector are possible
  • Independent schools militate against a more equitable distribution of wealth
  • Sschools have charitable statuswhile charging £30,000 per year make a mockery of charities who do valuable work

In a nutshell, to my mind, independent (private) schools create a weakness in society by undermining its cohesiveness and creating greater power-law distributions of wealth and infleunce.

Today: Total:2915 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Massive online learning and the unbundling of undergraduate education
Benjamin Lima Weblog 2012/07/19

The secondary wave of interest in massive open online learning is now upon is, with the education blog commenators reacting to the spate of news stories recently following Coursera's expansion. We have for example this post on the 'unbundling' of education that the MOOC is supposed to represent. "This unbundling will happen in three ways: for the whole college education, for the individual course, and for the way that college is paid for." Of course, proposnents of online learning have talked of unbundling for decades; that was one of the major features of my 1998 'Future' paper and of course of David Noble's criticism of digital diploma mills in the 1990s. So, no, unbundling is not what MOOCs are all about, but observers could be forgiven for noticing that this is one aspect of them.

Today: Total:2916 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Peter Norvig: The 100,000-student classroom
Alfred Essa Weblog 2012/02/23

What's more interesting than the content of Peter Norvig's talk is who he credits. Mostly himself and partner Sebastian Thrun, of course. But also, "from Khan Academy, we saw that short 10-minute videos worked much better... from Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, we learned the concept of 'flipping' the classroom... from Eric Mazur, I learned about peer instruction... and finally, from Teach For America, I learned that a class is not primarily about information." Koller and Nh, from Stanford, founded Coursera. Eric Mazur, from Harvard, founded Peer Instruction Network with Julie Schell. He's the one who argued that observing demos hurts learning. And Teach for America is, well, Teach for America. All TED-approved sources. No radicals.

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Five Things I've Learned
Ewan McIntosh Weblog 2012/07/06

Not that Pearson would ever want to hear my list of course but here are the five things I've learned:

  • each person is inherently valuable, not because of what they do or who they are
  • it is in diversity, not unity, that we find harmony
  • live for experiences, not things
  • stay true to yourself, give your all, and do not hold back for the sake of advancement or conformity
  • happiness comes from service, not reward

Ewan McIntosh gives his list here and you can find the rest of the list at the Pearson site. Personally, I like my list better, but I'm not really sure they fly in the corporate world.

Today: Total:2343 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Balance the Spontaneous and Strategic of Social Media: Newsjacking and Obamacare
Boris Mann Weblog 2012/07/04

Boris Mann, a Northern Voice original, looks at the new definition of web literacy. He described four levels:

  • web media literacy
  • web creator
  • web and internet foundations
  • self-hosting

I agree with the progression from consumption to creation and ownership. But maybe we need to be thinking beyond 'the web' and thinking in terms of digital media, games and simulations, communication and messaging, and different forms of content.

Today: Total:2226 [Comment] [Direct Link]
The European Parliament Rejects ACTA: The Impossible Becomes Possible
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/07/04

I don't pretend to know the intricacies of European politics, but I have the sense that the Eurtopean Parliament is only half the battle, and that if the European Commission wants ACTA passed, it will find a way to do it, as part of a farm bill or something. Still, while "ACTA became the poster child for secretive, one-sided IP agreements that do not reflect the views and hopes of the broader public," Michael Geist says "This morning, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly against the agreement, effectively killing ACTA within the EU." If that is indeed the case, then well good.

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Brian Brett Speaks Out: An Open Letter on Access Copyright and the Canadian Copyright Emergency
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/06/28

Michael Geist links to an explosive letter from an award winning author and former Chair of the Writers' Union of Canada accusing Access Copyright of failing to distribute revenues to authors it collects in their name. The letter lists several examples: an overhead of $10 million to collect $23.5 million, refusal to distribute 'Payback' money to authors, payments to publishers for works that have reverted back to the authors, and payments of unassigned revenues to a small select set of authors.

Today: Total:2428 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Normal Science and Abnormal Publishing
Dan Cohen Weblog 2012/06/25

Eventually publishing in our field will turn to this model as well. "“There’s been a capitulation on the question of importance.” Exactly. Two years ago I wrote about how “scholars have uses for archives that archivists cannot anticipate,” and these new science journals flip that equation from the past into the future: aside from rare and obvious discoveries (the 1%), we can’t tell what will be important in the future, so let’s publish as much as possible (the 99%) and let the community of scholars rather than editors figure that out for themselves."

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In networks, cooperation trumps collaboration
Harold Jarche Weblog 2012/06/22

Harold Jarche offers a nice take on an argument I have often offered: that in a network world we organize ourselves by means of cooperation, not collabration. Jarche writes, "Shifting our emphasis from collaboration, which still is required to get some work done, to cooperation, in order to thrive in a networked enterprise, means reassessing some of our assumptions and work practices. For instance: The lessening importance of teamwork, versus exploring outside the organization may change our perceptions about being a “team player”. Detailed roles and job descriptions are inadequate for work at the edge. (And) You cannot train people to be social."

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The Battle over C-11 Concludes: How Thousands of Canadians Changed The Copyright Debate
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/06/21

Michael Geist wraps up the debate over C-11, the new Canadian copyright law, as follows: "Despite the loss on digital locks, however, the passage of Bill C-11 features some important wins for Canadians who spoke out on copyright." There's a really good table in the article that shows many of the user-centric reforms that made their way into the bill through years of redrafting. All of that said, though, "There is no sugar-coating the loss on digital locks... other countries have been willing to stand up to U.S. pressure... nce Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the call for a DMCA-style approach in early May 2010, the digital lock issue was lost." All true. But it does povide a single point of focus that some future government may address. And in the mean time, I need to construct a simple (and very flimsy) digital lock to protect my website from inspection.

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Why Bill C-11's Digital Lock Rules May Hurt Copyright Enforcement
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/06/13

The 'digital lock' provision is one of the more controversial provisions of the proposed Canadian copyright law, bill C-11. Basically it makes it a crime to circumvent digital locks, even if the intended use is non-infringing. Critics say the digital lock would prevent legal uses such as satire and quotation. But as Michael Geist writes, the digital lock provision might actually make infringing more difficult to detect, as infringers would simply hide their activities behind a digital lock. It doesn't have to be strong; it just has to exist, and if it exists, it would be illegal to break it to discover infringing uses. Of course, this could be fixed legislatively: in New Zealand "they have the concept of an authorized circumventor which essentially defines the situation where circumvention is allowed." But it's a slipperly slope, right?

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Leadership is an emergent property of a balanced network
Harold Jarche Weblog 2012/05/29

Harold Jarche explains the new democracy: "Culture is an emergent property of people working together. For example, trust only emerges if knowledge is shared and diverse points of view are accepted. As networked, distributed workplaces become the norm, trust will emerge from environments that are open, transparent and diverse. As a result of improved trust, leadership will be seen for what it is; an emergent property of a balanced network and not some special property available to only the select few."

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The Future of Education Is Here, It's Just Not Evenly Distributed
Michael Geist Weblog 2012/05/21

It's with no small irony I read Michael Geist writing about the revolution in education, citing examples like Stanford and MIT, and saying "there are serious doubts whether Canada is ready for these changes." And he says "no one seems ready to confront the emerging reality of competition from top tier schools from around the world offering online courses at low cost to Canadian students." He should not confuse Canada with Canadian institutions. Canada is the home of open access. And this country has contributed more than a little to open education. Don't be dazzled by big dollars at big name institutions. That's just the way they do things when they think they've spotted a trend. Open education and open access are as Canadian as maple syrup and beaver tails. If our governments and institutions lag behind, well, it wouldn't be the first time.

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“I will never stop learning”
Harold Jarche Weblog 2012/05/18

The Automattic (WordPress) company creed is funny - it starts out really strong, weakens through the middle, and by the end relies on a tired old cliché as though the author ran out od ideas even as he or she was typing it out. Also on the same page, some strong words from Lawrence Lessig: "We’ve lost a decade of competitive innovation in ways to spur and spread content in ways that would ultimately benefit creators, because the dinosaurs owned the lobbyists."

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Synthnet
Toni Westbrook Weblog 2012/05/11

How could I not post this item? "The ultimate goal is a true, functional model of the biological neural network in software grown using virtual DNA. While this is an incredibly lofty goal, the project serves as more of a learning opportunity for me (and anyone else interested)." You can watch Synthnet in action here. "In the first clip, I demonstrate growing a brain from virtual DNA, hooking into my Lego robotic buddy Bit, and then conditioning Bit to associate hearing a tone with getting his touch sensor pressed.  The demonstration is a recreation of classic fear conditioning experiments." Too cool.

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Elsevier: The beginning of the end?
Nassif Ghoussoub Weblog 2012/05/07

Nassif Ghoussoub muses on the Elsevier boycott and the rising numbers of mathematicians and other academics turning instead to free and open online publication. "I wish more academic editors of Elsevier journals would, and let’s face it, the campaign would have led to reform more quickly, had many of the editorial boards proceeded to resign, or only threaten to resign en masse." Still - there are signs things are changing. I will be speaking at the Learneds in Waterloo in a few weeks at the Canadian Association of Learned Journals conference - if journal publishers are willing to listen to me, then it's either a sign of the apocalypse, or a sign that thinsg are really changing.

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