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Elsevier's Free MOOC Prepares Med Students for Licensing Exam
Press Release, Elsevier, May 06, 2015

Here's another MOOC business model - MOOC as a loss leader for textbook sales. And 'free MOOC' as pilot (it reads as though they will charge fees for later iterations of the MOOC). "The success of the Crush Step 1 MOOC pilot will help Elsevier evaluate its ability to work within the MOOC model and develop trusted content that informs and engages medical students," said Theodore O'Connell, MD, author of Crush Step 1. "Using results from the pilot, Elsevier will understand how we might develop a full USMLE course and other course guides." Of course, the MOOC starts with a detailed registration form - so I don't think they don't really get the idea of 'open'.

Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, May 06, 2015

Here's another example of the use of MOOCs to ease entry into degree programs. If you graduate with the all-MOOC MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign you'll end up paying the same fees as anyone else - but if you don't need the credential you can get a certificate for a lot less, and you can take courses for free well inot the program. There's a certain point, of course, at which all of these cease being MOOCs, because the university seems to have lost the meaning of the work 'open'. The model is called "fractional learning" and looks like it is going to spread well beyond Arizona and Illinois. It's called the iMBA and is delivered through Coursera.

8-Year Old Creates Stunning Victory For Gender Equality
Leslie Salzillo, Daily Kos, May 06, 2015

I'm always sceptical when I read headlines about the great accomplishments of 8-year-olds like this, because I know that they require a lot of support from their parents just to get in the door of major publishers, not to mention deciding what to say and how to say it. But I also really like it when they (and their parents) do have an impact like that, because it's so good for the child, and it's so good for society to have children having an impact on major policy decisions. We should do it more often. So Kudos to Els of North London for convincing a number of publishers to do away with the harmful 'for girls' and 'for boys' lables on books.

Four Scenarios on the Future of Credentials
Leila Meyer, Campus Technology, May 06, 2015

I'm not really a fan of the 'scenario-building' approach to projecting future trends, but it's all the range these days and so not surprising to see employed in this report (which is overall a pretty good overview of the environment). Here are the four scenarios (quoted from the study (17 page PDF)):

  • “All Roads Lead to Rome,” imagines a future in which degrees awarded by the K-12 and post-secondary sectors still serve as the dominant form of credentials."
  • “The Dam Breaks,” explores a future in which the employment sector accepts new forms of credentials, such as micro-credentials, on a standalone basis.
  • Every Experience a Credential,” considers what credentials might look like if new technologies enabled every experience to be tracked and catalogued.
  • “My Mind Mapped,” imagines a future (with) breakthroughs in both the mapping and tracking of brain functions.

The universities are pursuing scenario 1, naturally. Most others are pursuing scenario 2. We are pursuing scenario 3. Nobody is really pursuing scenario 4, because it will be decades before the technology becomes practical, and would raise serious social and moral issues.

Cybersafety: new guide demystifies
Unattributed, Education Gazette, May 06, 2015

The Online Safety Advisory Group (OSAG) in New Zealand has released a set of guidelines to help schools to apply new laws and to understand the issues surrounding the safe and responsible use of digital technologies in school (54 page PDF). These issues, according to the guide, break in to three major divisions:

  • Cybersafety: Involves conduct or behavioural concerns.
  • Cybercrime: Involves illegal activity.
  • Cybersecurity: Involves unauthorised access or attacks on a computer system.

Probably the key statement is in one of the first pages of the study: "In general, preventative approaches that rely on technical or other protections simply do not work." In order to ensure safety and security, the whole community must be involved, people need to have a say in the measures deployed, and brought to the appropriate skill levels.

This report also deals with the sensitive issue of the surrender and search of devices in schools. Teachers can't just grab a student's phone, demand passwords, and start browsing. "Searching for digital information is a specialist activity. The New Zealand Police are the only authorised agency to conduct such a search." This is as it should be. There's a lot more in the report. People dealing with digital safety and security in schools should read it.


The Top eLearning Statistics and Facts For 2015 You Need To Know
Christopher Pappas, e-Learning Industry, May 06, 2015

The main statistic to me is that this thing that in 1995 we needed to prove was even viable is in 2015 growing steadily and becoming ubiquitous. Some snapshot figures (quoted from the article):

  • The global eLearning Market is expected to reach $107 billion by 2015
  • Self-paced eLearning market should see estimated revenues of $49.9 billion in 2015
  • The LMS market is expected to (be) worth approximately $4 billion in 2015 and over $7 billion in 2018
  • The worldwide mobile learning market in 2015 will reach $8.7 billion
  • The online corporate market is expected to grow by 13% per year up to 2017
  • 8% of companies use MOOCs, while another 7% consider to experiment with MOOCs. It is predicted that in the following two years this percentage will rise to 28%

That's not bad for a couple of decade's work.

Four of the top five YouTube channels are for kids (and the fifth is Taylor Swift)
Stuart Dredge, The Guardian, May 06, 2015

I don't subscribe to the Taylor Swift channel but I've been on it a lot as she provides high-quality music that is nice to listen to. As for the rest, well, not so much. "US-based toy unboxing channel Funtoys Collector was the biggest YouTube channel by some distance in March, with 477.5m views... second-placed Little Baby Bum, the British nursery rhymes channel, with 385.1m views that month. Two Russian cartoon channels, Masha and the Bear and Get Movies, ranked fourth and fifth with 323.1m and 311.2m views respectively." The reader is left to speculate what the various channels say about the cultures that produced them.

Facebook opens up amidst net neutrality row
Unattributed, BBC News, May 06, 2015

Opposition to the business model from around the world (including these pages) has forced Facebook to open up a bit. The original plan was to create a service that would offer only Facebopok, Wikipedia, and a couple other providers. Now the plan is to allow more providers. "Although these terms will continue to restrict membership, Mr Zuckerberg said that people should not prevent others from using the internet in order to defend an 'extreme definition of net neutrality'." I personally don't think it's "extreme" to object when a service is offered that provides access to Facebook but not to OLDaily.People like me will never be able to afford to 'pay to play'. That's why the plan is objectionable.

Also, 'Part B' on Facebook's plan is now beginning to roll out as it begins to test its system to act as a host for articles published by (among others) Buzzfeed and the New York Times. "Such a plan would represent a leap of faith for news organizations accustomed to keeping their readers within their own ecosystems," writes the Times, forgetting that the 'ecosystem' is the Internet, not the NY Times website. The move has stirred up quite a bit of debate, including the suggestion that these articles would be favoured in Facebook's algorithm. To entice them, Facebook is allowing publishers to keep all the revenue from advertisements (presumably a measure that would end once lock-in was achieved).

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
RSS Feed:

Key Articles

Scholarly Articles

Cites:294 Educational Blogging (Local copy)
264 Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide (Local copy)
134 E-learning 2.0 (Local copy)
126 Models for sustainable open educational resources (Local copy)
88 The future of online learning (Local copy
75 Learning networks and connective knowledge (Local copy)
70 Design and reusability of learning objects in an academic context: A new economy of education (Local copy)
59 Resource profiles (Local copy)
40 Learning networks in practice (Local copy)
33 Semantic networks and social networks (Local copy)
35 An introduction to connective knowledge (Local copy)
27 Design, standards and reusability (Local copy)
23 EduSource: Canada's learning object repository network (Local copy)
22 An introduction to RSS for educational designers (Local copy)

(Cites from Google Scholar for an H-Index = 14)

Recent Popular Articles

The Purpose of Learning, February 2, 2011.
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A World To Change, October 19, 2010.
Connectivism and Transculturality, May 16, 2010.
An Operating System for the Mind, September 19, 2009.
The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom, June 5, 2009.
The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, November 16, 2008.
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About Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. As the author of the widely-read OLDaily online newsletter, Downes has earned international recognition for his leading-edge work in the field of online learning. He developed some of Canada's first online courses at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. He also built a learning management system from scratch and authored the now-classic "The Future of Online Learning".

At the University of Alberta he built a learning and research portal for the municipal sector in that province, Munimall, and another for the Engineering and Geology sector, PEGGAsus. He also pioneered the development of learning objects and was one of the first adopters and developers of RSS content syndication in education. Downes introduced the concept of e-learning 2.0 and with George Siemens developed and defined the concept of Connectivism, using the social network approach to deliver open online courses to three thousand participants over two years.

Downes has been offering courses in learning, logic, philosophy both online and off since 1987, has 135 articles published in books, magazines and academic journals, and has presented his unique perspective on learning and technology more than 250 times to audiences in 17 countries on five continents. He is a habitual photographer, plays darts for money, and can be found at home with his wife Andrea and four cats in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


Stephen Downes travaille pour le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, où il a servi en tant que chercheur principal, basé à Moncton, au Nouveau-Brunswick, depuis 2001. Affilié au Groupe des technologies de l'apprentissage et de la collaboration, Institut de technologie de l’information, Downes est spécialisé dans les domaines de l'apprentissage en ligne, les nouveaux médias, la pédagogie et la philosophie.

Downes est peut-être mieux connu pour son bulletin quotidien, OLDaily, qui est distribué par Internet, courriel et RSS à des milliers d'abonnés à travers le monde. Il a publié de nombreux articles à la fois en ligne et sur papier incluant The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), et E-Learning 2.0 (2005). Il est un conférencier populaire, apparaissant à des centaines de manifestations à travers le monde au cours des quinze dernières années.

Vision Statement

I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence. This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward.

Canadians who gave their lives in service in Afghanistan

Hundreds of my IAAF Track & Field Photos from Moncton 2010

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