I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.

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Online Classes Get a Missing Piece: Teamwork

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Audrey Watters gasps, "Can you believe no one has ever thought about adding 'social' to online education until now?!" It boggles the mind, to be sure. But Carolyn Rosé's project is a bit more interesting than that. The EdSurge article discussing Bazaar misrepresents the real story. Of course, everyone would like to see more social interaction in online learning and people have been working on this for decades. What's unique here is that students can "enter an online chat group where they discuss and apply what they learned [and a] computer agent—a chatbot—prompts them to discuss amongst each other." The chatbot is the focus of the Bazaar project mentioned in the article. Here's the GitHub. It's related to their wider DANCE project - Discussion Affordances for Natural Collaborative Exchange, which is an effort to promote similar interactivity inside EdX.

Today: 292 Total: 292 Marguerite McNeal, EdSurge, 2016/09/30 [Direct Link]

The Open University of Brazil goes open

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According to this article, the Open University of Brazil (UAB) "has just announced its open educational resources repository — eduCAPES, during the 9th meeting of UAB Coordinators in Brasília. The repository is part of a series of activities aimed at promoting OER within the UAB System."

Today: 253 Total: 253 Tel Amiel, Universidade Aberta do Brasil, 2016/09/30 [Direct Link]

Create a Professional Learning Community in 3 Easy Steps with Office 365

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What I want to flag here is the use of the term "professional learning community" by Microsoft. According to this article, " Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide the support educators need to continue to grow new teaching skills with their peers. Groups of educators can work and learn together to improve student achievement through book study, action research, or learning a new best practice through PLCs." The term has been around for a while. Here's a 2004 article describing PLCs: "People use this term to describe every imaginable combination of individuals with an interest in education." In 2009 Edutopia wrote about how to create a PLC. The province of Ontatio used it as a model in 2007. This article from 2005 credits Coral Mitchell and Larry Sackney with a definition of the term. Reference go back to 1997 and earlier.

Today: 345 Total: 345 Andrew Robertson, Microsoft UK Schools Blog, 2016/09/30 [Direct Link]

Introducing Google Cloud

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Google has rebranded and relaunched a number of services for enterprises, including education, under the heading of Google Cloud. "Google Cloud spans every layer of the business, including all of Google Cloud Platform; our user facing collaboration and productivity applications — now named G Suite; all of our machine learning tools and APIs, the enterprise maps APIs; and the Android phones, tablets and Chromebooks that access the cloud." G Suite mnight be a tough sell. "We believe that when organizations break down silos, connect people and empower them to work together, we get the speed, agility and impact needed to compete in today’s market... With G Suite, information can flow freely between devices, apps, people and teams." My experience has been that enterprise wants tgo lock down its information, not let it flow freely. I would like that to change, of course, but as I say: tough sell.

This is probably the last result to come from 'The Official Google Blog'. Google has a new blog, called The Keyword, which unites all other blogs. There is an RSS feed but you have to search for it, since they're not using RSS autodiscover. You'll find a four-paragraph article on 'helping prospective students make decisions about their future' in today's issue. Four pathetic paragraphs. :(

Today: 374 Total: 374 Diane Greene, Google Cloud Official Blog, 2016/09/30 [Direct Link]

Markets and School Quality

This article is much better in its articulation of the criticisms of private schools than it is in offering a resolution. Former Chilean presidential candidate Andrés Velasco explores three areas of criticism (quoted):

  • if everything – including education – is for sale, those who have more money will buy more of it.
  • education markets perform poorly... markets run into trouble when what is bought and sold cannot be observed or measured.
  • education can be degraded by being sold and bought... market incentives change behavior in socially damaging ways.

These are all good points and I would contend that the private sector has not addressed any of them adequtely. But Velasco suggests "it makes sense to consider how to combine the virtues of both systems, instead of simply choosing between them." He cites a recent paper that argues "for-profits appear to be at their best with well-defined programs of short duration that prepare students for a specific occupation." How does this address these three points? We don't know.

Today: 435 Total: 435 Andrés Velasco, Project Syndicate, 2016/09/30 [Direct Link]

PEARSONalized Learning

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I want to cut this out and put it on the wall around here: "There is a recurring cultural fantasy that 'solving' the education 'problem' consists of creating a customized playlist of little content bits... Nobody who has taught believes that proper sequencing of content chunks is the hard part." Oh, but that's all so many people want to do. That's how 'learning analytics will solve education!' Argh! People (as Michael Feldstein vividly demonstrates (with examples)) should stop listening to ed tech vendor marketing when thinking about how to design and use educational technology.

Today: 214 Total: 834 Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, 2016/09/29 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.