New Today

Phasing out certificates of free courseware completion
Sebastian Thrun, Udacity Blog, April 17, 2014

The commercialization of MOOCs continues: "effective May 16, we will stop offering free non-identity-verified certificates." The funny part is that they say students are demanding this.

Small Private Colleges Are in Deep Trouble (as They Should Be)
Jordan Weissmann, Slate, April 17, 2014

While this is termed as "a small brush fire, clearing out some of the unhealthier institutions in higher ed" the credit default warnings being issued against small colleges may be the harbinger of something more widespread. The article suggests, "because they don’t have much in the way of endowments, they tend to charge high tuition, and leave undergraduates saddled with debts that simply might not be worthwhile." These problems aren't unique to small private colleges, though.

Choose your silo (or, Why are we partying like it’s 1999?)
Doug Belshaw, April 17, 2014
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Even in 1999 things were more open than they are in mobile computing today. Right now, it feels more like the days of AOL and Compuserv - completely separate (and expensive) information silos. "It’s nothing new," writes Doug Belshaw. "The Agricultural Revolution in England 250 years ago provides another example. Here, common land was literally ‘enclosed’ for private profit. The people on the land protested, but rapacious capitalists forced legislation through by way of ties with the government." We need to resist, writes Belshaw. "As users, let's not be seduced by 'free' as in 'free beer' but actively fight for 'free' as in 'liberty'." And let's support 'open', not as in 'for business' but as in 'doors'.

Time to retire from online learning?
Tony Bates, online learning, distance edcuation resources, April 17, 2014

Tony Bates is calling it a career. "After 45 years continuously working in online and distance education," he writes, "I’ve certainly earned the right to stop." Among other reasons, he is upset about MOOCs - not the concept, but the hubris and nonsense - "Having ignored online learning for nearly 20 years, Stanford, MIT and Harvard had to re-invent online learning in their own image to maintain their perceived superiority in all things higher educational." Bates will continue to write and continue the blog, but most activities will end. I think it's fitting to say here that his contribution has been significant and that if I'm granted another 20 years in the business (I'm 55 to his 75) the impact of his work will certainly be felt in my own.

See also: D'Arcy Norman.

Stand Up and Be Counted
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, April 17, 2014

So, how is this going to work? Maryland has issued a letter telling distance education providers to students in the state to stand up and be counted. "Higher education institutions offering fully online education to Maryland residents must submit an application to register with the Maryland Higher Education Commission,” the letter reads. If you reply, then Maryland demands you "pay an annual registration fee of $1,000 and a bond valued at five times the average cost of tuition." But what if they don't - what if the provider is from Finland, or India, or Canada? I would resist such a demand to the full limit of the law - because compliance would mean a flood of demands for registration from thousands of jurisdictions around the world. Google or Microsoft can handle that and simply pass on the cost. The rest of us can't. So, what then? Would Maryland start blocking illegal online learning, the way the U.S. blocks casinos and Turkey blocks YouTube? There's no good end-game in that scenario.

Building a Google custom search engine for LRMI-tagged pages
Phil Barker, CETIS Blog, April 17, 2014

This is an interesting exercise in coding: "trying to create a search engine for finding learning resources by searching LRMI-tagged web pages." The search engine they created works pretty well. But it only returns results from BBC and Open University, so far as I can tell. Which proves (yet again) that designing the standard and creating the search engine are the easy part - getting the rest of the world to tag their materials using it is the hard part.

One World
Rodd Lucier, The Clever Sheep, April 17, 2014
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In his first blog post in almost a year, Rodd Lucier reflects on his experiences at the Microsoft Global Summit (no link but probably this) focused on the the Millennium Development Goals. He describes a project pitched at the conference, "an inquiry project called 'One World'... an open and social hub was created for this project at www.about.me/oneworldnetwork." It's interesting to see him react to the evaluation experience: "My project team invested many hours in a project that took but minutes to be judged according to a rubric. We invested our time, talent, emotions and intellect, yet to date, we have received no feedback on our work." I guess a lot of students feel the same way.

Why successful consortia for online learning are so difficult
Tony Bates, online learning, distance edcuation resources, April 17, 2014
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Numerous online learning consortia have come and gone over the years, and none has really emerged as a market leader. Why not? Tony Bates examines how this mode of organization is fraught with difficulties. These comments are made in the context of Rachel Fishman's recent report, State U Online. "What the report does not adequately address are the economics of online learning," writes Bates. When courses are shared, who provides online support? Additionally, "Another major barrier is academic distrust of other institutions: 'Our courses are always good; yours are garbage.'" P.S. Russ Poulin comments, " WCET is maintaining a list of consortia in the U.S. and Canada."

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
Videos: http://www.downes.ca/me/videos.htm
RSS Feed: http://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.xml
Podcast: http://www.downes.ca/news/audio.xml

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.
The Role of the Educator, December 6, 2010.
Deinstitutionalizing Education, November 5, 2010.
Agents Provocateurs, October 28, 2010.
What Is Democracy In Education, October 22, 2010.
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.
Things You Really Need to learn: http://www.downes.ca/post/38502

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Contact: stephen@downes.ca Stephen.Downes@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
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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.

Biographie

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

My calendar

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