OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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OLWeekly

by Stephen Downes
Jul 03, 2015

New ADL #mLearning Design Reference model: adjust to your needs
Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, 2015/07/03


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Inge de Waard reports that Peter Berking, lead of the MoTIF project, has released the newly adapted mLearning Design Reference model, and is now inviting us all to have a look at the reference model, and adapt it to our own needs." The MoTIF project (Mobile Training Implementation Framework) is an ADL initiative currently focused on a model that "embodies and integrates mobile learning constraints and best practices at the fundamental level of the design process itself, leading the ISD to consider using alternative learning approaches, unique mobile device capabilities, and leveraging context and usage patterns of users in ways that desktop DL and classroom learning do not usually address."

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Universities push for higher fees
Sean Coughlan, BBC News, 2015/07/03


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British universities are learning very well what North American universities have known for some time, that it is easier to convince governments to increase fees paid by students than it is to increase direct government expenditures. Any old excuse will do. 'These changes should be made now to ensure universities can continue to provide high quality education that meets the needs of students,' she (Janet Beer, vice-president of Universities UK) said." Yeah. 'Quality'.

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Dutch boycott of Elsevier – a game changer?
Danny Kingsley, Unlocking Research, 2015/07/03


According to this article, "Koen Becking, chairman of the Executive Board of Tilburg University who has been negotiating with scientific publishers about an open access policy on behalf of Dutch universities with his colleague Gerard Meijer, announced a plan to start boycotting Elsevier." The Dutch have been attempting to negotiate open access, where content would be "born free" with no barriers or subscription fees, but have not been able to to come close to an agreement with Elsevier.

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Personal Learning Graphs (PLeG)
George Siemens, elearnspace, 2015/07/03


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After connectivism and MOOCs George Siemens followed the path leading to learning analytics, while I took the path leading to personal learning. In this article it looks like he sees the paths as converging. Certainly a lot of what he is saying here is what has been current in personal learning. Witness this: "Many of the personalized learning systems now available begin with an articulation of the knowledge space – i.e. what the learner needs to know. What the learner knows is somewhat peripheral and is only a focal point after the learner has started interacting with content. Additionally, the data that is built around learner profiles is owned by either the educational institution or the software company. This isn’t a good idea. Learners should own the representation of what they know." There's a longish slide presentation to support the short post.

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Digital Storytelling for Transformative Global Citizenship Education
Hoa Truong-White, Lorna McLean, Canadian Journal of Education, 2015/07/02


From the abstract: "This article explores how digital storytelling offers the potential to support transformative global citizenship education (TGCE) through a case study of the Bridges to Understanding program that connected middle and high school students globally using digital storytelling." I'm not really a fan of storytelling, but I think that this is just my own personal preferences; other people love stories and swear by them. Having said that, my interest in storytelling is probably more around the way the teller is transformed in the telling of the story than in the way the listener is transformed in the listening to it. More articles form the just-released issue of the Canadian Journal of Education.

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U of Phoenix: Losing hundreds of millions of dollars on adaptive-learning LMS bet
Phil Hill, e-Literate, 2015/07/02


Adaptive learning is one of those ideas that sounds great in theory but is virtually impossible to make effective in practice. People familiar with the early days of video games (and especially the first video-disc games) will understand why - the best games are open-ended environments in which you attempt to achieve goals in increasingly challenging circumstances, rather than closed processes that take you through branches and loops based on specific responses and outcomes. And so the University of Phoenix, which is learning this lesson the hard way. "And after spending years and untold millions on developing its own digital course platform that it said would revolutionize online learning, Mr. Cappelli said the university would drop its proprietary learning systems in favor of commercially available products."

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Nine Ways to Help Students Embrace the Revision Process
John Spencer, 2015/07/02


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I am really of two minds about this. On the one hand, I understand the need to refine and revise your work, especially if you're just developing your writing style and your voice. So I can see how these tips would be useful. On the other hand, I hate doing revisions. Almost everything you see that I've written - from blog posts to published articles - is first-draft work. If I must revisit the same ideas again, I'd rather write a new first-draft from scratch, because enough will have changed between yesterday and today so as to make it necessary. I view writing as - at best - a snapshot, not something that captures eternal truths to be treasured for all time. Perhaps it's my background in journalism and writing for tight deadlines. So instead of honing skills to help me revise, I hone skills that help me get it right the first time. All in perspective, I guess.

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What Sports Teaches Kids About Bigger Roles in Life
Patti Neighmond, NPR | Mind/Shift, 2015/07/02


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Some people think that it is odd that I am interested in and follow sports. Why, I even have a signed and framed photo of Jose Bautista on my wall. Why would I, a putative philosopher, thinker and researcher, be interested in sports? And the answer, quite simply, is that sports teaches me lessons, sports offers me role models, and sports inspires me. And even in my (ahem) advanced years, I need all three. "Parents think that the organized way you participate in sports — the leadership and fellowship — is actually preparing people not only for the next game but for much broader roles in life." I think this is true. It means that someone needs to be there to help kids cope not only with the thrill of victory but also the agony of defeat - how you can train hard, do everything right, perform at your best - and still lose.

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Man, Machine and Work
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, 2015/07/02


This is my take as well: "What if, rather than asking the traditional question - What tasks currently performed by humans will soon be done more cheaply and rapidly by machines? - we ask a new one: What new feats might people achieve if they had better thinking machines to assist them?"

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BuiltWith
2015/07/01


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From Robin Good's list today - this website lets me find out what any website is built with. See it in action for my website. It covers everything from encoding formats to javascript libraries to frameworks, servers and platforms. "Know your prospects platform before you talk to them. Improve your conversions with validated market adoption." You can also use the site to research technology and e-commerce trends.

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When a Company Is Put Up for Sale, in Many Cases, Your Personal Data Is, Too
Natasha Singer, Jeremy B. Merrill, New York Times, 2015/07/01


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The story is in the headline. That's why it doesn't matter how much a company reassures you that "all your data is safe with us." As soon as the company is sold, all bets are off. The definition of "us" has just changed dramatically. That's why some of these startup companies become so valuable. Microsoft didn't simply buy Minecraft technology for $2.5 billion, for example - it bought access to data on millions of children using Minecraft, which is now being leveraged to support its educational offerings.

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Were All Those Rainbow Profile Photos Another Facebook Study?
J. Nathan Matias, The Atlantic, 2015/07/01


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Although I was on one of those celebrating the recent Supreme Court decision in the United States, I did not join the roughly one million Facebook users who converted their profile photos to rainbows. Why? Not because I'm insufficiently enthusiastic, but because I don't trust Facebook, and I trust Facebook applications even less. This lack of trust is well-founded. "Even with same-sex marriage now legal across the United States, coming out or claiming those rights by getting married will continue to be a socially courageous act., Facebook's past research on marriage equality has helped answer a question we all face when deciding to act politically: Does the courage to visibly—if virtually—stand up for what a person believes in have an effect on that person’s social network." Sure, I'd love to know the answer to this. But conducting research on uninformed subjects facing potentially serious consequences is unethical.

Related: if the government told you to change your profile image, would you comply? What would research on this look like? The other day in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on people to takee selfies with their daughters. India's netizens responded in the thousands. It's a good cause - "Gender inequality has long been a major problem in India’s highly patriarchal society, where female children are being perceived as inferior and even killed in the womb or as infants — a phenomenon Modi has fought to reverse." But at a certain point, call-and-response becomes compliance.

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Schema for Courses
Phil Barker, Google Docs, 2015/07/01


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One of the things we encountered when harvesting things like Coursera courses is that they are complex entities - you have the 'course', which is the course itself, the 'course section', which is a particular offering of the course, and 'courase events', which are individual online classes and other events. These are all over and above any learning resources that may be used. We're not the only aggregators to encounter this, obviously, and this structure has not made its way to the standards community. Phil Barker provides two links, one raising the issue in the LRMI shema.org Github, and a work package in the the DCMI LRMI Task Group.

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Year One With a 3D Printer: 17 Tips
Vicki Davis, Edutopia, 2015/07/01


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The very first piece of advice makes this item worthwhile: "Find a video about loading the filament properly. After an hour of frustration with the written directions, I watched a video and did it perfectly." Online learning FTW! And here's a shout dfor personal learning: "Let students use software that's comfortable for them. Most 3D printers can import any kind of .STL file. You can use the software that came with your printer, but don't stop there. Free programs including Google Sketchup might be easier."

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ISTE 2015 Roundup: All the Company News You Need to Know
Mary Jo Madda, EdSurge, 2015/07/01


Good overview of the announcements made at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia, which is just wrapping up. ISTE is a schools-based organization mostly centred in the U.S. Some of the more interesting announcements (quoted):

  • Samsung and McGraw-Hill announced “Classroom in a Box,” a collection of hardware, software and services geared at K-12 schools.
  • Software company Follett announced Lightbox, a collection of tools and resources that function like e-books, but with quizzes, read-aloud support
  • updates to the iTunes U store - now features a “Free Books by Educators” section, and a “Real-World Learning” section

 

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In social networks, group boundaries promote the spread of ideas, study finds
Katherine Unger Baillie, Phys.org, 2015/07/01


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Here's the proposition: "breaking down group boundaries to increase the spread of knowledge across populations may ultimately result in less-effective knowledge sharing. Instead, his research shows that best practices and complex ideas are more readily integrated across populations if some degree of group boundaries is preserved." Like so many things, though, there are different ways of looking at the same thing. Where he sees boundaries, I see clustering. It is well known that there is a 'sweet spot' of connectivity somewhere in the middle between zero connectivity and 100% connectivity, between zero signal and total static. The shape of the network matters. But do we describe this shape in terms of boundaries? "When a society is too grouped, people do not have any social contact with people from other groups," Centola said. "People with the same job all attended the same school, live in the same neighborhood and frequent the same clubs. Their networks do not expand beyond that group."

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Learning Experience Design: A Better Title Than Instructional Design?
Cristy Tucker, Experiencing E-Learning, 2015/06/30


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My answer to that question would be: yes. Connie Malamed explains: "Calling ourselves Learning Experience Designers acknowledges that we design, enable or facilitate experiences rather than courses. This gives us a broad license to empower people with the tools and information they need to do their jobs, regardless of the chosen format."

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LRMI, Learning Resource Metadata on the Web
Phil Barker, Sharing, Learning, 2015/06/29


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Good overview article detailing the history of learning resource metadata. Though technically correct, it's not completely accurate to say that IEEE's LOM was "the first international standard for educational technology". Before LOM there were the IMS learning object metadata protocols, which in turn followed the AICC's protocols. But yeah, IEEE was the first "standard". And it was followed by many other "standards", which are listed in the article. But the point of this article is mostly to describe the latest incarnation, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, which takes us back into the land of specifications. "LRMI is now a task group of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. That provides us with with the mechanisms and governance required to maintain, promote, and if necessary extend the specification."

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Three R’s that universities care about
Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, 2015/06/30


With apologies to the 5 Rs oft-cited by David Wiley, writes Martin Weller, here are the three Rs universities are really interested in (quoted):

  • Recruitment – depending on who you are, getting students is an issue. If you are an elite university it is not so much a matter of getting sufficient students, but getting the types of students you want. Either way recruiting students is the lifeblood of any university.
  • Retention – having recruited students, you then need to keep them. Why do students drop out within a module, or fail to progress to another module? What can we do to help students with particular needs? How can we be flexible enough to accommodate non-traditional students?
  • Reputation – what is the reputation of the university with potential students (see recruitment), the general population, the local community, the media, government, etc. What is it known for? What perceptions or misconceptions about it do people hold?

Weller is unquestionably right. These are the things universities care about. My question is: does anyone else care about these three things? Why should we care about them? When universities express these as priorities, are they serving society, they students, or merely themselves? Contra Weller, I ask, why should we make claims for MOOCs and other learning technologies against these three things?

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Niggles about NGDLEs - lessons from ELF
Jon Dron, Athabasca Landing, 2015/06/30


Jon Dron gets it right in his response to Malcolm Brown's defense of the concept of the NGDLE. "It has been done before," he writes, "over ten years ago in the form of ELF, in much more depth and detail and with large government and standards bodies supporting it, and it is important to learn the lessons of what was ultimately a failed initiative. Well - maybe not failed, but certainly severely stalled." You read the history of that here on OLDaily, first as the E-Learning Framework, and then the renamed E-Framework (note that many of the links no longer work). I remember being initially supportive but then becoming increasingly frustrated as the objectives of the program gradually drowned under a maze of standards and projects and disappearing web pages. Then, in 2008: "Our current approach, fundamentally, is totally, completely, utterly wrong, isn't it?"

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xAPI case studies available #xapi yeah!
Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, 2015/06/30


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Inge de Waard links to this collection of xAPI case studies - these are "short (average 15 min) videos covering xAPI in a variety of settings.... real stories on how people in EdTech are using Experience API in their context. The videos were taped during the Orlando happening, and they include wonderful experts." See also the Connections Forum.

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Colombian student Diego Gomez is going to trial for sharing a research article online
Timothy Vollmer, Creative Commons, 2015/06/30


This tells me that exactly the wrong people are in charge of knowledge distribution policy: "Gomez is a student in conservation and wildlife management, and for the most part has poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. He shared an academic paper on Scribd so that he and others could access it for their work. If convicted, Diego could face a prison term of 4-8 years." I mean, seriously?

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Instagrads: What It's Like To Spend All 4 Years Of High School On Instagram
Sarah Kessler, Fast Company, 2015/06/29


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I think that the single greatest thing about Instagram - and about the internet generally - is that it breaks through the barriers that would normally keep you apart from other people. "Maybe the jocks don’t talk to all of the theater and band people," says Kelsey Bageant, another student at Musselman. "They might not know them at all, but they all follow them on Instagram, just because they all go to the same school." We hear sometimes about how the internet pushes people to associate only with their own group (a phenomenon called 'homophily') but my experience is that it's the opposite. People cling together in clans in real life, and cross paths with people of different cultures and beliefs online. P.S. I also identify with the photo-a-day thing.

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68% of Statistics Are Meaningless, D2L Edition
Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, 2015/06/29


Michael Feldstein takes D2L to task for what he argues are misleading statistics being offered by the LMS company. "The highlights of the analytics announcements... were incredibly disappointing in almost every way possible, and good examples of a really bad pattern of hype and misdirection that we’ve been seeing from D2L lately," he writes. He cites a couple of posts from Phil Hill in particular, "Phil recently caught John Baker using…questionable retention statistics in a speech he gave. In that case, the problem wasn’t that the statistic itself was meaningless but rather that there was no reason to believe that D2L had anything to do with the improvement in the case being cited. And then there’s the slight-of-hand that Phil just called out regarding their LeaP marketing."

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Online identity, work spaces and folios – a celebration of awareness
Leigh Blackall, The Teaching Tom Tom, 2015/06/29


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Our online identity is our identity. "Most people who do a search on their name come to realise that the search result is essentially the first page of their online identity – their folio. It could be personal, it could be professional, often it’s both." So when this is the case, what it the result of handing this identity over to Google? And what are we committing students two when our institutions use Google as a primary educational tool? `What about people who have already built themselves an online workspace, a professional identity and folio? Should they stop with that and rebuild another one? Won’t they dilute their online identities, especially students, casuals, contractors and other transients?

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Upholding the Hidden
Glen Cochrane, Hybrid Pedagogy, 2015/06/29


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Post on the relation between language and thought. "Upholding a mindset of taking and using control, rather than the removal of all control, begins with how educators frame the learning space. In choosing language that represents these spaces from a learner’s perspective, educators communicate the nuance of presence from which the rest of the educational process flows." It brings to mind thoughts about how we think in a world after we've made the transition from text-based language to multimedia.

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In Abundance: Networked Participatory Practices as Scholarship
Bonnie E Stewart, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 2015/06/29


Bonnie Stewart: " this study investigates networks as sites of scholarship. Its purpose is to situate networked practices within Boyer’s (1990) four components of scholarship – discovery, integration, application, and teaching – and to explore them as a techno-cultural system of scholarship suited to an era of knowledge abundance."

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Bringing the Social Back to MOOCs
Todd Bryant, EDUCAUSE Review, 2015/06/29


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We have known this from the beginning: "For MOOCs to function as the bridge between open content and collaborative learning, they need to include opportunities for social interaction and collaboration, which have consistently proven to be beneficial to learners. Failure to do so would relegate MOOCs to little more than content repositories, which, while still valuable, would be used primarily by the highly educated, mature, and motivated independent learners they currently serve." Eventually this will be 'invented' at MIT or Stanford. Probably with the assistance of Gates funding.

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Reshaping the Educational Environment for Tomorrow’s Workforce
Richard M. Rhodes, EDUCAUSE Review, 2015/06/29


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I think that this plan will actually make students less prepared for the workforce: "This public-private partnership is a key aspect of what makes ACC Highland a new model for higher education. By bringing the college's industry partners onsite, ACC Highland can immerse students in their field of choice from the start, enabling real-world experiences to enhance what happens in the classroom." The more you insert particular companies into the management and control of learning, the less you prepare students for work with their competitors, and particularly with disruptive business models and technologies that might upset their current business model. To be prepared for the world of work, it is essential to be able to think more broadly than your current employer.

P.S. in an earlier paragraph there's an interesting reference to adaptive learning software, called ALEKS, to customize coursework for each student. ALEKS is owned by McGraw-Hill and according to the website is "Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn."

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Advice to the Alberta government on Athabasca University’s sustainability report
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, 2015/06/29


Tony Bates offers advice to Athabasca University and the government of Alberta on the recent report issued by the university on its dire economic future. I agree with all of it. In particular: "What is really lacking from this report is a clear vision of what AU wants to be in the future, and how that vision would fit with the rest of the Albertan (and national and international) online and open education world."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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