by Stephen Downes
Dec 02, 2016
The Value and Price of Open Online Courses
Stephen Downes, Dec 02, 2016, OEB2016, Berlin, Germany
If open online learning can be equivalent or even superior to face-to-face education, what does this mean for the value and the price of MOOCs for institutions, for learning communities, for learners and for the creation of new knowledge. Oanel notes are avauilable as an MS Word document here.
Developing a Personal Learning Infrastructure
Stephen Downes, Nov 30, 2016, OEB 2016, Berlin, Germany
In this workshop we examine the various parts of a personal learning environment and moot the development of a PLE architecture.
Personal learning environments and technologies
Stephen Downes, Nov 30, 2016, Impuls, Berlin, Germany
This presentation looks at the current trends in learning technology - competencies, personalization, and innovation. It casts them in a sceptical light, explaining and then challenging the presuppositions underlying them. It proposes an alternative 'personal learning', describes technologies supporting it, and outlines a framework for technology and pedagogy development in this environment.
Trends in education: Facts, Fads and Fiction
Stephen Downes, Nov 26, 2016, Digital trends challenging learning and training in the workplace, Brussels, Belgium
This talk looks at a number of current trends in online learning and sorts then according to their likelihood of success. In general, those that depend on significant human intervention - such as, for example, creating competency definitions - are expected to be failures. The distinction between learning as a path and learning as an environment is discussed. In the video, Wilfred Rubins speaks first; my talk begins at 1:01:00
After the talk, we held an afternoon workshop in the BeODL offices.
This was pretty much the theme at the Online Educa Berlin conference: "We have all the elements needed to make online courses succeed, but institutional inertia at well-established universities stymies progress." But it's not just here; the theme seems to be lurking in the background. "If politicians and educationalists continue to insist that modern nations need an ever-growing army of graduates, it seems inevitable that the virtual university will become a significant player before long."
Tony Bates summarizes Lourdes Guardia's Next Generation Pedagogy: IDEAS for Online and Blended Higher Education. which summarizes emerging developments in online pedagogy with the acronym IDEAS: Intelligent, Distributed, Engaging, Agile and Situated. According to Bates, the elements of the acronym "are a useful organizational framework for summarising what in fact is a wide range of emerging online practices." Probably the most interesting part is the list of "emerging online practices" (and sometimes the institutions associated with them), for example, "Flexibility and personalisation (Capella University, USA); Innovation as a teachable topic (MIT, USA)"
This is a very basic guide and if you know nothing about modifying open documents, this is a good place to start. But it focuses almost exclusively on the different technical formats (and a bit on licenses) and not at all on how you might adapt contents for specific purposes. The main thing I got from this is that PDFs are hard to modify.
Another update from Janwaar Castle, which encourages youth development through skateboarding in rural India. It describes and presents Janwaar's first skateboarding challenge, and discusses the level of support the project has started to receive from a wider audience.
As this story notes, "UNESCO has begun work on drawing up a series of indicators on higher education internationalisation in Asia to help universities and education policy-makers in the region to develop an international outlook and promote international higher education links against a set of solid, accepted, quality benchmarks." We have for example, a project in Japan where 30 effective indicators were defined to assess internationalization.
Not a deep article, but it will give you the basic idea of container tools such as Kubernetes from Google, Swarm from Docker, and CoreOS. Containers are a tye of virtualization, but they "don’t need to make a virtual copy of the host server’s hardware features, and they also don’t need a full copy of the host operating system to be installed within the container. This enables containers to be orders of magnitude more lightweight and flexible."
Facebook isn't worth the time you give it, of course. That's one result from this report. The other is that it is not the millennials that are conned by and clicking on fake news, it's the older generation (raised by traditional media and helpless in the face of a deliberate assault on reality). This all "according to a detailed analysis of news consumption traffic conducted by Web analytics firm Jumpshot."
It is always a subject of astonishment to me that behaviour that is otherwise normal is deemed by some to be (a) not acceptable for teachers, and (b) not appropriate on the internet (or Facebook). The case this time (as it is so often) involves the posting of a photo of oneself relaxing on the beach. Or maybe having a beer at the local pub. What we are seeing is a case where people are told there are special codes of behaviour if they are (a) teachers, and (b) women. If I were either (a) or (b) I would be telling the guardians of my morality where they can put their directives. These behaviours are not wrong and there is thus no need for prohibiting their depiction on the internet.
I can't say I have a lot of confidence in Facebook's ability to design a learning program, but there it is. It's "a new personalized learning system called Summit Basecamp this school year that gives students more control over their learning." It's being provided free to schools (for now) and is composed of three major areas: a self-study mode, a collaborative learning mode, and a mentoring option. Says one teacher, "It's been very different because it allows the kids to have responsibility and ownership for their learning. They're learning how to learn." The article is a fluff piece but the subject is worth a deeper look.
I'm not sure how to judge this paper (the sentence fragment in the abstract does not reassure) but there's enough good that I don't want to overlook it. The proposal is for "a groundwork for allostatic neuro-education (GANE)" which views education as a process of growth and development. "Organic education compares the learner to a plant or blossoming flower. For education in the service of cognitive acquisition, the learner has inputs and outputs, comparable to a machine or other functional instrument. For the constructivist, the learner is understood to be engaged in a constant dialectic with the environment." It's based on the concept of allostasis, "maintaining stability through change, is a fundamental process through which organisms actively adjust to both predictable and unpredictable events." On the one hand I want to regard this paper as nonsense, and on the other I see it as an effort to comprehend phenomena that have been observed elsewhere. Via Matt Scofield.
Here's the pitch: the authors describe a learning analytics system that can divide a class of students into different skill levels in order to determine how much they can learn. This paper is not a stellar example of academic writing; the grammar is atrocious and we can only partially grasp the authors' intent. That said, the paper serves to raise the question: should we divide a class by ability and differentiate instruction accordingly? This is an open access paper, but you may have to sign up to access.
This article states, "According to the jobs-to-be-done theory, customers hire products or services to do a specific job for them, and those providers can adapt their offerings by understanding the job they've been hired to do." OK, fair enough. So what is the job students expect MOOCs to do? It depends on the student. "Students straight out of high school want the coming-of-age experience that goes with attending a campus in person," and online learning doesn't really help with this. Adult learners, by contrast, want "a more flexible way to earn a degree that may help them get a better job." This may all seem pretty obvious, but universities still get it wrong. That said, keep your eye on the 'job to be done'. It's a moving target, a strange attractor.
On this episode, Julie Risien discusses the concept of "broader impacts" and how it can be useful for researchers applying for grant funding.
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