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Open Educational Resource 2017 Textbook List
Zachariah Claybaugh, Chelsea Stone, Sacred Heart University, 2017/09/15


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This is, as the title suggests, a huge list of OER textbooks - 12 or so per page in this (42 page PDF), so maybe 500 texts, organized into subject groupings. What I wish (not to take away in any way from the effort this represents): the author names were written fully, rather than in the Lastname,I format; shot descriptions of each text to aid searching; database with harvest format so the list could be maintained (and used) on an ongoing basis. 

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A Design Guide for Open Online Courses
Dave Pratt, Seb Schmoller, David Jennings, Will Buckman, Matt Bush, David
Squire
, Nick West, David Jennings, Calderdale College, 2017/09/15


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This is a really detailed (89 page PDF) exploration of the topic. "This guide, with a foreword by Maren Deepwell and Joe Wilson, is a comprehensive summary of how we went about creating Citizen Maths, an open online maths course and service. The guide shares our design principles and the techniques we used to put them into practice. Our aim is to provide – with the appropriate ‘translation’ – a resource that will be useful to to other teams who are developing online education initiatives." The guide follows through the implementation of a set of design principles, including an analysis of need, context, learning model ("Our aim is to give thousands of learners the feeling that they are in a one-to-one tutorial"), coherence and consistency, and sustainability. There's even discussion of the course logo, colour scheme, fonts, 'talking heads', 'talking hands', and 'talking applications'.

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Brain as Prediction Machine
Julie Dirksen, Usable Learning, 2017/09/15


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I ran across this concept last summer and let it slip by, but I don't want to overlook it. The idea is that the brain functions not as an intelligence or thinking instrument, but as a prediction machine. This article collects a number of resources that revolve around that idea.  This is important because the function of predicing can be very different, and the requirements much lower, than for intelligence or cognition. That said, I think Julie Dirksen minsinterprets the idea in her post, and in particular, every word in the sentence "our brains use embodied simulation to construct meaning" is wrong in its own distinct way (I should write an article on just this sentence one day). You don't need any of that cognitive overhead to make predictions. In all fairness though, she's summarizing a TED talk from Anil Seth, which is the source of some of the error. That sat, the post is worth a look, and the concept definitely worth a think.

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5 Design Steps Of Learner Engagement For Humans
Zsolt Olah, eLearning Industry, 2017/09/15


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"This article," writes Zsolt Olah, "is about why you can’t motivate humans, and the 5 design steps you should go about it." Wait - you can't motivate students? There goes about ten tons of educational theory! But this proposition is advanced by Susan Fowler in her book on the topic. The idea is that you can't motivate them because they're already motivated. "People spend significant amount of informal learning time on YouTube, social media, forums; they’re asking peers constantly for answers. They are engaged and motivated," writes Olah. Ah, but the methodology that follows reads as something similar to Gagne's nine events (reduced to five). Grab attention, challenge them, engage them, then, um, motivate them, and finally, inspire! There is a useful link to a chapter on motivation from Julie Dirksen's book on learning design with a focus on four elements: technology acceptance, user efficacy, modelling and practice, and social proof.

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Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning
Kevin Thorn, YouTube, 2017/09/15


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You might be interested in this presentation of what I would consider a folk theory of cognition. Presented as a video by Kevin Thorn, it describes two tracks of perception and information processing - words and images. These correspond to verbal and pictorial representations, first in working memory, then in long-term memory. Why, I wonder, would we separate knowledge into two distinct types? And where are the other senses, like tactile and kinesthetic? And why would learning be depicted as nothing more than memory? Anyhow. You might also be interested in Thorn's other videos, including a 19-part (so far) series of lengthy videos (22.5 hours total) on Storyline Live. Thorn also has a blog, but with only three posts per year he leaves the readers wanting.

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3 Short Videos On Creating Custom xAPI Statements For Storyline
Melissa Milloway, eLearning Industry, 2017/09/14


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This is an interesting and useful guide describing in detail how to use xAPI. It thereby serves as a good way to understand xAPI as a concept. This is the second article in a series (see the first, from last March, on getting started with xAPI and Storyline).  In this article she shpws "how to create custom xAPI statements for Storyline, that is how to send data from Storyline triggers to your LRS." You need to develop the xAPI triggers at specific points in your resource, and then you can track how people are using it, whether they finished, and whether they replayed it. See more on the same topic from her blog (and pulling a live stream of the data from her example). Here's a bit more from HT2 Labs.

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The Future of Work: Intelligent Training That Adapts to Employee Performance
Rallyware, 2017/09/14


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This is basically marketing content but I'm including it today as evidence of a wider trend in learning toward workplace performance support over formal in-class training. As the headline suggests, performance support needs to be context-aware, knowing not just what the learner is doing but also what they've done (and learned) in the past. According to the site, "Today’s workers want answers fast and have little patience for training that cannot be immediately applied. Just-in-time training (JITT) is one way to meet this need by providing easy access to up-to-date microlearning content." I'd suggest that this is what people in general want, not just workers (I have certainly seen a demand for it at the executive level). Having said all that, there's still a lot of manual intervention required to make such a system work. You need to define and gathaer data on company key performance indicators (KPI). And you need to define and gather employee performance and business data.

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The ‘internet of things’ is sending us back to the Middle Ages
Joshua A.T. Fairfield, The Conversation, 2017/09/14


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I don't think this author is telling us anything we don't already know, but there's a nice analogy in the retelling. Basically, there are two points being made: first, our devices (collectively known as the Internet of Things (IoT)) are reporting back to advertisers and marketers through backchannels; and second, we do not own full rights to our devices, but merely license the software that is used to run them. The analogy is feudal: "In the feudal system of medieval Europe, the king owned almost everything, and everyone else’s property rights depended on their relationship with the king." There were some differences, of course, between the feudal system and today's reality. But it's an interetsing comparison.

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OA Dashboard feasibility study: Our findings and conclusions
Sarah Fahmy, Jisc scholarly communications, 2017/09/14


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The idea of an Open Access (OA) dashboard is to automate some processes related to accessing and distributing open scholarly materials. This article reports on the outcome of an OA dashboard feasibility study (41 page PDF). The results are not encouraging, as it suggests a business case cannot be made. "Although there is a gap in terms of analysing data on OA, open data sources are not mature enough to power a dashboard and may undermine the validity of its outputs."

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​Teachers Can Now Use IBM’s Watson to Search for Free Lesson Plans
Stephen Noonoo, EdSurge, 2017/09/14


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IBM has unveiled "a smart search engine that uses Watson’s ability to parse natural language and make recommendations with the aim of accurately matching what teachers are really looking for." Interestingly, "Populating the search engine is a collection of more than 1,000 OERs—from sources such as Achieve, UnboundED and statewide orgs like EngageNY—hand-selected by math experts assisting the program." The product is called Teacher Advisor With Watson 1.0. 1,000 OERs isn't very many, so I'm thinking this is more of a 'stake in the ground' for IBM, marking territory it intends to begin developing.

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K-20 Series: Why Mastery Makes Sense
D. Scott Looney, EDUCAUSE Review, 2017/09/13


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This article introduces us to the Mastery Transcript Consortium, which was launched with 54 independent (aka, private) schools. "Six months later," we read, "the MTC's roster has more than doubled and includes some of the world's best known prep schools." Why start with private schools? "To minimize complications and streamline the early stage development." But it's also important to note that, as the author writes, "the transcript shapes the very education it hopes to measure and represent." If this is done in the orivate sector, then it is being done without the advice and consent of the public as a whole, and this is problematic. I personally think the idea of mastery transcripts is a great idea. But it should be separated out from the very political issue of private schooling, and given the public review and sanction it requires before it proceeds.

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What matters for education reform? Lessons from the Partnership Schools for Liberia experiment and beyond
Pauline Rose, World Education Blog, 2017/09/13


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Privatization and private investment are often seen as key to the creation of educational opportunities in the devleoping world. This article (4 page PDF) is a useful and fairminded look at some such initiatives in Liberia. It shows there are grounds for scepticism about the claims being made. "After one year, public schools managed by private operators raised student learning by 60 percent compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across operators, and contracts authorized the largest operator to push excess pupils and under-performing teachers into other government schools." The question here is: could the same result be obtained by public, or state-sponsored, schooling. Yes and no. Probably yes, if the conditions were the same. But the state doesn't have the liberty to simply demand more money, nor to exclude a population of students from schooling. We need to remember that gains realized by privatization always come at a cost, and that the people being asked to pay are often those least likely to be consulted.

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Study finds Reddit’s controversial ban of its most toxic subreddits actually worked
Devin Coldewey, Tech Crunch, 2017/09/13


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According to the study reported here (22 page PDF), banning hate speech works. Not that it will eliminate hate from the world; hate will find its own nixious corners. But if you don't want hate on your platform, banning it works. 

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It’s official - higher education students want staff to be better with digital, not to use more of it
JISC, 2017/09/12


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One of the problems with of surveys telling us "what students want" is that they're surveys of students. And the population of 'students' is a highly selected population characterized by greater than average family social stanting and wealth, greater success in traditional academic systems, and greater orientation toward predefined academic goals. This produces exactly the sort of traits that would favour technology "most often used for accessing information and for the production of work in a digital format, and is valued for its convenience." Not, say, to 'learn', 'experience new things', or 'go beyond the curriculum'. Get outside the traditional student body and the demands on technology most likely change, which could be why games and productivity tools seem to emphasize such different features.Here's the full report (40 page PDF).

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Rewilding EdTech
Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, 2017/09/12


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Yes, this is what I want. "Rewilding might be an idea we could take to ed tech. Much of the early enthusiasm around ed tech was that it was, as Brian Lamb used to characterise it, fast, cheap and out of control." Tony Hirst has a great idea in the comments: "Hmmm… so why not just install and then something like Binderhub?" Great idea. I'll do that. But I have a paper to write today, a poster that's due tomorrow afternoon, a work plan to do, a longish report to write, some funding applications to review... And even if I had the time to just play, there's so much stuff to play with that I can't do everything, or even close to everything (even as I type this I'm listening to Principles of Globally Distributed Systems (earlier I listened to live coverage of the Apple conference while writing a paper) because there's just no way to do things one at a time any more). Not that this is a bad thing (my days are never dull) but it makes it harder to just run wild. 

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3 Crucial Elements of Being a Change Agent
George Couros, The Principal of Change, 2017/09/12


I have no particular desire to be a "change agent" but I know a lot of people in education technology value the concept. George Couros lists three essential principles to successful change agency:

These principles are reasonable, but they come from the perspective of pushing somebody in the direction you want them to go. Hence the agency in 'agent'. I prefer a model where the agent helps people get where they want to go.

 

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Nobody’s Version of Dumb
Sherri Spelic, edifiedlistener, 2017/09/12


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Prompted by a recently-posted article on Twitter-based echo chambers, George Siemens tweeted that his own experience is similar, and commented "Sadly, bright and intelligent people are reduced to RTing pithy statements rather than thinking. Twitter makes smart people dumb." Not RTing, but instead responding in a blog post, was Sherri Spelic, who rejoinded, "When George Siemens claims that his network is fairly homogeneous, that is something that he can fix if it’s a priority. But to drag us all down into a space that he in a later tweet describes as “closed, intolerant, narrow minded, and short sighted” is decidedly unfair and unnecessary." Audrey Watters, in her own post, rebutted, "I think there are massive problems with Twitter. It is, by design, a platform for harassment." And she points out, "A great deal of what happens on Twitter is wildly unsafe because of vicious, vicious disagreement."

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What is cmi5?
Experience API, 2017/09/12


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Think of cmi5 as a set of "extra rules" for xAPI. It is a "specification intended to take advantage of the Experience API as a communications protocol and data model while providing definition for necessary components for system interoperability such as packaging, launch, credential handshake, and consistent information model," thus defining "interoperable runtime communication between Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Assignable Units (AU)." The specification itself is located on GitHub. Best practices and JSON samples can be found on the website.

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Compilers are the New Frameworks
Tom Dale, 2017/09/12


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Tom Dale argues that "what we call web frameworks are transforming from runtime libraries into optimizing compilers." The practical effect of this is that we will not be able to learn from viewing the source how the web page was created, because the source will vary from place to place, person to person, depending on how the page was optimized for delivery. "Between WebAssemblySharedArrayBuffer and Atomics, and maybe even threads in JavaScript, the building blocks for the next generation of web applications are falling into place." So how will people learn how to write web pages, then? Chris Coyier suggests " today's world of GitHub, StackOverflow, and the proliferation of learning resources more than make up for learning via our own website spelunking." The key, as always, is openness.

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How to Teach Pivotability, Not Stability
Alex Ellison, The Synapse, 2017/09/12


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This is just a short post to highlight an article where the author hasn't throught the concept through. She wants to use the word "pivot", because it's the new buzzword among startups (and in the business press generally). It means, basically, to do something different when what you're doing now is failing. For example, when Coursera could make enough money as a MOOC provider, it decided to 'pivot' to corporate learning. Anyhow, as the title suggests, the author wants to "prepare future pivoters." So we need to "teach broad, theoretical knowledge to stimulate the thinking, scrutinizing and critiquing muscles along with technical knowledge to give context and show real-world applications." OK. All reasonable. But let's think about this a moment. Does she really mean 'pivotability'? No. She means balance.

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The Future of Education Is Already Happening (If You’re Paying Attention)
John Spencer, The Synapse, 2017/09/11


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I agree with the title but question the post as a whole. Itès probably because the post is addressed to teachers and stresses the importance of teachers. "The future of education can’t be found in a gadget or an app or a program or a product," writes John Spencer. "It doesn’t require a think tank full of pundits. No, the future of education can be found in your classroom. Your classroom is packed with creative potential. You have all the innovation you need right there in your room. You have the power to make it happen." Well no. That's not to say you can't be free or creative. But you're not going to be inventing quantum computing in your classroom. Nor even augmented reality glasses. Nor even the new iPhone being announced tomorrow. You may use these things, but the future doesn't happen in that small space between teacher and student. It envelops all of society. Pretending that teachers are insulated from that is dangerous and misleading.

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10 Influencers Weigh In on the Future of Learning
CGS Blog, 2017/09/11


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I was most interested in who C GS Magazine thought the "10 influencers" were (and on a more meta level, what counts as an 'influencer'). But I found it interesting to find that there were ten essentially different stories about the future of learning, including: virtual reality, branching games, skills and reskilling, positive work environments, the liberal arts, digital employees, transformational leadership, bots, data-driven learning, and influence on culture. Now I admit I rolled my eyes a bit at what is essentially a listing of the top 10 fads for mid-2017. You may find some useful resourcxes, though, among the books and papers listed for each.

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What do adult learners really want?
Dan Haesler, 2017/09/11


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I've been on both sides of this discussion (on all four sides, actually, if you construct the table). Give a talk, and people want something more interactive. But "If you make us get into groups and give us post-it notes I’m outta here.” Generally, like the author of this post, I offer what organizers ask for. But I've been both put to sleep by lectures and left climbing the walls by group-work. Yet I've also had extremely rewarding examples of both. In the non-lecture workshops I do, I've deliberately tried to break the group effect in groupwork by shuffling groups and setting group members up to oppose each other. But I don't have an answer outside that chalk board - postit note nexus. Which is why I often wonder whether the classroom is the right environment at all.

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Social Media: Abstinence Only?
Karl Fisch, The Fischbowl, 2017/09/11


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Karl Fisch offers what I think is exactly the right comment about going screen-free: "I am not saying this is always a bad idea and, for some folks, this is probably a good thing. But that's the key idea, it's good for 'some' folks. But I worry that this is another case of the "adults" suggesting a one-size-fits-all solution in the hopes of solving a complicated problem with a simple solution." Instead, he writes, we should think about doing the hard but necessary work of teaching people how to use media safely. See also Five Rebuttals to *that* Smartphone Article in the Atlantic.

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#openedMOOC begins October 1st
Jenny Mackness, Jenny Connected, 2017/09/11


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David Wiley and Geoprghe Siemens are launching a new MOOC on open education at the beginning of October. I'm with Jenny Mackness: "My hope is that it will offer a fresh perspective and rekindle the enthusiasm I had for open education in the early days of the first MOOC in 2008, but which I have found increasingly difficult to sustain in the last couple of years." Special surprise at the end.

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Alasdair MacIntyre on Education
Gardner Campbell, Gardner Writes, 2017/09/11


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As usual a Gardner Campbell post promptys in me a host of reflections. The core question being considered is whether epistemology - 'how we know what we know' is foundational, or whether something else, such as morality - 'what ought we to do next' - is foundational. I fall on the side or priorizing knowledge (and am no satisfied with responses like "they're all foundational"). Yet I'm constantly wondering about my place in the world, what my own enquiry (for my life has really jut been one long enquiry) has to do with that, and whether I'm even entitled, or worthy, or qualified. Is that a moral question, or is it an epistemological question? "One might even call these rhetorics the 'prosperity gospel' version of higher education," writes campbell, "and ask how such definitions of “success” will help when the storms come–as they do, especially when we dare to hope to try to build a better world, and especially when those efforts are thwarted."

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