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OLWeekly

by Stephen Downes
#TODAY#

Australian Copyright Scandal Points to the Need for Greater Oversight of Copyright Collectives
Michael Geist, 2017/04/28


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As Michael Geist reports, "The Australian copyright community has been shocked by a scandal involving the Copyright Agency, a copyright collective that diverted millions of dollars intended for authors toward a lobbying and advocacy fund designed to fight against potential fair use reforms." I'd love to think that this is an isolated instance, but of course, it's not.

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Perspectives on Open Pedagogy
Devon Ritter, Saylor.org, 2017/04/28


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First of all, if you haven't reads this history of open pedagogy by Tannis Morgan, go there first. OK. Now, on o the discussion. Devon Ritter characterizes 'open pedagogy' as "the ability for learners to shape and take ownership of their own education" (which is very similar to what I call 'personal learning'). This is similar to the account given by Claude Paquette in 1979. But even here we need to make the leap from traditional school to a truly open pedagogy. It's not just "make their own teaching plans for a subject (which may not have originally been designed to be taught using an open pedagogy) open and available to any and all students." It's leaders and experts and, yes, teachers, sharing how they learn with others. Follow my model or not; it's your choice. 

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SCORM and Moodle: A Long Relationship That May Last Forever
Moodle News, 2017/04/28


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What is not mentioned in the headline, but which becomes abundantly clear as you read the article, is that this is a dysfunctional relationship. SCORM never fit easily into Moodle and developers faced a lot of "backwash" from poorly implemented packages from other LMSs. "Prominent cases of interoperability failure where SCORM was involved did not help its cause." Meanwhile, loss of traction raised "the question of whether anyone other than the US DoD really needed a learning specification." Also, "the IMS Global Learning Tools Interoperability and now Caliper have opened the world of content and activities to Moodle sites and classrooms without the need to transfer files or other information between systems." Now we're moving to xAPI, which promises more interoperability - but maybe some of the same problems.

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New publication analysing LRMI metadata on the web
Phil Barker, Sharing, Learning, 2017/04/28


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This is a really interesting conference paper (10 page PDF) on the use of the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) vocabulary through schema.org on the open web. The quality of the metadata is generally poor, with some sites (Expedia, MIT, Stanford, MERLOT) containing tens of thousands of errors. Lesson one: "terms that have a specific meaning within the learning, education and training field are construed in their more generic meaning." Lesson two: " the strong inverse relationship between sophisticated data structures and amount of usage." For example, "the AlignmentObject: potentially very expressive, but either it solves a problem no one has (which I don’t think is the case) or it is so complex that few people understand it well." 

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Our biggest report yet: State of the Commons 2016
Ryan Merkley, Creative Commons, 2017/04/28


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Yes, you will want to have a look at the 2016 State of the Commons page because it gives you a dozen or so great stories of open resource projects from around the world, with numbers of resources varying from a few thousand to the millions (it made me reflect on my own contribution to the domain, which totals some 50,000 resources). The one thing we might want from the State of the Commons report, though, is a report. The page is more of an infographic, and while some impressive numbers are displayed, we have no idea how they were obtained. Last year I had some criticisms of the report, but at least last year we had data; this year we have none. So unless we get some news, last year's creticisms hold; Creative Commons is manipulating the numbers to make it seem like there are many more CC-by resources than there actually are.

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Presentation Advice from 14 of My Favorite Presenters
Dan Meyer, DyDan, 2017/04/28


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Some of the advice in this post is pretty good, but not all of it (though to be fair it's a matter of perspective). Some speakers have a single presentation they rehearse and hone over time. But my own style (and to be frank, the style I prefer to watch as well) is to create a new presentation every time. This is where some of the best advice in the post comes in. Like any speaker, I have a large supply of ideas, explanations, stories, etc (comedians would call them 'bits') and I draw on these as needed. But every presentation needs a single 'big idea' and this I think is the thing that should be different, where possible, for each talk. 

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Exploring the Deep Web: A Knowledge Vs Comfort Dilemma
Ludovico Ristori, Digicult, 2017/04/28


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The thesis of this article is that the deep web isn't all bad, and that though it contains quite a bit that actually is bad, it is nonetheless worth exploring. "Probably the real interesting element of DW is that it obligates you to choose a personal way of exploring. You can make a lot of different choices and you are, actually, put face to face with your real nature of student, researcher or simple citizen. Are you ready to risk something to know or understand something?" This is a a bit of a travelogue of the deep web, and a bit of an homage to it.

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What is online learning? Seeking definition
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, 2017/04/27


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Tony Bates is in the process of running a national survey about online and distance education (which launched today) and in the process resorted to some arbitrary definitions of key terms, which he shares here. It really raises some concerns for me. First of all, it's all about courses, nothing else. Despite the headline we don't learn what 'online learning' really is. And the institutional perspective is deep (not surprising since only institutions (specifically, their provosts or VPs education) are surveyed). This shows in the very odd definition of MOOC, given as "No fee (except possibly for an end of course certificate); the courses are open to anyone: there is no requirement for prior academic qualifications in order to take the course; the courses are not for credit." The third point is especially irrelevant to the definition of a MOOC.

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New Mexico Gov. Martinez vetoes higher education funding. All of it.
Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, 2017/04/27


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So what happens when public funding for higher education is eliminated? Nothing good, I would expect.  That's what's happening in New Mexico. "New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed higher education funding. All of it — and the legislature cannot override her veto." It's such a contrast with, say, Germany, which has eliminated tuition fees for everyone and is seeing the benefits from that. How does that compare with New Mexico? Via Education Dive. Meanwhile, Purdue University is in a deal to acquire privately-held Kaplan University and convert it to a new nonprofit institution. Phil Hill interviews Trace Urdan. Here's more on the Kaplan purchase (and more from Urdan, who reported in his newsletter last week that his position as an education analyst at Credit Suisse was recently terminated due to low activity in the field).

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Should We Stop with the Commenting Already?
Angela Cochran, The Scholarly Kitchen, 2017/04/27


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I get the feeling that publishers really dislike crowd-sourced and post-publication peer review. Angela Cochran writes that "one thing became clear:  crowdsourced peer review = post publication peer review = online commenting." She then tags these forms of peer review with all the baggage of internet commenting: anonymity, trolls, irrelevance, and more. Part of it is a little bit justified: "Crowdsourced means open to all. Peer review means restricted to peers. We already have a problem with the concept." Fair enough. But the list of reviewers can be limited by any number of means (if I started a journal, the reviewers would be those people who have previously published in the journal (beginning with me)). And beyond that, no, review is not the same as commenting.

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Stop killing your social stories with bad headlines and images
Ryan Craggs, Columbia Journalism Review, 2017/04/27


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Writing on the internet today requires a clarity and precision beyond anything required in the print world, because you do not have an exclusive hold over your reader while they're reading. This is essentially the message in this post from Columbia Journalism Review, and while there's a fine line between good headline writing and clickbait, I think Ryan Craggs hits the mark here. People want to know the significant of a story, they want to know who is involved, and they want to see justice (or at least feel outrage over injustice).

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The Essential Underpinnings Of Shifting to ‘Modern Learning’
Katrina Schwartz, KQED, 2017/04/26


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It's nice to get an update of what Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon are up to these days. Still focused on schools, Richardson and Dixon have "catalogued the ingredients they believe are necessary to make the kind of change they hope all districts will embrace in a white paper" (21 page PDF). " it is the modern learner’s newfound capability to take full control of his or her learning that is THE educational shift of our times," they write. "Create a vision for classrooms where innovation and inquiry are at the core instead of at the edges. Make time for regular discussions on what changes are happening, and reflect on how to make new systems and practices in school more sustainable."

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Creating learning experiences, and spaces, for future students
Lawrie Phipps, JISC, 2017/04/26


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It could be that I was working on personal learning environments a decade too early. Take this as a description of the next generation learning environment, for example: "The business school’s intention is to create an online space that is less like a content repository and that becomes a dynamic, adaptive space where students take control of their own learning." Or from the OU: "It won’t look like anything. Instead, it’ll be a series of spaces and application programming interfaces (APIs) so that it won’t be a thing in itself."

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Digital Identities & Digital Citizenship: Houston, We Have a Problem
Bonnie Stewart, the theoryblog, 2017/04/26


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thought I had already posted this last week, but apparently not. I tweeted at the time, "I read this as Bonnie Stewart running smack-dab into 'groups versus networks' and opting for groups." Stewart summarizes, "digital identity, as a practice, operates counter to the collaboration and cooperation that need to be part of digital citizenship." Read the excellent 75 page slide deck pursuing that idea. There's a line of argumentation there to the effect that there is a duty of care that is not recognized by digital identity. Or to employ Chris Lott's "Explain it Like I am Five" version, "we don’t make a better society just by making ourselves better." I think this is an impoverished account of identity, digital or otherwise. The only way to make ourselves better is to make society better. It's not an ethical thing. It's not a citizenship thing. It's a practical thing.

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Un-Annotated
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, 2017/04/26


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Audrey Watters has posted that she will now be blocking web annotations from Genius and those from Hypothes.is. These are web browser plugins that allow people to share comments on web pages as they browse. She writes, "This isn’t simply about trolls and bigots threatening me (although yes, that is a huge part of it); it’s about extracting value from my work and shifting it to another (for-profit) company which then gets to control (and monetize) the conversation." Here's the blocker script

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The rise and rise of Mastodon
Eugen Rochko, Medoum, 2017/04/26


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The developer of Mastodon, Eugen Rochko, offers this update following an exciting month that found the distributed social network software suddenly discovered and (it seems) accepted by people around the world. How accepted? "At the time of writing, the Mastodon network includes more than 486,767 users spread out among more than a 1,212 instances." Now we have to expect that a certain number of users are just test users, but his Patreon support also went from $700 to $3000 a month in April, which is significant as well. 

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How to Thrive: Arianna Huffington Launches E-Learning Series
Lisa Tolin, NBC News, 2017/04/26


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I thought at first that this might be a venture like Huffington Post, but when you follow from the press release to the online course pages you will see that it's hosted on LinkedIn Learning. There's a link to a free preview, but don't. Just don't. LinkedIn Learning is really expensive, and a one-hour Arianna Huffington course on 'discovering meditation and sleep' does not increase its value by any appreciable amount. LinkedIn also owns Lynda, another expensive monthly-subscription course site. Both are owned by Microsoft.

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What is Open Pedagogy?
Maha Bali, Reflecting Allowed, 2017/04/25


This is a link to a video conference on open pedagogy hosted by Maha Bali and including a number of the people talking recently about this topic (but by no means all, nor from all perspectives). Some of the related resources:

Some thoughts gleaned from the conversation: first, there needs to be a recognition that 'open' applies here to more than just pedagogy and more than just the classroom. And there's a role here for 'open conversations' above mere content and resources. There are many ways to be open, and we have to ask why people are trying to define 'open pedagogy' (or 'open practices'). And there's a big difference between openness as granting permissions, recognizing freedoms, or making invitations.

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Amazon Launches Self-Service Marketplace for Subscription Providers
Press Release, Amazon, 2017/04/25


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It's hard not to believe that this will have a significant impact on the viability of subscription-based publication models. "Subscribe with Amazon is a new way for subscription businesses to sell on Amazon, offering them targeted customer exposure through popular discovery features such as search and recommendations while also providing customers with a simple way to purchase and manage their subscriptions." It's not quite turnkey; you have to apply to be an approved vendor. But that's actually a good thing, I think. It's also available only to U.S. vendors, which isn't a good thing. See also: CNBC, the Next Web.

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launches Wikitribune, a large-scale attempt to combat fake news
Laura Hazard Owen, Nieman Lab, 2017/04/25


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What's interesting is the model: "it’s a hybrid of the paid and volunteer models. 'You have an operational command structure that’s based on full-time staff. The pro journalists and editors provide the supervision on how the story moves forward. The crowd does the heavy lifting on a lot of the combing, sifting, searching, checking. You let the crowd do what the crowd is good at.'" But if you're going to pay journalists you have to raise money, and the crowdfunding campaign isn't going to be sufficient over the long term. See also: the Guardian, Russia Today, Engadget, BBC, Trusted Reviews, Product Hunt, TechCrunch.

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People Don’t Want Something Truly New, They Want the Familiar Done Differently.
Nir Eyal, StartupGrind, Medium, 2017/04/25


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This is a familiar argument: "the graphical user interface, a milestone in the popularization of the personal computer, used familiar visual metaphors like folders, notepads, windows, and trash cans to appeal to mainstream users." Just so, we had the electric icebox and the horseless carriage. This post introduces the idea with a nifty example (the California roll) and a new product ("the rebranded Apple Wallet helps users feel comfortable with the technology by making payment options look just like mini credit cards").

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We The Educators
We The Educators, 2017/04/25


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Launching May 3, the purpose of 'We The Educators' is "to start a new conversation about the future of public education... stimulate a rich public dialogue — and greater professional scrutiny — around the relationship between the datafication of education systems and the (de)personalisation, privatisation and standardisation of student learning."

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Platforms: A commons-based approach to global collaboration
Alek Tarkowski, Claudio Ruiz, Creative Commons, 2017/04/24


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Creative Commons is meeting in Toronto later this week and while I won't be there (I'm not funded for this sort of work any more) I'll be following with interest. This post sets out an ambitious agenda for Creative Commons to devise and deploy a model for collaboration, shared goal-setting, and mobilizing action. These are called 'platforms' and there will be specific sessions on platforms related to the Open Education PlatformCopyright Reform and Open GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). 

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New bill seeks to turn universities into industrial hubs
Kudzai Mashininga, University World News, 2017/04/24


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This is Development Minister Jonathan Moyo speaking to Zimbabwe’s state media: "We need radical transformation from our institutions of higher learning. They must move from being certificate-giving universities, to industry-creating hubs because universities must be drivers of the economy. It’s time to rethink our universities and change their role." There are many different strands of this story - Zimbabwe's economic collapse, Mugabe, issues of academic freedom, diploma mills, privatization, etc. It's every issue rolled into one. Image: HIT.

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Is Your Edtech Product a Refrigerator or Washing Machine?
Julia Fisher, Larry Cuban on School Reform, Classroom Practice, 2017/04/24


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I like the analogy presented in this post because it makes it clear (in a way the Gartner hype cycle does not) that different technologies are adopted very differently. But Julia Fisher takes it a step further, suggesting that some technologies are adopted more swiftly because they are a better fit for existing conditions. This analogy, though, presumes that new technologies must 'plug in' to existing consitions: the home, in the case of appliances, or the school, in the case of ed tech. Yet from my perspective ed tech has had its greatest impact outside school, and doesn't need to be plugged in at all.

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Education as Self-formation
Stephen Ball, The BERA Blog, 2017/04/24


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What do you get when you combine education and Foucault? For Stephen Ball, it's a type of learning as self-care. "education, the teacher and pedagogy are articulated not as skills and knowledges but as the formation of moral subjectivity, a form of politics, and a relation to ethics rather than to truth. This is not liberation but activation." I can't say I agree with this perspective, but I do see in it reflections of things like the duty of care and new feminist epistemologies.

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The Omidyar Network and the (Neoliberal) Future of Education
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, 2017/04/24


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I want to say at the outset that this is excellent work and that I encourage Audrey Watters to keep digging into this subject. Having said that, I want to suggest a realignment of focus. Her focus is on the origin and purpose of funding for "companies and organizations that work in and around education technology." But everyone is investing in technology. What characterizes these companies is not their investment in technology, it's their investment in entrepreneurship and privatization. There is a lot of good work happening in educational technology being done by people working to achieve social and economic equity. Let's not lump those people in with the red-in-tooth-and-claw neoliberals.

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Heresy?
zudensachen, 2017/04/24


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This post raises the question of whether "what works" really reduces to "what can be measured", and whether the maximization of "cleverness" is replacing other (and possibly more significant) aspects of education. For example, "setting by ability means setting by socio-economic group, and there isn’t very much mobility between these groups." So maybe the question of social mobility should be regarded as equally important, even if more difficult to assess. "To ask the question about what our educational aims really are is to raise the possibility that there might be good reasons for preferring and applying mixed ability teaching even if, in terms of the maximisation of cleverness, we had established that it did not ‘work’ as well as setting." Via Doug Belshaw.

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How We Know
noreply@blogger.com (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, 2017/04/22


It's like recognizing a person. Your mother walks through the train station and you pick her out of the crowd. This recognition is not based on any particular rule or principle, not based on any essential features, not based on any inferential process.

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Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy
Frida Alim, Nate Cardozo, Gennie Gebhart, Karen Gullo, Amul Kalia, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 2017/04/24


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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a longish (49 page PDF) on student privacy. The report (like the EFF) is mostly focused in the United States. After noting that students and schools "are using technology in the classroom at an unprecedented rate" the EFF reports that "educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely." Additionally., "We investigated the 152 ed tech services that survey respondents reported were in use in classrooms in their community, and found that their privacy policies were lacking in encryption, data retention, and data sharing policies."

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Net Neutrality Alive and Well in Canada: CRTC Crafts Full Code With Zero Rating Decision
Michael Geist, 2017/04/24


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Last week we saw an important ruling in Canada on net neutrality, and as the headline suggests, it was a good ruling. In essence, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) "has crafted a reasonable, pro-net neutrality framework that provides carriers with guidance and users – whether innovative businesses or consumers – with assurances that net neutrality is the law of the land." 

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Marching for Science Internationally
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/04/21


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Let's do this thing. "We want to speak out against the muzzling of government scientists, we want to advocate for evidence-based policy making, we want to see better and more inclusive STEM education. We also want to send a message that science is not and must not be mischaracterized as partisan.” My science is not based on my political views. My political views are based on my science.

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Novel initiative Teach Out: Fake news detecting
Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, 2017/04/21


A 'teach out' is a lot like a MOOC except that it is a lot shorter and more concentrated. It is (quoted):

"What is really interesting is the philosophy behind the teach out, and the history behind the teach out events." It reminds me of the 'teach ins' from my activist days. With any luck, Pepsi won;t turn it into a commercial, and learning companies won't turn it into a product.

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xAPI Profiles
Data Interoperability Standards Consortium, 2017/04/21


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Background information and updates on the xAPI profiles project. Follow the orientation link to the background document on Google Docs. "The Experience API (xAPI) Profiles Specification is a technical document that aims to improve practices for creating Profiles as defined in the xAPI Specification. The xAPI Profiles Specification lays out a structure that describes profiles uniformly, describes how profiles can be discovered and reused, and how profiles can be published and managed."

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The metamorphosis of the OLPC programme
Gitura Mwaura, The New Times, 2017/04/21


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This is an account of how the One Laptop Per Child evolved over time in Rwanda. "Rwandan government’s partnership with Microsoft to roll out digital education has re-energised the debate by local and international observers on the progress of technology-enabled learning in the country."

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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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