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by Stephen Downes
Aug 29, 2014

OER Beyond Voluntarism
Brian Jacobs, Inside Higher Ed, 2014/08/29


I don't think panOpen.com's Brian Jacobs gets the concept of OERs. here's what he writes in Inside Higher Ed: "A better way forward is to compensate the stakeholders -- faculty, copyright holders, and technologists, principally -- for their contributions to the OER ecosystem. This can be done by charging students nominally for the OER courses they take or as a modest institutional materials fee." The point of OERs is that you don't charge the students. Yes, the way forward is to compensate OER developers. But the way backward is to start charging end-users again (since they are typically the ones who can least afford it).

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Don't Email Me
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, 2014/08/29


I guess everyone has read the story about the professor implementing a no-email policy for his class. He wants to speak to students in person only. He argues that he is "teaching students to be more self-reliant by making them read assignments and the syllabus more closely, and freeing up time for conversations in the classroom and during office hours" but really he's just cutting back on the level of interaction between professor and student. That's not necessarily a bad thing - students like people everywhere will take the greatest advantage of a service possible. But it reflects a failure of imagination.

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Clinical Teaching of Interprofessional Child Development Assessment Skills in a Large Group Setting
Teresa Carter, Eileen Hanna, Marilyn Swinton, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, 2014/08/29


So what to make of this? As summarizzed, "The research found no discernible difference in student learning between the facilitated and non-facilitated workshops; however, students in the non-facilitated workshop indicated that they would have preferred a more guided discussion." Links: Report | Appendix.

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It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results
Eric Enge, SearchEngineLand, 2014/08/29


You may have read about the benefits of adding authorship information to your web pages using Google+ functionality, but Google's attempt to incorporate these into search results has been discontinued. "John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a Google+ post that Google will stop showing authorship results in Google Search, and will no longer be tracking data from content using rel=author markup." So what went wrong? What always goes wrong with metadata? People weren't making up their pages. Even publishers were disinclined to use author metadata.

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Common sense for some and new and inspiring for others
Barb Brown, Weblog, 2014/08/27


Barb Brown responds to a post I wrote back in 2013. I complained: "Course instructors discuss their approaches to backward instructional design and describe the digital tools used to support collaboration.... Well, this too could have been written in the 1990s, I guess...." She replies, "The topic may not be as timely or important to some audiences, especially those who are expert in teaching online... however, the topic of post secondary instructors collaborating on the design of online courses is relevant to a broad audience." Well maybe - but is content "relevant to a broad audience" really what belongs in an academic journal? More and more, what we are seeing is journal authors writing to an audience consisting of each other - and not keeping up with developments in the field. They applaud each other for having 'discovered' things that have been in practice for years, and even naming them after each other (hence, e.g., "Hai-Jew’s (2010) fourfold approach" for updating an online curriculum (ie., legal, new tech, new pedagogy, changes in the field - oh, oh, oh, I never would have guessed it would be those four!)).

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Returning to optimism
Bryan Alexander, 2014/08/27


This is a common failing in education writing: "I’ve been spending too much time with macroeconomics, getting bogged down in the grim news about America’s employment and income data....  But following these inquiries in depth, I lost sight of human capacity and agency." Here's the solution: "say more about what could happen if we make the right decisions." And more to the point: the moment you think education is more about money than it is about people, you're sunk.

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Employers Aren’t Just Whining – the “Skills Gap” Is Real
James Bessen, Harvard Business Review Blogs, 2014/08/27


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"The idea of a 'skills gap' as identified in this and other surveys has been widely criticized," writes James Bessen, citing criticism from Peter Cappelli, Paul Krugman and the New York Times. "A worldwide scheme by thousands of business managers to manipulate public opinion seems far-fetched.," he says (naively). But the evidence for a skills gap can be found in wages. " We see it in the high pay that software developers in Silicon Valley receive for their specialized skills. And we see it throughout the workforce. Research shows that since the 1980s, the wages of the top 10% of workers has risen sharply relative to the median wage."

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Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds
Alison Flood, The Guardian, 2014/08/27


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So the premise here is that context has an impact on memory, and that eBooks read on the Kindle lack the appropriate context for remembering. "In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," said Mangen. But, you know, it's one study, with one set of readers. I've been reading online for the last 30 years. I expect my sense of context may well be different.

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Crowd-Sourced Peer Review: Substitute or supplement for the current outdated system?
Peter Suber, London School of Economics, 2014/08/27


Many authors, writes Peter Suber, prefer to have their work reviewed in private. But this may be about to change. He writes, "The problem with classical peer review today is that there is so much research being produced that there are not enough experts with enough time to peer-review it all. So there are huge publication lags because of delays in finding qualified, willing referees."

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How to measure the success of learning in rhizo14?
Heli Nurmi, Heli Connecting Ideas, 2014/08/26


Heli Nurmi offers an insightful look at what constitutes success in dave Cormier's Rhizo-MOOC: "It may be an illusion of enthusiasm that I’ve 'learned' these things but it feels like I have a better grasp on how to know them or reconstruct a more viable approach. I’ve gained a tool of understanding that clarifies things that I didn’t have before. Success = People having a serious conversation or, very often, people having fun together. That’s enough."

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Known and education: a love story
Ben Werdmuller, Benwerd, 2014/08/25


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Interesting. Compelling. Important. Known and Reclaim your Domain get together. Here's Ben Werdmuller: "I think Known is very clearly both a PLE and an eportfolio:

  • Known profiles allow you to post to a space that represents you, using a variety of media, from any device
  • Known's syndication feature lets you post to your own profile, while syndicating to external sites and applications - like your campus's Learning Management System.

Educators agree. The Reclaim Your Domain project is a particular evolution of eportfolio thinking. where members of a campus's community own the domains that represent them (just like indieweb!)." And here's Jim Groom, on pushing the Known syndication hub beyond RSS. He writes, "I’ve already referred to Known as an open, distributed Tumblr, and that’s pretty apt. The minimalism and focus on publishing content quickly and easily makes it very compelling."

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At OTF Teaching, Learning & Technology Conference – Hopscotch, Sphero, Social Reading
Doug Peterson, doug - off the record, 2014/08/26


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What Doug Peterson describes here is very similar to my own workflow, readingflow, whateverflow. It's a restatement of the "aggregate-remix-repurpose-feed forward" methodology, identifying specific tools that can be used to accomplish it. Does it work? I offer my own career as evidence. Moreover, some of the tools he points to - Hopscotch, Sphero, and Packrati.us - are new to me. I won't use the iPad-only apps, of course, but some others look interesting.

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Hackers Target Video Games for Fun, Profit and Better Scores
Nicole Perlroth, New York Times, 2014/08/26


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I lost interest in commercial online multiplayer games when I discovered people cheating (a game crash was followed by a massive attack on my empire that somehow pinpointed every weakness; the other player admitted seeing my troop disposition). It's the same experience I had in Reno - playing poker in the poker room was fun until the hustler came in and started betting the maximum on every hand. At this point - where people are exploiting the system for profit - the games are no longer fun. And, of course, "the industry has done little to share cyber threat information" - probably because they make more money from the people gaming the results than the people just in it for fun (it's the same relationship Google has with advertisers and spammers).

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Learning Vs. Performance -- The Dichotomy
Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID, Other Reflections, 2014/08/26


This article gets at the difference between learning and performance, identifying aspects distinguishing a focus on one as opposed to the other:

  • Growth mindset - Carol Dweck, in her research, differentiated between Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.
  • Limiting beliefs – Related to fixed mindset, limiting beliefs constrain us in many ways.
  • Fear of failures – This could directly stem from the organizational culture and environment.

In a follow-up article, Sahana Chattopadhyay makes it clear that training is only one aspect of performance. "Organizational challenges today are multi-pronged and taking a single approach doesn’t work. It is entirely possible that while training may be a requirement, other concerns also need to be simultaneously addressed."

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Self-Regulation: The Other 21st Century Skills
Jackie Gerstein, User Generated Education, 2014/08/26


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The whole character-building thing has been in vogue recently, what with people writing about "grit" and other aspects of successful learners (and people). There is some point to this - you will not become successful at anything (whether work, hobbies or even lifestyle) without putting the effort, which takes motivation and perseverence. But there's also an aspect of this movement whereby these are externally defined. Take this: "Self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it." It depicts the self as naturally something (someone?) you have to battle in order to succeed. Well - I have never thought that way about my own work. Yes, I work very hard, struggle with means and motivation, and even measure progress sometimes (but not nearly as often as you might thing). But it's not a battle - for me, it's a process of immersing myself completely into my own life. My 'other 21st century skills' are these skills. It's worth noting the difference.

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The LRS is not going to kill the LMS. The AP is going to kill the LMS (as we know it).
Shelly Blake-Plock, Fieldmarks Blog, 2014/08/25


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Interesting perspective. There is a debate as to whether "learning record stores (LRSs) and learning management systems (LMSs) are in competition," writes Shelly Blake-Plock, but the real issue is whether "Activity providers (APs) — especially those working off a standard such as xAPI — will be the human-to-machine interface of the next generation of e-learning." In my world, the AP is known as the PLA - "personal learning assistant" - which serves as the device that displays and launches learning activities and resources for the LPSS (Learning and Performance Support System) user.

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Is this the “dark horse” of online education?
Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, 2014/08/25


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From the article: "Weise and Christensen note in their new mini-book, Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution (61 page PDF) that unlike other trends like MOOCs that have received 'tremendous fanfare,' online competency-based education stands out as the innovation to most likely disrupt higher education." They write (p.18) "Competency-based programs have no time-based unit. Learning is fixed, and time is variable; pacing is flexible." That makes them perfect for online learning. This trend, they write, will force a rethinking of the value proposition of universities. "The value system of academic scholarship is so skewed that research findings are hidden from public view." (p.24) I think they're mostly right, but we need to advance the model past the point where learning can be defined by competencies, or develop much better and more efficient means of identifying competencies and decigning systems to teach and evaluate for them. See also this EDUCAUSE report on competency-based education.

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Revolutionary Brampton university proposal ruled ineligible by MTCU
Ken Steele, Academica Group Inc., 2014/08/25


It didn't fly this time, but I find it interesting that it was even proposed. "Students would learn in an active, inquiry-based environment from teaching-focused faculty on flexible staffing contracts, utilizing ePortfolios, eTextbooks, experiential learning, and work placements." OK, I'm not sure I like the sound of "flexible staffing contracts" - that to me makes it sound like academic labour on the cheap - but the rest of it sounds innovative and even useful. Something like it will probably be approved some time in the future, and if it flies (as it probably will) I would expect the model to proliferate. (It's nice to see Ken Steele look beyond the usual diet of press release coverage that has dominated Academica recently).

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The Diploma is the Message: Doug Rushkoff Invents a Master’s Program That Matters
Jed Oelbaum, Good, 2014/08/25


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So what distinguishes Rushkoff's masters's program from the thousands of others created by university professors (hint: it's not that "it matters"). “Instead of training people to become marketers or to write the next useless phone app, we’re going to support people who want to see through the media, and use it to wage attacks on the status quo,” Rushkoff says. “This is media studies for Occupiers.” But more significantly, “I want to teach a diverse range of students without putting them into lifelong debt,” says Rushkoff. Of course there's still that whole travel and tuition hurdle to surmount.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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