I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.

SUBSCRIBE TO OLDAILY DONATE TO DOWNES.CA

~ ~ Vision Statement ~ ~

Community Standards

This document is being depicted as Facebook's "content moderation standard" but it isn't that. It's a document aimed at users and describes what Facebook is calling its "community standards" but is more like a plain-language version of its terms of service. This is an important distinction because the concept of "community standards" is originally (and still!) a representation of what the community thinks is appropriate, not a service provider.

That said, the document is worth a close read because it contains a number of what I might call "head-scratchers". For example, it disallows threats, but only "credible" threats. With some very few limitations, it is fine with guns and gun culture, but promotion of marijuana (soon to be legal in Canada, and already legal in many places) is a violation. Oh, and no swearing. Facebook redefines "spam" as "false advertising, fraud, and security breaches" (as opposed to the original definition, which is "unwanted advertising"). It disallows fake accounts but still won't remove fake news. It resists monetization of its incentives (eg., by requiring people to like, share, or recommend before allowing access to content). hen it receives copyright complaints, it takes down the content instead of simply notifying the person posting it.

Today: 63 Total: 63 2018/04/26 [Direct Link]

Opportunity or Exploitation?

Icon

This the sort of innovation that would be classified as "disruptive" were is accompanied with an app and some Silicon Valley VC funding (which may yet happen; don't rule it out). Southern Illinois University i proposing a "zero-hour adjunct" status, which is essentially a way of appointing alumni to volunteer positions doing things like "service on graduate student thesis, departmental or university committees, along with lectures in graduate or undergraduate courses and collaborating on grant proposals and research projects." The objection from faculty, of course, is that "The issue is that SIU is devaluing a portion of academic labor to $0." But if the university is able to find suitably qualified people willing to do the work for free, why would they continue paying people?

Today: 75 Total: 75 Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 2018/04/26 [Direct Link]

A Reality Check on Author Access to Open Access Publishing

Icon

I recently wrote an article about critical thinking for educators and I'm thinking that a follow-up on scientific reasoning might be a good idea. The machinations in this email exchange on open access journals is a great case in point. Heather Morrison reports that "73% of fully OA journals (about three quarters) do not charge APCs." In a PLOS blog post Hilda Badtian responds that the 73% represents a disproportionate number of journals that do not publish in English, are not indexed in PubMed, or do not issue DOI for the articles. In particular, says Bastian, Heather Morrison's data is "deeply misleading. And it does harm. As long as people can argue that there are just so many options for fee-free publishing, then there will be less of a sense of urgency about eliminating, or at least drastically reducing, APCs." Now that, to me, is a very bad argument for preferring one data set over another. You don't get to pick your data based on the argument you are trying to win. And doing so undermines the use of data in public discourse generally.

Today: 66 Total: 66 Hilda Bastian, PLOS Blogs, Absolutely Maybe, 2018/04/26 [Direct Link]

Emoji Are Ruining Grasp of English, Says Dumbest Language Story of the Week

Icon

To put Geoffrey Pullum's cogent argument into a nutshell: " Haven’t these hyperbole-mongers noticed that young people today write to each other more than young people have ever done in all of human history? Their texting, tweeting, WhatsApping, Snapchatting, Facebooking, and Instagramming may have psychological downsides (like cyber-bullying), but dropping the occasional pictographs into their prose is not going to strip them of the capacity to form sentences. Anyone who believes emoji are having even the slightest effect on English syntax is an utter 🤡." Also worth nothing, because this dumb headline came to us courtesy of traditional print media: "it’s survey-takers working for a company that just happens to host thousands of brush-up-your-grammar videos!" Ah, the incorruptible press.

Today: 166 Total: 246 Geoffrey Pullum, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018/04/25 [Direct Link]

The State of Innovation in Higher Education: A Survey of Academic Administrators

Icon

I'm not sure administrators are the best people to ask about innovation at educational institutions, and they'll say typical things like "Administrators often discuss a top-down approach — the president and provost setting the tone and directive for innovation at the institution — as creating the most success in innovation" (I find that consultants say this sort of thing as well, maybe because they are marketing their services to administrators). But the survey also recognizes "this approach must be carefully balanced and include a bottom-up component in which faculty, staff, and other constituents can drive the innovation process on their own." (44 page PDF)

Today: 115 Total: 215 Andrew J. Magda, Jill Buban, Online Learning Consortium, The Learning House, Inc., 2018/04/25 [Direct Link]

The new geo-politics of higher education

Icon

This paper argues the case for the global network of world class universities (WCUs). "The outcomes of higher education are not confined to, or even primarily, the creation of private economic and status benefits for graduates. Institutions of higher education generate many other individual and collective benefits, on both the local/national and the global planes." Fair enough. But the problem is (in my view) is that the people they most benefit is themselves. To be fair, the authors recognize this. "Networked WCUs are naturally disposed to secure mutual positive sum benefits (but) the contribution of WCUs to the common good is variable... (and) is articulated by two factors. The first is the polarity between social inclusion and exclusion in WCUs, which exclusion mostly wins... The second factor is (where) global practices of WCUs escape national constraints."

Today: 54 Total: 215 Simon Marginson, Centre for Global Higher Education, 2018/04/24 [Direct Link]

[All the Posts]
Thanks to Reclaim Hosting for their generous donation to support this site.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.