OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

[Home] [Top] [Archives] [Mobile] [About] [Threads] [Options]

November 30, 2010

Got a business plan for Open Educational Resources?
John Moravec, Education Futures, November 30, 2010.

As John Moravec reports, "Startl has an­nounced a $25,000 com­pe­ti­tion, so­lic­it­ing busi­ness plans for best uses of Open Ed­u­ca­tional Re­sources." I really don't like competitions like this, as they're designed to push people toward a certain perspective of open educational resources. Here's my "business plan" - I make stuff, I post it online. Why isn't that a good enough business plan? Market demand? Sustainability? All irrelevant - it's just something I do in the course of my other activities - my job is what sustains me, my readers (both of them) are my market. Why should it be any other way? Any 'successful' business plan will have as its core feature the assertion that this approach is fundamentally wrong - and it is that core assertion that I refudiate.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Notes: Bishop, J., (2007)
D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman dot net, November 30, 2010.

I see D'Arcy Norman has taken to reading academic papers in much the same way I have: "lots of blah blah and lit review, but some interesting stuff buried in the blabbidyblab…" Here's the bit he found interesting: "Developing systems that offer perceived affordances is another way of encouraging participation in online communities, as is engaging an actor in a state of flow, whereby they will experience intemperance or even deference. However, this may mean that individuals will act out less positive desires, such as vengeance, and flame other community members that offend them." So - uh - if you let people do more things, they might do bad things?

Here's the core of the paper he refers to: "The framework accepts many of the principles of action put forward by Mantovani (1996b), including that actors construct interpretations of their environment based on their goals, which are referred to as situations. Mantovani's metaphor of users of virtual environments as actors seems appropriate for users of online communities. The ecological cognition framework indicates that these actors will experience a desire to carry out an action, such as solving a problem of another actor (level 1), interpret whether taking this action is consistent with their goals, plans, values, beliefs and interests (level 2) and use their abilities to carry out the action and perceive the environment they are part of (level 3)." I would like to believe that people's actions are that deliberately planned and carried out, but beyond the very broadest of interpretations, I know they are not. People should stop using such constructs.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Bill Gates Listens to the Wrong People
Diane Ravitch, Bridging Differences, November 30, 2010.

Amid the rest of this, Diane Ravitch makes an excellent point: tenure is about due process, not jobs-for-life. It's about not being fired simply because you disagree with your boss. It's something people should have a right to expect, if our freedoms are to mean anything, but which has to be written into employment contracts, because in the workplace they don't. (There are some other things Bill Gates gets wrong, but I wanted to highlight this.)

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Disalienation: Why Gender is a Text Field on Diaspora
Sarah Mei, Weblog, November 30, 2010.

It's funny because we have come up with exactly the same issue, and for the record, sided with the 'gender is a text field' line of thinking. Because (in my view) it should not be up to your software to tell you what the allowed choices are for 'gender'. The problem, though, is that this has caused a rift in the Diaspora coding group, leading to one person walking off the project, saying "the five or six people who are supposed to be writing the code... have put strong, usable code last on their priorities. It comes behind marketing, behind ideology, and behind absurd identity politics." But these things are not absurd. Limiting decisions may make good crisp code, but it makes bad software. Via Marc Canter.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Will online lectures destroy universities?
George Siemens, elearnspace, November 30, 2010.

Will online lectures destroy universities? No, of course they won't. It will take a variety of factors, including something like an 'open credentials' system to counter the current credentials that Scott Leslie notes are "bound up very tightly with the capitalist economies that fund them." George Siemens is here responding to a Telegraph article that suggests "the education most universities provide isn't worth the money. If they don't have world-class reputations – and only a few do – then they need to change fast, or watch an exodus of students away to cheaper, better alternatives." And that conclusion, not the hyperbole of the headline, is better founded.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Coming Golden Age of Open Educational Simulations
Mike Caulfield, Tran|Script, November 30, 2010.

I've been watching the simulation space for some time, not particularly interested in the closed in-house sims created for military or industrial purposes, but anticipating what Mike Caulfield describes here, an open simulation system. "What if we were to can some of the bells and whistles of simulations and build some simple & open simulations that could be modified? ... Yes, it wouldn't be a million dollar experience. But it would be better than that - modifiable, extendable, customizable to any classroom context."

There's an interesting subtext in this, picked up on in the comments, as Caulfield argues "that by and large what schooling sells (outside certification) is coherence. The professor-as-curator is supposed pull the jarringly separate pieces into something a little more smooth, a little more personalized, and little more respectful of past and present context. Black-box simulations work against that effort, and make wide-scale adoption difficult, despite the many benefits of a simulation based approach"

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt
Julie Zhuo, New York Times, November 30, 2010.

I love the irony in this: this article discussing the impact of trolls on the internet is itself a troll, lovingly disguised as New York Times article but no less trollish than a one-line comment like "These guys are frauds" posted after a YouTube video.Trolling is "the act of posting inflammatory, derogatory or provocative messages in public forums." I thought it odd that the author didn't comment on the proliferation of signed trolls as well, or raise the subject of paid trolls, shills employed by a political or advertising agency to harass or intimidate. But the discussion went another way. The proposition is, first, that trolling has become a major problem on the internet, and second, that anonymity promotes trollish behaviour. And in any case, anonymity is relatively recent; "when someone spoke in public, his audience would naturally be able to see who was talking." Thus, the author argues, web sites should stop posting anonymous comments. "Content providers, stop allowing anonymous comments. Moderate your comments and forums." Or consider, he says, "using comment services to improve the quality of engagement on your site." That's why his company, Facebook, has designed a public commenting widget "to replicate real-world social norms by emphasizing the human qualities of conversation." Troll!

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.