OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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April 8, 2011

The Truth is Out There
Bob Sprankle, The November Learning Blog, April 8, 2011.

files/images/20110403-ejj4yue61ukf41ajif739wjjci.jpg, size: 26248 bytes, type:  image/jpeg This was totally a new one to me, and also to Andrea, who comes from the U.S.: "Your blood is blue when it's inside your body and it turns red when it comes out and hits oxygen." My first reaction was, what? We had a long discussion in my home about who would believe such a thing and where the idea would come from. Bob Sprankle writes, "my entire class - 100% - was suddenly trying to convince me." How can this be? Sprankle develops the theme as an exercise in research and documentation via the internet, but there's a deeper issue at work here: how people can have such an idea and just be content to believe that it's true, no matter what the evidence says (and indeed to be completely disinterested in any evidence). "What bothers me," he writes, "is that the idea that blood is blue in our bodies until it comes into contact with oxygen is truly a 'magical idea.' It is on the level of something that would be possible in the movie Avatar, or as magical as actual Leprechauns coming to visit on St. Patrick's Day. In other words, because this seems so over the top, how could such a misconception (or myth) exist so long and so large in our culture and why did it take so much effort to prove to myself and to others I've been arguing with for weeks what the correct answer is?"

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Agile eLearning - 27 Great Articles
Tony Karrer, eLearning Technology, April 8, 2011.

The concept of Agile software development is based on the idea of "iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams." It's an idea that crosses over easily to learning resource development. Tony Karrer explores the idea of agile learning development, and even better, amasses a list of two dozen or so papers and resources on the subject. But, he writes, "Lots of my experience tells me that while we intended to be Agile, put something out and then update it, it's the updating part that doesn't happen. If Agile turns into rapid elearning, then we are back to Rapid eLearning Tools."

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The Role of For-Profit Higher Education
Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning, April 8, 2011.

Sir John Daniel continues what has become a run of blog posts (taken, I think, from his recent talks and posted by a COL staffer). In this post he describes and defends the role of for-profit online education. "The for-profit sector does online teaching better because it has capital to invest and organisational infrastructure, whereas the 'lone-ranger' approach often used in public-sector institutions cannot be scaled up."

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Colleges Spend Far Less on Educating Students Than They Claim, Report Says
Robin Wilson, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2011.

This is interesting: "While universities routinely maintain that it costs them more to educate students than what students pay, a new report says exactly the opposite is true." How is this so? "Student tuition payments actually subsidize university spending on things that are unrelated to classroom instruction, like research, and that universities unfairly inflate the stated cost of providing an education." According to Gillen, Denhart and Robe, "between 52% and 60% of students attend institutions that are paid more than they spend to educate them. If wasteful spending is disallowed, the figure rises to 76%... As Bob Samuels noted, 'Many professors have told me, they do not believe that the public would support the research mission of the university, so the university has to hide how it spends its money.'" Via Computing Education Blog.

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Cisco Quad & IBM Connections
Various Authors, Cisco, April 8, 2011.

files/images/quad.jpg, size: 16471 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Last week in Spain I was looking for this link for my presentation. Now that my search functionality is working properly again, it makes sense to just add stuff like this to the newsletter. Cisco Quad (specifications) is a bit like a social network service for the enterprise. It combines elements of chat, Twitter and calendaring, along with notifications, people-finder, provisioning, and communities. NRC has an new agreement with Cisco (no details down here in the lower depths of the hierarchy, of course) so I may be exploring it further. But I can't imagine using it extensively if it faces only inward; we need to work with the entire world, not merely with people in our own organization.

Update: Ron Denham from IBM writes, "IBM Connections does everything Quad does and lots more. Many of our clients have internal sites, but we can also be deployed externally and hosted. One other product we have is called LotusLive. While it has many of the Connections features such as blogs, bookmarks, social file sharing, and activities, it is 100% web based and subscription based. The coolest thing about it, and something you may like, is the ability to invite an unlimited number of guests into LotusLive to collaborate with you."

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Supporting Project Team Formation for Self-directed Learners
Howard Spoelstra, Peter van Rosmalen and Peter B. Sloep, Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, April 8, 2011.

I've begun to see a few articles discussing the idea of recommended or expert learning team formation systems. Intuitively, the idea makes sense. As Spoelstra, van Rosmalen and Sloep write, "The outcomes of project-based learning can be optimized if team formation experts assemble the project teams." In this paper they identify three sets of factors that inform the team-formation process: knowledge, personality and preferences. Based on these factors, the similarity (and hence compatibility) of prospective team members can be mapped to a vector space (illustrated above), which forms the basis for team member selection.

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Online Learning in Australia - Connections, Partnerships and Successes
Michelle Eady, Contact North, April 8, 2011.

files/images/contactnorth.jpg, size: 28031 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Comprehensive report on the state of e-learning in Australia, authored from an outsider's perspective. Well-written and clear, this excellent report should not be missed. The report is structured around two case studies: distance learning for universities in Australia through Open Universities Australia; and distance learning support for colleges and training institutes through eWorks. Open Universities Australia (OUA) is a $70 million for-profit consortium that offers a single point of access to university courses offered by consortium members via Blackboard or some other LMS. The consortium also maintains a Centre for Online Learning Excellence. eWorks, meanwhile, is composed of 140 partner organizations comprise and supports the Learning Object Repository Network (LORN). "The success of LORN relies on standards compliance by every state and territory. Every collection must comprise 40% free content. "e-Standards for Training" sets out agreed standards in design, development, packaging and downloading."

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Crowdsourced Keynote: The Collective Voice on the Value of Openness
Amanda Coolidge and Grant Potter, Royal Roads University, April 8, 2011.

files/images/wewantyou.jpg, size: 16430 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I used to think I could make a living doing things like giving keynote addresses. Not so much now, as these personal appearances have been almost entirely replaced with online presentations. Now, my role in keynotes may be replaced entirely, to be filled instead by crowdsourced video. Like the current case, for example. The British Columbia Educational Technology Users' Group (etug) will be hosting a Spring Workshop in June. They write, "In the spirit of openness we would like to invite YOU to participate in a crowd-sourced keynote. Our vision is to create a keynote video that highlights the collective voice on the value of openness."

They post the following request: "Create a short video/interview/montage answering one or two of the following questions:
1. What is the value of openness?
2. What examples of openness stand out to you as being valuable/worthwhile?
3. WHY do you believe in the value of open education?
- be creative! We want anything!
- Upload your video to the following dropbox http://www.dropitto.me/etug password: open
- SPREAD THE WORD! Anyone can upload!
- Deadline: May 9, 2011."
Smart, simply, easy. Any conference could do this. I guess I'll have to stick with the day job a little while longer.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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