OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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May 17, 2011

Educational Technology and Related Education Conferences for June to December 2011
Clayton R. Wright, Document, May 17, 2011.

Clayton R. Wright gifts the community once again with his outstanding list of conferences for June to December, 2011. He writes, by email, "This potpourri of 794 educational technology and education conferences includes gems such as "Saving Your Organisation from Boring eLearning" and "Lessons and Insights from Ten eLearning Masters". And, if you wish, you can "Be an Open Learning Hero". You will also find that the number of mobile learning conferences (or conferences that have a mobile learning component) have increased, particularly in Southeast Asia and Asia. Additional conferences covering research, and teaching and learning have been added to this conference list. Also, readers can plan ahead as a number of confirmed events for 2012 are listed. Conference organizers seem just a little more confident this year as they seem to be willing to plan ahead."
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Horizon Report - 2011 K–12 Edition
Various Authors, New Media Consortium, May 17, 2011.

An NMC Horizon Report for K-12 is out. Of note is the section on PLEs. "The promise of PLEs is that they would give students significant control over their education. The role of the
teacher is seen primarily as a guide, helping students develop their learning plans and tools." Other sections in the report include cloud computing, mobiles, game-based learning, open content and learning analytics.

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A hatchet job on university rankings
Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning, May 16, 2011.

I agree with Sir John Daniel in this: "What we are seeing in the rankings movement is a backlash against the idea of mass higher education. As more and more people study in diversifying higher education systems the traditional link between quality and exclusivity is weakening, to the distress of those – and they are many in the world's elites – who equate quality in education with exclusivity of access. Rankings provide these elite thinkers with an excuse to fight back by focusing public funds on a few institutions." The remainder of his remarks on rankings are here.

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Your education is not an equal opportunity
Sam Chaltain, CNN, May 16, 2011.

files/images/300px-Nepeanhighschool.jpg, size: 28915 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I left home before finishing high school, and living on my own in Ottawa, determined I would still complete high school. I knew Lisgar Collegiate was a very good school, but though I lived just a few blocks away in downtown Ottawa, I was not allowed in. No reason; they just said no. So I had to try to ride the bus for an hour each day out to the suburbs, to the decidedly lower class Laurentian High School out on Baseline road. That didn't work out. But the injustice (for that's what it was!) convinced me that I had to work the system, so I faked an address to get myself into Nepean High School, in the upscale west end, to take a year of day classes and eventually graduate through summer night school. It was through Nepean that I was introduced to the Ottawa Learner Centre, the writings of Frances Moore Lappé, and the whole idea that we could do things differently (though I guess I was working that out for myself). Well now, in some places, apparently, what I did is now a felony. What I wonder is, have they also addressed the injustice? Thought not.

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Learning to Teach Online and Becoming an eTeacher
Helge Scherlund, eLearning News, May 16, 2011.

Helge Scherlund introduces us to Learning to teach Online, a service and series of videos offered by Simon McIntyre and Rick Bennett. The model (pictured above) they have evolved is remarkably similar to the MOOC-style approach we have been using here (no surprise, really - in my view it is the common-sense way to use the internet to support learning).

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Abandon lectures: increase attendance, attitudes and attainment
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, May 15, 2011.

files/images/CarlWieman-2.jpg, size: 17956 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Donald Clark takes another crack at responding to my position in our recent debate about the use of the lecture in learning. He specific responses are pretty light and easily dismissed. His main point, that "there comes a point when the evidence (surely a fundamental tenet in HE) must win out," should be addressed. Clark is under the impression that the studies he cites support the contention that lectures must be abandoned. The current study - Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class - is a case in point. The authors' description of the study - "We compared the amounts of learning achieved using two different instructional approaches..." - strikes me as naive. "Amounts of learning?" Now of course we are blocked by a subscription wall from viewing the actual study (and Clark does nothing more than wave his hand in its direction). But a study of this sort - three hours of traditional lecture vs. three hours of "instruction based on research in cognitive psychology and physics education" - proves nothing. The sample is too small, to localized, and too biased (having already been through a course of lectures). It is frankly shocking that such a study would ever be published. I agree with Clark that the evidence should win out. But it is essential to have some clue about what constitutes evidence, the conditions in which it should be obtained, how it is to be gathered, and the conclusions it supports.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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