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January 5, 2012

Stanford Free Classes – A review from a Stanford Student
Ben Rudolph, Life in the Shell, January 5, 2012.

files/images/wpprofile.jpgw240h160, size: 7062 bytes, type:   This post smacks of entitlement and the Chronicle milks it for all it's worth. Writes the student critical of the online classes, "I’m sorry, but if I’m going to have to pay $50,000 a year to go to Stanford then the classes should be tailored to fit the students – not a working professional who wants to learn a little machine learning on the side." Sniff sniff. The Chronicle jumps on board. "Mr. Rudolph took particular exception to the programming exercises, in which the computer automatically informed students whether or not they got 100 percent on the task. "It’s so black and white," he tells Wired Campus. "They have to make it easy enough so everyone can get 100 percent, basically." There's a long discussion over at Hacker News (precisely the interaction this $50K student said he wasn't getting). If you ask me, we should stop pandering to people who can pay high tuition and start thinking about the best way to widely distribute the best learning possible. The Chronicle, naturally, would disagree.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Interaction, Online Learning, Tuition and Student Fees]

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Ewan McIntosh, edu.blogs.com, January 5, 2012.

Ewan McIntosh has wrapped up a nice series of posts introducing the role of collaboration in learning and then describing (inspired Hansen's book Collaboration) six major ways collaboration fails.
1. Collaboration is the key influence in the quality of teaching
2. Collaborating in hostile territory
3. Overcollaboration
4. Overshooting the potential value
5. Underestimating the costs
6. Misdiagnosing the problem
7. Implementing the wrong solution
To my mind, these failures of collaboration have led me to recommend a system of coooperation, based on network principles, rather than the full-blown engagement of collaboration. Your results may vary.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Networks, Quality]

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E-Textbooks Saved Many Students Only $1
Nick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 5, 2012.

files/images/413534222_674bc8992f.jpg, size: 127840 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Alan Levine quite rightly growls about this Chronicle article that takes the most negative possible spin on the distribution of eBooks. In addition to the slim savings had by some due to "publisher pricing decisions" the article also describes the difficulties some students had opening the materials "thanks to disparities in basic computing skills" and the dissatisfaction they registered on a survey. Levine, who actually read the study before commenting, writes, "The fact is, in looking at the report, A Study of Four Textbook Distribution Models (EDUCAUSE Quarterly), which is quite detailed, I had to do a keyword search to find this one sentence." The old saying is, "if it bleeds, it leads," and as Levine says, "few do it more bloodily than the Chronicle of Higher Education." Having read the article, I don't see it as being particularly favorable to eBooks, but agree that the Chronicle went overboard, producing coverage that doesn't resemble the original. Instead of adopting the hysterical approach, they would have been better to focus on the study's findings: "Institutions seeking to implement campus-wide e-text adoption should be prepared to address specific concerns, including faculty choice, infrastructure needs, student technological skills, cost savings, and instructional adaptation."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, EDUCAUSE]

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How to Have the Best Year or Your Life (without Setting a Single Goal)
Jeff Goins, Zen Habits, January 5, 2012.

files/images/zen.jpg__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION1321518209065, size: 13704 bytes, type:   In education it seems that everyone's so outcome oriented. As though we need to have learning objectives and goals and the rest of it. I'm like that a little bit but mostly I'm not. It's not that I drift aimlessly, it's more that I'm more about discovering than getting things done. Jeff Goins writes, "resolutions are pipe dreams, and goals are a waste of time. They are designed to trick you into believing all you need to change your life is a plan." Sounds like most business strategies I know. But as he says, "most of it was completely unplanned. How did I do it? By creating new disciplines I actually liked doing. I wasn’t only fixated on the end results; I also enjoyed the process." I think there's a lot of that to my own work. I read daily. I write daily. I improve my software as my experience suggests. I force myself into challenges. I help others and offer my work as a service to the community. What - by contrast - would an objective look like to me? "Publish five papers?" "Become famous?" "Earn more money?" "Complete my taxes?" Well, OK, there's the last one. I really should get that done. But the objectives seem, when compared to my real existence, so trivial. So pointless. So - yeah, if you have to, set goals. But remember that excellence isn't a goal, it's a way of being. But I think it's better to cultivate good habits. The opportunities for service will arise, as they always do for any person of quality. (Image source)

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Experience, Learning Objects, Online Learning]

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Celebrate Stephen Hawking’s 70th Birthday with Errol Morris’ Film, A Brief History of Time
Mike Springer, Open Culture, January 5, 2012.

Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday, to be celebrated this Sunday, is remarkable for several reasons. The most notable is that he is having it at all, after having being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, at the age of 21 which a physics student at Cambridge. But also, given two and a half years to live, Hawking was transformed from a bored unmotivated student at an elite university into one of the most celebrated scientists of our time. And small wonder he focused his energies on the study of time. This link is to Errol Morris’s 1992 film of A Brief History of Time, which can be viewed in its entirety online. People say this sort of resource does not support online learning. I'm not so sure. Films like this reach people. "This feeling of time, of aging, of mortality combined with this search for the most basic and deep questions about the world around us and ourselves," Morris said, "is pretty persuasive stuff."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Online Learning]

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WSIS Knowledge Communities
Various Authors, UNESCO, January 5, 2012.

You can now comment on the theme of the next World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) meetings, to be held in Geneva in May. Abel Caine writes, by email, "UNESCO is leading the online consultation, which is taking place right now on the WSIS KC online collaborative platform until 15 January 2012 (see the forum here). We have so far received 12 written comments and 3 video messages proposing various issues such as open access, indigenous peoples issues, ICT and education etc for the 2012 events. The interim report is available here. You can participate in the consultation process either by replying to a discussion board, or by uploading a video message. It will be opened until 15 January." While you're there read the new comprehensive report on ICT in Africa, just released a couple of hours ago.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Video, UNESCO, Information, Open Access, Africa]

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Learning: Everybody's Project
Various Authors, Government of New Brunswick, January 5, 2012.

NB Education is launching a public dialogue on learning in the province, including a series of consultations around the province starting January 11 in French in Fredericton and continuing through the month. I mention it here because I haven't seen any news coverage in local media. There's also a Dialogue Participant Workbook which may be worth a look for people outside the province as well.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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E-learning project for primary and secondary education on course
Frankline Sunday, Business Daily Africa, January 5, 2012.

This is a positive story on e-learning in Kenya with a twist in the last paragraph. What we read about is the digitization of major chunks of the Kenyan curriculum and the rollout of internet access to schools, as well as of a training program for teachers. Good news. "So far the material that we have made available has been well received in the market and the feedback is that students are finding it more desirable and effective than the conventional system." But then, at the end: "We have encountered some cases of piracy where unscrupulous operators are making copies of our DVDs and offering them cheaply in the black market," said Ms Gacicio. "The Form one Syllabus has been most affected, but we have data protecting the rest of the modules making it very difficult to reproduce." So, the Kenyan government has spent billions getting this system into place, but the content is copyrighted and DRMed so people (presumably in Kenya) cannot use it. Sad. Who sold them on this business model?

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Project Based Learning, Copyrights, File Sharing, Digital Rights Management (DRM), Online Learning]

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Why now is a great time to do an OAuth audit
Nick DeNardis, .eduGuru, January 4, 2012.

I actually do this from time to time, so I guess it's good advice to pass on to others: checking each of your social networks to see what websites still have access to your data. It's important (to my mind) not to leave access open to services you aren't actively using, because these services may evolved in unexpected ways. I'm generally pretty careful about who I allow access in the first place (and never give access to Twitter or Facebook just to leave a comment on a site. This article is really useful because it gives you step by step instructions on how to edit OAuth access on a number of popular sites.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Twitter, Books, Networks]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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